Saturday, July 22, 2017

Math is Hard

But it's even harder if they don't bother to teach it to you: California College Chancellor Wants To Abolish Algebra Requirement, Calls It A ‘Civil Rights Issue’
The chancellor of California’s community college system said he wants to abolish the college algebra requirement and called it a “civil rights issue” in a Wednesday interview.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges, made the argument while speaking with NPR. He pegged algebraas overly burdensome due to the disproportionate rate at which it prevents students from graduating from community colleges; nearly 50 percent of community college students do not complete their math requirement.

“This is a civil rights issue, but this is also something that plagues all Americans — particularly low-income Americans,” said Oakley. “If you think about all the underemployed or unemployed Americans in this country who cannot connect to a job in this economy — which is unforgiving of those students who don’t have a credential — the biggest barrier for them is this algebra requirement. It’s what has kept them from achieving a credential.”
SJWs don't need math. It just messes up their theories anyway.

The Road To Hell . . .

Is paved with good intentions, or maybe the bodies of dead minks: Misguided Attempt to Free Thousands of Minks Goes Horribly Wrong
Between 30,000 and 40,000 farm-raised minks were released into the wild near Eden Valley, Minnesota, earlier this week when burglars—presumably animal rights activists—cut the fence to a mink-pelt farm and opened the cages holding the mammals, letting them run into the wild.

Minks are strange little creatures somewhere between otters and ferrets, and when they run, their front halves and back halves teeter independently like two people pretending to be one horse. While the idea of tens of thousands of minks flopping through a pasture is quite amusing, the minks’ liberation likely came at a price: Farm-raised minks aren’t really able to make it in the wild. Many of the minks died once released because of the heat. The ones that were recovered alive were haphazardly thrown into pens, which disrupted their social groupings and drove the minks to kill one another.

The minks currently live on a mink-pelt farm, which means that they essentially exist to eventually be killed. But still, the move to liberate them is destined to fail. Dan Lang, owner of the Minnesota farm the minks escaped from, told the St. Cloud Times that he estimates half of his minks are already dead. “I wish these people that did this would come here every day for two weeks, and they could help pick up the dead ones,” he told the Times. Lang has already started rounding up the dead. In piles, they look like logs of wood during different stages of charring.

The town’s sheriff, Don Gudmundson, told the Times that investigators believe “the vandals parked about a half-mile away from the farm … then released all the mink from their cages.” Gudmundson is looking for multiple people due to the “effort required to dismantle the fence.” The perpetrators are believed to be animal-rights activists who wanted to set the minks free. The animals released were worth roughly $750,000.
Sadly, it's probably a good thing most of the minks died. Assuming they managed to learn to live in the wild, they are a voracious predator on small mammals and birds, and probably would have devastated the local ecology. It has all the makings of a bad Sci-Fi channel show.

I'm not especially a fan of mink coats, but I don't mind men and women who are.

Reason #5615 That Trump Was Elected

HUD to “Reinterpret” AFFH; It Should Rescind the Rule:
I’ve been critical of President Trump today. But few days go by without me being happy he defeated Hillary Clinton.

Here’s a reminder of why. Yesterday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced that his agency will “reinterpret” the ultra-instrusive Obama housing rule known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). The rule was designed by the Obama administration to seize federal control over local zoning for the purpose of creating neighborhoods that comply with the left’s race-based vision of where people should live. We discussed it here, among other places.

Secretary Carson didn’t say exactly how he plans to “reinterpret” AFFH. However, he told the Washington Examiner that he doesn’t believe in the “manipulation” associated with the rule or with the burdens it imposes on local communities. As a candidate for president, he called it “a doomed-to-fail attempt to “legislate racial equality.”

Carson’s announcement comes on the heels of a decision by HUD to accept Westchester County’s analysis of the impact its zoning rules have had in creating barriers to fair housing. The analysis concluded that its zoning rules are not the cause of the concentrations of white, hispanic, and black populations that exist in the County.

Reportedly, the analysis submitted by the County — its eleventh attempt to satisfy HUD — was basically the same as an analysis submitted to, and rejected by, the Obama administration. The difference, of course, is the new administration.

We’ve written about how Westchester County was ensnared by HUD. It occurred as the result of a lawsuit and a settlement agreement. The County entered into the settlement agreement because it thought it had a reasonable partner — the Bush HUD. It ended up dealing with Obama’s HUD, which was anything but reasonable.
Trump is trying to pull the Federal government's tentacles out of all the places they've gone that they don't belong.

Rule 5 Saturday - The Other Hilary

Hilary Hollis Rhoda (born April 6, 1987) is an American model. She is perhaps best known for her work with the brand Estée Lauder and her 2009, 2010, and 2011 appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Rhoda was born in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and raised there and in Rye, New York. She has Irish ancestry. 

At some point she seems to have undergone a fairly severe diet and fitness plan to become a better clothes hanger. I confess I find the slightly fuller version more fetching.

As a high school student at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Maryland she was on the field hockey team as a three-year varsity athlete, and as a member of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship team she earned honors and was awarded best offensive player. Recruited by several colleges to play field hockey, Rhoda deferred her college acceptances after she began a career in modeling during her sophomore year.
Some NSFW material from a photoshoot for Lui.

GOODSTUFFs BLOGGING MAGAZINE (302nd Issue) is celebrating National Hot Dog Day with the wienerlicious Yvonne Strahovski, plus plenty of wayward tangents.

