Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween Again!

Stolen from Mike Rose...

Canada, the Mediocre

How do you motivate a lucky country to do anything of global import and consequence? That seems to have been one of the biting lines of inquiry — at least in respect of Canadian performance in world affairs — coming out of a recent conference at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies to mark the 10th anniversary of the formal genesis of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which states that countries ought to have legal obligations to intervene abroad to protect innocent civilians from genocide and crimes against humanity.

Indeed, hockey is the only domain at all in which Canada consistently requires unconditional and unapologetic superiority by Canadians at the highest levels of international competition. In most other domains of professional life — from sports to business, science, the arts and, to be sure, international affairs — a still extant colonial geist, supplemented by an exceptionally generous (to Canada) 20th century, have left us largely self-content in a collective stupor of mediocrity, if not outright apathy. Canadian citizens certainly experience their share of private tragedy, but have, in recent history, endured relatively few public tragedies. This has left us hard-pressed to see the urgency of being first-in-class to broker a major peace, fight a major war, stop a foreign genocide, troubleshoot an international disaster, transform the condition of an impoverished or oppressed land, create transformational companies or indeed win a gold medal of any variety.
The author goes on to presuppose that a weakened US will not have the will, the military might or the funds to continue to cover Canada in it's security umbrella, and further supposes that global warming, the all purpose excuse (is there anything it can't cause?) will make Canada more vulnerable to invasion.  But I know that Canada will never be invaded. And here's why:

My effusive thanks to The One and Only Wombat over at the The Other McCain, who acknowledged all my Rule 5 ramblings from last week in his weekly canonical Rule 5 compilation.

The Cain Accusations

As virtually anyone with any interest in news probably knows by now, Politico (no link; they don't deserve even the minor traffic I would generate) floated some incendiary charges against GOP presidential candidate, Herman Cain, that in the 1990s, when he was CEO of  the National Restaurant Association, he was accused of sexual harassment by two women. The women have not come forward, but Politico alleges that:
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.
In one case, it is alleged that Cain commented that the woman was about as tall as his wife (who is quite short, apparently around 5' and made a gesture to show how tall she was:
"She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying -- and I was standing close to her -- and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.'" At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin. "And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable," Cain said, "something that was in the sexual harassment charge."
Hey, that's easily worth $100,000, don't you think?

So we have women, who, if they are telling the truth, are violating their confidentiality agreement, claiming that Cain did something they really won't tell us about, except that it made them angry...  As Insty asks, would they run a story on Obama that was based on such poorly sourced data?  At least Anita Hill came forward by name.

True story.  Back in the 90s, while Herman Cain was CEO of the restaurant association, I had a technician, let's call her "Flo", who was a very good, very conscientious worker.  She was also a devout Christian, of a fairly fundamentalist sect, and took her religion very seriously.  She and I did a lot of work to together, and when things don't work, I'm prone to swearing.  Yep, bad habit, I know.  I don't swear at people but I do swear at situations and my own screw ups.  "Flo" didn't like that, and reported it to one of my superiors, who almost apologetically reported it to me during an annual evaluation.  I tried to do better around "Flo" in the meantime, and we parted on good terms when she went back to school.

I still swear at shit...  Anyway, somewhere, ensconced in a file at an institution I no longer work at, is a piece of paper that claims I say bad things to women, on occasion, just waiting to rear it's ugly head the day I try to run for national office.

Spooks of Chesapeake Bay

The most haunted lighthouse in America: The lighthouse at Point Lookout State Park, Maryland

"All of a sudden, the room turned bitter cold - even though the thermometer still read 100 degrees." – Eyewitness encounter at Point Lookout lighthouse

The most consistently haunted feature of Point Lookout is the lighthouse, which was first constructed in 1830. It has been featured on shows such as the Travel Channel’s Weird Travels and TLC's Haunted Lighthouses for paranormal activity ranging from strange odors that come only at night to spirits that have saved the lives of park employees living in the house.

After years of reported sightings, smells and sounds, the famous pioneer paranormal researcher Hans Holzer investigated. He recorded 24 different sounds and voices in and around the lighthouse using electric voice phenomena (EVPs).

One of these voices – heard saying, "This is my home" – is suspected to be Ann Davis, wife of the lighthouse's first keeper. Ann maintained the lighthouse long after her husband died. She has been seen standing at the top of the staircase, wearing a white blouse and blue skirt. But she is far from the only apparition people have experienced at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now maintained by the state of Maryland and is open only a few times a year. But if you’re really fearless, you can sign up for a Paranormal Night, when small groups can investigate the lighthouse after dark.
See the rest...

Why Eco Models Are Wrong

When it comes to assigning blame for the current economic doldrums, the quants who build the complicated mathematic financial risk models, and the traders who rely on them, deserve their share of the blame. [See “A Formula For Economic Calamity” in the November 2011 issue]. But what if there were a way to come up with simpler models that perfectly reflected reality? And what if we had perfect financial data to plug into them?

Incredibly, even under those utterly unrealizable conditions, we'd still get bad predictions from models.

The reason is that current methods used to “calibrate” models often render them inaccurate.

That's what Jonathan Carter​ stumbled on in his study of geophysical models. Carter wanted to observe what happens to models when they're slightly flawed--that is, when they don't get the physics just right. But doing so required having a perfect model to establish a baseline. So Carter set up a model that described the conditions of a hypothetical oil field, and simply declared the model to perfectly represent what would happen in that field--since the field was hypothetical, he could take the physics to be whatever the model said it was. Then he had his perfect model generate three years of data of what would happen. This data then represented perfect data. So far so good.

The next step was "calibrating" the model. Almost all models have parameters that have to be adjusted to make a model applicable to the specific conditions to which it's being applied--the spring constant in Hooke's law, for example, or the resistance in an electrical circuit. Calibrating a complex model for which parameters can't be directly measured usually involves taking historical data, and, enlisting various computational techniques, adjusting the parameters so that the model would have "predicted" that historical data. At that point the model is considered calibrated, and should predict in theory what will happen going forward.

