Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Money, My Friends, Is Blowin' in the Wind

The political winds are blowing favorably for what could be America’s first offshore wind farm.

On Tuesday, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee –- where wind power legislation hit the doldrums the last two years –- voted 7-4 in favor of Governor Martin O’Malley’s bill that would help subsidize 40 huge wind turbines east of Ocean City.
Wind power, where it exists in the United States, is almost the most subsidized form of energy available.  Only solar energy is more supported by the government.

Last Friday, the House of Delegates voted 86 to 48 in favor of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013.

The final hurdle will be an upcoming vote by the full state senate.

The legislation would require electric utilities to buy a portion of their power from the proposed offshore wind farm, which would generate enough pollution-free electricity to power about a third of the homes on the Eastern Shore.
And wind energy is one of the most expensive forms of power despite (or perhaps in a contrarian sense due to), the subsidies.
The bill would contribute to the fight against climate change. More wind power would reduce the amount electricity purchased from coal-fired power plants, which today produce half of the electricity for Maryland -– and also release a huge amount of pollution, including microscopic soot particles that trigger and asthma and heart attacks; mercury, which contaminates fish and can damage the brains of developing infants; and nitrogen oxide air pollution, which feeds algal blooms and low-oxygen “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay.
Chesapeake region power plants contribute negligibly to world wide CO2 concentrations; and in any event, the climate hasn't changed in 16 years (about the time they started yammering about it the hardest, ironically). I think the models EPA uses to predict asthma and heart attacks based on out door air pollution are gross exaggerations, and even coal burning power plants are become much cleaner for nitrogen, soot and Hg as a result of advanced treatment systems.

Air pollution is responsible for about a third of the nitrogen in the Bay. So reducing air pollution by shifting some generation to wind power will help the Bay states meet EPA pollution limits for the Chesapeake and the related state plans for cleaning up the Bay, called the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.
That might make the farmers happy; they could use the allocation that the wind power will generate.  I'll bet it won't happen though.  All of these excuses would be reasons for CBF to support more nuclear power in the region, but I'll wager they'll never go there.

The proposed bill’s mandate that utilities buy power from offshore wind would also mean an electricity rate increase of up to $1.50 per month for an average household, and 1.5 percent more for commercial customers (although not many industries and farms, which have some exemptions). The rate increase will come because wind power is more expensive (in the short term) than energy from fossil fuels, especially natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, which is increasingly cheap but may have some potential impacts to drinking water, streams, and air quality.
I'm neutral on wind power; the day it can economically compete with  other energy sources, and proves save for wildlife and humans (both are issues), I'll be all for it.  Until then, I don't think we should be subsidizing expensive bird blenders that drive people crazy.

Calvert Country Hates the Bay, Too

An article in the local e-rag that explains various Southern Maryland county governments feelings on Governor O'Malley's new septic bill.  I was particularly taken by the response from Calvert County, where I live:
In Calvert County, where there is little public sewer outside of its seven town centers, officials have deferred action on its tier maps until the end of the legislative session to see if lawmakers make any changes to the bill.

Under a draft plan, Tiers I and II would include only 5 percent of Calvert, while Tiers III and IV would make up 45 and 47 percent, respectively. Under the plan, only one home would be allowed for every 10.6 acres in Tier IV. There are 90 landowners in Tier IV whose land would lose the potential for a combined 1,012 lots, according to a status report prepared for the delegation.

As a result, the bill will further disincentivize Calvert’s transferable development rights program, which already took a hit during the recession due to declining property values, said Chuck Johnston, director of the Calvert County Department of Community Planning and Building.

“Calvert County has a 40-year history of land preservation through its groundbreaking [TDR] program,” the county wrote in the status report. “Property owners in Calvert have entered into this program in good faith and rely on the program remaining strong and viable. Limits on development in Tier IV have undercut this viability.”
In the word of Otter from Animal House: "You fucked up, you trusted us."

Just because we passed a law that you counted on, doesn't mean the state can't come along and change that on a whim.

That's Vice President Moron to You

Much has been written about Vice President SloJoe's advice to women that they don't need an AR-15 for self defense; that a double barreled shotgun it just the ticket, and that if they feel threatened, they should just take it outside and fire a couple of blasts into the air, to scare the hypothetical intruder, and summon aid.

This, of course, could be illegal, depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances.  Which is not necessarily worse than dying, but could be a legal hassle. Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6...  It also completely disarms you until you reload, (which is supposed to inhibit mass killers), and many would be bad guys can count as high as two.  Finally his assertion that the shotgun is easier to handle for poor, weak little women is subject to some well deserved ridicule:

Trained women, of course, are some of the best marksmenpeople in the world, and an AR-15 is relatively light weapon compared to a 12 gauge shotgun, and much easier to shoot.  And having an assault a scary black military looking rifle with an immense clip may serve some value as an agent for discouragement of the intruders.  Nevertheless I would not recommend her wasting two shots for warning.  If they're close enough that a warning shot is needed, they're too close.