Friday, July 21, 2017

New York Prepares to Freeze in the Winter

While other states go along, NY says no to gas pipelines
Bulldozers have already cleared a swath through Pennsylvania for the interstate Constitution Pipeline, which is planned to ship natural gas 125 miles to energy-hungry New York City and New England from Marcellus Shale deposits in northeastern Pennsylvania. But work stalled at the New York border last year, when that state’s Department of Environmental Conservation denied a necessary permit for the project.
. . .
The pipeline’s developer, a consortium of energy companies led by The Williams Co. Inc., has filed a lawsuit challenging the denial. The case, now pending before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is being closely watched as a bellwether that might influence other pipeline disputes.

Amid a nationwide boom in natural gas production, pipelines to transport the fuel to lucrative markets are being proposed and built all across the six-state Chesapeake Bay watershed. The projects are running into fierce, though mostly futile, resistance from environmentalists, farmers and other landowners.
. . .
“New York is fourth in the nation for natural gas use,” said Williams spokesman Christopher Stockton. “There has been tremendous support for this project. New York’s Southern Tier needs this opportunity.”

The pipeline would move 650 dekatherms of Marcellus gas, enough to power 3 million homes, Stockton said. Taps along the pipeline are being installed for local communities to use and for two of the largest employers in the area to access the gas.
Not being a resident of New York, I don't care if they choose to freeze, as long as they don't then try to move down here.

No Good Dead Goes Unpunished

For about 100 years, Conowingo Dam protected the Chesapeake Bay from vast amounts of sediment that washed down from farms in Pennsylvania and New York. Now that it is at capacity, and can no longer hold back the sediment, the usual suspects want to penalize the dam owners for all the good years it saved the Bay. An editorial from the Balmer Sun: Conowingo tango
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for Mr. Hogan to help reduce water pollution from the Susquehanna. There certainly is. He might, for instance, force the owner of the Conowingo Dam — Exelon Corp. — to contribute money toward anti-pollution efforts. The goal might be to at least reduce “scouring,” the tendency for severe weather to stir up sediment deposits behind the dam and worsen the situation. While we don’t expect the company to dredge all of the millions of tons of sediment, it might be able to do enough to reduce this effect.
He could also, say, for example, put a punitive tax on newsprint sold to the public to raise money for dredging the pool behind the damn.

Reason #5614 That Trump Was Elected

The damage from Obama is even more than we thought: It's Much Worse Than We Feared

Below the fold, I lifted the text out of the follow-up tweets to save load time. Prepare to be really depressed:

Fish Pic Friday - Bonito

Brooke with a good sized Bonito
Beautiful in Spanish and Portuguese:
Bonitos are a tribe of medium-sized, ray-finned predatory fish in the family Scombridae – a family it shares with the mackerel, tuna, and Spanish mackerel tribes, and also the butterfly kingfish. Also called the Sardini tribe, it consists of eight species across four genera; three of those four genera are monotypic, having a single species each.
Darcizzle with a Bonito

Bonito is an adjective that means "pretty" applied to males or masculine objects both in Portuguese and Spanish (Bonitais the feminine form), but it is unclear whether the name of the fish is related to this. However, it is said to be derived of the Italian "buono" and the Latin "bonus", meaning "good", probably referencing the great taste of the fish. 
Brooke with a Fat Albert
Confusing the issue further, the False Albacore, aka Fat Albert, aka Little Tunny, a similar shaped and size species, is often called a Bonito, too. Here's a guide on how to distinguish them.

The Bonita are widely thought to be excellent table fare while the False Albacore is not considered good eating by many fisherman on the East Coast. However see this rebuttal. I've heard their oil is indigestible and acts like Olestra. However, it is eaten by other cultures and thought to be good. Make your own best judgement.

A shark didn't mind the taste of Darcizzle's Little Tunny
A short quiz below. Bonito or Fat Albert?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Obamacare Repeal Failure Schadenfreude

via Theo's 
My goodness, one day, and the bin is mostly full again. Let's start with the usually perceptive Megan McArdle, brought to us as usual by Wombat-socho in "In The Mailbox: 07.18.17"Congress Achieves Bipartisan Failure on Obamacare:
On both a political and a policy level, this choice is sensible, even though it leaves Republicans in a tough place. The exchanges in many states have been troubled for years, and those troubles will now deepen as insurers wonder what the heck Obamacare is going to look like in a year or two. The only saving grace for Republicans is that if and when those exchanges fall into a deep decline, they will still be able to assign some of the blame to Democrats for their original sin in passing Obamacare.

 This should also give pause to Democrats who want to cheer “Obamacare is saved!” Obamacare is now in worse shape than ever. And Obamacare was not exactly in good shape before. Obamacare was, in fact, wheezing and sweat-soaked every time it had to walk from the couch to the fridge.

Time has not been kind to its individual market provisions, and now even more regulatory uncertainty surrounds the program. While Republicans deserve some of the blame for this state of affairs, Democrats cannot evade a much fuller measure of responsibility, because most of the program’s problems are congenital, not lifestyle-induced.
He also brings us Powerlines:  The Senate Repeal & Replace Fiasco

Senate GOP, White House Point Fingers After ObamaCare Repeal Collapse, Of course. As long as they have fingers, they'll point them. Democrats Will Soon Regret That Republicans Failed To Repeal ObamaCare. Nah, It's not like they care about actual results, it's just about how it sounds.  “It’s An Insane Process”: How Trump And Republicans Failed On Their Health-Care Bill. The Senate has insanity built into the process. Byron York: No surprise: On Obamacare, GOP senators don't do what they don't want to doRush On Health-Care Implosion: The Senate Is Now Being Run By Three Female Leftists. That may be a little strong. But just a little.

