Tuesday, July 31, 2012

National Park Service Plans Greater Chesapeake Access

A new plan calls for increasing public access to the Chesapeake Bay by adding more than 300 new spots along the shore where people can fish, swim, put a boat in the water or just enjoy the view.

The draft "watershed public access plan" released late last week by the National Park Service lays out a blueprint for boosting by more than 25 percent the number of sites where the public can get to the bay and its tributaries. That was one of the goals in a 2010 bay restoration strategy developed by the Obama administration.

There are 1,144 spots throughout the bay watershed now where the public can launch boats, fish, swim or view the water, according to the plan. Of those, just 770 are on the bay proper or in tidal reaches of rivers. With 11,684 miles of bay and tidal river shoreline, they're about 15 miles apart on average - and much more distant in some places. Less than half can be used to launch or land boats, canoes or kayaks, the plan notes...

What do you think? Can the bay stand more public use?  Or will people care more for the bay - and take better care of it - if they get to know it better?
The park service is taking comment on the plan through Aug. 24. To learn more, go here.  Comment by email to ChesapeakeAccess@nps.gov
When we moved to Maryland from the West Coast (by way of a short stop in Florida), one of the things that struck us as very different was the paucity of public access to the bay. On the West Coast, the vast majority of the coastline has public access; even where the land adjacent to the coast is privately owned, and the most of the land in the west is publicly owned, there is access to the beach.  In Maryland (and much the same in Virginia), land is largely in the private domain, and people are relatively stingy with granting access through their property to the water.  It was one of the reasons we specifically sought out a community with beach access when we moved here, a decision I've never regretted.

Looking at the plan, and what public access sites they might add nearby, I see a few sites, most of which already have some level of access:
  • Cove Point Lighthouse:  Boating fishing, swimming and viewing access is recommended.  Access is already available unofficially by the Calvert Marine Museum.
  • Thomas G. Thompson Bridge:  Proposed "Paddlers Launch" at existing boat ramp.
  • Patuxent River Naval Recreation Center:  Proposed Boating Access (the military, and civilians who work for the military already have boating access there).
  • Jefferson Patterson Park: Boardwalks planned for better access to water for viewing; no plans for extending fishing, swimming or boating access.
  • Sotterly Plantation:  Paddler's access and/or boaters dock or tie down is suggested.
  • Benedict, Maryland: Benedict Waterfront Village Revitalization Plan. Parking, interpretation, fishing access, viewing and boat launch.  
I used to work in Benedict; a quaint village, which may have made it to the 20th Century, but certainly not the 2st.  There's already multiple waterside restaurants, fishing access, marina's, and private boat launch, not to mention the public (DNR) ramp directly across the river from Benedict.  If I lived in Benedict, this plan would scare me...

If the other 300 sites are like this, color me unimpressed...

Birds, Bats, Slow Wind Power Generation in Maryland

Turbines would be slowed to kill fewer endangered bats
Maryland's first industrial-scale wind energy project would be required under a federal plan issued Monday to slow down its turbines at certain times of the year to reduce the number of endangered bats that might be killed by the long, spinning blades.

Exelon Power, which owns and operates the 28-turbine Criterion wind project in Garrett County, also would have to protect one or more bat caves in other states to make up for any federally protected Indiana bats its turbines might harm.

The tiny, insect-eating Indiana bats, which are found across the eastern United States, have been officially listed since 1967 as in danger of disappearing. Biologists say their number has become even more depleted in the past half-century as a result of human disturbance of their caves, pesticide poisoning and a recent disease, white-nose syndrome.
It's kind of ironic that wind power, long touted as one of the great sources of renewable energy, is being cut back due to environmental concerns.  It almost makes you think somebody just doesn't want more energy produced.

Obama Marries ABC

Ooops, sorry, that was supposed to be "Obama Press Secretary Marries ABC Reporter"
A deputy press secretary for Barack Obama's reelection campaign married an ABC reporter over the weekend. The ABC reporter, Matthew Jaffe, "covering the 2012 presidential campaign," according to his biography on the website of ABC News. "For the past year he traveled around the country covering the Republican primary, from the Iowa Straw Poll to the various debates to this year's primaries and caucuses."
I'm sure he will continue his hard hitting, nonpartisan reporting, even at the risk of loss of marital bliss... however:
Jaffe and Hogan appear to have registered for wedding gifts at Bloomingdales and Crate & Barrel. A search of BarackObama.com reveals that the newlyweds have not registered with the Obama campaign, which would have allowed well-wishers to send cash donations to the campaign instead of getting wedding gifts.
 Somebody send them a fondue pot or an electric knife.

The Olympic Babe Page

I'm starting to see "Hot Babes of the Olympic" type posts pop up here and there (not to mention my own feeble attempts , so I though I'd start a page to celebrate and direct you all to notable ladies of the 2012 Olympiad.  I'll update this page as I find things, so come back often.

