Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hooray for New Math...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. First, a video showing the consequences of a new educational fad, the TERC Investigations math curriculum, which supposedly teaches the children why they do their math, not simply how to do the math:

Can you blame the child for being frustrated? That's just ridiculous. I do agree with the idea of teaching kids why rather than how (it's worked for me), but it's really quite easy to explain why "stacked" math works. A teacher who can't explain it to the average third grader shouldn't be teaching.

Next a video from the old "New Math" era (1960s) back when I was in elementary and junior high school. For those who don't know, Tom Lehrer was a professor of math at Hahvahd. While a true liberal of the era (which is to say, only wrong half the time), this skewering of the educational fad of the era remains priceless.

"The New Math" actually made a lot more sense than the TERC system, which basically a reversion to Roman numerals, as pointed out in a comment on the video. Change the cube to M, the square to C, etc. Where's the zero, that makes arabic numerals and standard math work? It's missing.

Found at Wizbang.

The Agenda

I think I need a new category for Uglies.

Should the Susky River be Declared Impaired?

It's not that clear to me; it hasn't worked out all the well for the Anacostia, Patapsco and Elizabeth, the three most highly impaired rivers entering Chesapeake Bay.

Impairment status will enable fix for ailing Susquehanna
...Doing so would trigger actions mandated by the federal Clean Water Act to identify and fix problems with the river's water quality over a period of many years. But the state Department of Environmental Protection isn't having it.

The smallmouth bass is an introduced species that's especially sensitive to changes in water conditions, and one that contributes to a $600 million fishing and tourism industry that employs thousands in the region.

They're kind of messed up, it seems. Some display both male and female sex characteristics. Some show lesions and other damage. That's when you can catch one; they're also reportedly more scarce overall.

After about two years of inaction, bay foundation and fish commission officials finally went over DEP's head, formally asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to add the Susquehanna from Sunbury to the Maryland state line to its list of impaired waterways.

This would give officials a set amount of time - from eight to 13 years - to identify and establish limits on the pollutants or other conditions that created the impartment.

We understand the reluctance to do so. It would disrupt a major recreational industry for many years. But the question must be asked: Is it better to suppress an industry temporarily so that it can return on a sustainable basis, or just let whatever's wrong persist until the industry collapses forever?
I don't see why it would necessarily affect the industry at all; fishing could go on while the research is carried out to find out what factors are causing the problems; catch and release fishing would not hurt the fishery as much as catch and take.

However, it's optimistic to imagine that the problem could be identified and cured in a finite time.  It's likely a mixture of several different causes.  We've seen similar problems elsewhere in the Bay.  We have similar intersex problems with Large-mouth Bass in the Potomac, and lesions in catfish and Striped Bass in a wide variety of places.  These problems have been remarkably difficult to diagnose and correct.

I think a better policy would be to start at the top, and cure the major pollution problems with the river, nutrients from sewer and agriculture first, and watch for improvement before moving on to the second line, toxic substances from sewage and industries.

But just out of curiosity, what will happen when it turns out to be the hormones in birth control pills which are causing the intersex problem?  Will the EPA ban birth control and Plan B?

An American Journolist is Paris

Swiped from the Jawa Report.

Global Warming Make Good Women Go Bad

According to Democrats in the House of Representatives:
A typical global warming victim

Dem resolution warns climate change could push women to ‘transactional sex’
Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to "transactional sex" for survival.

The resolution, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women.
It's so tough, they're even downsizing the tractors
What really hurts women is being poor; an energy rich economy is a rich economy, and that wealth and energy would go into making women's lives better.  The policies that the climate Nazi's propose will keep both men and women poor and struggling.
"[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health," it says.

Climate change could also add "workload and stresses" on female farmers, which the resolution says produce 60 to 80 percent of the food in developing countries.
Some are even too poor for buy coveralls
I see those numbers bandied about, but I'd like to see them justified. But yes, it's possible that in many places, the men go to work to earn money to buy consumer goods, while women tend the garden at home, but I'll bet there's some creative accounting going on here.

The chances for regional conflict also increase with climate change, the resolution says, because changing weather patterns could lead to migration and refugee crises. It said these sorts of potential conflicts over land will have a disproportionate impact on "the most vulnerable populations including women."

More broadly, the resolution says climate change will hurt "marginalized" women, such as refugees, sexual minorities, adolescent girls, and women and girls with HIV. It also cites Hurricane Katrina as evidence of how climate change can affect women, noting that the storm displaced "over 83 percent of low-income, single mothers" in the region.
Global warming even makes women stupid, too
Of course, the notion that Hurricane Katrina was the result of any climate change is total nonsense; hurricanes of equal and greater strength have been striking the region for millennia, and there is not a shred of evidence that hurricane and tropical storm intensity have increased in recent years in response to warmer weather.

In a statement to The Hill, Lee said women are critically underrepresented in the development of climate change policy.

"My resolution will affirm the commitment to include and empower women in economic development planning and international climate change policies and practices," she said. "This will help communities adapt to climate impacts, and embark on a path towards clean and sustainable development."

The resolution calls on Congress to recognize the effects on women, and to use "gender-specific frameworks in developing policies to address climate change."
It's so hot out...
In other words, cast into stone women's role as victims and create an enormous bureaucracy to feed and perpetuate that state.  Julia on world wide scale, paid for with US tax dollars.

It says Congress recognizes the need for "balanced participation of men and women" in climate change adaption efforts, and that Congress will support women who are vulnerable to climate change.

Finally, it encourages the president to "integrate a gender approach in all policies and programs" related to climate change, and to ensure these policies "support women globally to prepare for, build resilience for, and adapt to climate change."
 Global warming also apparently makes Congresspeople stupid. Not that they need much help.