There is one other maneuver left and I’m far from the only person to bring it up. Mitch McConnell can pull the last supports out from under the bridge and go full nuclear. Get rid of the sixty vote requirement for any and all legislation. And then just repeal Obamacare (you can still put an end date on it of six months or a year or two if you really wish) and be done with it. It’s not as if the legislation doesn’t already exist. In an era where we’ve grown used to bills which are longer than an encyclopedia, this March Mo Brooks submitted a bill that was exactly one sentence long.
“Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,”


So what happens after that? It’s pretty much Armageddon. The media will sell the public on the idea of the GOP no longer simply pushing Granny off the cliff in her wheelchair, but actually burning her at the stake. The GOP will probably lose a massive number of seats in Congress next year and Trump would more than likely wind up being a one term president. But there would be a couple of other possible effects as well. For one thing, the GOP would have kept its promise. And for another, even if some of the “goodies” from Obamacare went away, insurance premium costs might start coming back down as competition increased and more options became available. That might not seem so bad after a while.
Hmmm.  From today's "In The Mailbox: 07.19.17", Don Surber argues that Trump can kill it with his pen and phone: Trump can dump Obamacare. Or there is the "let it die" option:  After Deciding to 'Just Let Obamacare Fail,' Trump Again Lobbying for Healthcare Bill.  Flogging a dead ass, Trump to Senate: Cancel Your August Recess and Get Obamacare Repeal Done.
Too late for now, but worth remembering next time: HHS analysis finds Cruz amendment lowers premiums, boosts enrollment. But as you might expect, the CBO estimate on Obamacare repeal projects 27 million people to "lose coverage" by 2020. Of course, the CBO projection of how many people Obamacare would enroll have never even been close. They do predict it would cut deficits by $476 billion between now and 2026. A worthy goal.

Reason #5613 That Trump Was Elected

Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced Wednesday that more than 15 alleged members of MS-13 – including six juveniles – have been arrested for five murders this year in Suffolk County.

He says the majority of the arrests were made on July 13 and the rest were made in "recent times."

Commissioner Sini says those arrested are accused in the Jan. 30 shooting death of 29-year old Esteban Alvardo Bonilla at a bodega in Central Islip, as well as in the April murders of four young men in a Central Islip park.

"Everyone involved in the bodega [shooting] is in custody. We made unbelievable progress in bringing all the perpetrators of the quadruple [homicide] to justice. The investigation remains active," says Sini.

Ten people have been charged in the quadruple homicide, including the six juveniles. Federal prosecutors have said two girls lured the four young men to the park in a premeditated setup. More than a dozen MS-13 gang members then allegedly surrounded them and attacked them with wooden clubs, knives and machetes.
Lovely. I can see why Democrats want open borders.

Thursday Tanlines

My own tanlines are coming along quite nicely, thank you; I have a dark "V" running down my chest from two days spent fishing in an open necked shirt, and the lines on my knees and ankles are quite well defined. Well then, how about some more celebrity tanlines?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quote du Jour

To be on the left today is to look around and see nutty ideas accepted as perfectly reasonable, everywhere and at all times. Speech is violence, but violent acts are just a really neat form of expression. Gender is a social construct, so you can be a boy on Monday and a girl on Tuesday. If Paul Ryan calls for a spending increase that’s less than what Democrats want, in the progressive imagination this amounts to pushing Granny off a cliff. If the federal government considers ending its subsidy for the leading abortion provider in the country, or if a House dress code that didn’t bother Nancy Pelosi is discovered to have lingered on into Ryan’s term, we’re living in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Kyle Smith - And that means Democrats’ time in the wilderness could last a long, long while

One can only hope.

Can Coal Ash Save the Bay?

Back in the early 1990s Dominion Energy, then Virginia Power, was churning out almost 175,000 tons of coal ash each year in Chesapeake and needed a way to recycle it.

The company would soon discover plenty of ways: Fly ash helped build Harbor Park, the Suffolk Bypass and parts of the Chesapeake Expressway.

But in 1994, a Virginia Power engineer approached some local scientists with a different idea: Using coal ash to build artificial oyster reefs.

It took a few years, but they did it – just one reef.

It still sits today in an inlet of Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge, southeast of the last leg of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It's owned by the government. A multi-year study found it was just as effective as traditional reef bases, and didn't leach dangerous elements into the water. But dwindling interest from Virginia Power and a lack of funds ultimately killed the project, and no more coal ash reefs were built locally.

But back in the '90s, the engineer's idea appeared mutually beneficial: Scientists could test a new way to help revive the oyster population, and the power company could get rid of the stuff from the Chesapeake Energy Center.

At the time, the Chesapeake Bay oyster population was struggling, said Mark Luckenbach, a marine science professor at the College of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. A Virginian-Pilot report from 1994 said the bay was "virtually empty" of oysters.

Marine researchers then, as now, were experimenting with different materials – known as substrates – that could be used to build artificial oyster reefs.

Virginia Power's engineer had seen an experiment from Texas in which coal ash was mixed with cement to form pellets – ranging in size from tennis balls to baseballs – as the base for artificial reefs. The engineer has since retired and Dominion could not find someone to comment on the decades-old project.

 So how did it work out?