First up, from Paraguay, the noted spear chucker (and model) , Leryn Franco.  More photos here:

Next, Australian Pole Vaulter, Melanie Adams:


You've certainly all seen fail compilations. This is the opposite; a bunch of snippets of things going as planned:

World's Best Trash Disposal

Also good for disposing of unwanted personal papers, old credit cards and spouses beyond their "use by" date.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Political Non-Scientist Wants Algebra Requirement Canned

A political (non)scientist asserts that forcing high school and school and college studentsto learn algebra and other basic mathematical courses is largely responsible for our high drop out rate, and anyway, nobody but those geeky STEM students will ever use it anyway...
Algebra is an onerous stumbling block for all kinds of students: disadvantaged and affluent, black and white. In New Mexico, 43 percent of white students fell below “proficient,” along with 39 percent in Tennessee. Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

California’s two university systems, for instance, consider applications only from students who have taken three years of mathematics and in that way exclude many applicants who might excel in fields like art or history. Community college students face an equally prohibitive mathematics wall. A study of two-year schools found that fewer than a quarter of their entrants passed the algebra classes they were required to take.
I have a little sympathy with the latter paragraph.  I was a horrible high school student. To say I was an underachiever would be to imply that I had attempted to achieve anything other than to skate by with the minimum (actual quote "Well, a C is average, right!").  When I got into college (standards were lower then, and my SATs were good), something clicked, and math made sense, and I did very well. And now, here I am, with a PhD in Science.  I truly believe in giving students the benefit of the doubt, and time to find their niche.

But I'll tell you what... It you let STEM bound students slide on stupid requirements like art (I had to take a couple of astonishingly stupid art classes in college) and political non-science, yeah, I'll vote to let your kids slide on algebra.

Zombies Intelligent After All

Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket at a Seattle-area military base last week, but were confronted with an unusual counter-protest: dozens of people dressed as zombies.

Eight members of the church, known for frequently picketing military funerals and other events as a protest against the progression of gay rights, found themselves confronted with the counter-protest while picketing outside of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday. The playful counter-protest was launched by Spanaway, Wash., resident Melissa Neace, who spread the word of her idea on Facebook.

“We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at,” Neace told The News Tribune. “It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful.”
Well done!  Ridicule beats hate every day.

Go For a Swim? There's an Ap for That!

West/Rhode Riverkeeper and Anne Arundel County Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District) along with the South River Federation jointly celebrated the release of Swim Guide, the app that displays bacteria monitoring data.

The app is an embodiment of the Clean Water Act, Trumbauer said, as it promotes citizens rights' to clean, swimmable waterways.

“One of the most frequent questions I am asked as Riverkeeper is ‘Is it safe to swim in the rivers?’” Trumbauer said. “The Swim Guide provides a free, easy to use way for swimmers see the most recent bacteria data for their favorite swimming hole, and to make informed decisions about whether to swim.”

The app is available free on smartphones and is managed by member groups within the Waterkeeper Alliance, a national coalition of professionals focused on protecting local waters. Specifically on the South, West and Rhode rivers, trained volunteers will gauge and analyze the water’s quality and then submit it to the Swim Guide app.

When looking at the app, testing locations on local rivers that are safe for swimming are designated with a green color, but those that have high bacteria readings and are unsafe are colored red. Swimming in red areas means facing an increased risk of illness, according to a release.
What did we do before smart phones? Oh yeah, we went swimming.

Father Son Team Rescue Injured Eagle

Marvin McCumbers Jr. of McDaniel and his dad Marvin of Federalsburg did not catch many fish during an early morning fishing trip, but instead helped save the life of an injured bald eagle. Both saw a bird dive into the Chesapeake Bay, but did not pay any attention to it until it began to splash.
Injured while diving for prey?  Not common, but I suppose it happens once in a while.  I once saw an Osprey who had latched onto something too big to lift, and it swam it to shore. But once there, it was able to fly off when we approached.

“It looked like it was really struggling,” Marvin McCumbers Sr. said, “It was trying to swim to shore. That’s when we knew it was hurt. It wasn’t ‘til it came closer we could see what kind of bird it was.” The large bald eagle swam for nearly an hour before reaching a small beach off Bay Shore Road. The McCumbers said they began calling rescue agencies when they knew the eagle was hurt including the Natural Resources Police before reaching the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research...
While waiting for someone to help, the McCumbers made sure the bird had water to drink and fish to eat. “He really seemed grateful for the fish. I knew that swim took a lot out of him, but we couldn’t help him until he made it to land,” McCumbers Jr. said.
I doubt if a two hour wait calls for either food or water for an eagle.  But I'm sure it made them feel better.  Honestly, I'd be surprised if the eagle ate or drank while being harassed (from it's point of view) by two huge predators.
The two men talked to the eagle while gently trying to wrap it in a large white blanket, making sure not to cause more injury to its right wing and leg. The eagle seemed nervous and tried to scamper away from the two men, but after a few minutes the eagle calmed, allowing the McCumbers to carry the bird to be placed in a large box.

“This is sickening, it is a bald eagle. Everyone should have come to help. We want everyone to start caring. We care,” McCumbers Sr. said as they carefully positioned the box in the back of his son’s SUV.
The eagle got picked up and taken to the animal rescue center, where presumably, it will be allowed to heal and returned to the wild if it is able to fly and hunt again.  If damage beyond it's ability to heal has occurred, it's unlikely to ever fly again, and will end up being on display somewhere.