That's not to denigrate a 12 gauge as a self-defense weapon, they can be devastating at close range, of course, but I'd rather have Georgia using a semi-auto shotgun, like her father's Remington 1100, in which the action soaks up a substantial amount of the recoil.  Of course, for self defense use, it would be advisable to put the plug that restricts it to two or three rounds for duck hunting.

Your Daily Overdose of Cute

I'm not really into cute kitty videos, but I'm really into sloth...

Yeah, there's a few cats in there, too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Will Sequestration Kill the Bay?

CBF joins the chorus of liberals decrying the sequestration:

Sequestration may cut nearly $3M to clean air, water programs 
Among the budget cuts predicted by the White House due to sequestration, Virginia stands to lose nearly $3 million for clean air and water programs.
In the grand scheme of Chespeake Bay money, $3 million really isn't that much, when you consider that the estimated cost of the Bay Diet is abut $25 billion (with a "b").
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says funding will be in trouble for the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint if cuts begin March 1.

“Right now is a critical time for Chesapeake Bay restoration. We have a great plan in place. We've started to see it implemented,” says Christy Everett, CBF’s Hampton Roads director. Everett says that grant money from Washington helps with sewage treatment plant upgrades, technical assistance to farmers who want to put in pollution control practices and funding to local governments to prevent stormwater pollution. “The money is passed through Washington but really ends up here in the local level and it ends up here for pollution-prevention practices,” explains Everett.

CBF warns that a deterioration of water quality could adversely affect commercial and recreational fishing as well as tourism based around the Chesapeake Bay.
Is the sequestration going to keep other recreational and commercial fishermen off the Bay? I doubt it, but if so, I'm for it!
The American Lung Association says that cuts for air quality control programs means fewer resources for promoting clear-air practices at factories and less money for monitoring air pollution. “Sequestration could actually keep EPA from properly monitoring the levels of pollution in our air and keep them from notifying the public about taking action,” says Laura Kate Bender, coordinator for Virginia Healthy Air Coalition.

ALA says increases in air pollution for vulnerable populations can drive up healthcare costs and even cause premature death.
Oh no, we're all gonna die if they don't get every cent of the increase they expect!
Both the ALA and CBF warn that short term cuts to water and air quality programs could have long lasting negative economic effects.
So could the US going bankrupt.

The O'Malley War on the Countryside

E.J. Pipkin, one of the state Senators who represents Maryland's Eastern Shore, comes out and calls a spade a goddamn shovel.
I am writing in response to The Sun's editorial regarding septic tank limits, "Plowing old ground" (Feb. 15).

I have introduced legislation to repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, the law requiring counties to adopt a tier system thus limiting new residential developments with septic systems. The state has told the counties they must either adopt the tier system established by the state or limit new major subdivisions, currently six or more housing units in Queen Anne's County, to land on public sewer.

The ability to develop is one of a bundle of rights that comes with property ownership. Each right that comes with property ownership has a certain value to it. Revoking an owner's development rights reduces the value of that property.

Advocates contend that the loss of property rights and value is a worthy sacrifice to ensure a healthy Chesapeake Bay because septic systems are so damaging. Your editorial argues, "Failing septic tanks are a significant source of water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay." The truth is that Maryland accounts for about 20 percent of the bay's nitrogen load. Septics account for 4 percent to 8 percent of Maryland's load. That means Maryland septic systems account for 0.8 percent to 1.6 percent of the bay's nitrogen load.
Two points in this last paragraph need highlighting; yes the legislation substantially restricts the right of rural and suburban  land owners to develop their private property and that the potential gain from such restrictions is relatively trivial in the grand scheme to Chesapeake Bay nitrogen pollution problems.  You can take issue with the numbers perhaps, but they seem to be about on target, but if all the states were to similarly restrict septic, the savings would be on the order of 4-8%.   If peoples freedoms are to be restricted, and yes, in some cases it needs to be done, the gain should be important.  I don't think this meets that test.

Instead, urban living is considered the superior alternative. But assertions that the state should steer development to cities and towns served by public water and sewer ignore the pressure dense population puts on infrastructure. With every major storm, The Sun prints stories of sewage overflows from wastewater treatment plants into open waters. Millions of gallons of untreated sewage are released into the Chesapeake Bay. Ironically, the Maryland Department of the Environment consistently asserts that septic systems are the culprit for the Chesapeake's deterioration, and while concerning, the spills have little negative impact to bay health.
It is notable that in articles announcing the various sewage overflows from Baltimore, and the almost continual "leakage" of high nutrient waters from the urban areas, these inputs tend to be downplayed.  Certainly, they're not important enough to write a law demanding that the cities actually pay the bill to upgrade their own facilities.
No, the 2012 law was less about septic systems and more about land control. Not just does the law strip landowners of their property rights but also local government of its planning authority. With the passage of this law, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning has become the state's de facto land planning czar.