The ash bases worked about as effectively as the commonly used shell and granite reefs, the report says. The oysters would be safe for human consumption, according to the report. Most elements in the water were well below the levels of concern for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Both laboratory and field studies indicate that Virginia Power's stabilized ash is an acceptable substrate for oyster settlement and growth, and has no detrimental effect to either oyster populations or the surrounding environment," the researchers wrote.

Wesson said "everything passed with flying colors as far as safety." Where are all the other coal ash reefs, then?

There are none. After the yearslong test run, Dominion started finding other ways to get rid of the fly ash, such as selling it to builders as construction material, and abandoned the reef project.
So it works fine, and has no environmental side effects. What went wrong? Nothing really; it just wasn't cost effective on the part of the power company. If some group agreed to buy the coal ash and turn it into "oyster nuggets" it would be a good thing. There is a need for suitable substrate for setting and growing oysters in the Bay. Shell has been moved from all over, at significant expense;

Apocalypse Postponed

Climate Scientist Moves Global Meltdown from 2018 to 2168
In 1988, climate change “scientist” James Hansen predicted that within 20 to 30 years New York City’s West Side Highway would “be under water.”

“And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds,” Hansen said at the time, as recalled by reporter Bob Reiss during an interview 16 years ago with Salon. “And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change. There will be more police cars … (because) you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

Uh huh …

That was about 30 years ago, yet not surprisingly, New York City remains OK for the most part, save for its radical leftist mayor, Bill de Blasio.

So now that Hansen’s predictions about New York City being flooded have clearly not come true, what has he done? Surprise, surprise — the fake “scientist” has upgraded his prediction by claiming in a paper published last year that if the United States continues to use fossil fuels, sea levels would increase by “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years.”

And just last week he addressed the prospect of further temperature increases during an interview with New York magazine. Keep in mind that Hansen predicted in a greenhouse model that there would be “an increase of from two to five degrees Fahrenheit” in global temperatures by 2018, as quoted from December 1998 edition of Spin magazine.

“I don’t think we’re going to get four or five degrees this century, because we get a cooling effect from the melting ice,” he said last week. “But the biggest effect will be that melting ice. In my opinion that’s the big thing – sea-level rise – because we have such a large fraction of people on coastlines, more than half of the large cities in the world are on coastlines.”
And yet, still no sign of the promised acceleration of sea level rise over the last century.

It's become such a problem that global warming merchants have begun the practice of adjusting the past satellite data, lowering old rates of sea level rise, so that more recent rates will be elevated by comparison. Unfortunately, the individual tidal charts, like that of Baltimore above, are no subject to those "tweaks." At least not yet.

Reason #5612 That Trump Was Elected

Maine Town Resorts To Hiring Americans As Visas Run Out
That really sounds like something out of The Onion, doesn’t it? I mean, a headline like that one has to be satire. And yet it’s a very real story brought to us by The Daily Caller this week. Their title, while a bit more direct, has the same impact. “Shortage Of Foreign Labor Forces Maine Businesses To Hire Local Workers.” The location is Bar Harbor, Maine, and yes, my friends… the struggle is real.
Businesses in Bar Harbor, Maine are turning to locals to make up for a shortage of foreign guest workers that normally fill summer jobs in the bustling seaside resort town.
Because the H-2B visa program has already reached its annual quota, Bar Harbor’s hotels, restaurants and shops can’t bring in any more foreign workers for the rest of the busy summer tourist season. Like hundreds of similar coastal resort towns, Bar Harbor has for many years depended on the H-2B visas for temporary workers. The program allows non-agricultural companies to bring in foreign labor if they are unable to find suitable employees domestically.
Now they are coming up with creative ways to attract local labor, reports the Bangor Daily News.
The use of temporary “guest worker” programs is problematic to begin with (at least for some of us) but at least on paper these jobs seem to qualify. If you look at the qualifying conditions for the program, so-called “seasonal work” is a valid reason to seek out H-2B visa holders. Still, in a capitalist society, it rings a bit of a sour note when you see a system which is actively built on using foreign workers before exhausting all possible hires of citizens.
I know, Trump hasn't clamped down on the H-2B visas. In fact, he's increased them by 15,000, and use them at Mar-a-Lago. He should be careful, because that's not why he was elected. There's a fine line between not having enough labor, and not being willing to pay what the market will bear.

Thanks for the Tips!

When you think of the word “gamer,” the first thing that comes to mind isn’t “puritan who is offended by bare female skin.” But that’s exactly who the “gamers” are on NeoGAF, the world’s largest and most influential gaming forum.

With the rise of feminism in video games, most of the forum’s wrongthinkers were purged from the ranks and the only ones remaining are millennial schoolmarms, who are more than eager to share their disdain about characters who appear to be “too sexy” to them.
Ivy from Soul Calibur

Living on a drip-feed of Feminist Frequency videos, some of its users participated in a new thread called “Worst Female Character Design in Gaming.” Quiet, the scantily dressed sniper character from Metal Gear Solid 5 was at the top of the list and suggested by the thread’s creator.

Others complained about Ivy from the Soul Calibur series; Fiore Brunelli from Star Ocean V for her sexy harlequin costume; and “the Xenoblade 2 girl” whose name they can’t remember was also brought up.