I'm a bit torn.  Generally speaking, I'm against messing with evolution.  An eagle that's damaged itself to the point that it can't fly even for a short period is usually a dead eagle, either by starvation or predation. Saving such a bird risks weakening the gene pool, however slightly.  At the same time, eagles are a magnificent bird (if not exactly rare around here), and I would hate to lose one unnecessarily.  I'd probably end up trying to get it rescued too..

US Warming Trend Takes Another Hit

After a couple days of hiatus, Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That, announces the submission of a major paper, which, if generally accepted, will result in cutting the warming trend observed in the US from 1978 to the present from +0.309 C per decade to +.155 C per decade:
U.S. Temperature trends show a spurious doubling due to NOAA station siting problems and post measurement adjustments.
Anthony Watts of California, Evan Jones of New York, Stephen McIntyre of Toronto, Canada, and Dr. John R. Christy from the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, Huntsville, is to be submitted for publication.

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward. The paper is the first to use the updated siting system which addresses USHCN siting issues and data adjustments.

The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data. This issue of station siting quality is expected to be an issue with respect to the monitoring of land surface temperature throughout the Global Historical Climate Network and in the BEST network.
Essentially, these scientists contend that the US climate data is seriously contaminated by an artificial warming trend, caused by poorly sited weather stations, which continue to warm as civilization, and it's excess heat and landscape changes encroach on them. Moreover, the homogenization techniques used to normalize data across stations, and changing sites has the effect of magnifying this artifact.  The key figure, below, shows that with badly sited stations included, the higher warming trends are observed across the country; with the poorly sited stations thrown out, the warming is much less.

This is generally consistent with, and complementary to a study of temperature data world wide that also suggested that the normalization process was adding considerably to warming trends over the last century.

Expect vociferous and ad hominem attacks on this study and it's authors.

Skye Demands a Recount!

For Men:

#5 French Bulldog
These pups are strong and muscular, and they make excellent companions. No wonder they make men more appealing in women's eyes.
You must be kidding me; but then again it's women who are doing the choosing here.

#4: Siberian Huskies
Their striking blue eyes and outgoing personalities make these animals -- and their owners -- a draw for many women.
Now we're talking.  Frankly, I'm sure that the only reason they're not #1 is the shedding thing, and since women do most of the cleaning...

#3: Labrador Retrievers:
It seems that both sexes are turned on by people who own these playful pups!
I know, I know, lots of people like 'em, but I find them a little mundane.  Joel likes 'em though, and they get almost as much attention on the beach as Skye.

#2:  Golden Retrievers

The kind, loyal golden is another animal that has cross-gender appeal.
Meh, a slightly hairier version of a Golden Lab with less personality.  Good for someone who's naturally depressed though, the Golden Retriever has enough high spirits for two or three.  Not the sharpest knives in the drawer though.

 #1: German Shepherds
Topping the list of dogs that attract women are these iconic police dogs, which are fearless and protective by nature. No surprise there!
OK, I suppose, if you can't handle a Siberian.  Still, they have a reputation for being a bit nippy.

As for what dogs help women get dates?  Who cares....

But any way, here's the list:

#5: Beagles - At least a girl with a beagle might let you take it hunting.
#4: Poodles? - Actually, Standard (large) Poodles are a pretty neat dog, and no shedding...
#3: Chihuahua - All the skanks seem to keep one around, so if your looking for someone easy...
#2: Labrador Retriever - I hear the women who keep Labs aren't quite as easy as the ones who own Chihuahuas...
#1: Golden Retriever - Everybody loves the dumb blonde...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last July Beach Report, 2012

Only one beach report this weekend; with Alex and Kelly staying yesterday morning on their way back from the Left Coast, we didn't get ready until it was way too hot and muggy.
It was a pretty nice morning; a bit of a front last night left us a lot cooler (in the high 70s) and less humid, with a decent NE breeze.  The breeze set up a nice "wave" over the cliffs, and the Ospreys and Eagles were out taking advantage of it.

A young Eagle, in a sort of mottled plumage.  It was all up and down the cliffs all morning  I wasted a lot of pixels trying to get a decent picture of this bird.  This one isn't great, and I stepped all over the brightness and contrast to bring out the pattern.  He might be this years fledgeling.

Rats! I Missed This...

Rat meat: it's what's for dinner
We all know starving artists will eat just about anything, but did you know that for some that includes rodent?

Artist Laura Ginn displayed her latest piece of art in Manhattan's Lower East Side Wednesday: a feast featuring one of New York City's most abundant creatures--the rat.
Realistically, a rat isn't much different than a squirrel, except the squirrel has a lovely fluffy coat, and prefers to dine on power and telecommunication lines instead of discarded or carelessly stored human food.  But rednecks eat squirrels, and a good New York artist would not be caught dead emulating a redneck.
According to the New York Observer, the five course meal Chef Yuri Hart cooked up was nothing like Roadkill Stew. It included a goat cheese crostini with a small piece of rat meat and a shot glass of gazpacho, two circles of rat and pork terrine over a deconstructed salad. Also featured was "Rat Two Ways"--braised rat and a roasted half rat over a sweet corn salad -- a rat-free lemon sorbet garnished with an edible flower, and finally, French toast topped with a slice of crispy rat jerky (head, claws, and all).
Now, if she had served rat tartare, that would have been avant garde.   
Now, be sure to grab a plump one!
The piece, entitled “Tomorrow We Will Feast Again on What We Catch,” explores the idea of self-sustainability and the multitude of processes which we go through to get our food. It also required guests to pony up $100 and sign a liability waiver just in case the rat did not sit too well with anyone.