Twelve counties have registered their opposition to the law by failing to file tier maps with the state. Indeed, local jurisdictions would rather take their chances in court, fighting for their planning authority, than to stand by helpless and allow that power to be stolen by state regulation.

The Sun's editorial attempted to debunk the belief that the state is waging a "war on rural counties." Only the biased and blind could fail to see what is blatantly apparent — that the policies and legislative proposals of Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration, from the septic system ban to wastewater improvement, will strip rural Maryland of any real opportunity to create jobs and boost its economy. If that's not war, I don't know what is.
O'Malley's and the Democratic Party's strength in Maryland lies in the urban areas, while their only significant opposition lies in the suburbs and rural areas.  They see it as in their best interests to control growth and force it into the urban areas.  Whether or not it's better for the environment is strictly a secondary concern,

Felony Balloon Launch?

Anthony Brasfield saw romance when he released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach with his sweetie. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw a felony.

Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning. Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.

Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act. Endangered marine turtle species and birds, such as wood storks and brown pelicans, seek refuge in John U. Lloyd State Park, about 1.5 miles east of the motel.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said there were 21 arrests statewide under the rarely used environmental crime statute. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Yeah, that'll learn him. They need to put the cop in jail; just watch him until he commits one of his three felonies for the day and lock him up.

Democrats Cite Yellow Peril

The important thing to understand about the Democrat Party is that they have no moral or philosophical principles of any kind. The Democrat Party is about power for its own sake, and everything that Democrats claim to stand for is negotiable, subject to change if necessary to win elections. For example, if racism will win election for Democrats, then they will use racism to win elections:
A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife.

For months, the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home.

Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.

In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: “This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell) — she’s his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!”
I call on all democrats to repudiate this racism.

Aw, who am I kidding? 

Found: Lost Continent

How can you misplace a whole continent?  Well, it has to be a very small continent, and it takes a long, long time.

Fragments of ancient continent buried under Indian Ocean
Fragments of an ancient continent are buried beneath the floor of the Indian Ocean, a study suggests. Researchers have found evidence for a landmass that would have existed between 2,000 and 85 million years ago. The strip of land, which scientists have called Mauritia, eventually fragmented and vanished beneath the waves as the modern world started to take shape.
I think the continent ought to be named after its discoverer, hence maybe we should call it "Torsvikia."  After all, America is named after Amerigo Vespucci.
Until about 750 million years ago, the Earth's landmass was gathered into a vast single continent called Rodinia. And although they are now separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean, India was once located next to Madagascar.

Now researchers believe they have found evidence of a sliver of continent - known as a microcontinent - that was once tucked between the two.
So what good is a tiny lost continent without a few cave girls and some unlikely fauna  to populate it? And maybe an intrepid adventurer type to rediscover it?
The team came to this conclusion after studying grains of sand from the beaches of Mauritius.

While the grains dated back to a volcanic eruption that happened about nine million years ago, they contained minerals that were much older.

Professor Trond Torsvik, from the University of Oslo, Norway, said: "We found zircons that we extracted from the beach sands, and these are something you typically find in a continental crust. They are very old in age."

The zircon dated to between 1,970 and 600 million years ago, and the team concluded that they were remnants of ancient land that had been dragged up to the surface of the island during a volcanic eruption.
So it's safe to say this theory rests on a few grains of sand?

And what were the scientist doing lying around on the beaches of Maurtitius looking for little grains of zircon?  That sounds like a pretty good gig.  How come I got the Anacostia River, and they got Mauritius?
Prof Torsvik said that he believed pieces of Mauritia could be found about 10km down beneath Mauritius and under a swathe of the Indian Ocean.

It would have spanned millions years of history, from the Precambrian Era when land was barren and devoid of life to the age when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

But about 85m years ago, as India started to drift away from Madagascar towards its current location, the microcontinent would have broken up, eventually disappearing beneath the waves.
Sounds to me like we're not really talking about a large island system, and not really a continent as most people understand it, although I suppose having a separate piece of continental crust isolated in the ocean might technically make it a microcontinent. Certainly we think of Madagascar as an island and not a continent.
However, a small part could have survived.

"At the moment the Seychelles is a piece of granite, or continental crust, which is sitting practically in the middle of the Indian Ocean," explained Prof Torsvik.

"But once upon a time, it was sitting north of Madagascar. And what we are saying is that maybe this was much bigger, and there are many of these continental fragments that are spread around in the ocean."
Intrepid explorer type
 Would that make the Seychelles a nanocontinent?
Further research is needed to fully investigate what remains of this lost region.