Carter had initially used arbitrary parameters in his perfect model to generate perfect data, but now, in order to assess his model in a realistic way, he threw those parameters out and used standard calibration techniques to match his perfect model to his perfect data. It was supposed to be a formality--he assumed, reasonably, that the process would simply produce the same parameters that had been used to produce the data in the first place. But it didn't. It turned out that there were many different sets of parameters that seemed to fit the historical data. And that made sense, he realized--given a mathematical expression with many terms and parameters in it, and thus many different ways to add up to the same single result, you'd expect there to be different ways to tweak the parameters so that they can produce similar sets of data over some limited time period.

The problem, of course, is that while these different versions of the model might all match the historical data, they would in general generate different predictions going forward--and sure enough, his calibrated model produced terrible predictions compared to the "reality" originally generated by the perfect model. Calibration--a standard procedure used by all modelers in all fields, including finance--had rendered a perfect model seriously flawed. Though taken aback, he continued his study, and found that having even tiny flaws in the model or the historical data made the situation far worse. "As far as I can tell, you'd have exactly the same situation with any model that has to be calibrated," says Carter.
Essentially, it boils down to my central problem with models of all sorts. By definition, models are an attempted simulation of "the truth", using available data and the rules of physics, and additional rules that appear to govern the behavior of systems (often statistical rules, which have no fundamental mechanism behind them), to predict future behavior.  What Carter has shown is that the necessary incompleteness of the data, as well as the fact that data is always measured with some error, results in propagation of errors (by error, I mean statistical error, which is a difference between the calculated value and a theoretical "true" value) through the modeling process until the results of the modeling not well predict the future outcome of the system.

Scientific American would like you to think that this applies uniquely to the economic models that are used to predict the outcomes in the financial world.  It does not.  It applies broadly to a wide range of model that are used in public policy.  Ecological, meteorological and climatological modeling all depend on the same calibration procedures.

Such models are being used to estimate the effects of nutrients on Chesapeake Bay, and to set rather firm targets for the amount of nutrients that different industries, and different jurisdictions are permitted to release.  The industries and jurisdictions affected all say the models are inadequate.  The regulators insist they're good enough to make important financial decisions (for someone else) on.

Climate modelers insist that, even though they don't really understand the effects of clouds on the earth's climate, and how cosmic rays interact with the atmosphere to alter them, their models are good enough to govern the world's industrial output with, even though, without exception, their past predictions have always failed to come true.  "This time, we're right", they insist.

Meteorological modelers seem to be at least to be the most realistic.  They don't predict too long in advance, and they have a lot of different models that they use for guidance.  The best example is tropical storm/hurricane forecasts.  The classic "spaghetti" tracks of their multiple models for storm tracks tell you two things.  First, a general indication of where a storm is likely to go, and second, and possible more important, how much confidence they place in those forecasts.  If they all agree pretty well, and you're in the path, get your storm shutters out.  If one of ten tracks has you in the storm, at the outer edge of a tangled mess of predictions, you might want to wait a little longer before going out to buy them.  The nice thing about weather models is that tomorrow, or even ten days out, comes pretty soon, and you get to test your models against the truth pretty often.  That's not true with most ecological or climatological models.

"Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful." - George E. Box

Happy Halloween!

A few Halloween pinups:

First, some old ones.  One by Alberto Vargas:
One by Gil Elvgren:

One by George Petty Kent Steine: 

Update 3/17/12:  I've just receive a very gracious email from the actual artist of the picture below, who is not George Petty as I had thought, but rather Kent Steine.  My apologies for the confusion.

Shark Tries, Rejects Surfer

Surfer airlifted to hospital after being bitten in the neck and arm by a shark
A shark attacked a surfer off a California beach on Saturday, biting him in the neck and arm and sending him to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Eric Tarantino, of Monterey, was attacked around 7am, just minutes after he and a friend entered the water at Marina State Beach, The Monterey Herald reported.

The shark bit Tarantino, 27, on the neck and right forearm and left teeth marks in his red surfboard. Tarantino's friend, Brandon McKibben of Salinas, helped him out of the water, and other surfers used beach towels to try to stop his bleeding.

Tarantino was taken to a local airport by paramedics and flown to the San Jose Regional Medical Center, authorities said.

His condition wasn't immediately known.
This happens fairly often as Great White Shark attacks go (which is actually pretty rare).  A shark, thinking the outline of the surfboard and surfer from below looked enough like it's preferred food (a sea lion, likely) took a trial bite, decided the surfboard and/or surfer wasn't what it wanted to eat, and left.  If it had been intent of eating the surfer, it would have come back for a second pass.  He's still damn lucky to be alive.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Unified Theory of Liberal Thinking

Isn’t it interesting that no matter what the current global crisis is, according to leftists, the solution is always the same: a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite, and mass transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations.

That’s what they want to do about global warming. It’s what they wanted to do about overpopulation. It’s what they wanted to do about endangered species.
I would edit that slightly to say "mass transfer of wealth from rich to poor."  This explains why the liberals have so much difficulty conceiving that there is a problem with government spending, the resulting deficits and debt; they simply can't conceive of a case where less government intervention would be be better, because it decreases the need for the all powerful enlightened elite, in which they imagine themselves to be a member.

Teenager Tries to Scare Customers, Fails

Girl in critical condition after getting tangled in noose at haunted house
A 17-year-old girl is in a critical condition after she became tangled in a noose at a Halloween haunted house.

Police said the girl, who was working as an actress at the attraction in St Louis, Missouri, was found unconscious with the prop around her neck.

The girl is thought to have fallen off a bathtub at Creepyworld where she had been working for two weeks.
It is thought that members of the public may have walked past her thinking she was a scary prop.

Alex Sends a New Piece

A John Fahey classic:

Upload MP3s using free MP3 hosting from Tindeck.

Some more posted here.  A couple of them have been posted before, most have not.