But there was no need to worry about the rats' cleanliness. They come from a lab facility in California. Ginn told the New York Observer that the rats arrived in bulk, whole, unskinned and frozen:
You really haven't lived until the parasites that lived on a cooling corpse start to crawl up your arm as you try the skin the animal.
"You should have seen my freezer," Ginn said. "I gave over my entire house for this."

For the occasion, Ginn wore a self-made, one-shoulder cocktail dress made of 200 rat pelts to the event.
Obligatory Fur Clad Cave Girl!
Going to her "Kickstarter page", where an allegedly starving artist (although it looks like she had plenty of roadkill to eat along the way) is kind of amusing.  She is talking about the discovery that you can make leather for yourself from the hide of dead animals.  I think this deserves at least one fur clad cave girl!

You can also find pictures of Laura herself sometimes scantily clad in skins here.

Of course, a long long time ago, Ted and I went through a similar discovery.  Being poor (I was a grad student and he was an undergrad at Oregon State University), and having land available to hunt on, we got into the guns and shooting stuff thing (he's still in it) to eat.  One of the sidelights we got into was tanning hides of the victims prey.  I had big tubs of chemicals in the garage, and we tanned deer, racoon, rabbit, and squirrel hides.

Now she needs to take a few years off from the artist thing, and go practice her skills "in the wild".

 Rule 5 Sunday done come on Sunday this week at the Other McCain, with "Every Rose Has It's Thorn."

Attention Whore Tweets Sort of Naked Self Portrait

Lady Gaga tweets 'naked' picture of herself reclining on an armchair
She recently caused a stir when she unveiled her new perfume ad, starring herself, naked, with only 'tiny men' crawling over her to protect her modesty.

But it appears Lady Gaga hasn't tired of baring flesh for her fans.

The 26-year-old tweeted a snap of herself apparently fully naked, sitting in an armchair, hugging her legs to her chest.
Not nearly as bad as might have been imagined, of course, there are probably 10 cameramen and makeup artists on the other side of the camera.
Despite her penchant for stepping out in little more than underwear (embellished with a variety of eye-catching accessories, naturally), this is potentially the most skin Gaga has ever shown in public.

At the risk of looking too closely, Gaga appears to be wearing a deceptively flesh-coloured thong.  She seems to be wearing almost no make-up in the picture, wearing her long blonde hair loose.

The singer has also found time to show her support for embattled stars Kirsten Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

Rule 5 Sunday done come on Sunday this week at the Other McCain, with "Every Rose Has It's Thorn."

Obamacare Tax Kills Five New Plants

An Indiana-based medical equipment manufacturer says it's scrapping plans to open five new plants in the coming years because of a looming tax tied to President Obama's health care overhaul law.

Cook Medical claims the tax on medical devices, set to take effect next year, will cost the company roughly $20 million a year, cutting into money that would otherwise go toward expanding into new facilities over the next five years.
"In reality, we're not looking at the U.S. to build factories anymore as long as this tax is in place. We can't, to be competitive," he said.
The Affordable Care Act imposed a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices beginning in 2013. It is projected raise nearly $30 billion over the next decade.

But the Cook Medical spokesman said the impact is greater than just a 2.3 percent uptick in taxes. He said the impact on actual earnings is another 15 percent, and he projected the company's total tax burden next year will rise to over 50 percent.
Why in the hell would you put a special tax on medical devices? The rule is 'Tax what you seek to discourage; subsidize what you seek to encourage.'

How much do you want to bet that the tax will raise far less than the $30 billion projected, precisely due to effects like this?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicago Takes First Place!

Chicago likes to compare itself to other world cities, so Ward Room thought it would find out how we rank in violence. It turns out no one can top us. Among what are considered Alpha world cities, Chicago has the highest murder rate -- higher even than the Third World metropolises of Mexico City and Sao Paolo.
Bogota, Columbia complained that it's dead were being counted in Chicago.

Chicago politicians like Rahm Immanuel and Barack Obama must be so proud.

Meanwhile, Chicago racks up one Aurora equivalent every week or so.  And they have very restrictive gun control, so I assume it's being mostly carried out with knives and blunt instruments...

Bad News from the Garbage Index

Among the 21 categories of items shipped by rail, none have a tighter correlation to GDP than waste.

According to a 2010 piece on Bloomberg, economists Michael McDonough and Carl Riccadonna note that waste has an 82 percent correlation to US economic growth.

This should be pretty intuitive. The more you produce, the more you throw out.
So get out there and make more trash, damn it!

Kafka Was an Optimist

A pretty good article by George Will on how the feds can get you, if they want, using the example of the captain of a whale watching vessel accused of a series of crimes:

... our unhinged government, with an obsession like that of Melville’s Ahab, has crippled Nancy Black’s scientific career, cost her more than $100,000 in legal fees — so far — and might sentence her to 20 years in prison. This Kafkaesque burlesque of law enforcement began when someone whistled.