The women who wear “sexy armor” in the Fire Emblem games were also deemed “awful.”
Fiore Brunelli, Star Ocean V

NieR Automata‘s 2B was also cited as an offensive character because her tiny skirt often exposed her legs and groin. Oh

One user mentioned Prince of Persia: Warrior Within’s Shadee, whose ass is exposed. “I mean, yikes…” he wrote. I doubt he has the same reaction when he logs onto his Pornhub account.

Some were unimpressed by Lara Croft’s everyday, real-world hiker look in the new Tomb Raider games. But they probably wouldn’t be complaining about it if Anita didn’t already raise a stink about the tightness of her pants.
NieR Automata‘s 2B

The large breasts of one of the main characters in Valkyria Revolution were also cited as a problem.

Another raised complaints about a Hyrule Warriors character because her design appeared to be guilty of “cultural appropriation” as she had tribal tattoos. Sheva’s tribal outfit in Resident Evil 5? Also problematic, because the game’s “imagery featuring a white man gunning down Africans” is “racist” because it’s set in Africa.

Sheva, Resident Evil 5

Bayonetta, a character that was lauded as empowering by many female gamers, including progressive games journalist Leigh Alexander at the time of the game’s original release, is also cited as a bad design.

It many ways it can be quite surprising to see a group of obviously male gamers all feigning offense to the various sexy female character designs in video games because they think it’s how they’re supposed to react because of feminism—especially when female gamers fully embrace the aesthetic, sometimes even by cosplaying those characters in real life.
It won't help them get laid.  We've come a long way from the Princess Toadstool Peach in Super Mario Bros., baby!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Judge Orders Additional Arsenic Testing at Elizabeth River Power Plant

Virginia’s largest utility must submit a revised plan for dealing with its leaking piles of coal ash at a retired power plant in Chesapeake and conduct at least two years of environmental testing at the site, a federal judge ordered.

U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr.’s order last week came after he ruled earlier this year in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club that the coal ash at Dominion Energy Virginia’s Chesapeake plant was polluting surrounding waters with arsenic. After hearing arguments on each party’s proposed remediation measures, Gibney ruled Thursday on what he would require.

Dominion burned coal for decades at the plant, which sits on the Elizabeth River near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. A landfill, pond and pits at the site hold around 2.8 million cubic yards of ash, the heavy metal-laden byproduct that’s left behind when coal is burned.

Gibney ruled in March that arsenic was flowing from the Chesapeake Energy Center in violation of the federal Clean Water Act but not at a level harmful to health or the environment.

In his Thursday order, he wrote that the utility must conduct sampling of water, sediment and the tissue of species including blue crabs, softshell clams and mussels beginning in the late summer or early fall of this year.

He also ordered Dominion to submit a new solid waste permit application to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for disposal of the ash that includes “corrective measures for the discharge of groundwater and shall not include a plan to cap the coal ash in place.”

Dominion had initially proposed leaving the ash in place but covering it with a waterproof, synthetic layer, plus two additional feet of soil and vegetation. The Sierra Club wanted the site fully excavated and the ash moved to a synthetically lined landfill, though Gibney said in his March ruling that “draconian” request wouldn’t serve the public’s interest.
I hereby predict that the studies will find no enrichment of arsenic in the animal tissues, and that any concentrations in the water and sediment will be essentially indistinguishable from the already otherwise polluted Elizabeth River. It will turn out to be a gargantuan waste time and money.   And that was the point.

A Fustercluck of Obamacare Schadenfreude

Chuck Schumer Admits Obama Health Payments Violated The Constitution. But kind of surreptitiously. Like the constitution even matters anymore.

John McCain’s Medical Problems Are Mitch McConnell’s Political Woes McConnell Delays Health-Care Vote As McCain Recovers From Surgery  You don't really need that part of your brain. Yes, they needed his vote, but they needed more than that. Maybe a spine transplant.

Not that it matters for now, but Why the Cruz amendment is smart policy
The Cruz amendment -- which has been inserted into the GOP Senate health plan -- is smart, because it doesn't take anything away from anyone. If you want Obamacare -- you can have it. You can have the coverage for the 10 "essential benefits,‎" you can have the subsidies and the exchanges that were supposed to save $2,500 per family. It's still there for you.

The Cruz‎ amendment creates what is called a "Consumer Freedom Option." This essentially allows an "off-ramp" from Obamacare for the tens of millions of Americans who don't want it. The "Consumer Freedom Option" allows insurers who offer Obamacare-compliant plans to offer a range of much less costly plans. In other words, it empowers people and families to pick and choose what they want in their own insurance package. Some families want and can afford blanket coverage that insures them for everything from cancer to contraceptives to drug addiction to dental care to the sniffles. If you want to pay for that coverage, go for it. ‎

What about families or individuals with lower incomes or healthy life styles that want the other extreme? They want slimmed-down coverage that protects them from major medical expenses -- a bad injury like breaking a leg, or a serious disease with costly ongoing treatments. ‎These families may voluntarily choose to pay for more routine medical expenses, like a checkup or a visit to the dentist's office, out of pocket. One benefit is that since more people will pay directly for medical services, they are likely to shop around for the best price, and this competition will lower prices for everyone.