Testing the New Eye at the Beach

Boy, was it cold this morning! Frost on the roofs and cars.  After the nor'easter and the full day of rain we had yesterday, the blue sky was welcome, but it came with a 20 mph wind out of the north.  But Skye insisted, after having been cheated yesterday, so we bundled up and went to the beach, a little late, to give it time to warm up some.
Fall color in a doomed Tulip Poplar tree.  This tree is steadily being undermined by the erosion of the cliffs, and one of these days we'll come to the beach and it will be lying there.  Hopefully we won't be anywhere nearby when it falls.
The eagle was NOT in his accustomed perch this morning, but it's pretty likely one of the two I saw perching a little further down the beach. This was about as close as he/she let me come...
before it flew off.  I got a lot of pictures of white eagle tails this morning.  Some of them are even in focus.
Skye loves the change in weather.  It can't get cold enough for her.  She was running around like a puppy again.  So now she'll get her arthritis medicine and limp around all day.
Georgia climbing over the log and jetty combination that the beach throws up to impede easy walking.  Skye just goes under the log, but us bipeds prefer a solution that doesn't get our hands wet and sandy.
The eye seemed to be working OK.  At this point, I don't have a really good pair of glasses that makes both eyes happy; my old prescription utterly fails to help the repaired eye.  I settled for the cheap sunglasses they gave me to leave the hospital, but those give me no close visions to speak of.  The new eye still isn't quite as clear as the other one at distance, but it's more colorful...

I did OK, but Georgia found more than twice as many teeth as I did.
Despite the wind and cold there were still a few butterflies flitting around.  This one stood still long enough to get a picture.

PSA: Pumpkin Carving Instructions

OK, the idea of cutting out the bottom is new to me; Thanks Ashley!

Seen at Theo's.

First Frost

After yesterdays nor'easter passed, today is clear and cold.  There's frost on the roof tops and cars.  I guess we'll find out later if it was enough to kill Imaptiens on the ground.

Giant Python Killed in Florida - Deer in Stomach

16-foot python found in Florida had eaten a deer
Officials in the Florida Everglades have captured and killed a 16-foot-long Burmese python that had just eaten an adult deer.

Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said workers found the snake on Thursday. The reptile was one of the largest ever found in South Florida.

Hardin said the python had recently consumed a 76-pound female deer that had died. He said it was an important capture to help stop the spread of pythons further north.
"Deer that had died"? I think that means it died when the snake ate it.  Any question whether it would eat a child if it found one?

Hagfish: Slime Masters of the World

Hagfish are sometimes classed as fish although that’s in dispute, for they lack both backbones and jaws. Instead, their mouths contain a wide plate of cartilage, armed with two rows of horny teeth. It uses these to rasp away at carcasses that sink from above. Watch a dying whale settle on the ocean floor, and it will soon be covered in writhing hagfishes.

They are disgusting feeders. They burrow deep into corpses and eat their way out, and can even absorb nutrients through their skin. And if they’re threatened or provoked, they produce slime – lots of slime, oozing from the hundreds of pores that line their bodies. The slime consists of large mucus proteins called mucins, linked together by longer protein threads. When it mixes with seawater, it massively expands, becoming almost a thousand times more dilute than other animal mucus.

A single hagfish can clog a bucket of water within minutes, and in 2006, Jeanette Lim showed that the slime can equally clog the gills of predators. But until now, no one had ever seen the animals use this defence against an actual predator. They have mostly been filmed at whale carcasses with remote vehicles; their predators had a glut of whale meat at hand, and may have been put off by the noisy, bright vehicles. Instead, Zintzen filmed hagfish in more natural conditions, using a network of baited cameras. “Our units are not moving, producing minimum noise and using lights emitting only in the blue to avoid deterring the fauna,” he says.

As a student I remember catching some hagfish on a cruise in the Pacific.  We put a couple of them in a five gallon bucket and stirred it.  The hagfish filled the bucket with slime.  It's a remarkable defense.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hooked on Wheat?

It’s been drilled into our heads that whole grains are heart-healthy and essential to a diet that keeps us slim and satisfied. But the wheat toast you opt for over a muffin or bagel in the a.m. may not be as smart of a dietary decision as once thought. In his new book Wheat Belly, preventative cardiologist William Davis, MD, argues that the world’s most popular grain, found in everything from lager to licorice to lunch meat, is destructive to weight loss—and overall health.

According to Davis, the compounds found in wheat are responsible for appetite stimulation, exaggerated rises in blood sugar, and the release of endorphin-like chemicals that get the brain hooked on breads, pastas, and crackers, while increased wheat consumption can also be linked to higher incidences of celiac disease, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and schizophrenia.
Go read the article.  It might not all be true, but I think a lot of it is.  People weren't designed to eat grain.

This counts as $#!* that Ted sends.

Did Dogs and Humans Co-Evolve?

An interesting interview with Mark Derr in Salon where he expounds on his theory that humans and dogs evolved in tandem, and that the partnership started when modern man and the wolf first met.  A snippet:
It’s clear that many theories about early dogwolves are difficult to prove one way or another — largely because of a lack of concrete evidence. (Even DNA evidence does not always clarify matters.) Do you think the picture will become any clearer as research techniques become more sophisticated?

DNA sometimes seems to muddy things up, doesn’t it? There’s a lot of stuff with the DNA that I think will become clearer. I’m not expert in that, but I talk a lot to [Robert K.] Wayne, who is kind of the leading person in this field, and to other people.

Regarding the DNA evidence, let me say two things. My first dog book came out in 1997, and right after that, Bob Wayne and his group published a date for the origin of the dog that was at the far end — 135,000 years ago. The archaeologists had a hissy fit. A lot of other so-called experts also had hissy fits, and said this couldn’t possibly be true. The curious thing about that date is that despite all kinds of other evidence … Bob himself has never backed off from that 135,000 year date. I saw him just in February, at a symposium where I was talking on this subject, and I asked him point-blank if he’d ever backed off that date; he said no. He hasn’t put it forward with great regularity, because it’s a little out there — but what it shows is that basically as soon as Homo sapiens, anatomically modern humans, began to encounter wolves, you probably have this dogwolf appearing.