Black, 50, a marine biologist who also captains a whale-watching ship, was with some watchers in Monterey Bay in 2005 when a member of her crew whistled at the humpback that had approached her boat, hoping to entice the whale to linger. Back on land, another of her employees called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ask if the whistling constituted “harassment” of a marine mammal, which is an “environmental crime.” NOAA requested a video of the episode, which Black sent after editing it slightly to highlight the whistling. NOAA found no harassment — but got her indicted for editing the tape, calling this a “material false statement” to federal investigators, which is a felony under the 1863 False Claims Act, intended to punish suppliers defrauding the government during the Civil War.

Shamu checks out Brooke Shields - nope, too thin.

She has also been charged with the crime of feeding killer whales when she and two aides were in a dinghy observing them feeding on strips of blubber torn from their prey — a gray whale.

To facilitate photographing the killers’ feeding habits, she cut a hole in one of the floating slabs of blubber and, through the hole, attached a rope to stabilize the slab while a camera on a pole recorded the whales’ underwater eating.

So she is charged with “feeding” killer whales that were already feeding on a gray whale they had killed. She could more plausibly be accused of interfering with the feeding.
Now, this isn't a partisan thing, it's a bureaucratic thing.  Black's problems began in 2005, back in the era when Preznit Bush was, at least according to liberals, allowing businesses run wild and commit all kinds of environmental and economic crimes.  The bureaucracy has it's own agenda, and they are permanent, where administrations come and go.   All it takes is one asshole with a pencil to ruin some one else's life.

Rule 5 Sunday done come on Sunday this week at the Other McCain, with "Every Rose Has It's Thorn."

Rule 5 Saturday - American Beauty - Mena Suvari

Oh, look.  It's Rule 5 Saturday again already, and here I am without any good excuses to pick one girl over another.  So I'll just reach into the grab bag, and grab....

Mena Suvari

With a name like that she's got to be a furriner, right?  Well not exactly.  She was born in 1979 in the very smallest state, Rhode Island.  Her father was Estonian, and her mother half-Greek, though, which presumably accounts for the exotic name. 

Probably best known for her role as the forbidden teen love interest in "American Beauty" (1999), (NSFW link) and also for her role in "American Pie" (1999) and it's successors, she has over 30 films to her credit.

She is also a model and clothing designer, so she'll have something to live on when her good looks fade...

 Just kidding.  Anyway, that's all, folks, just more Mena below the jump.


Amazing bowling trick shot.

I can't believe that's good for the lane.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dreams of His Father

Oregonian to be Jailed for Practicing Conservation

A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.

Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

“The government is bullying,” Harrington told CNSNews.com in an interview Thursday.

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

The court has given Harrington two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.
Water rights in western states are funny things and deadly serious, but this seems a little extreme.
Harrington said he applied for three permits to legally house reservoirs for storm and snow water runoff on his property. One of the “reservoirs” had been on his property for 37 years, he said.

Though the state Water Resources Department initially approved his permits in 2003, the state – and a state court -- ultimately reversed the decision.

“They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said ‘No, you can’t have them,’ so I’ve been fighting it ever since,” Harrington told CNSNews.com.

The case, he said, is centered on a 1925 law which states that the city of Medford holds exclusive rights to “all core sources of water” in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.

Swim Me Maybe

"Call Me Maybe" "performed" by US Swim Team in London:

Good Luck!

Swiped from Theo's. Thanks to Wombat-Soccho, who picked this up in generic "Rule 5 Monday" this week at The Other McCain, and to the Classical Liberal, who scooped it up with "Debt Bomb" and other Rule 5 posts.

There's Gold in That Thar Bay!

“The Economics Associated with Natural Areas in the Delmarva” reported that the economic value of outdoor recreation in the Delmarva Peninsula, comprising coastal counties of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, amounted to $4 billion annually.

Prepared by Southwick Associates for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the report divided outdoor recreation into categories: recreational boating sales, $1.3 billion; camping, biking and trail-based activities, $1.07 billion; and hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching, $1.5 billion.

Of the Maryland-specific figures in the report:
  •  In recreational boating sales, Maryland accounts for $607 million, tops among the three states.
  • In hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching, Maryland accounts for $657 million, second to Virginia.
  • Commercial fishing in the Delmarva Peninsula is a $300-million-plus industry, of which Maryland accounts for one-third.
  • Nature tourism contributes $367 million to the Dorchester County economy.
  • Talbot County’s three-day Waterfowl Festival brought in more than $5 million, half from out-of-state visitors, according to a 2007 study.
In Maryland, tourism was a $13.1 billion industry in 2010 — the most current year for which data are available — supporting 130,000 tourism jobs and generating $1.9 billion in state and local taxes. In 2010, more than 32 million domestic travelers visited Maryland; 18 percent of them included a trip to the Eastern Shore.
And goodness knows there would be no reason to visit the Eastern Shore without the Chesapeake Bay; it kind of like Kansas, but with Greenheads, mosquitoes, and nutria.

Mad Engineers Create Mechanical Sting Ray

Engineers try to perfect flap swimming robot
...Bart-Smith and her colleagues at three other universities are trying to emulate the seemingly effortless but powerful swimming motions of rays by engineering their own ray-like machine modeled on nature.

They are designing an "autonomous underwater vehicle" that someday may surpass what nature has provided as a model. The vehicle has potential commercial and military applications, and could be used for undersea exploration and scientific research.