Prof Torsvik explained: "We need seismic data which can image the structure... this would be the ultimate proof. Or you can drill deep, but that would cost a lot of money."
You don't want to ruin a good gig too quickly; I foresee a lot of trips to Mauritius and the Seychelles and lots of very incremental publications for Prof. Torsvik before the issue is settled.

Lucky bastard.

Rule 5 Sunday (Snowed Out at the the Tax Mines) done come on Wednesday at The Other McCain this week. Wombat-Socho had some lame excuse about having a real job or weather or something.

Seven Excuses for Another Cup of Coffee

1. Coffee Can Make You Smarter
Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well.

The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

Caffeine’s primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine...

Bottom Line: Caffeine potently blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to a net stimulant effect. Controlled trials show that caffeine improves both mood and brain function.

2. Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat and Improves Physical Performance

There’s a good reason why you will find caffeine in most commercial fat burning supplements.

Caffeine, partly due to its stimulant effect on the central nervous system, both raises metabolism and increases the oxidation of fatty acids. Caffeine can also improve athletic performance by several mechanisms, including by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues...

Bottom Line: Caffeine raises the metabolic rate and helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues. It can also enhance physical performance.
This one may not help, though...
I should be so fit and skinny by now...
3. Coffee May Drastically Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease that has reached epidemic proportions, having increased 10-fold in a few decades and now afflicting about 300 million people.

This disease is characterized by high blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin...

Bottom Line: Drinking coffee is associated with a drastically reduced risk of type II diabetes. People who drink several cups per day are the least likely to become diabetic.

4. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Not only can coffee make you smarter in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world and a leading cause of dementia. In prospective studies, coffee drinkers have up to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia....

Bottom Line Coffee is associated with a much lower risk of dementia and the neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Her liver looks just fine

5. Coffee May be Extremely Good For Your Liver

The liver is a remarkable organ that carries out hundreds of vital functions in the body. It is very vulnerable to modern insults such as excess consumption of alcohol and fructose...

Multiple studies have shown that coffee can lower the risk of cirrhosis by as much as 80%, the strongest effect for those who drank 4 or more cups per day. Coffee may also lower the risk of liver cancer by around 40%.

Bottom Line: Coffee appears to be protective against certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40% and cirrhosis by as much as 80%.

6. Coffee May Decrease Your Risk of Dying

Many people still seem to think that coffee is unhealthy. This isn’t surprising though, since it is very common for conventional wisdom to be at exact odds with what the actual studies say.

In two very large prospective epidemiological studies, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death by all causes...

Bottom Line: Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of death in prospective epidemiological studies, especially in type II diabetics.
It's for my health...

7. Coffee is Loaded With Nutrients and Antioxidants - Coffee isn’t just black water.

Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it into the final drink, which actually contains a decent amount of vitamins and minerals.

A cup of coffee contains: 6% of the RDA for Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), 11% of the RDA for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 2% of the RDA for Niacin (B3) and Thiamine (B1), and 3% of the RDA for Potassium and Manganese... Coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined.

Bottom Line: Coffee contains a decent amount of several vitamins and minerals. It is also the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet.
Great, I can claim it as a vegetable serving now?

Rule 5 Sunday (Snowed Out at the the Tax Mines) done come on Wednesday at The Other McCain this week. Wombat-Socho had some lame excuse about having a real job or weather or something.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Look Racist - The New Phrenology

A new study claim to predict whether you'll express racist ideas when prompt based on your facial , and that people perceive those people to be racist before they speak:

Phrenology: A pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull...

How Cow Looks at Stormwater Fees

Howard Council collecting information before stormwater vote 
A majority of Howard County residents last week spoke in favor of the county administration's plan to implement a state-mandated fee next year to pay for stormwater-related projects. County Council members, however, say they still need to be convinced it is the best way to go.

"We need to be sure the way we move forward is most efficient for county taxpayers," Council member Courtney Watson said. The council is scheduled to vote on the bill Monday, March 4.

The Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, signed into law last year, requires larger counties in the state to collect fees to pay for stormwater management as well as stream and wetland restoration projects. The projects are aimed at improving water quality and reducing phosphorous and nitrogen levels entering the Chesapeake Bay.

All property owners — except state and local governments and volunteer fire companies — will be required to pay the fee, which will be a separate line item on their property tax bill starting in 2014.

A bill before the County Council is proposing that for every 500 square feet of impervious surface, property owners will be charged $7.80. Homes built after 2002 will pay a lower fee because they use the latest stormwater standards.

Impervious surfaces include paved driveways and rooftops. The county's Geographic Information Services will determine the building footprint and paved surface for each home and business. For example, the owner of a moderately sized home (roughly 2,640 square feet) built before 2002 can expect to pay $39 a year, while the owner of a home built after 2002 would pay $31. Owners of larger homes with long driveways can expect to pay $195 if their home was built before 2002 and $101 if it was built after 2002.