That’s one curiosity. The other thing is, a lot of the early DNA work was based on mitochondrial DNA, and it’s based on a lot of assumptions which are not necessarily true. There’s work coming out now that shows that the way that the mitochondrial clock is [interpreted] may not be accurate. … That’s why I say basically the dog was kind of invented on the fly. Wolves and people met on the trail, and they just have been walking ever since, is the way I put it.
That sounds about right to me.  People haven't changed so much since modern human evolved that wolves and people would stay apart for thousands of years before eventually finding their mutual interests lay together.  Wolves would be sniffing around camps since the beginning of time, and as soon as people developed the habit of stealing baby animals for pets, the partnership would begin.  It would take thousands more years for "dogwolves" to evolve the characteristics that distinguish modern dogs and wolves.

And having "dogwolves" as partners could strongly influence the subsequent development and success of mankind.  Partners in the hunt, and guardians in the camp could have made the difference between failure and survival in the early stages of modern man's evolution, and explain how our branch of the hominid tree came to be the sole surviving line.

Good News! Skies Still Safe for Sex!

The Federal Aviation Administration says a videotaped skydiving sex stunt did not violate any of the Administration's regulations. FAA Spokesperson Ian Gregor said video evidence confirms that the pilot of a small plane was not distracted during the stunt over Kern County. Earlier this month, Gregor said any activity that could distract the pilot while he's flying could be a violation of federal regulations.

Skydive Taft owner David Chrouch said he fired part-time skydiving instructor and porn star Alex Torres and hasn't decided whether to fire the company's receptionist, Torres' partner in the video. 
I can't imagine why anyone would want to have sex while falling through the sky, but it's good to know they have the freedom to do so.

Rule 5 Saturday - 30 Days of Darkness Lost in the Glades with Kiele Sanchez

The day after cataract surgery this week, I found my eyes resting on Kiele Sanchez, playing the vampire killer Stella Oleson in "30 Days of Night: Dark Days", the sequel to the original "30 Days of Night".  What can I say, she looked good in a blood soaked T-shirt.

Click on a pic to start the slide show in the new blogger ap.

I recognized her as the love interest, Callie Cargill, from the "Glades", a quirky detective show on AE the last couple of years, and wondered if there was enough material on her to be worthy of a full Rule 5 post.  I hope you'll agree there there's more than sufficient.

My extensive research (Wikipedia and IMDB; I'm nothing if not thorough) revealed that she has also had the role of Nikki Fernandez in "Lost", the meandering ABC melodrama about some morons marooned on a tropical island with Polar Bears.  I was shocked, shocked, to find that the writers were winging it, and had no intention of ever really explaining all that BS.  I followed it for a while, but gave up after it got too silly. She was killed off after six episodes because her character made too much sense for the fans.

A native Chicagoan, born in 1976, she has, of course, moved to L.A. to be closer to the action.  She began acting in 2000, with a number of TV roles to her credit, and a few movies, including "Insantarium", a 2008 video Zombie flick.  In 2009 she also starred with a previous Rule 5 zombie killer Milla Jovovitch in "A Perfect Getaway", a movie a about a tropical island vacation gone wrong.  Has she been type cast, or does she just choose roles in tropical settings?

Most recently (2011) she played in a TV movie for "Burn Notice", another cable TV drama, which I occasionally use to fill in when network TV sucks (which is most of the time), and Deadliest Catch is in reruns...

That's about all I got.  Enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Some Snake Oil Might Be Just What You Need

Snakes get a bad rap for being slimy, cold-hearted creatures, but US researchers said Thursday some actually have huge hearts that could offer clues to treating people with cardiac disease.

The secret to the giant Burmese python's success is in a massive amount of fatty acids that circulate in the snake's blood after eating a meal, which could be as big as a deer, according to the study in the journal Science.

Scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that as the snake starts digesting its catch, natural oils and fats called triglycerides spike by more than 50 times the usual level.

But there is no fat deposited in the snake's heart, due to the activation of a key enzyme that protects the thumping organ as it grows in mass by as much as 40 percent in the first few days after a meal.

Scientists identified the chemical composition of the python's blood after eating, and injected either the fed python's plasma or a mixture devised to imitate it into pythons that were fasting.

"In both cases, the pythons showed increased heart growth and indicators of cardiac health," said the study, noting that Burmese pythons are as thick as a telephone pole, grow to around 27 feet (eight meters) long and can go without food for up to a year.

Researchers then tried the experiment on mice, and found that mice injected with either fed python plasma or the fatty acid mixture showed the same results.
I wonder if this explains the "Greasy English Breakfast Effect", an effect where high fat meals actually appear to prevent some damage in heart attacks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

At Some Point You Have Enough Money...

Somebody cleaned out the PayPal account of “Occupy Portland” and it looks like an inside job:

Organizers of Occupy Portland say they fear as much as $20,000 donated to the group through a PayPal account has disappeared. They also say the group’s finance committee has hijacked the demonstration’s Internet domain name and filed for incorporation against the wishes of the group’s decision-making body. . . .

Papers filed with the Oregon secretary of state’s office on Monday show that an entity called “Occupy Portland” was registered as a nonprofit.
Too soon oldt, too late schmart.

Graphic from Theo's.

I Thought You Were Supposed to Ride Them

Still More Science from the Duh! Files

Appetite hormones spike when obese people diet, and stay high even a year after they have lost weight, researchers reported on Wednesday in a study that shows keeping weight off is more than a mere matter of willpower.

The Australian researchers said their report, published in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that dieters need some kind of help in controlling the compelling effects of these hormones if they are to keep the weight off.

“Furthermore, the activation of this coordinated response in people who remain obese after weight loss supports the view that there is an elevated body-weight set point in obese persons and that efforts to reduce weight below this point are vigorously resisted,” Priya Sumithran of the University of Melbourne and colleagues wrote.

In other words, the body rebels against eating less and tries hard to make the dieter eat, the researchers said.
Tell me about it.  But one of the the best things about a low carbohydrate diet is that it helps to control appetite.  I can tell when I've had too much carbohydrates because it increases my appetite.