Sometimes called "bio-mimicry" -- the attempt to copy nature -- Bart-Smith calls her work "bio-inspired."

"We are studying a creature to understand how it is able to swim so beautifully, and we are hoping to improve upon it," she said. "We are learning from nature, but we also are innovating; trying to move beyond emulation."

Bart-Smith's team, which includes researchers at U.Va., Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and West Chester University, are modeling their mechanical ray on the cow-nosed ray, a species common to the western Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay.
But will they include the stinger? What is it for? Scaring bathers, and annoying fishermen and eating crabs and oysters like the original?  Sorry, that niche is full.
Bart-Smith's ultimate goal is to engineer a vehicle that would operate autonomously, and could be deployed for long periods of time to collect undersea data for scientists, or as a surveillance tool for the military. It also could be scaled up, or down, to serve as a platform carrying various payloads, such as environmental monitoring instruments. For example, it possibly could be used for pollution monitoring, such as tracking the locations of underwater oil spills.
We already have pretty decent Remote Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs), so I think that's kind of an excuse, and a pretty standard one at that:  "We wanna do it to solve pollution, and stuff!"  They just want to build it 'cause it's cool.

Ancient Pre-Human Ate Shoots and Leaves

A 2-million-year old hominid from South Africa had a very unusual diet, an international team of researchers has found. Instead of living on grasses and wild animals from the nearby savannas, like modern humans and pre-humans that have previously been studied, Australopithecus sediba lived on bark, woody tissues, fruits and other plants found almost exclusively in forests, like modern chimpanzees.
A. sediba hanging with the locals
Maybe they couldn't compete with chimps?
A team led by anthropologist Amanda G. Henry of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Liepzig, Germany, studied the teeth from two A. sediba individuals, using a laser to blast minute amounts of enamel from the teeth for analysis in a mass spectrometer.

That allowed researchers to determine the relative amounts of the stable isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-13 in the tooth enamel that was laid down when the primates were young. Carbon-12 indicates that the hominids ate so-called C3 plants, which are mostly forest foods, such as as leaves and fruits. Carbon-13 indicates that they ate so-called C4 plants, savanna foods such as seeds, roots and grasses.
Leopards were a real threat to early hominids.

So we're basing our entire knowledge of this species habits on two individuals?  What would you determine if you based you knowledge of humans dietary habits based on two people from the same area.  You could get two Inuit (almost strictly carnivorous), or two Asian Indians (vegetarians), and get two very different results.

Microscopic pits and scratches on the teeth also indicated that at least one of the hominids was eating harder foods, like nuts.

"What fascinates me are that these individuals are oddballs," said co-author Matt Sponheimer of the University of Colorado at Boulder. "I had pretty well convinced myself that, after 4 million years ago, most of our hominid kin had diets that were different from living apes, but now I am not so sure."
Around the same time, there were multiple species of hominids,including Paranthropus robustus, the robust australopithicine, which is thought to have included quite a bit of rough vegetable matter in its diet. All these various lines died out, though considering the apparent promiscuity of apes and humans, they may have contributed some genes to the developing human line.

 Thanks to Wombat-Soccho, who picked this up in generic "Rule 5 Monday" this week at The Other McCain, and to the Classical Liberal, who scooped it up with "Debt Bomb" and other Rule 5 posts.

Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am

Mating can be dangerous. At least 100 years ago, biologists began to speculate that sex in the animal kingdom could be a very risky business. The noises can attract predators, the male is distracted and he has less energy to fight off an attacker or to run away. Perhaps that is why males almost always attempt to finish so quickly. Surprisingly, however, there has been little evidence to support this hypothesis until recently.

Stefan Greif and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and his colleagues filmed a colony of Natterer's bats living in a cowshed near Marburg with a large number of houseflies. The flies rarely fly at night, sitting or running on the ceiling where the background echoes hide them from the bats. Finding the flies is nearly impossible for the bats.

But when the flies copulate, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Current Biology, they make a distinctive noise that the bats can home in on. Of the 1,105 acts of copulation observed by the researchers, bats attacked 59 times, consuming both flies almost all the time — thereby obtaining a two-for-one dinner.

To show that it was not simply the increased size of the copulating couple that attracted the bats, the researchers pinned flies in a copulating position to the ceiling. The bats ignored them. But when the team played the sounds of copulation through speakers, the bats attacked the speakers.
So, do it fast, and keep quiet, or the giant bats will getcha...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Storms Kills Fishes, Saves the Rays

A summer storm that spawned a waterspout in the Potomac River last week is likely to blame for killing about 4,300 fish that washed ashore July 19 in Piney Point, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The July 15 storm brought water near the river bottom that was low in oxygen into the area, and the fish, mostly menhaden and striped bass, essentially suffocated, Jay Apperson, a spokesperson for MDE, said this week.

Stratification in the river naturally occurs when lower-density fresh water overlays higher-salinity waters, which prevents the better-oxygenated upper layers from mixing with oxygen-poor bottom waters.