The fee is expected to "significantly" increase during the next five years, according to county stormwater manager Jim Caldwell, but the county can't predict how high.
For example, we have a 2 story house with approximately 2,500 sq ft, so 1250 sq ft of roof, a garage that's approximately 900 sq feet, and a driveway of 15 by 50 ft for 750 sq ft, for a total of roughly 2900 sq ft.  Call it 3000.  That would amount to a bill of approximately  $45 per year.

No offset that I see for the fact that we own an undeveloped lot behind and downhill from our building lot that absorbs the vast majority of the runoff from any rains or snow melt on our building lot.  We only see run off in the back lots in the event of very strong downpours.

Now, $45 isn't going to break us, but if it were me (and we don't live in Calvert County)  I'd like some assurance that the money would be well used.

I haven't yet heard if Cal Cow has been targeted for these fees.

I Detect a Rumble in the Force...

All of a sudden, the hit counts spiked to levels unheard of recently, and all evidence points back to this Rule 5 post on Heidi Klum, even after considering the hits from Wombat-Sochos weekly Rule 5 post, and a pick up from the American Power Blog, with Oscar coverage.  With the lightening speed of deduction driven into me in way too many years in the hard sciences, I deduced that Heidi Klum must have done something newsworthy in the past day or so. A quick search with Google shows that, indeed, at one of the Oscars (which I don't watch, despite the Rule 5 value) parties, Heidi made the news by shockingly, wearing a plunging neckline:

E (with the funny symbol to make it look like an exclamation mark):  Oscars Rack Report: Heidi Klum Gets Schooled by Les Mis Star Samantha Barks
Sadly, Heidi Klum crossed that line between sexy and skanky in her Julien Macdonald dress. The Project Runway host's chevron print gold gown is gorgeous, but that neckline plunges just a little bit too low (who are we kidding? It's a lotta bit too low!).

So, for those taking notes at home, side boob = hot. Bottom of the boob = not.
and then provided this photo to attempt to prove their point:

They also helpfully provided this "sideboob" gallery to showcase their ideas.

Well, they both look on the edge of an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction to me, but I don't see an enormous difference.  I recently saw a blog article, I think it was on Ace's, but I can't find it now, that hypothesized that the degree of sexiness of a woman clothes were not determined by how much they reveal, but by how much they look like they might reveal by "accident".  I can't say I necessarily agree with that, but I'm willing to be a test subject in the scientific study to prove it.  On that basis, I would have to give Heidi's a slight nod.

UPDATE: Wait, I found it, it was on GOODSTUFF'S (what's with the all caps? You shouting?), and it's called the Theiss Tittilation Theory:
The Theiss Titillation Theory basically says that the sexiest clothes aren’t those that show a lot, but those that look like they’re just about to, or, ”the degree to which a costume is considered sexy is directly proportional to how accident-prone it appears to be.”  It’s named for William Ware Theiss, one of Star Trek’s costume designers, who, in order to skirt around rather rigid censorship rules, got creative with what he showed and hid.
OK, digression over.

Stateside Hooker Fingers Menendez

The DC Caller reports that an American prostitute has contacted them and identified photos of Sen. Menendez (D, New Jersey) as one of the men who paid her for sex.
The escort, who earns money having sex with men in upscale hotel rooms, said during an in-person interview that many of her wealthy and powerful customers use pseudonyms when arranging for her services, and when meeting her in person...

Menendez, she said, is “quite a hobbyist. He sees a lot of girls and doesn’t seem to have the skills to have a relationship.”

“Hobbyists,” she explained, are men who “‘hobby’ in seeing many girls, as many as they can,” referring to escorts who offer companionship and sexual favors in exchange for what they euphemistically call financial “donations.”
Well, it might be a cheaper hobby than fishing, but less remunerative than coin collecting. Something on the line of bird watching, where some people spend enormous amount of money and travel vast distances to spend a few minutes with a rare bird.

Stacy McCain, in a show of  uncharacteristic charity towards Menedez, urged caution:
I would be cautious about a source like this, who contacts reporters after reading coverage of a scandal. Not to say that I doubt Senator Menendez patronizes prostitutes, just saying that without some corroborating evidence — a credit card receipt, a hotel bill, etc. — I’d be cautious about the source. Perhaps the Daily Caller has such corroboration and is witholding it.
Ace, on the other hand, concludes "Guilty!"
I wasn't sure until he played the Race Card. Now I know for certain.
At a Black History Month event held at a Trenton, N.J. church on Sunday, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez blamed conservatives for his ethics scandals, framing them as a racial attack on him because of his Hispanic heritage. “I have felt the sting of discrimination,” he told approximately 300 worshipers, according to the Bergen Record. ”It has never been easy.” “Now we face anonymous, faceless, nameless individuals from right-wing sources seeking to destroy a lifetime of work,” Menendez said at Shiloh Baptist Church.
I think he's due the presumption of innocence, just the same as "The Juice."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beretta Threatens to Abandon Maryland Over Gun Laws

Beretta’s future in Maryland tied to state’s gun-control debate
Under an assault-weapons ban that advanced late last week in the Maryland General Assembly, experts say the gun would be illegal in the state where it is produced.