Farmers Predict End of Maryland Agriculture in 10 Years

"The consensus from most folks I have spoken with agree that these new guidelines will hasten the demise of Maryland Agriculture to about 10 years down the road," emailed state Sen. Barry Glassman, a Republican representing Harford County who's heard from a lot of farmers in his area concerned about being required to fence livestock away from streams. Glassman works for Constellation Energy but raises sheep as a hobby.
Of course, this is a gigantic exaggeration of the extent of the hardship that farmers will face.  But exaggerated claims are also made for such things a global "we'll all die of heat stroke or drowning" warming, or ozone "omigod, we''ll all die of skin cancer" depletion, so these claims go on all sides.

What are the changes in farming practices that will need to be made?
- Curtailing the use of fertilizer on grain crops planted in the fall. Officials say research at the University of Maryland has shown nitrogen usually isn't needed at that time to produce abundant wheat and barley in the spring, and the added nutrients often wind up washing off the field into nearby streams and ultimately the bay.

- Requiring that animal manure, sewage sludge, wastewater and other "organic" fertilizers applied to crops be worked into the soil.

- Barring the common practice of spreading animal manure, treated sewage or food processing waste on fields in wintertime, requiring that they be stored until spring or diverted to other uses, such as burning them to produce energy.

- Forbidding fertilizer application within 10 to 35 feet of water ways. Farmers would have to fence off their pastures to keep livestock out of streams.
These practices will raise farmers costs, lower some of their yields, and, if enforced only on Chesapeake Bay farmers, could put them at a competitive disadvantage.  Will that put them all out of business?  I doubt it.  But it might be worth looking at which restrictions give the best result for the least effect on farm incomes.

Your Friday Monkey Dacker Claymation

Irony Meter Broken Again

And I just got it working again. Damn flux capacitor blew.

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday -- because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.


“We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.

A security volunteer added that the cooks felt “overworked and underappreciated.”

Many of those being fed “are professional homeless people. They know what they’re doing,” said the guard at the food-storage area.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dinner and a Show, Again

When the tickets for Leo Kottke came on sale, and Georgia asked if she should buy tickets (of course), I said yes, but I looked at the Rams Head ad, and noticed that Sonny Landreth was also playing.  I mentioned that I wouldn't mind seeing Sonny as well, because I'd read about his slide guitar technique in"Guitar Player" magazine, am a fan (and a poor practitioner) of slide.  When tickets for the Kottke concert arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find tickets for Sonny Landreth there as well.  Also listed, and not shown on the original ad was Tom Principato, as an opening act.  Principato, although he has played globally, is a Washington D.C. area standard, whom we had never seen yet, and so this was a bonus.

You've already seen (or at least had the opportunity to see) how our trip to Annapolis to see Leo Kottke went.  Fortunately, our trip this time was without car failure (hey - I got the Subaru back today!).  We had dinner at the Rams Head, and got to the theater with time to order drinks and a desert before Principato and his band came on stage.  He is an extremely accomplished guitar player; pretty much a finger picker with a stong bluesy style. 

We were in the first row, just to the right of the band.  I enjoyed it.  Here's a random YouTube that will give you the flavor:

For the last song of Principato's set, Sonny Landreth came out and played slide on the song.  Just excellent!

After the break, and a reset of the stage, Sonny and his band came on.  Sonny is a little skinny guy, and makes his various strats seem large (unlike, say, Popa Chubby, who makes them look tiny)... He started into an instrumental piece, and it was immediately apparent to me that there simply cannot be any better slide player in the world.  I saw his fingers do things I would consider impossible over and over; I simply can't imagine what more you could ask out of a guitar and a slide...  from Wikipedia:
Landreth is best known for his slide playing, having developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide while he plays. Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger, so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He's also known for his right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand.
 A You Tube from his site with a him showing some of his moves.

The music was mostly high power rock with a strong strain of Zydeco (Sonny is from Southwest Louisiana).  The music was nearly deafening.  The vocals were muddy and hard to hear, but the guitar was just awesome.

One of the coolest things (besides the Sonny) was his bass player.  Another little guy, looked about 70, skinny, silver haired, dressed all in black, and played that bass to beat hell.  A YouTube to get the flavor; just crank it up 'till it stings...

Local College Houses Students on Cruise Ship

An outbreak of mold at St. Mary’s College of Maryland this fall presented a logistical nightmare: There was nowhere to put the students. Hotels are scarce around the remote campus.

Then, an alumnus of this sailing-intensive school had an idea: Put them in a cruise ship. The Sea Voyager, described on this Web site as having three bars, a restaurant and a gift shop, was on the block, and it was being moved from Maine to Virginia.

St. Mary’s President Joseph Urgo made some phone calls. The Sea Voyager is now headed to his campus, where it will serve as off-shore dormitory space for 250 students until the end of the semester.  “Over the years we have often joked, Wouldn’t it be great to have an off-shore residence hall,” Urgo said.

The ship is entering the Chesapeake Bay this morning and should reach historic St. Mary’s by Friday morning. Then there is the matter of docking it. A small college dock may prove inadequate, but a larger dock maintained by Historic St. Mary’s City should suffice. If all goes well, students will board the vessel Friday night.
Someone I know has a student at St. Mary's in the affected dorm.  His solution to the problem was to go back to living at home and use the money saved to make a significant dent in the cost of a car and gasoline for commuting back and forth.

I'll bet living on a cruise ship is no fun without an endless buffet and a maid to make animals out of your towels...

I Can See Clearly Now...

After Alex's wedding, I bit the bullet, and decided to go ahead with some deferred maintenance.  I went to my local eye doc, and scheduled the cataract surgery for my left eye.  Throughout my youth I had always prided myself on having good eyes, in fact, a few measurements came in around 20-10.  Ah, but then I grew older; sometime after 40 years old I noticed my eyes were not quite acute as they had been.  I went to see an eye doc, and she basically told me to come back when my arms got too short.  I passed that milestone (or is it millstone?) around 50, first adopting cheap reading glasses, and then in the past five or so years, getting progressive lenses that allowed me to see clearly anywhere from quite close to distances.  They took a while to get used to, but it was a pretty workable solution.  Always, my left eye seemed to be the more troublesome.