Someone needs to update "The Warm List".

Found via Watts Up With That. Also, now linked at Wombat-Socho's ginourmous three week make-up "Rule 5 Sunday: Cinco de Mayo Massive Catching-Up Edition" at The Other McCain.

Midnite Music - Cold Rain and Snow

Since we've have a cold rain all day and it's expected to continue:

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Sad Note From a Friend

I received this in an e-mail newsletter from one of my fishing friends, "Walleye" Pete Dahlberg, a neighbor and friend, who happens to be a fishing guide on the Bay
"The Sun May be Setting On Our Striper Fishery"

Folks, anything I write here is strictly my opinion and facts of what I have witnessed over the last several years regarding our Striped Bass Fishery in Maryland and VA

I'm very sad to even think this stuff!!!!

Quick history of my time in this Striper fishery: Stationed at Andrews AFB, Aug 1995, fished for the first time on Chesapeake Bay in September 1995......chummed with some military guys at the Gas Docks....tons of fish in the chum, I pulled out a walleye bucktail and caught Stripers and Blues in the slick. I was hooked on light tackle for Stripers and Blues. I bought a Key West 19' Duel Console boat to fish the bay. 1996 I was all over the bay looking for opportunities. Didn't have to look far or hard. Breaking fish easy to find, Blues and Stripers all over the place. Fished the gas docks and power plant often and started looking in other areas like the eastern shore islands. For a few years I was fising with friends and having a ball catching on Chesapeake Bay.
Walleye Pete and Nick at "Location X" in 2003
Around Jun 1999 I fell into a position to obtain a MD Guide License. I had some extra cash so attempted to give it a shot. Obtained a MD Guide License and in April 2000 started guiding at the Susquehanna Flats and then down the bay after that season ended. I loved guiding and was hooked. Although still full-time military my passion was on the water. I met many great fisherman and learned lots from all of them.

I fished Dec. 2000 at the CBBT (Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel). I didn't know much about the "lay of the land" at the CBBT but managed to catch many, many fish on light tackle. Impressive numbers of fish over 34" on light tackle was had by all in the early 2000's. I maintain a detailed journal and had huge numbers of nice fish at the Susqy Flats and CBBT through 2004. I noticed numbers of large fish slipping a bit in 2005 and then things started
Walleye Pete with a "Flats" striper

The Susquehanna Flats is at the northern end of the spawning area and migratory fish traveling up the bay have many rivers to run up before arriving at the flats. With a large number of migratory fish in the system my thought is plenty still make it all the way to the flats. As the numbers decrease less mass of migratory fish make it all the way to the flats. For the last several years very few numbers of truely large fish have been caught at the flats. Again, all this my opinion based on what I've witnessed and what other guides/charters have witnessed and related to me.

Along with the depletion of migratory fish it seems like what naturally will follow is less off-spring of migratory fish. The "bay" fish in the summer are the Stripers which don't migrate yet.....the younger fish. For several years now....(about 5 years), I've seen a big change in the numbers of "bay"fish in the summer months. When times were good with numbers of fish, Stripers would be caught from the Point Lookout region to north of the Bay Bridge all summer long. I have witnessed this range shrink hugely in the last couple of years and especially last year. The shrinkage in range can only equal less fish in a big way.
Pete with a "Middle Grounds" Trout

I'm no scientist or biologist or anything "ist". What I am is a guy who has spent 1900 days guiding fisherman on Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna Flats to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel over the last 10 years. I've been fortunate enough to have many great trips and actually make a living doing what I love.

I'm not blaming any one user group for the decline I've seen. All user groups are guilty of catching and the law is guilty of not changing to save our resource. History shows we (our state and other states) let the fishery get to such a bad point we had to have a moratorium. I wasn't here for that and don't want to be here for the second one. I truly hope the policy makers can see the writing on the wall and adjust quotas accordingly to save what we have and build on what we've got.

I know politics are huge in Maryland/VA ect........I know some folks depend completely on harvesting Striped Bass for a living.......when you have folks on both sides of the fence tugging back and forth over decisions it isn't easy! I hope and pray we can make decisions based on facts and the obvious, Striper fisheries sliding horribly downhill all up and down the coast. The writing is all over the wall.........we have to make tough decisions soon or the sun will set......it'll be over!
Incidentally, the 19 ft Key West he refers to in the third paragraph is my current boat; I bought it from Pete when he first set out to become a guide back in 1999.

Sadly, I have to agree with Pete on the state of the Chesapeake Bay striper fishery.  It is in decline, and  if something isn't done soon only drastic action, likely another moratorium, will be sufficient to bring it back.

New Hormone Offers Possible Diabetes Cure

Newly Discovered Hormone Could Become Wonder Drug Against Diabetes
A major research breakthrough was achieved in the field of diabetes by scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) who discovered a hormone that could soon enable a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes.

A hormone called betatrophin was surprisingly found to cause mice producing insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body, offering the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes.

Our idea here is relatively simple," Melton said. "We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes. I've never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication."
That's great, type 2 diabetes is a chronic problem, especially among the older population, and is very lifestyle limiting, but what about type 1, where the body's immune response has wiped out the Islets of Langerhans cells that produce insulin, so called "childhood diabetes" because it often strike the young?
The scientist hopes that the hormone could also play a role in treating juvenile diabetes type 1, the disease that afflicted two of his children and that he originally focused on for that reason -- for 15 years now.
It doesn't say why it's not as promising as with type 2, but my guess is that some means of stopping the autoimmune destruction of the pancreas cells would be necessary to protect the new cells grown by the hormone.  Maybe a combination therapy with the betatrophin and immune suppressants could used to treat type 1?