As winds abruptly changed during the storm, the surface water was pushed out and essentially backfilled by low-oxygen bottom waters, according to MDE, a phenomena called a seiche event. The event can happen so quickly that fish are unable to escape to better water and are unable to breathe. They likely died that day, sank to the bottom and then floated to the surface after a few days, when the tide pushed thousands of the fish on shore along Lighthouse Road.
Stormy weather hurting sales of Chesapeake rays
The summer's stormy weather is hurting the state's efforts to boost sales of the Chesapeake ray. The severe weather is keeping watermen ashore and the heat is sending the rays into deeper water, explains Mike Hutt of the Virginia Marine Products Board.

The cownose ray, the so-called "Veal of the Sea" is caught in the Chesapeake Bay from May to September.

The tornado that ripped through Hampton recently damaged Armory Seafood, the only processing plant in Virginia. Meade Amory says the tornado damage shut down processing for about a month. He hopes with the facility repaired and better weather, the catch and processing will pick up soon.
Actually, I wasn't aware that there was any kind of commercial fishing on the Cownose Ray in Chesapeake Bay.  I've often speculated that one could be made.  The rays are edible (I've had it) but I didn't consider them that good.  But they are abundant.

As for the veal thing, I don't like veal either.  I do see a superficial similarity.  Ray flesh is unlike any fish flesh I've seen before, a light pinkish color, shot through with red specks of some sort.  It is rather firm, and a bit pork like, and not awfully fishy (at least if fresh).

It is thought that Cownose Ray populations have risen since their major predators, sharks off the Atlantic coast, have been decimated (or worse, decimate means to take one in ten, this is more like nine in 10).  However, the reproductive potential of rays is low, as females have a single pup yearly, born live, like mammals, and most sharks.  A serious fishery would need to be well regulated to not do serious damage to their population.

Can Rock 'N Roll Save The Bay?

Faced with a large price tag on a government mandate, the town of Williamsport is trying to raise money through an all-day rock concert.

Counties and municipalities across the state are trying to figure out how to pay for a new state Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to help protect the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus discharges. The plan is expected to cost Washington County and its municipalities $1.1 billion in the next 13 years in stormwater, wastewater and septic measures. Williamsport’s share is an estimated $11.7 million.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Donnie Stotelmyer said he and Councilman Bill G. Green talked about the possibility of having a concert at River Bottom Park in Williamsport. The idea evolved into a fundraiser for WIP costs, with an educational component about the health of the Potomac River, Stotelmyer said.

The concert, called Rockin’ at River Bottom, will be Sept. 15. Five bands are lined up to play. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Stotelmyer said 6,000 tickets will be available. If all goes well, Green said, the town could take in $60,000 to $70,000.
Hmmm, $11.7 million divided by $70,000.  So optimistically, 167 concerts (probably over ten year, since that's how most of these costs seem to be estimated), could pay off one small towns 'Bay Diet' bill. So the answer to the question posed in the title is:

Maybe, but it will take a whole lot of Rock 'N Roll.  Hey, I'm game...

Is There No Limit to Their Perfidy?

Watch your feet, girls!
Olympic beach volleyball players have come across an unexpected handicap - squirrels burying their nuts on their courts.

The rodents have been burying beechnuts and acorns on six sandy practice courts at London's St James's Park.

And bikini-clad players have been left grimacing as they land barefoot on the squirrel snacks.

Groundsmen now have to rake the sand before practice sessions, reports The Sun.
We've recently been alerted to the Wildlife Rebellion being waged against human race by by Eastern Gray Squirrels, River Otters, Canadian Beaver and Raccoons.  But this is the first report that the action goes beyond US borders and onto out ally, Great Britain.  No doubt, this is being carried out by those rat-like expatriate Eastern Gray Squirrels (Grey Squirrel in England), that have invaded the British Isles, and are starting to displace the native Red Squirrels.
 Six courts, two warm-up courts and a hospitality lounge have been created in the leafy lakeside park close to Buckingham Palace.

The 15,000-seat main competition arena in nearby Horseguards Parade has not been affected.

A London 2012 source told the newspaper: "It's nuts but true. It seems squirrels have been invading the courts and either hiding or dropping their nuts.

"But it won't affect the competition because the sand is regularly raked."
Linked at The Classical Liberal "Barracuda!" At the DaleyGator "Heather Rene Smith takes us on her Rule 5 Journey." Thanks to Wombat-Soccho, who picked this up in generic "Rule 5 Monday" this week at The Other McCain.

Gotta Get Me One of Them Thar A-salt Weapons

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Butterflies are Cheap at Work, Too

If it's not a female Eastern Tailed Blue, it's something pretty similar, on Joe Pye Weed, a native in wet places around here, and an excellent plant for a butterfly garden. We have some.  Click pic to embiggen.

Fracking Regulations Frozen in New York

New York State Can’t Sue Over Fracking Regulations
The Delaware River Basin Commission, created in 1961 by New York and three other states and the federal government, is responsible for rules governing the natural gas-extraction process known as fracking. New York sued federal agencies in May 2011 to force a fuller assessment of the environmental impact that gas development could have its water supply.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Levy argued today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, that the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal parties sued by the state don’t have control over how the commission regulates fracking.