However, in the past couple years, the left has gotten really bad, to the point that its natural focus distance (to the extent that it focused at all) was about 6 inches from my nose, and even then, the image was not very clear.  At night, any bright light would be split into a wide spider web of light that was quite annoying (I could still see clearly with the right, so it was not a significant hazard)

I went in to see if perhaps laser surgery could be used to correct it and remember quite clearly saying "I regret to tell you you're not a candidate for laser, but you have a cataract and we can fix that."

That was late last year, and I put it off for any number of reasons, including: 1) The wedding, and the associated nonsense, 2) the fact that my right eye was (and is) still excellent at distance and 3) who wants to get surgery anyway?

But after the wedding a 6 month checkup came due, and I told the Doc I was ready to have it done.  The operations was done on Tuesday morning.

I won't detail the operation; I don't remember anything. I got a shot, lost track of events on the way to the operating room, and came to 30 or so minutes later back in the prep area, with Georgia there.  There was very little pain.  After a greeting and some instructions from the doc and nurses, I was on my feet, and walking out in another half hour to go home and rest.

You can find a YouTube of the procedure here.  If you're not too squeamish, it's pretty interesting.

I had been told be several people, including my parents, to expect the world to be a lot bluer in that eye.  I discounted that because I thought the cataract in my eye had mostly been a disfigured lump, and not really cloudy.  I was shocked at how blue everything was.  Anything white had a distinctly bluish and even purplish cast.

Interestingly, cataract surgery may have played a significant role in art.  Claude Monet was diagnosed with cataracts in his 70s, well after much of his work.  He had cataract surgery at age 83 in 1923,  here are two waterlily paintings: one before the surgery (finished in 1922):

and one finished in 1926:

Some have argued that the increasing cataract later in life led him to use muddier colors, until after his cataracts were removed:
According to Professor Michael Marmor, the artist's failing sight was a source of frustration to him in the early decades of the 20th century. "He wrote letters to friends, [complaining] how colours were getting dull, and it was hard to tell them apart, and how he had to label tubes of paint," Professor Marmor said. "He was very vocal about how his failing eyesight was affecting him."

Monet's cataracts caused the lens of his eye to become denser and more yellowish. One immediate effect was to blur colours and reduce their intensity. "It was getting harder for him to see," Professor Marmor said. "[His eyesight] was getting blurrier, but he was probably more bothered by the progressive loss of colour vision."

The academic has illustrated how Monet's worldview changed by altering a photograph of his 1899 painting of the ornamental Japanese bridge in his garden. The adjusted photo shows that as the artist's sight got worse, so the bright, floral shades of pink and blue disappeared, leaving muddier browns, reds and yellows. The study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, argues that two later paintings of the bridge with strong red-orange and green-blue tones would have appeared almost identical to him.

Monet eventually had surgery in 1923 - just three years before his death from lung cancer at the age of 86. But afterwards he complained incessantly that his sight was first too yellow and then too blue. He destroyed much of the work he completed while suffering cataracts and the few pieces that survive were rescued by family or friends. When Monet eventually went back to painting, he completed the lily series that now hangs in the Orangerie.
Truth?  I don't know, but as I said, I was shocked at how much the world changed in a few minutes.  You know that age old question - do we all see the same color blue?  I know the answer.  No.  Right now, my two eyes don't even agree on what blue is.  The effect is fading, but still apparent if I switch eyes.

So how is it all progressing?  I had my one day check up yesterday morning, and the doc assured me everything was going as planned.  The cloudiness was starting to fade, and the eye itched a bit (a good sign it's healing according to the doc).  My binocular vision seems better than it had been.  Driving seems somehow more "3D" than it had a few days ago.  Maybe the brain just wasn't getting enough useful information, and now with the left eye effectively a long distance focus (but still slightly out of focus) it does.

Another check up in a couple weeks, and a final one at six weeks, time to get new glasses prescriptions for both eyes, and presumably get a new set of progressive lenses or two.  According to the doc, the second eye will come in time, but I have another 3-5 years before that one is worth doing.

Coffee Cuts Cancer

Scientists reported Monday that drinking coffee was associated with decreased risk of a common and slow-growing form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. It appears that caffeine may play a role, they said.

The team, based at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, presented their study at the American Assn. for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Examining data from the Nurses' Health Study, which followed 72,921 people between 1984 and 2008, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed 39,976 people between 1986 and 2008, they found 25,480 skin cancer cases. Basal cell carcinomas represented 22,786 of the cases, squamous cell carcinomas 1,953 and melanomas 741.

Women who drank more than three cups of coffee had a 20% reduction in risk for basal cell carcinoma. Men who drank that much coffee had a 9% reduction in risk of the slow-growing cancer. People who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk. The team did not identify reduced risk for squamous cell carcinoma.
 I figure it's all the sitting around inside Starbucks and not getting any sun...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BBC Documentary on Tangier Island

The disappearing island in the Chesapeake Bay

Giant Washes Up on Florida Beach

A mystery appeared on Siesta Key beach Tuesday morning in the form of an 8-foot Lego man who washed ashore emblazoned with a strange message.

"NO REAL THAN YOU ARE," the fiberglass Lego Man's shirt said.

Resident Jeff Hindman was walking the beach early Tuesday and saw the 100-pound Lego man in the pre-dawn light. He thought it was marine life, washed ashore overnight and left in the gentle ankle-deep surf. Hindman got closer and discovered the Lego statue was made of fiberglass, like a boat hull. He took a photo of the Lego man in the surf, then dragged it out of the water and stood it up.

A gathering crowd threw out theories. An artist's statement about the human condition in the 21st century? A toy that fell off a boat? Or maybe part of a marketing campaign for the new Legoland amusement park in Winter Haven that just opened to great fanfare?

"It doesn't make sense," Hindman said of any of those theories.

The Legoland theory was debunked Tuesday when a spokeswoman for Legoland Florida said the Lego man is a counterfeit and is not endorsed by Legoland or its parent company, Merlin Entertainments Group.

Eventually Tuesday, the mystery unraveled some after it was discovered that similar Lego men with the same slogan have been found on beaches in Holland in 2007 and England in 2008. On the back of the Siesta Key Lego man's shirt is the name "Ego Leonard" and the number 8.
If unclaimed after 90 days, the giant, counterfeit Lego man will be sold on E-Bay.