Now Beretta is weighing whether the rifle line, and perhaps the company itself, should stay in a place increasingly hostile toward its products. Its iconic 9mm pistol — carried by every U.S. soldier and scores of police departments — would also be banned with its high capacity, 13-bullet magazine.

“Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?” said Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta.

Concern that the company will leave, and take its 300 jobs with it, is palpable among state lawmakers who worry it could be collateral damage from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed gun-control bill.
Other gun manufacturers are also pushing back against gun control; a number of major manufacturers have said they will not sell guns and accessories  that will be forbidden to civilians to law enforcement agencies:
Private firearms and ammunition manufacturers are teaming up with civilians against the Obama administration's continual pressure to erode Second Amendment rights. States that also pass restrictive gun laws are also being taken to task as arms suppliers are now refusing to sell to various agencies including law enforcement.

Beach Report 2/25/13

We managed another beach trip this morning.  It was not quite as nice as yesterday; the temperature was about the same, but a 15 mph north wind made it much chillier.  However, it did drop the tide enough for us to make it past the cliffs so we could get up to the boat ramp.
 An unusual boat heading north.  A look at the  site shows it to be the Pacific Guardian, a cargo ship from the UK.  A pretty unusual looking cargo ship.  It's moored up in Baltimore right now.
A gull on the posing post.  Quick look through the gulls suggests that it is the Greater Black Backed Gull, reputed to be the largest gull in the world, although I sent these pictures to the expert to be certain.
It was hanging around with a Herring Gull.  I can't say I noticed the Black Backed was much bigger.

I wonder what she thinks she's stalking...

Obama Gave More Military Backup to Michelle for the Oscars...

than he gave to the mission at Benghazi.

Based a comment on a thread at Althouse on Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars, backed up by a couple of women Marine guards. 

The completely inappropriate use of Michelle Obama — piped in from the White House — to announce the Best Picture Oscar.

I wouldn't know; we watched old episodes of Wicked Tuna, Ax Men, and American Pickers, and a newish Nat. Geo. show called Silver Rush.

Feds Deny Redskins Life Saving Road

For nearly 20 years, Alaskan politicians have lobbied the federal government to construct a roughly 20-mile gravel road connecting the tiny village of King Cove to the larger town of Cold Bay, so its 750 year-round residents could have access to an all-weather airport in case of medical emergencies. Like many remote communities, King Cove has no road out, relying on air and marine transport.
Like most rural Alaskan communities, King Cove is predominantly a redskin Indian Native American community, in this case Aleut.
King Cove had proposed exchanging 13,000 acres of its land and an additional 43,000 acres of state land in exchange for 206 acres from the refuge and 1,600 acres from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge on Sitkinak Island.
That sound like more than a fair deal.  The refuge doesn't get any smaller, and the redskins Aleuts get access to a life saving road out of King Cove in times of crisis.
One of the arguments being made for the road is that air transport from King Cove has been dangerous. Eleven King Cove residents have died in plane crashes stemming from medical emergencies, 10 of them in two separate crashes in 1980 and 1981.
Eleven deaths out of 750 people over 20 years.  Why if something like that happened in say, Newtown Connecticut it would be a considered a national crisis.   If it saves only one life...
Ninety-five percent of the refuge was designated wilderness in 1980. It boasts a three-mile wide isthmus with lagoons on either side, and is home to the endangered sea duck Steller’s eiders as well as tundra swans, brown bears, foxes and other wildlife. Nearly every Pacific black brant in the world goes through there.
Tundra Swans, in Maryland
Which may very well be true, but does it necessarily mean that a gravel road used by 750 residents would necessarily cause a ecological catastrophy to the wildlife?  We have roads all over the place here in Maryland, including the marshes on the eastern shore, and our Brant and Tundra Swans are doing pretty well for the most part. Hmm, maybe they could restrict the road to emergency use?
Lawmakers have proposed language that would restrict the road to emergency operations. Outsiders may question the villagers’ environmental commitment, Trumble said, but the refuge is “a part of who we are as Aleut people.”
That road, it'll just kill the whole region, just like the ICC did.
The Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the idea of an exchange, releasing a final environmental impact statement on Feb. 5. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who agreed to meet with King Cove residents Thursday, must make a final decision next month on what is in the public interest.