In other words, the Cruz amendment is pro-choice -- which I thought was one of the anthems of liberalism. Cruz told me that he believes that based on the preliminary numbers that this approach could save tens of millions of Americans as much as 30% on their health costs. That's thousands of dollars of savings per family.
But is it The tweak that could cost Mike Lee's vote and sink the healthcare bill? Apparently so: 2 more GOP senators oppose health bill, killing it for now. Lee was one of the two. Rand Paul: Republican Health Care Bill ‘Keeps the Fundamental Flaw of Obamacare’ aka the mandate.  Health care bill collapse leaves divided GOP at crossroads

Foreshadowing: The Coming GOP Electoral 'Health Care' Disaster RAND PAUL: Retaining instead of repealing Obamacare will be Republicans’ undoing.
If we are to subsidize health insurance, why not food? Or water? Or housing? You may respond, yes, but we already do that. You are right we have subsidized, for the poor, food and housing, but we didn’t, until now, attempt to subsidize a market item for all.
With this bill, Senate Republicans declare they have overcome Hayek’s protestations about the pretense of knowledge — the idea that no central planner can know enough to engineer an economy successfully.
With this bill, Senate Republicans declare they have the knowledge to determine and correct prices for millions of Americans who purchase health insurance. Pretense? You bet it is.

Markets are incredibly complex interactions between millions of people in a nearly simultaneous bazaar of trading. No one man or woman possesses that knowledge, so anyone who sets or attempts to set prices for health insurance is doomed to fail.
And mark my words, this Senate Healthcare bill will fail just as its twin Obamacare has, for they suffer from the same pretense of knowledge. No one is smart enough to plan even the simplest of marketplace prices — no matter how much data is available.
Entitlements are just as addicting for politicians of either party as they are for their beneficiaries — a fact Democrats have been counting on for generations.
McConnell To Push Repeal Only After Collapse Of Healthcare Bill

And the final insult? Two GOP senators to vote against ObamaCare repeal-only bill Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Susan Collins, can't give up the Medicaid expansion.

The Republican never miss another opportunity to miss an opportunity. Party of Fail: Senate Pulls Plug on Obamacare "Repeal"Obamacare Survives Thanks to Republican Moral Narcissism. The best has become the enemy of the good.

Don't blame Trump for Republican healthcare woes
So, it's true that a more engaged and informed president may have helped along the process more than Trump has, but it's also true that at the end of the day, Trump is going to sign anything Republicans can get through Congress and he will boast that it is a major win and the greatest piece of legislation in galactic history. The chaos we're seeing, thus, goes way beyond Trump.
Trump blindsided by implosion of GOP health care bill If so, he needs to examine his expectations of his colleagues in Congress. 'We'll let Obamacare fail!' Trump says replacing insurance law will be easier once chaos erupts because 'the Democrats are going to come to us' When inaction becomes action?

Via Wombat-socho's "in The Mailbox: 7.17.17", the estimable Megan McArdle point outs Taxing Hospitals Is a Lousy Way to Fix Health Care. You tax things you want less of, not more of.

Reason #5610 and #5611 That Trump Was Elected

Two for today, both via the Washington Examiner. First, not content to merely make America energy self sufficient Rick Perry says "We aim for energy domination"
Washington Examiner: Shell is building a cracker plant not far from here. Is that part of the equation of creating an energy hub in this region? Explain what a cracker plant is, because when people who are not from an energy state hear "cracker plants," they think it's a plant that makes saltines.

Perry: (laughing) Well, this is cracking those molecules so that you can have different byproducts — ethane, ethylene — that go into the petrochemical industry, and yes, that is adding value. That is creating a hub. If you just took that gas and burned it at a power plant, it's sort of like cooking your breakfast using $100 bills. It will cook your breakfast, but it's a pretty expensive way to do it.

But if you take that gas, process it, crack it, send different streams different ways to be used in a lot of valued-added processing, that can happen right here in this region. So, one job becomes 10 jobs. And those are high-value jobs.

The other side of what it does, President Trump's vision of making America dominant in the energy field — this is exactly what he's talking about. He doesn't want us just to be independent. He wants us to be dominant. That means that our allies, wherever they may be in the world, know that there will be a constant stream of these products that they need to develop their countries economically.

All of our allies are very interested in our being able to develop different energy sources, LNG in particular. I mean, this is a game changer.
Read the whole thing. I see the value of Perry as Energy Secretary. I had my doubts about Perry as President, but he seems well suited for this gig.

Second, the Border Patrol union chief praises 'miraculous' drop in illegal immigration under Trump 
The significant downturn in the number of illegal border crossers between the U.S. and Mexico is "nothing short of miraculous," National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said on C-SPAN Monday.

"As far as the Trump administration's efforts on immigration, this is something they campaigned heavily on," he said. "At six months, where we are on meeting those promises, we are seeing nothing short of miraculous. If you look at the rhetoric that President Trump has given, it has caused a number of illegal border crossings to go down. We have never seen such a drop that we currently have."

"There's a vibe, there's an energy in the Border Patrol that's never been there before in 20 years that I've been in the patrol," Judd added in a separate Fox News interview.

This month, Customs and Border Protection reported a 53 percent decrease in the number of apprehensions at the southwest border since last year. The number also includes those deemed inadmissible. CBP sees apprehensions as a proxy for how many people are trying to cross the border, and says the drop in apprehensions indicates a drop in attempted illegal crossings.

Judd said the Trump administration commanded in two executive orders for border agents to fully carry out related laws, while the Obama administration kept agents from doing their jobs as was intended.
The democrats were unhappy with their citizens and wanted to buy a new set.

Dr. What?

Debate has been whirring over who would play the Doctor ever since Peter Capaldi announced in January that he was leaving the programme.

Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.
My question: Will she have a perky, smart male as a companion to help her out, and provide a little bit (just a subdued, British amount) of sexual tension?
“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

Emily Cook, editorial assistant at Doctor Who magazine, said: “I am very excited about this. As soon as I saw Jodie Whittaker appear on the video in the BBC clip announcing her, it just felt right – she just felt like the Doctor.
I mean, as long as you're in the business of switching bodies every few years, why not?
Having a female Doctor is really exciting and significant. I cannot wait to see what she does with the role and where she takes the show.

“She will bring a freshness. She is younger than Peter Capaldi and, being a woman, she will have a different approach to the role. It’s completely new territory for the show and that is very exciting. Whittaker has worked with David Tennant on Broadchurch and St Trinian’s so there is a strong Doctor Who connection there.”

Erica Lear, the social secretary at the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, said: “I think it’s very brave but she is a brilliant actress. I did not expect it but I think it’s brilliant. My only wish was that we have a good actor and that is what we have.”
 She does have an impressive list of movie and TV credits for someone who started acting in 2006.
But Lear noted that the appointment might divide opinion. “It will spark debate and split fandom; there will be lots of people not happy with the decision but it’s up to the new series to change their mind.”

Sebastian J Brook, site editor at Doctor Who Online, said: “Today’s announcement has been a shock for many fans, but this is a show about change, and perhaps now is the time that we all get behind the idea of a female Doctor?”
I should note that in her first film, Venus (2006) she found it advantageous to do some NSFW work.

Hot Air: Doctor Who As A Woman Really Isn’t “Controversial,” And Is Kinda Cool. I haven't watched Dr. Who in years, but who knows, maybe this will prompt me.

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Learned Some History Today

Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas
A story about how Capt. John Smith marked the limits of his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay with brass Maltese Crosses, or crosses cut into tree bark:  Cap'n Jack charted the Chesapeake -- but where are his crosses?
It was a tantalizing find, a possible solution to a four-century-old mystery, and it sent a shiver of excitement through the small band of obsessive amateur historians who continue to search for artifacts from Captain John Smith's legendary voyages of exploration of the Chesapeake Bay in 1608.

The discovery, in June 2010, by Maryland archaeologist Darrin Lowery, on Mockhorn Island, a marshy expanse on the Atlantic side of Virginia's Eastern Shore, was a small, metal Maltese cross.

Lowery, who has turned up more than 700 ancient artifacts in his extensive fieldwork, was immediately intrigued when a colleague literally stepped on the cross at low tide. The object caught his eye because it resembled the Maltese design of the 27 crosses that Smith depicted on the famous map of the bay he made to mark the high points of his explorations.

Smith wrote in his journal and histories that he carved crosses into trees and nailed up brass versions of the cross "to signify to any that Englishmen had been there." In effect, he was stamping the area "Property of England."
It turned out to be a false alarm; the cross wasn't old enough to be one of Smith's.

Smith's map (click to enlarge):

A modern version with the Bay turned to the now traditional "North up" orientation. I have to say, Capt. Smith really got around.

The Chesapeake Bay conservancy is erecting stone markers close to where they believe Smith's markers to be. Red crosses show where stone markers have been placed.

I Guess There's a Scientist for Everything

Chesapeake Bay’s ugliest fish gets high-tech TLC
“Toadfishes are very different from a usual fish,” says Diego Vaz, who is studying the creatures for his doctoral research at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “They have a stocky body, a flattened head, and very large pectoral fins.”

They also have bulging eyes, fleshy ‘whiskers’, and the ability to make noises variously described as grunts, growls, and hums. Some people think they sound like a vibrating cell phone.The oyster toadfish Opsanus tau is the single toadfish species in Chesapeake Bay. Courtesy of D. Vaz.
It is also widely reported that they have poisonous spines, but as far as I know that's not true. However they do have a mouth full of teeth and a strong jaw and can inflict a painful bite if carelessly handled.
Oyster toadfish, also called oyster crackers for their ability to crush the shells of the tasty bivalves, are the only toadfish species in Chesapeake Bay, where they play an important role as predators of young crabs.

But all told, there are thought to be 82 species worldwide, including several in the tropical waters off Brazil, where Vaz grew up.
I tried to find a picture of a good looking girl holding a toadfish, but all my regular sources failed me. Apparently good looking girls have better sense than to pose with a toadfish. However, you can buy an oyster toadfish t-shirt, which was modeled by one.
It is partly this diversity that drew him to the study of the toadfish family; he was also fascinated by their unusual reproductive behavior.

“Unlike most marine fishes, which have free-swimming larvae, oyster toadfish build nests and take care of the eggs” he explains. “And it is the males that do so—they attract females to the nest during mating season with vocalizations produced by a swim bladder that has sonic muscles attached to it.”

Yet details of toadfish behavior and biology are known for only a few species. “For most toadfishes,” says Vaz, “basic information is lacking—we’re unsure of their anatomy, modes of reproduction, age to maturity, whether males and females differ, and so on. Several species are known from just a few specimens, and one, a toadfish from South Africa, is based on study of a single fish.
They are edible, and reportedly have a sweet, white meat. However, the head to fish ration is pretty daunting

Reason #5609 That Trump Was Elected

Judicial Watch released 448 pages of documents Friday showing further incidences that Huma Abedin, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff in the State Department, gave special treatment to Clinton Foundation donors while Clinton served as Secretary of State.
. . .
The newly released documents reveal multiple instances of Clinton Foundation donors receiving favors from the State Department. In addition, Clinton Global Initiative executive Doug Band featured prominently throughout the pages as he appeared to wield his influence in Clinton's State Department. Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, also acted as a sort of go-between for Abedin and Clinton Foundation donor Richard Park.