The Brawl in Nepal

Police near Mount Everest are investigating reports of a fight on the upper reaches of the world's highest mountain between two foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides, officials said Sunday.

"We were told our clients and the guides fought on their way to camp three. We don't have all the details yet, but our clients have come down off the peak," said Anish Gupta of Cho-Oyu Trekking, the Kathmandu-based company that organised the expedition.
Everest's northeast ridge, the place George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were last seen alive.

You'd think sheer lack of oxygen would be enough to keep people from fighting much.  I remember climbing walking to the top of Mt Whitney, a mere 14,500 ft high compared to Mt. Everest's 29,000, and the sensation of breathless was, well, breathless.

I also think it's probably a bad idea to get into a fight with the guys who carry your gear, and who you you are counting on to carry you out if things go wrong, which they still do with shocking frequency.

The Pool Prank

Slightly NSFW

It's been years since I went scuba diving. I think I might need a checkout dive. Also, now linked at Wombat-Socho's ginourmous three week make-up "Rule 5 Sunday: Cinco de Mayo Massive Catching-Up Edition" at The Other McCain.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Autism Vaccine Based on a Stomach Bug?

Researchers have created what they say is a first-ever vaccine for gut bacteria common in autistic children, which may also help control some autism symptoms. They developed a carbohydrate-based vaccine against the gut bug, Clostridium bolteae.

C. bolteae is known to play a role in gastrointestinal disorders, and it often shows up in higher numbers in the GI tracts of autistic children than in those of healthy kids. More than 90% of children with autism spectrum disorders suffer from chronic, severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Of those, about 75% suffer from diarrhea, according to current literature.

“Little is known about the factors that predispose autistic children to C. bolteae,” says University of Guelph chemistry professor Mario Monteiro, Ph.D. Although most infections are handled by some antibiotics, he says, a vaccine would improve current treatment.

“This is the first vaccine designed to control constipation and diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms associated with this microbe,” he says.
This is wonderful, and remarkable if true.  It's the first I've heard of a relationship between this GI bug.  The Clostridium bacteria are powerful bugs that produce an array of weird and deadly toxins.  C. botulinum is, of course, a deadly food poisoning bacterium, whose refined toxin, botulinum toxin, is among the most toxic compounds known, is also used as Botox.  C. tetani causes tetanus, in which the tetanus toxin from wound infections causes awful, and ultimately fatal, muscle spasms. C. perfringens causes the disease gas gangrene, the scourge of battlefield historically.  C. difficile causes some very difficult to treat intestinal infections.

Nurotoxin production is a common theme in Clostridium infections, although many species are considered nonpathogenic.  Could a neurotoxin produced by C. bolteae be a significant cause of autism symptoms, and could treatment of the C. bolteae result in reduction or elimination of the autistic symptoms, especially if caught early?  Could the vaccine prevent autism?

We used to think that ulcers were caused by hot and spicy food (despite the fact that people who ate a hot and spicy diet were no more predisposed to ulcers than anyone else).  A brave scientist, Barry Marshall,  proposed that they were caused by an infection of the stomach by Helicobacter pylori, and induced a case in himself by infecting himself with the bacteria, and then curing himself with antibiotics.  It revolutionized the treatment of ulcers, and won Marshall and his collaborator, Robin Warren, the Nobel Prize in medicine.

It's No Coelacanth, But..

PYRAMID LAKE, Nev. — For most fishermen a 20-pound trout is a trophy, but for Paiute tribe members and fish biologists here the one Matt Ceccarelli caught was a victory.

That Lahontan cutthroat trout he caught last year, a remnant of a strain that is possibly the largest native trout in North America, is the first confirmed catch of a fish that was once believed to have gone extinct. The fish has been the focus of an intense and improbable federal and tribal effort to restore it to its home waters.

“I was in awe,” said Mr. Ceccarelli, 32, an engineer from Sparks, Nev., of the speckled trout with hues of olive and rose...
As Insty says, not too bad for an extinct fish...
Photo Credit: Matt Ceccarelli

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fishermen netted scores of Lahontan cutthroats to feed miners and loggers gnawing at the Sierra Nevada Mountains. But the Truckee River, where the fish spawned, was dammed, and its level dropped as water was taken for irrigation. It was also polluted with chemicals and sawdust. And Lake Tahoe was stocked with a nonnative char called lake trout, which gobble baby cutthroat. By the mid-1940s, all the native trout in Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe were dead and the strain was declared extinct.

In the late 1970s, a fish biologist identified what he thought were surviving specimens of the vanished Pyramid Lake strain of Lahontan cutthroat in a small creek near a 10,000-foot mountain on the border of Nevada and Utah called Pilot Peak. A Utah man used buckets to stock the rugged stream with trout in the early 1900s, but made no record, federal biologists say. Geneticists recently compared cutthroats from the Pilot Peak stream with mounts of giant Pyramid Lake trout and discovered an exact DNA match.
Curiously, that would certainly be an illegal act under today's regulations, an eco-crime, and it resulted in saving a species for posterity.

“They are the originals,” said Corene Jones, 39, the broodstock coordinator for the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville, Nev.

In 1995, United States Fish and Wildlife Service biologists harvested cutthroat eggs from Pilot Peak and brought them to the Gardnerville hatchery, just a few years before a devastating wildfire scorched the mountain and killed off the creek. In 2006 federal officials, in cooperation with the tribe, began stocking Pyramid Lake with what many now call Pilot Peak cutthroats. They waited to see how the fish might readapt to its ancestral home.
The Paiute tribe that owns Pyramid Lake has an exemption from the Endangered Species Act, which permits them to allow restricted fishing and keeping of the Lahontan Cutthroat.
Along with the help received from the Paiute Tribe, a special exception under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) allows the public to fish for these threatened trout. Fishing for threatened species is allowed under the 4(d) rule of the ESA; this section allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to authorize activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act. The 4(d) rule serves to relax the normal ESA restrictions and reduce conflicts between people and the protections provided to the threatened species.