“The weight of this scientific evidence demonstrates that building a road through the refuge would irretrievably damage the ecological functions of the refuge and impair its ability to provide vital support for native wildlife,” Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe said in a statement...
To say I'm skeptical of claims that building one grave road through a three mile wide strip of land would irretrievably damage the ecological functions would be an understatement.  Alter them slightly? Possibly.
Desiree Sorenson-Groves, vice president of government affairs for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, said it’s unrealistic to expect federal officials will enforce such restrictions on a road she said would “go through the biological heart of the refuge . . . They’re not going to be having an armed guard at the gate.”
Redskins; you just can't trust them to take care of the environment as well as an urban yuppie, Iron Eyes Cody not withstanding.  Oh, he was Italian, wasn't he? I guess it's a good thing we gave them small pox, thinned them out a lot, conquered them and put them in reservations, or God only knows what ecological havoc they might have wreaked.  After all, they did wipe out the Pleistocene Megafauna in North America.

Stupid redskins just need to bow to the demands of the great white nannies is Washington D.C. After all, it's for their own good, whether they know it or not.

Way to Go, Silvio!

My hero, Silvio Berlusconi, managed to irritate the girls of Femen (the Ukrainian feminist group) into holding a topless protest  and literally throwing themselves to protest his attempt to regain power in Italy by holding a topless protest at his polling place:

Topless women protest against Berlusconi as he votes in election
A group of topless women were dragged away by police on Sunday when they protested against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he voted in Italy's election.

The protesters, from the Ukrainian women's rights group Femen, shouted "Basta (Enough) Berlusconi", as the media tycoon was voting in a polling station in a Milan school.
This is just too good to believe; two of my favorite foreign affair, Silvio Berlusconi, and the topless protesters of Femen, together in one event.  So why a sign in English at a protest in Italy?
The same words were painted on their bodies.

Police quickly grabbed the women and roughly bundled them away.
Not before they got plenty of camera time, though. I love the Italian Flag colors, girls; good job!

Berlusconi, who is seeking his fifth term in government, is on trial for having sex with an underage prostitute during alleged "bunga bunga" orgies at his Milan villa, a charge he denies.
Oooh, oooh, can I hope for the girls to come to D.C. to protest Sen. Menendez, and his alleged trips to the Dominican Republic with a high powered supporter to visit the teen age prostitues there?  I'll take a day off work to take pictures of that.

However, my guess is the Femen will give any US democrat a free pass.
The 76-year-old billionaire, who was pushed out of power in November 2011 as Italy faced a grave financial crisis, enrages feminists who accuse him of exploiting scantily-clad showgirls on his television shows and degrading women with off-colour jokes.
I don't think that's an accusation, I think that's a fact? But what of it?  Lot's of TV types sell sex; pretty much all of them,  and that, in turn is what Femen is doing, selling their sex in the interest of their politics.

On the other hand, no woman has ever, to my knowledge, accused Silvio of doing anything to or with a women who didn't voluntarily associate with him.  And a large number of astonishingly good looking women chose to associate themselves with the randy old man.  He even used his authority to help a few good looking women into politics.
During the election campaign his center-left rival Pier Luigi Bersani accused him of treating women like inflatable dolls.

An Italian woman has demanded an apology after he made suggestive remarks to her while they were on stage together at a business event.
Well, if you don't ask...
He says he holds women in high respect and that he does not mean to offend anyone with his jokes.
And, sadly, I missed a previous chance tom mix Femen with Silvio, when they celebrated his fall from power last November with bare tops and champagne:

Cave Girls Had Better Teeth

Prehistoric humans didn't have toothbrushes. They didn't have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn't have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.

"Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth," says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. "[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up."

And thousands of years later, we're still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.

Our changing diets are largely to blame.
 This study paid for by Nanny Bloomberg...

In a study published in the latest Nature Genetics, Cooper and his research team looked at calcified plaque on ancient teeth from 34 prehistoric human skeletons. What they found was that as our diets changed over time — shifting from meat, vegetables and nuts to carbohydrates and sugar — so too did the composition of bacteria in our mouths.

Not all oral bacteria are bad. In fact, many of these microbes help us by protecting against more dangerous pathogens.

However, the researchers found that as prehistoric humans transitioned from hunting and gathering to farming, certain types of disease-causing bacteria that were particularly efficient at using carbohydrates started to win out over other types of "friendly" bacteria in human mouths. The addition of processed flour and sugar during the Industrial Revolution only made matters worse.
You mean if you eat a lot of sugary food, you select for bacteria that use sugar better?  Whoda thunk?

"What you've really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free," Cooper says.

And that's a problem, because the dominance of harmful bacteria means that our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.

"You're walking around with a permanent immune response, which is not a good thing," says Cooper. "It causes problems all over the place."

In addition to oral disease, those problems may include diabetes, obesity and even heart disease.
So who wants to go back to fighting sabre-toothed cats for their pray?

According to Cooper, bacteria make up approximately 90 percent of the cells in our bodies. He believes that we focus too much on ourselves and not enough on this so-called microbiome.