I Don't Think They Understand What 'Occupy' Means

The camp forced St Paul's to close for the first time since the Blitz and is costing local businesses thousands of pounds a day. But most of the protesters are heading home to sleep in their own beds at night.

Infra red images taken by a police helicopter during the early hours show that only around 20 of the 200 tents on the encampment actually have people staying in them.

The Daily Telegraph has shot its own video of the St Paul's camp using thermal imaging equipment which appears to confirm these claims. The protesters are aware of the vacancies and allocate empty tents to newcomers and anyone staying for the day.
They should run through the camp at 3:00 AM and check each tent, and pick up the empty ones.  OK, really, they should just throw them out, but calling their bluff in the early morning would be kind of cute.  Then, being good capitalist stooges, they could "sell" the unclaimed tents to the highest bidder...

Seen at Watts Up With That.

States, Counties Find Fault with Bay Diet, Too

Up until recently, it's been the agricultural interests who have objected most to the requeirments of the new "Bay Diet", and faulted the model used for not having the right data.  Now states and counties around the Bay are examining what changes the "diet" means in their lifestyle, and some of them are not so happy either:
Virginia and several other states - including Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware - are complaining that a newly tweaked version of the model, known as 5.3.2, is leading to some weird and incomprehensible results for what local governments are expected to accomplish in the coming years to dramatically improve water quality by 2025.

In James City County, for example, data stemming from the previous model urged the county near Williamsburg to reduce nitrogen from farms, streets, storm drains and development sites by 8 percent, phosphorus by 11 percent and sediment by 20 percent. The guidance worried local officials, unsure how they would pay for environmental improvements and controls to hit those targets.

However, computer runs performed by the state using the new model prescribe something completely different: no reductions needed for nitrogen, and a 20 percent surplus of phosphorus and a 350 percent cushion for sediment.
So you went from needing a big cleanup, to being able to sell pollution credits to a neighboring jurisdiction.  What's wrong with that?  If it's true, maybe nothing.  But if it's caused by bad modeling, it suggests that someone else is being stuck with the bill, and they are, quite rightly, reluctant to pony up.
While the James City County discrepancies are extreme - new data show that most Virginia localities have to do more, not less, to help save the Bay - state and local officials face a quandary: How exactly to proceed in the face of changing targets?

"What do we say to our localities? 'Well, we think that these practices we are asking you to implement might help you reach your goal, but we really don't know what that goal is and we aren't sure the money you spend to implement these practices will make any difference?' " said Doug Domenech, Virginia's secretary of natural resources, Gov. Bob McDonnell's top environmental official.

The EPA, environmentalists and some scientists concede that the modeling is imperfect and will continue to be updated and improved. But they also say the states are not required to be so precise in their calculations, and that no one asked them to break down data county by county, pound by pound of pollutants, for what they need to do to help the effort.
What's Fritz's Second Law?  All models are wrong, the only question is how much and in what direction.  Now the EPA want to gloss over the obvious errors at the smaller scale and make the states decide who pays the bill.

But if the model can't really give good numbers on the county scale, who's to say that it's any better on the watershed scale.  Smearing bad number over larger areas doesn't suddenly make them good.

Democrat Loser Sues

When voters in Ohio's 1st Congressional District threw Democrat Steve Driehaus out of office after only one term, he did not bow out gracefully. No, he decided to get even. So he did what anyone does in today's culture: he sued somebody.

Charging that its activities contributed to his defeat and thus to his "loss of livelihood," Driehaus is suing the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports pro-life candidates for Congress and which has been one of the leading and most effective organizations involved in the fight to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

During the 2010 elections the Susan B. Anthony List engaged in a campaign to identify and call out a group of allegedly anti-abortion-rights members of Congress who provided the margin that allowed President Barack Obama's reform of the nation's healthcare system to get through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Susan B. Anthony List said their vote in favor of the law, which did not include any pro-life protections, amounted to a betrayal of their pro-life principles. According to Driehaus, who was one of that group, what the Susan B. Anthony List said in its public communications amounted to a malicious lie that contributed to his defeat. Amazingly, rather than laugh the suit out of court U.S. District Court judge Timothy S. Black, an Obama appointee, is allowing it to go forward.
Can you  imagine a democracy in which incumbent politicians can sue somebody for having the audacity to oppose their election?  That would be what is commonly referred to as a dictatorship. 

And the alleged lie?
Now there are lots of things said by outside interest groups during the heat of political campaigns that turn out to be untrue. What the Susan B. Anthony List said about the so-called pro-life Democrats who gave Obama the votes he needed to pass healthcare just doesn't happen to be one of them. The accompanying executive order the president signed regarding abortion was designed to provide political cover to a group of House Democrats whom he needed to win. It was no substitute for the so-called "Stupak Amendment" that would have written pro life protections into the healthcare bill but was defeated on the House floor.
 And the judge?
What is equally curious, however, is why Judge Black has allowed the case to move forward and why he did not recuse himself from it since, as Barbara Hollingsworth reported Friday in The Washington Examiner, he apparently is the former president and director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati. As seeming conflicts of interest go this one is a real humdinger.
Just amazing.  No conflict of interest there.

Tsunami Trash On Course for US Land Fall

A couple of different reports are out on the expected landfall of trash from the Japanese tsunami, that I discussed in back in April.  First, a brief report from a TV station in Chicago (linked on Drudge) that reports that the West Coast "Trash Fall" may occur ahead of schedule:
The devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March created lasting images of houses, boats, cars and entire neighborhoods pulled out to sea. It also caused a massive sea of debris -- up to 20 million tons of it, all of it potentially toxic -- in an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

Now, seven months later, that floating debris is on a direct collision course with the Pacific Coast of the United States -- and it might be coming sooner than expected.

“Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day,” oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer told ABC News.
While anything may be "potentially toxic", most of the debris is just wood from building and trees, and much of that is unlikely to survive waterlogging, and actually reach the West Coast.

A much more thorough, and somewhat less alarmist report is found in an Alaskan site:
Using maps produced by scientists at the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii, the crew and student cadets aboard the STS Pallada began finding material from the tsunami on Sept. 22, soon after they cruised past Midway Islands, the uninhabited outpost to the Hawaiian archipeligo.