As Judicial Watch's press release read, "A number of emails show the free flow of information and requests for favors between Clinton's State Department and the Clinton Foundation."

Band ordered Abedin in one exchange to "show love to" Clinton Foundation donor Andrew Liveris, asking that Abedin "mention both me and wjc," an apparent reference to former President Bill Clinton. Liveris is the CEO of Dow Chemical, a company that donated at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Band also requested that Clinton consider granting Clinton Foundation contributor Karlheinz Koegel's request that she speak at an event.

Rodham also lobbied for his friend, Clinton donor Richard Park, to receive access to Clinton. Park asked Rodham to forward a speaking request for Bill Clinton "to your sister" for her to pass along.

Clinton donor Ben Ringel emailed Abedin and requested that she help an Iranian woman obtain a U.S. visa, writing, "We need to get her clearance even only temporary to be with her granddaughter." Band also used Abedin to help Canadian Clinton donor Michael Cohl obtain a visa. In both cases, Abedin complied and forwarded on the email requests.

Judicial Watch president says new FBI director should reopen 'misdirected' Clinton case
An email exchange from May 2009 showed Abedin informing Band that Clinton's then-chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was working "under the radar" on a "career post" at the State Department. As an executive with the Clinton Global Initiative, Band did not need to be involved in the inner workings of the State Department. But Abedin also discussed the U.S. ambassadorship to Barbados with Band after her recommended a candidate to fill the position. Abedin told Band, "I know, he's emailed a few times. But she wants to give to someone else."
Hillary Clinton, the best government money could buy.

Trouble for the "Out of Africa" Hypothesis?

Dienekes thinks that new results may be suggesting that the "Out of Africa" hypothesis of the origin of anatomically modern humans may be faulty, and that the split between modern man, Neandertal and Denisovans may have occurred in Eurasia: Deepest Neandertal mtDNA split
The authors interpret the new result from HST as placing a lower boundary on an introgression from Africans to Neandertals at more than 290kya, which explains why Africans are genomically closer to Neandertals than to Denisovans.

Of course, when one looks at the mitochondrial phylogeny, it has the form:

(Denisovans, (Neandertals, Modern Humans))

Within the Modern Humans, Eurasians are a branch of a tree which is mostly African. This has been interpreted for decades as evidence for the Out of Africa hypothesis for the origin of Modern Humans. But, within the phylogeny as a whole, Modern Humans are a branch of the Eurasian tree. This has not (why?) in general been interpreted as evidence for Out of Eurasia for the common ancestor of Modern Humans and Neandertals.

It seems to me that this hypothesis, that Modern Humans and Neandertals stem from a non-African ancestor (a non-African population of H. heidelbergensis, for example), has much to recommend it.

Eurasia has twice the size of Africa and has been home to hominins for ~1.8 million years. It was inhabited by diverse hominins, and thanks to blind luck we discovered that as late as a few tens of thousands years ago, it also sported two of the populations that split off before anyone else: first H. floresiensis, and second Denisovans.

While a North African source of modern humans is plausible, the data seems to favor a Eurasian origin of the (Modern Human, Neandertal) ancestor.
I guess the science isn't quite settled yet.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

But Will He Rise to Walk Again? - RIP George Romero

George A Romero, Night of the Living Dead director, dies aged 77
George A Romero, director of horror classic Night of the Living Dead, has died. He was 77.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Romero’s producing partner Peter Grunwald said the director died in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer”.

Night of the Living Dead, a micro-budget zombie film combining horror and social satire, which Romero co-wrote with John Russo, was released in 1968 and became a cult classic. It spawned a series: Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead. The last was released in 2009.

Romero was born in the Bronx, in New York City, on 4 February 1940, to a Cuban father and a Lithuanian-American mother. He began his filmmaking career as a commercial director before finding his niche in horror. Indelibly associated with the zombie movie, he came to be seen as a master of the entire genre.

The label did not weigh heavy. In an interview with the AV Club in 2008, Romero said: “Everybody asks Stephen King how he feels about Hollywood ruining his books, and the first thing he says is, ‘The books aren’t ruined. Here they are, on the shelf behind me.’ And I sorta feel the same way. My stuff is my stuff. Sometimes it’s not as successful as some of the other stuff. But it’s my stuff.”

In a 2014 interview with NPR, Romero said he “never expected” his career to be defined by zombies. “All I did was I took them out of ‘exotica’ and I made them the neighbors,” he said, pointing to the success of his uncanny and chilling films that used terrifying effects, makeup and cuts to satirise consumerism, racism and other social horrors. “I thought there’s nothing scarier than the neighbors!”
As far as I know, and I have to admit I haven't studied it deeply, Romero was the person who really made zombism a communicable disease resulting in an uncontrollable urge to eat brains. In the old Haitian mythology, zombies were supposed to be dead reanimated by Voodoo priests called bokors, and may in a few cases, been the living, drugged into slavery.

Beach Report 7/16/17

Another day, even cooler and nicer than yesterday, so Georgia, Skye and I rode down to the beach for a walk after lunch. The water was kind of dirty though, with lots of loose algae (Ulva) and shredded leaves.
Weird stuff going by. I have no clue what this is that's being towed down the bay under a canopy.
Skye was in heaven, with lots of people telling her how pretty she was an offering free pets. We need to find a way to monetize this.

 A great day for a paddle.