Pyramid Lake has a slot limit on the size of fish that an angler can keep. Any Lahontan cutthroat caught that is between 17”-20” and those over 24” can be kept, but all other Lahontan cutthroats must be released back into the lake. In order to protect the integrity of fishable populations, special fishing restrictions are in place in some waters but these restrictions have not stopped the trout from becoming an important fish among anglers.

The Sunday Beach Report

It was yet another gorgeous spring morning at the beach, about 60 F, and only slightly breezy from the South, though it has come up since.  Georgia, Skye and I met Joel more or less on schedule.
There was an Eagle and an Osprey having some kind of dispute out over the Bay.  Since eagles routinely steal the catch from Osprey, they may well have been what was happening.
Skye seemed fully recovered from overdoing it yesterday, even running at times, and taking a little wade.
An American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) in the vines on the cliffs.

Ukraine Has Talent

The Ukrainian Cat Lady

and the Solid Gold Belly Dancer

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday and Pinup."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two Days Worth of Beach Reports

I have two days worth of beach walks to get over here, not that all of them need reporting.  Friday was still breezy and cool when we arrived. 
Joel and Red were already in the midst of their rounds when we caught them.
Not a great day for fossils, but I did find a piece of a crocodile tooth.  Not the best specimen ever, but still rare enough to comment on.
Today was much nicer, with temps near 60, no wind to speak of, and still the clear blue sky.  Skye and I left Georgia at home to oversee the installation of a new roof on la Casa,
I confess, we walked a little far for Skye today, and at one point she just sat down and refused to budge, so we had to sit a while to let her get her strength back.  I guess that's the end of her Iditarod ambitions.  Red did lab things, like go in the water.

Fusion Power on the Horizon

The horizon being a place you can never reach.  However, the Europeans are still working at it, and announced plans to spend another $20 billion (with a "b")  to get there.

£13bn Iter project makes breakthrough in the quest for nuclear fusion, a solution to climate change and an age of clean, cheap energy
The international nuclear fusion project – known as Iter, meaning “the way” in Latin – is designed to demonstrate a new kind of nuclear reactor capable of producing unlimited supplies of cheap, clean, safe and sustainable electricity from atomic fusion.

If Iter demonstrates that it is possible to build commercially-viable fusion reactors then it could become the experiment that saved the world in a century threatened by climate change and an expected three-fold increase in global energy demand.

This week the project gained final approval for the design of the most technically challenging component – the fusion reactor’s “blanket” that will handle the super-heated nuclear fuel.
"If" being the key waffle word in this passage.
“It is the largest scientific collaboration in the world. In fact, the project is so complex we even had to invent our own currency – known as the Iter Unit of Account – to decide how each country pays its share,” says Carlos Alejaldre, Iter’s deputy director responsible for safety.
 Because the Euro has worked out so well...
“We’ve passed from the design stage to being a construction project. We will have to show it is safe. If we cannot convince the public that this is safe, I don’t think nuclear fusion will be developed anywhere in the world,” Dr Alejaldre said. “A Fukushima-like accident is impossible at Iter because the fusion reaction is fundamentally safe. Any disturbance from ideal conditions and the reaction will stop. A runaway nuclear reaction and a core meltdown are simply not possible,” he said.
That is one advantage to fusion for sure, but with lots of neutrons whizzing around, I'm sure there's lots of neutron activation and creation of radioactive materials in the unit itself, much the way there is in a fission reactor. And remind me again how many people died at Fukushima from radiation?  Oh, zero you say
Several experimental tokamak reactors around the world, including one at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, have shown nuclear fusion is theoretically possible, but the giant tokamak at Iter will be the first to generate more power than it needs to attain the very high temperatures required for nuclear fusion...It is the first experimental fusion reactor to receive a nuclear operating licence because of its power-generating capacity. For every 50 megawatts of electricity it uses, it should generate up to 500mw of power output in the form of heat.
Will be, being the key words.  So they haven't yet achieved break even yet.

Fusion has been the "energy of the future" since before since before I was born.  This time line is sobering:
1929: Scientists use Einstein’s equation E=mc² to predict release of large amounts of energy by fusing atomic nuclei together.
1939: German-born physicist Hans Bethe, pictured, demonstrates that nuclear fusion powers stars.
1950: Andrei Sakharov and Igor Tamm in the USSR propose a “tokamak” fusion reactor.
Note that I was born in 1951.  So, literally they have been talking about fusion power since I was born.
1956: Tokamak programme begins in strict secrecy.
1969: Tokamak results declassified, astounding Western scientists.
1973: Design work begins on Joint European Torus (Jet), a tokamak-type reactor in Europe.
1983: Jet completed at Culham, Oxfordshire, on time and to budget.
1985: USSR proposes an international fusion-energy project.
1988: Design work begins for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, later known as simply Iter. 1992: Design phase begins for Iter.
1997: Jet produces 16 megawatts of fusion power, the current world record.
2005: Cadarache, France, chosen as Iter site.
2021-22: “First plasma” scheduled, when ionised gases will be injected into the Iter tokamak.
2027-28: Iter “goes nuclear” with injection of tritium.
2030s: First demonstration fusion reactor to produce electricity for grid.
2050s onwards: First commercial nuclear fusion power plants.
2051: Sierra Club holds protests at first commercial fusion plant
I may have added that last one.

It must be wonderful working on a science project where the ultimate proof of concept is generations away.  You never have to show any actual progress.

I'm certainly looking forward to cooking my first cup of Raman Noodles using fusion power...  Faster, please. Literally.