“The federal defendants didn’t cause the rules to be proposed and can’t stop them from being issued,” Levy said. She also told U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis that the DRBC doesn’t have to comply with U.S. laws that require a fuller environmental review because it isn’t a federal agency.
New York, and the other states gave up their individual authority to regulate water conditions in the Delaware River to a collective organization of all the states (with a little federal assistance thrown in) so that the Delaware River Basin could be regulated as a whole.  Now, New York want to sue for stricter regulations on fracking on it's own land, ignoring the decisions of the Commission.

The state wants freedom from making the decisions when it wants them, and the right to go against the commission when it disagrees.  If they feel that strongly, why not simply withdraw from the DRBC?

In other fracking news: Some fracking critics use bad science, experts say
Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.
One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from north Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.

Opponents of fracking say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of "Gasland," a film that criticizes the industry. Fox, who lives in Brooklyn, has a new short film called "The Sky is Pink."

But researchers haven't seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas...
Critics of fracking also repeat claims of extreme air pollution threats, even as evidence mounts that the natural gas boom is in some ways contributing to cleaner air.

Marcellus air pollution "will cause a massive public health crisis," claims a section of the Marcellus Shale Protest website.

Yet data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the shale gas boom is helping to turn many large power plants away from coal, which emits far more pollution. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules to force drillers to limit releases of methane from wells and pumping stations...
One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.

"You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them," said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

Today's Drudgtaposition


It is difficult to maintain enthusiasm when you are relying on dead people,  pets, and children to vote for you.
Drudge does commentary. You just have to figure out what he's trying to say with his juxtapositions — Drudgtapositions.

Hendrix Goes Wild

Yesterday, Georgia had a dentist appointment in the morning, so rather than drive two cars to work, Georgia stayed home after the appointment, and tele-worked.  When I came home at 5:30, I expected to be attacked by both dogs, Skye (our aging Siberian Husky) and Hendrix, (our son's Mutt, who is staying with us while they represent the East Coast of the clan at the reunion in Pismo Beach).  Georgia was diligently working on data analysis on the kitchen table.

Skye ambled out and said hi, but Hendrix was nowhere to be found.  We scoured the house, we went outside and checked the fenced yard, and walked the immediate neighborhood calling.  No dog...

We still haven't quite figured out how she got out of the fenced yard, but we have a couple of theories, that we likely will not test. 

We went into full panic mode, and started combing the neighborhood in our cars, asking if anyone had seen a small black and brown dog.  Georgia got one "hit" about 3/4 of a mile up the road, and we both searched the area thoroughly, to no avail.  We called off the search at dark.

Georgia reluctantly called Alex, to get the details of what were on her tags, so we could tell the Animal Shelter if they found her.  He and Kelly were both concerned but utterly unable to do anything from the distance. 

We got up at first light, and started the hunt again.  Georgia got a second "hit" somewhere near the previous one, and as I was leaving to meet the carpool, a woman pulled up and reported she had just seen the dog (we were pretty sure by then) on the same road but closer to home, so back she went, while I went to meet the carpool.

About a half hour later Georgia called to report that she had tracked Hendrix down, only a block from home, sitting in the weeds, wet from the nights dew, and with some new burrs stuck in her coat.  She seems none the worse for her night out on the big town of Long Beach (MD), although a little less bouncy than normal.  But that's probably for the best, as she'll be under house arrest for the remainder of her stay.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Remembering the Oyster Wars

The Calvert Marine Museum presents Lieutenant Gregory L. Bartles speaking on The Chesapeake Oyster Wars in the museum’s auditorium on Thursday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m. Lt. Bartles is the Area 8 Commander/Agency Historian for the Maryland Natural Resources Police and was responsible for bringing the oyster war cannon to DNR. The cannon is currently on exhibit in the museum’s lobby through the end of September. The lecture is free and open to the public.
In 1865, Maryland realized oysters were not an infinite resource, and implemented the first restrictions on their harvest, started requiring annual permits for their harvest. Watermen resisted, and in 1868, Maryland formed the Maryland Oyster Navy, the predecessor of Maryland Department of Natural Resources to fight poaching by local watermen and encroaching New Englanders, fleeing their own depleted beds.  Virginia too took measures to fight the poaching, and in1882, the Governor of Virginia led an expedition against armed and organized oyster poachers, and arrested 46 and seized 7 boats.

An amusing incident from "the second" oyster war, the escape of "Dancing Molly".
The Pirate Brides. The crew of the Dancing Molly was not so complacent. When the Pamlico came upon the little craft "lying close in one of the inlets on the Eastern Shore," it appeared as though no crew members were on board. Thinking to take the unmanned craft as a prize, the crew of the Pamlico bore down upon the vessel. The vessel, though unmanned, was not unwomanned. The captain's wife and two daughters were still aboard, and when their cries for help went unheard by the crew on shore, they unreefed the sails themselves and made their escape. As the Pamlico raced to block the mouth of the inlet the Dancing Molly strained at its sails to escape. The women were "equal to the emergency." All three "were skilled in handling the sails and were determined not to be taken." Despite solid shot flying past them, the three women continued on their way and reaching the open waters of the Bay, easily escaped into Maryland waters with a stiff breeze behind them. According to the Norfolk Virginian of March 4, 1883, spectators along the Virginia shore, though opposed to dredging, "really wished for the safety of the tiny craft when they saw it was simply manned by three women, and when the Dancing Molly got safely out the group of Virginians chivalrously gave three cheers for the pirate's wife and daughters."