"We brush our teeth and we floss, and we think that we've got good oral hygiene. But [we're] completely failing to deal with the underlying problem," he says. "Ten years from now, I think we're going to find that the whole microbiome is a key part of what you get monitored for and treated for."
Probably good advice, but if all 3,000,000,000 or so of us went on out to become hunter-gatherers, there wouldn't be much space or food left.  Where's the Ding-Dong Tree grow, anyway?

Rule 5 Sunday (Snowed Out at the the Tax Mines) done come on Wednesday at The Other McCain this week. Wombat-Socho had some lame excuse about having a real job or weather or something.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Assault Shovel

How a shovel can be used to construct an AK 47

From this:
To this:

In 50 easy steps...

Red Glass at the Beach

It was a pretty nice morning at the beach, and after a couple of days of rain, it was welcome.The temperature was somewhere in the 40s, but there was essentially no wind. Despite the sun overhead, there clouds and mist in the distance, making it hard to see far across the Bay
Both girls came today; unfortunately, the tide was up to the cliff at Calvert Beach, so the walk was shorter than it could have been. 

Nevertheless, I found 14 sharks teeth, including this moderately decent Mako shark's tooth.
An example of the mist.  Do you see the second boat?  I didn't until I looked at this photo.
Georgia found the real prize today, our first ever piece of red beach glass.  Only yellow glass is reputed to be rarer than red.

Skye showing off some silly husky tongue.

One of the trees hanging over the cliff is clearly thinking about spring.
However, the Buffy's aren't convinced, so they're still hanging around off the end of the harbor, instead of returning north to breed.

Worst Case Sequester Scenario - Nothing Happens!

The big sequester gamble: How badly will the cuts hurt?
“The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2,” said Emily Holubowich, a Washington health-care lobbyist who leads a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts. “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”
The sequester will hurt this region, as dependent as we are on cash trickling out of Washington DC down the commuter trail, and several large military installations, including the Pentagon and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.  But, it's still worth it. And MD votes for democrats no matter what.

Perfect Form Half Court Shot

Also, cheerleader devoured by mascot; oh the horror!

Swiped from Doc Hg at Maggie's Farm. Linked at The Classical Liberal "Can't  You Hear Me  Knocking? (Sticky Fingers)". Rule 5 Sunday (Snowed Out at the the Tax Mines) done come on Wednesday at The Other McCain this week. Wombat-Socho had some lame excuse about having a real job or weather or something.

Criminal for Gun Control

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Zhen-Lian Quan - "Fishing In The Rain"

The Sun May Not Set on the Briitish Empire Yet

Moody’s announced on Friday night that it had cut the Government’s bond rating one notch from ‘Aaa’ – the highest possible level – to ‘Aa1’.

The move is a significant setback for Chancellor George Osborne, who has faced criticism that his strategy for dealing with UK’s huge debt burden is failing to deliver.

Moody’s pointed to “continuing weakness in the UK’s medium-term growth outlook, with a period of sluggish growth which [it] now expects will extend into the second half of the decade”.

The credit ratings agency also noted that the Government's debt reduction programme faced significant "challenges" and that the UK's huge debts are unlikely to "reverse before 2016".

Moody’s said that despite considerable structural economic strengths, growth is expected to be sluggish due to a combination of weaker global economic activity and the drag on the UK economy “from the ongoing domestic public- and private-sector deleveraging process.”
That couldn't happen to us, could it?  Oh wait a minute, it already has.

Transparency for Thee, but Not for Me

Two contrasting stories on the relationship between the US government and us citizens regarding privacy concerns:

13,753 Gov’t Requests for Google E-Mail Data in 2012, Most Without a Warrant
American government agencies – state, local, and federal -- made a record 13,753 requests to read emails or gather other information sent through Google’s Gmail and other services in 2012, more than half without warrants, according to statistics released by Google.

The total number of users about whom government agencies wanted information also set a record at 31,072, up from 23,300 in 2011, the first year Google began reporting the data. The discrepancy comes because government agencies request information on multiple users or accounts at the same time.

Most of these 13,753 requests, 6,542 of 8,438 in the latter half of 2012 alone, were done without a search warrant, Google data show. Google did not make available any detailed data prior to June 2012, nor did it make available which requests came from the federal government and which came from state or local law enforcement agencies, when asked by
So it would seem to stand to reason that we, the people, should have a fair chance to find out what the government is doing behind our backs through e-mail.  Take for example, Richard Windsor, the nom de plume of  Lisa Jackson, former (still?) EPA Administrator, accused of trying to hide collusion with various environmental groups by using an "inside" email account known only to EPA insiders and the inside NGOs to prevent the email from being FOIAed. Once the account became known to opponents of various EPA actions, FOIA filings were made against that account, resulting in such useful returns as this one:

Note that this email seems to deal with a response of the EPA to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial, and describes that response as a "strike back."  I would think the WSJ and the people as a whole have an interest in how the EPA is planning to "strike back" at opponents.