I really do want fusion power to succeed.  To say I'm frustrated with the slow pace would be an understatement.

Reign of Pain Update - Obama Blinks...

Tamerlane the Conqueror
...In it's continued efforts to paint the spending cut backs (not actual spending reduction) as the the worst thing since Timur the Lame (Tamerlane, also apparently spelled Tamerlan) took his armies out of Transoxania in the 14th and 15th century on his quest to reestablish an Islamic version of the Great Mongol Empire in the process killing an estimated 17 million people or about 5% of the worlds human population at the time.

After sequestration cut backs started to bite at the FAA, and flights started to get delayed at airports around the country, the Administration acceded to the Congress to sign a bill that allows the administration to shift funds within the FAA to permit the cuts fall more heavily on things other than the air traffic controllers.
Forced government-wide spending cuts reduced staffing of air traffic controllers and slowed the aviation system this week, resulting in flight delays for travelers. But congressional intervention permitting new budget flexibility that allows them to return to work has, for the moment, reignited fierce political debate over spending and taxes.
Democrats whined that this was undercutting the design of the sequester (the Reign of Pain), that the Obama administration had specifically designed to be so painful that congressional Republicans would accept tax increases.  Take it away Ezra (journolist) Small Klein.

The Democrats have lost on sequestration
That’s the simple reality of Friday’s vote to ease the pain for the Federal Aviation Administration. By assenting to it, Democrats have agreed to sequestration for the foreseeable future.

Recall the Democrats’ original theory of the case: Sequestration was supposed to be so threatening that Republicans would agree to a budget deal that included tax increases rather than permit it to happen. That theory was wrong. The follow-up theory was that the actual pain caused by sequestration would be so great that it would, in a matter of months, push the two sides to agree to a deal. Democrats just proved that theory wrong, too.
Actually, events on the ground have been proving it ever since the sequestrations started.  While some actual cuts in programs have started to bite, some, the sequestration took effect so slowly, relative to the 24 3 1 hr news cycle, that the effect has been like boiling the proverbial frog, barely noticeable to the general public.  And when programs that do bite the middle class, like meat inspectors and air traffic controller are effected, the administration blinks, and allows reprioritization within the program, to protect the part that the public values.  So, yes, it's working pretty well for Republican budget and deficit hawks.

Jennifer Rubin also at the Washington Post:  Obama’s FAA collapse
The latest FAA gambit was a somewhat desperate effort to revive the issue. Once again the president, seemingly with no back up plan, had no choice but to give up when the public became outraged and it was obvious that Democrats were trying to wield their inconvenience as a club against Republicans. Really, did the president expect any different result than occurred when he was threatening to lay off first responders?

The president has been deeply unserious of late — about our debt, about the Syrian chemical use (not such a “red line” after all), about the identity of our enemy (jihadists) and about the depth of our economic woes. He would rather pursue a largely frivolous anti-gun bill or demagogue about the FAA. For the sake of the country, he needs to raise his game and start facing up to our real challenges.
I love the smell of desperation in the morning.  

Rule 5 Saturday - Rubik's Square - Anja Rubik

For this week's Rule 5 post, I'm back to the model theme.  Today it's Anja Rubik.  Anja is of Polish background, by way of Greece, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and Paris.  I guess you could say she's been around.   16 photos; four squared...
She appears not to have done much for a living except to wear expensive clothes, a talent she has in spades, and one I was never able to master.  She even looks good dressed in snakes (NSFW link). However, recently she did a skinniness fitness video for Wii, and was the inspiration for a manga character, Cane Lele in "The One."
I could list a bunch of covers and magazines and Victoria Secret's shows she's been in, but, I doubt you really care.  If you do, you know how to google or Bing or whatever.  Knock yourself out.

More Anja below the fold.

"People Are Idiots"...

...Said Georgia when I showed her this post at Althouse:

UConn's new husky dog logo — insensitive to campus violence against women?
"In an open letter to UC President Susan Herbst, self-described feminist student Carolyn Luby wrote that the redesigned team logo will intimidate women and empower rape culture."
UConn basketball coach Geno Auriemma said the logo “is looking right through you and saying, ‘Do not mess with me.’ This is a streamlined, fighting dog, and I cannot wait for it to be on our uniforms and court.”

In response, Luby wrote, “What terrifies me about the admiration of such traits is that I know what it feels like to have a real life Husky look straight through you and to feel powerless, and to wonder if even the administration cannot ‘mess with them.’ And I know I am not alone.”
The logos in question?

Old logo
New logo

While Georgia may be generalizing just a bit, she has a point.  Some of the comments in the thread at Althouse are precious:
I am so glad we are subsidizing this young woman's education so she can make such grand contributions to society.

Money well spent for sure.
The old Husky looks friendly, but the new Husky looks like a feminist attack bitch.
 Skye resents that one.  Or at least she would if you didn't give her a treat.
Living in flyover country, I keep thinking this has to be satire. Are northeastern females constantly falling to the ground with the vapors? Are there fainting couches conveniently placed on sidewalks, right next to the fire hydrants?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tamerlan's Anti-Americanism Unremarkable in Cambridge

Resident Admits Tsarnaev’s Hate For US is Typical in Cambridge
In interviews, Luis Vasquez, a Cambridge native who was in the same year at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School as the dead suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that the hate for America that Tamerlan expressed was so commonly heard around Cambridge that it was essentially unremarkable.

In response to Tamerlan’s claim that he had not a single American friend, here is what Mr. Vasquez is quoted as saying:
“[The first part of Tamerlan's quote], when you say that around here, nowadays it would be suspicious. But a few years ago it would’ve been like, yeah, whatever. That’s attributed [sic] to how diverse this area is… we have a big international community here,” Mr Vasquez told The Independent.