"We picked up on board the Japanese fishing boat," wrote Natalia Borodina, the Pallada's information and education mate, in this story. "At the approaches to the mentioned position (maybe 10 – 15 minutes before) we also sighted a TV set, fridge and a couple of other home appliances."
It's clear that the two reports are based on the same ships observations.  Go to this site and view the slideshow...
The reports from Pallada, coming six months after the March 11 quake, offered a reality check to a sophisticated computer model that deployed ocean current data and previous tracking of debris to predict where the tsunami material might go and when it might arrive.

"For nearly half a year, senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and computer programmer Jan Hafnerstory had only their state-of-the-art -- but still untested -- computer model of currents to speculate," explained thisfrom the research center. "Now sightings of the debris are reported from places where the model predicted."

The data will let Maximenko and Hafner fine-tune their estimates of when the material will begin washing ashore in the far-flung Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument -- the vast marine refuge that includes 10 protected islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

"The first landfall on Midway Islands is anticipated this winter," the research center said here. "What misses Midway will continue towards the main Hawaiian Islands and the North American West Coast."
 There is one bit of good news (not that I would have expected otherwise):
Since the Japanese disaster had triggered explosions at three nuclear reactors when cooling systems failed, the Pallada crew also began checking the material for radiation.

"Radioactivity level -- normal," Borodina reported. "We've measured it with the Geiger counter."

I'll Have a Coke and Fight, Please

Teenagers who drink lots of soft drinks get into more fights and carry more weapons than their peers who drink less, found a new study.

And while the study couldn’t determine whether soft drinks actually cause violence, the findings add to a growing -- yet still controversial -- body of research on the effects of nutrition on behavior.

“We were surprised at how large the effect was,” said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center in Boston.

“It was maintained even when we controlled for alcohol and tobacco and family stuff like eating dinners together,” he said. “There was a very strong, stable relationship between more soft drinks that people said they drank and more fights with things like pushing and shoving.”
It's hard for me to describe how suspicious I am of correlative studies like this one.  How many different societal variables could co-vary with both violence and soda drinkng in such a way that a net relationship was found?

And given that the investigators went out seeking to find a relationship between sodas and violence, it wouldn't shock me to find a subtle bias, deliberate or not, in the sample selection, that favored finding the relationship.
It’s far too soon to claim that soda causes violence, and the new study only shows a correlation, said Bernard Gesch, who researchers diet and behavior at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Still, there is growing evidence that sugar might deserve at least some of the blame. Some research has shown that willpower is directly related to how the brain metabolizes glucose, Gesch said. There is also good evidence that people who perpetrate violence tend to have abnormalities in that glucose-digesting process. And consuming massive amounts of sugar could set those people up to commit violent acts.
So, I won't experience murderous rages if I keep drinking diet Coke?  That's good news...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Don't Walk This Way...

Steven Tyler, lead singer of the US rock group Aerosmith, was admitted Tuesday to a private hospital in Paraguay for treatment after apparently falling over in his hotel room, a report said.

The singer, who had been scheduled to perform with his long-running band in the capital later Tuesday, was reported to have suffered a cut eyebrow and injuries to his mouth including two broken teeth in the fall, said the newspaper ABC on its website.

WAPO Hit du Jour 10/25/11

Rick Perry said mean things about a friend (who just happened to be a democrat running for office against him)
At A&M, Perry and Sharp were an unlikely pair: Sharp had earned a reputation as a bright, focused student leader, and Perry as a fun-loving, if academically unmotivated, campus butterfly.

But Sharp saw the reality of their respective positions early. “Rick was very popular,” he remembers. “People . . . were attracted to him. He was funny. He told good stories. He just had that . . . quality. The yell leaders were the most popular guys on campus.”

Sharp viewed Perry’s rah-rah charm as deceptive. It masked, he thought, his friend’s discipline and intense drive, a relentless focus in going after whatever he wanted and exerting his will over those standing in his path.
 A rather subtle way of saying Perry is not so smart, but oh, so ambitious.  It's a common claim against a Republican candidate.  How can anyone be so stupid as to oppose the obviously beneficial policies of the Democrats?
Once, Perry made an unexpected appearance at the end of a Sharp event to add his thoughts about state fiscal matters — it was as though, thought Sharp allies, Perry wanted to ensure he would not be eclipsed by his buddy. Sharp says that, although others occasionally remind him of that day, the moment remains foggy at best for him — an indication, he adds, of how little importance he attached to it at the time, as well as how unthinkable the idea was of a looming battle with Perry.
Ah, there it is, Perry clearly showing his jealousy of his obviously much more intelligent and capable, and yet less charismatic friend.

And then, they actually start to campaign against each other, and Perry actually talks mean!  I'm sure that Sharp never said anything cross about his old friend Perry in the privacy of his office.  If so, the WAPO reporter failed to find or report it.
“Did you see what that turd said today?” Perry remarked, after Sharp released another statement trumpeting ways to boost government efficiency. “Do you see those revenue projections from the turd? Complete crap.”

According to the pair of former advisers, “The Turd” became the rival’s new moniker, with Perry increasingly resentful about the attention the Texas media lavished on Sharp. “It’s not a term I’ve heard,” said Perry presidential campaign spokesman Mark Miner, who added that the chief importance of the Perry-Sharp duel was simply that Perry “won that race.”
But all's well that ends well, I suppose.
On Election Day, Perry prevailed by less than 2 percent of the vote. Afterward, the winner privately reflected with Arnold and others on his team about the lasting meaning of the contest. The man who as a college student wouldn’t tolerate an imperious upperclassman messing with his life vowed to reassert control over his future, regardless of who stood in his way. Never again, he told his aides, did he want an outsider interfering with his campaigns.

In the meantime, the freeze between Perry and Sharp lasted eight years. Then they saw each other by chance at a Texas gun store. Caught by surprise, they talked briefly about policy and politics. A friendship was revived. Recently, Perry played a major role in Sharp’s selection as the chancellor of Texas A&M.