The fact is, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of the left-wing Harvard University, people slamming the USA is so common that no one paid any attention at all to Tamerlan’s hate for the USA.

Nearly everyone in Cambridge nods in approval when they hear anti-Americanism openly expressed. That is because the largest number of people in Cambridge are liberals, leftists, communists, socialists, foreigners, Marxists, and University professors and employees–all these terms being nearly synonymous with each other in that area.

So, when terrorist Tamerlan was seen and heard wandering about Cambridge full of hate for the USA, he didn’t on the surface seem any different than anyone else in the city. His hate was entirely, boringly, prosaically common.
Having been in and around academia for all of my adult life, I know how common those sort of expressions are. Liberals, who love the America they think is still to come, are congenitally unhappy with the America that is, and are not shy about expressing those opinions  when they think they are among friends, or at least think they substantially outnumber those conservative who would defend America as it exists in the present, and would even prefer turning the clock back a bit in some respects.  While this has toned down during the Obama years with the left getting its way on a number of issues, it is still not entirely absent.

I don't really believe they mean they hate America, they're just  expressing their displeasure with their inability to get everything they want, right now.

Now, this gets to the Marathon bombers unknown or missing motives, how Tamerlan became "self radicalized" although I believe external trainers were involved as well, afterthe fact. While we won't ever know what went on in Tamerlan's mind (unless necromancy is discovered soon), let me speculate here a bit.  A child comes from abroad, as a child of political refugees.  He settles into a new country, without the basic background of the society.  He hears those around him, both adult authority figures, young adults  and the older teens routinely trash the country verbally, and, perhaps, in his mind, the country does become the seat of all evil.  He doesn't understand that the vituperation he's hearing is not entirely serious; it's the grumbling of the small child who says he hates his parents because they won't let him have his dessert before dinner.

Congress Votes to Continue World War I Funding

The program at the center of this debate has its origins after World War I, in a kind of arms race that sounds ridiculous now. In Europe, countries such as Germany were building sturdy, if slow, inflatable airships. The U.S. military was worried about a blimp gap.

So Congress ordered a stockpile of helium to help American dirigibles catch up. It was assumed to be a temporary arrangement.

“As soon as private companies produce [helium], the government will, perhaps, withdraw?” asked Rep. Don Colton (R-Utah.) in the House debate.

“That is correct,” said Rep. Fritz Lanham (D-Tex.).

That was 1925.

Today, 88 years later, the zeppelin threat is over. Private companies have learned to produce helium. But the U.S. government still has its own reserve: a giant porous rock formation under the Texas Panhandle, whose crannies hold enough helium to fill 33 billion party balloons.
But the good news is, if the North Koreans attack us with nuclear bomb equipped zeppelins, we'll have plenty of government owned helium to fill our counter attack anti-zeppelin zeppelins.

You Say That Like It's a Bad Thing

There's some indication that the Koch brothers, self made billionaires and much reviled by the left for their conservative beliefs and support for conservative causes, are interested in buying the dying Tribune Co, which is bankrupt after years of bad management and in the hands of creditors.  According to Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post, this would cause mass resignations by the current, extreme left-wing staff:
In their very-brief no-comment on the sale rumors, the Kochs took care to note, “We respect the independence of the journalist institutions” owned by Tribune, but the staffs at those papers fear that, once Kochified, the papers would quickly turn into print versions of Fox News. A recent informal poll that one L.A. Times writer conducted of his colleagues showed that almost all planned to exit if the Kochs took control (and that included sportswriters and arts writers). Those who stayed would have to grapple with how to cover politics and elections in which their paper’s owners played a leading role. It’s also unclear who in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s most liberal cities, would actually want to read such a paper, but then the Kochs don’t appear to view this as a money-making venture.
It's easy to say you'll quit if the Koch's buy the paper, but much more difficult to actually go through with it in an era when dead tree journolistm is dying.  They might have to go out and get an honest jobs, flipping burgers, or carrying buckets of mud on a fracking crew in North Dakota.  I urge the Koch's to call their bluff.

Fracking Safe, Science Says

Fracking is safe, scientists say

Science, not inflamed rhetoric, should be the basis for discussions, geophysicist says

EAGLE COUNTY — Hydraulic fracturing can be done safely and it'll have to be, because the world will be doing more of it, said Dr. Mark Zoback,

“We cannot stop thinking toward the future just because we have abundant natural gas. If it's a bridge, there has to be something on the other side. And what's on the other side is a carbon free energy future,” Zoback said.
'Fracking' water mixed with sand
If by carbon free, he mean some biomass in the energy mix, where the added energy required to grow it and produce it (fertilizer, harvesting, processing) is somehow produced from other non fossil fuel means (as is common now), then yes, it may happen.  My guess is that biomass will prove too land and  material intensive for the most part to become dominant, and some form of nuclear power will be the long term solution.  Maybe they'll even get fusion.  I've been waiting my whole life for it, now.
He said he appreciates fact-based discussion, but has little use for shriekers and sloganeers.

“Instead of fact-based and intelligent discussions, unfortunately those issues tend to get caught up in those no-fracking bumper stickers. It has become a cause celebre,” Zoback said as a slide of Yoko Ono flashed onto the screen.

“Sometimes it's frustrating to hear hysterical people talk about issues that really don't exist. But that's one of the ways these regulatory improvements occur,” Zoback said.

Gingers Become a Protected Minority

NYPD supervisors have been put on red alert: Don’t discriminate against carrot-top cops!
An anti-bias message went out this month to Manhattan sergeants and lieutenants, who were told that redhead harassment would not be tolerated.

“We’re apparently victims now,” said one cop with ginger locks. “We’re protected from discrimination.”

No lawsuit has been filed against the city, but the feds say a claim alleging unfair treatment over red hair would be supported by federal law, which bars workplace bias against applicants and employees based on race, national origin, skin color, religion, sex or disability.
In celebration, I've decided to introduce you to some potential candidates for Nanny Bloomberg's finest.  At least they make me want to work undercover.  Have you noticed that most cop shows these days have a woman supervising?

Red hair qualifies because people with that color are found in higher numbers in Britain and Ireland than elsewhere, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Experts say it’s 13 percent in Scotland and less than 1 percent in most countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

“It’s an innocuous-seeming criteria, but if it has a ‘disparate impact’ on a certain racial group, red hair could be considered the basis of discrimination,” said Justine Lisser of the EEOC in Washington, DC.
So they're the 1 percenters all those democrats, media and Occupy Wall Street people are always raging about?  Even more reason to like them.  Even if they don't have souls.

The NYPD has one of the most racially and culturally diverse workforces in the country, but includes a large percentage of officers of Irish descent.

Some claim they’ve endured years of ridicule over their hair color.

One retired cop told The Post that he was constantly roughed up as a kid and called a “red-headed devil.”

Lily Cole

 I believe that's what they called Georgia as a kid...

“You get abuse every day when your hair is red,” he said. “You get beaten and chased. You better learn how to fight.”

The issue is a hot topic in Britain, where model Lily Cole, who sports cinnamon curls, blasted teachers for allowing bullying to go on “because there isn’t a stigma around it.”

I used to make fun of Georgia for being ginger.  But then we got married.
Still, some shrugged off any need to protect the NYPD’s ginger set.

A retired Irish-American cop who was one of two redheads at his Brooklyn precinct enjoyed the good-natured jabs he exchanged with fellow officers, who were mostly of Italian descent.

“I never felt I was a minority,” he said.

“To put redheads in a protective class — that’s ridiculous!” said a retired officer who was often called “Carrot Top.”

“Toughen up.”
This post acknowledged by Proof Positive in his "Best* of the Web Linkaround" (*that I've seen this week).  Thanks! It also made the short list a The DaleyGator's "DaleyGator DaleyBabe Carissa Rosario and a Rule 5 tour." Also, now linked at Wombat-Socho's ginourmous three week make-up "Rule 5 Sunday: Cinco de Mayo Massive Catching-Up Edition" at The Other McCain.

Your Friday Monkey Dacker - With Added Japanese Weirdness

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh Goody...

The new strain of avian influenza that has infected more than 100 people in China in the last two months has, for the first time, been reported outside mainland China.

Officials in Taiwan reported one case in a 53-year-old Taiwanese citizen who traveled regularly to the Chinese city of Suzhou for work, where he probably contracted the virus. He fell ill on April 12, three days after returning to Taiwan. Tests revealed on Wednesday that he was infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus. As of Tuesday, Chinese officials had reported 108 cases and 22 deaths from the new flu.
A 20% fatality rate?  That's a serious flu, on par with the "Spanish Flu" of 1918-1920. The fact that it's hopping countries is not a good sign.
In a news conference Wednesday in Beijing, a World Health Organization official described this type of bird flu as ''unusually dangerous.''

The virus is ''definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we've seen,'' said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization.

''The potential development of human-to-human spread cannot be ruled out,'' the health organization said in a statement.
Apparently, most cases so far can be ascribed to bird to human transmission, which makes those of us who don't live with duck and chickens a little safer.  On the other hand, we may need to stop putting out safflower seeds and meal worms to attract birds to the feeders.
In the United States, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received samples of the virus from China and have shared them with five other laboratories to study the virus and work on a vaccine.
Hope they get a good vaccine, but remember, flu vaccines have a significant failure rate, especially if 20% of those infected are likely to die:
In adults, vaccines show a three-quarters reduction in risk of contracting influenza (4% influenza rate among the unvaccinated versus 1% among vaccinated persons) when the vaccine is perfectly matched to the virus and a one-half reduction (2% get flu without vaccine versus 1% with vaccine) when it is not, but no significant effect on the rate of hospitalization.

Bipartisan Outrage du Jour

Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.

The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.

A source close to the talks says: “Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done.”

Yet if Capitol Hill leaders move forward with the plan, they risk being dubbed hypocrites by their political rivals and the American public. By removing themselves from a key Obamacare component, lawmakers and aides would be held to a different standard than the people who put them in office.
Well, duh, they are hypocrites.  But you have to give the democrats double credit for hypocrisy because the republicans at least opposed foisting the law off on the public to begin with. It makes sense that they wouldn't want it to be applied to them.  However, it should in the Constitution that Congress cannot exempt itself from laws that apply to rest of the country (another fine example would be laws against security trading based on inside knowledge).

I like this tidbit:
There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn’t revised, could lead to a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.
That's a feature, not a bug.

Maryland Changing Commercial Rockfish Regs

Changing to personal allocation based on past catch
...The proposed change is the allocation of individual quotas to fishing permit holders based on their Striped Bass catch histories from January 1, 2001 through February 29, 2012. New regulations will impact Striped Bass permit holders fishing in 2014. DNR has set a cutoff (control date) of May 10, 2013 as the date when a waterman with a record of catching Striped Bass must possess a commercial Striped Bass permit in order to be eligible for a 2014 allocation.
A system of allocation based on past fishing history is a method used widely elsewhere, say for example, the Alaskan crab fishery, as seen on "Deadliest Catch".  It does give the fishermen an "investment interest" in the fishery, and a guaranteed portion of the catch.  It reduces, at least to some extent, the "catch 'em today, who knows what will happen tomorrow" attitude that an open or semi open fishery can promulgate.  On the other hand, it is basically a reward for previous rape and pillage...
“There are watermen who participated in the Striped Bass fishery in the 2001 to 2012 period but no longer have a Striped Bass permit. There are also watermen working with a temporary transferred permit who have accumulated a catch history, which could justify a quota allocation for them under the new management program,” said Mike Luisi, director of DNR Fisheries Estuarine and Marine Division. “It’s important that these watermen understand that their catch history will not be considered if they don’t possess a Striped Bass permit on May 10.”
The article isn't very clear on some of the details of the allocation; can it be sold or transferred?  This may make a significant difference in how watermen use the resource.
“We are asking that any permit owner or potential buyer considering a permanent Striped Bass permit transfer after May 10th consult with us before committing to a sale. We want fishermen to be well informed regarding the allocation impacts when making this business decision,” said Luisi.

Fishermen with any questions may contact Mike Luisi at 410-260-8341 or mluisi@dnr.state.md.us, or Janelle Mueller at 410-260-8270 or jmueller@dnr.state.md.us.
Will it be better, or will we continue to see massive striped bass poaching the way we did two years ago?  If you officially own a piece of the pie, you're probably more likely to resent someone breaking into the house and stealing half the pie.  But I guess we'll find out in time

Jump Rope Girl

She's advertised as the world's best.

I don't know about that, but she's pretty good.

Now linked at Wombat-Socho's ginourmous three week make-up "Rule 5 Sunday: Cinco de Mayo Massive Catching-Up Edition" at The Other McCain.

Now This Is a Dirty Job

It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do her it.

10,000 iPhones Fall

Hang in 'til the end, it's worth it, sort of.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tea Party Terrorist Took Targets from Koch Brothers

Just kidding.  Really.  Confessed domestic terrorist Floyd Corkins, who attacked the Family Research Council and wounded a security guard before being subdued, admits that he picked them from a list of  'anti-gay' organizations created  the Southern Poverty Law Center: 

Can we get them designated domestic terrorists too?

I See That Alcohol Was Involved

Too Much Information

Anthony Weiner admitted in an interview Wednesday that there might be other embarrassing photos of him out there that have yet to surface.

In the one-on-one with RNN-TV, Weiner didn’t deny that there was a possibility there could be other photos like the one that led the former congressman — who is now attempting a comeback — to be disgraced, and ultimately forced to resign in 2011.
Notice how delicately Politico steps around what Weiner actually admitted to, tweeting photos of his genitals to erst-while female admirers, including a porn star, and maybe some underage girls, a pretty juvenile act at best.  But apparently not too juvenile for New York State, where he is doing well in his bid to replace Nanny Bloomberg.

Lest someone accuse me of being partisan (guilty as charged), to show that both parties have their pervs I offer this bit bit from The Other McCain:

Paul Ryan Intern Adam Savader Arrested
Adam Savader, a former intern for Paul Ryan, was arrested by the FBI and charged in a weird sexual extortion scheme:
A 21-year-old Great Neck, New York man was charged in a criminal complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan with Internet extortion and cyber stalking, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. . . .

According to the affidavit, from May 2012 through February 2013, Adam Paul Savader sent anonymous text messages using Google Voice numbers to 15 women stating that he had nude photographs of the women and threatening to distribute the nude photographs to the women’s friends and family members unless the women sent him more nude photographs of themselves. Savader sent some of the victims links to a photo-sharing website where nude pictures of the victims had been posted.
And shockingly enough, many of them actually had already nude pictures on the net...

As Stacy says:

Stacy, don't stoop to such depths, just go with your own weekly Rule 5 posts.  Most of them are better than random women off the net anyway.

It must be a new rite of passage for women to put nekid pictures on the net.

Legislature Corrects 2011 Fertilizer Error, Lets Cities Off the Hook for Pollution

House Bill 561/Senate Bill 748: Fertilizer. When the General Assembly in 2011 passed the Fertilizer Use Act, which aims to reduce the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus entering and polluting the Chesapeake Bay, it prohibited the application of fertilizer within 15 feet of the “waters of the state,” which includes the 100-year floodplain. According to Elaine Lutz, staff attorney at Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 54 percent of the Eastern Shore is within the 100-year floodplain, so the act inadvertently banned fertilizer use in most of Maryland’s portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. Lutz calls the bill “a correction,” preserving restrictions on fertilizer use near the waters of the state but allowing it in the 100-year floodplain. According to legislative documents, the main beneficiaries of the bill, which passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature, are golf courses and lawn-care businesses.
That seems like quite a substantial oversight for the legislature when you consider that agriculture is such an important  part of the economy on the Eastern Shore.  I have my doubts that the main beneficiaries are golf courses and lawn care.  What is that old saw "Measure twice, cut once"?  I hadn't thought it applied to legislation, but apparently it does.

And news that I hadn't heard yet that the legislature chickened out on charging the municipalities and counties a fair share for their contribution to pollution in Chesapeake Bay:
Senate Bill 302: Sewage Overflows. This effort to crack down on sewage-overflow violators by doubling the penalties they have to pay was gutted by an amendment that struck the penalty increases. What passed and awaits the governor’s signature is a bill that simply requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to publish each year’s total amount of sewage released and fines paid around Maryland. Most violators are local governments, which are likely breathing a sigh of relief to not have to fork over more money whenever they spill sewage—a regular occurrence, with 1,775 overflows last year, 39 of them a million gallons or more.
People get the government they deserve, I suppose, but I would have preferred if the legislature had gone after the cities, and forced them to pay double for their sewage spills. 

It's easy to get incensed when a private enterprise produces pollution as a consequence of their drive for profit; but it's much more difficult to hold a government guilty for it's share of pollution; they have to get the consent of the governed to pay the bill, and that's not often forthcoming.