Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did Civilization Just Dodge a Bullet?

The earth barely missed taking a massive solar punch in the teeth two weeks ago, an "electromagnetic pulse" so big that it could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States.

Two EMP experts told Secrets that the EMP flashed through earth's typical orbit around the sun about two weeks before the planet got there.

"The world escaped an EMP catastrophe," said Henry Cooper, who led strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, and who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defense.

"There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us," said Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008. He was referring to the 1859 EMP named after astronomer Richard Carrington that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.

"Basically this is a Russian roulette thing," added Pry. "We narrowly escape from a Carrington-class disaster."
I wonder about this.  Solar activity is pretty widely observed, and if a Carrington level event had occurred, even aimed elsewhere than earth, I'm sure suspect  it would have been more widely reported. A Carrington level event could seriously damage civilization as we know it, by disrupting our connections to YouTube and cable TV, as well as much of our power grid.  But the fact that this article is sourced to CIA and similar outfits looking for support for protection from EMP attack makes me suspicious that there may have been some exaggeration taking place.

Estimates are that "Carrington" level events happen approximately twice per millennium (they leave traces in ice cores), and events one fifth as big every century.  However, given Earth's relatively small size compared to the Sun, and the directionality of solar flares, we're likely to observe quite a few before actually being struck by one.

Since the sun rotates approximately 14 degrees a day, a 2 week miss was a big miss.

Weird Stuff From the Garden

A Nessus Sphinx Moth (Amphion floridensis).

I found one of these clinging to a plant yesterday, and had it identified.  Today, our neighbor pointed this one out sipping goo that was leaking out a wound in her White Oak tree.  It seems to attract a variety of things including hornets, Red Admirals and Red Spotted Purples:

The Inevitable Question

Leathers or Lewinsky?  Count Stacy McCain as a Monica man.

Given a Hypothetical Choice Between Monica Lewinsky and Sydney Leathers?
De gustibus non est disputandum, of course, but any man who would prefer tattooed Sydney to the alabaster-complexioned Monica . . .

Maybe it takes a Southern good ol’ boy to understand why Bill Clinton liked more cushion for the pushin’, as fellows say down home.

Not that Sydney Leathers is particularly thin, but when it comes to the question of which gal looks like she’d appreciate a dinner date at Cracker Barrel — country fried steak and gravy, turnip greens, pinto beans, hashbrown casserole, biscuits and cornbread — I don’t think there can be any question: Monica is the plus-size winner.

What a lovely girl! Her green eyes are beautiful, her dark hair is beautiful and her mouth . . . Well, of course, I’m a happily married man, but this is strictly a hypothetical scenario, remember?

 Yeesh.  I didn't think tramp stamps metastasized. Compare to...

As for my opinion? Neither, not even with Weiner's wiener.  

Also, you should watch Sydney Leather's interview with Howard Stern:

No! Next Question?

McCarthy made a full-throated defense of her agency’s right to address greenhouse-gas emissions and other pollutants, saying that air-quality regulations and environmental cleanup efforts have already produced economic benefits in the United States.

“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please?” she asked, prompting loud applause. “We need to embrace cutting-edge technology as a way to spark business innovation.”
No, we cannot stop talking about regulations killing jobs, even if you use "pretty please."

There is an essential trade off between costs and cleanliness that needs to be constantly watched.  It's too easy for EPA to call on industries and others to use technologies that cost more and produce less goods and services (i.e., jobs).

Let me give an example from my experience.  Nitric acid (HNO3) is a bulk commodity that comes in a number of grades of purity.  It is made in massive quantities from ammonia, which in turn is made in even more massive quantities by reacting nitrogen gas in the air with methane (natural gas).

For laboratories, the bottom would be technical grade.  We would use it to clean glass and plasticware for use in chemical analysis.  It was cheaper than beer, at least cheaper than expensive beer.  We would never use it for any chemical analysis.   Next came reagent grade.  While cleaner than technical grade, it had significant amounts of trace metal impurities that would interfere in our low level analysis, but it could be used for ordinary analyses for other things.  It would cost about $50 a gallon.  Next came "trace metal grade" nitric acid, specifically prepared for trace metal analysis, with low, and more importantly, measured concentrations of trace metals.  We could use this for some routine work involving trace element analysis, and it cost about twice as much as reagent graded.  Finally, above that were several different grades of "ultra-pure" acid, prepared and handled very carefully to produce the lowest practical amount of contaminants.  We used it when our samples were expected to be very low (as many environmental samples are) and we needed it.  Now, this stuff was expensive, on the order of hundred of dollars per liter.

The point is that the higher the cleanliness used, the more energy and expense went into producing a smaller amount of cleaner material, hence the higher prices.  Call it the principal of "diminishing returns and exponentially increasing costs."

Environmental cleanup follows the same model.  The first part, probably 3/4, is fairly easy, and relatively cheap to impose, but increasing cleanliness above that point gets more expensive rapidly, and the returns diminish, as most of the cleanup has already occurred.  Those increasing costs come at the expense of lower production, and higher prices for the goods being produced, and less gain for the economy.  Counting the number of bureaucrats necessary to enforce the law doesn't  work because they don't produce goods or services to contribute to the economy, they only serve to stifle the creation of goods and services.

That's not to say we don't need environmental regulations; we do. But they need to be considered in the proper light of how clean is really clean, how much economic activity we can afford to crush.  The EPA, as it currently exists, does not really accept the idea of such a trade off.

So yes, the answer is No!

New IRS Allegation: Targeting Existing Conservative Groups

Previously, we know that the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups applications for tax exempt status, particularly those with "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their names, for extra scrutiny.  If by "extra scrutiny", you mean being asked absolutely  outrageous questions about their members, prayers, and thoughts, and then having the application thrown into a black hole where they were never (even to this date) evaluated.  But now we have news that the IRS may also have targeted existing conservative groups in an effort to harass them, and potentially take away their exemptions.

IRS Targeted Existing Conservative Organizations, Too?!
Leaders from existing conservative organizations The Leadership Institute and the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute have made credible claims that they, too, were targeted by the IRS.

The former has been in existence since 1979, yet the IRS chose to investigate its compliance with tax laws in June 2011, costing it $50,000 in legal fees and requiring it to locate and hand over 23,000 pages of paperwork. The latter group learned in January 2011 that the IRS had selected 2008 to audit -- the year one of its leaders went off the payroll temporarily to work for (gasp!) Sarah Palin.

Darryl Issa has asked the Treasury Inspector General to launch an investigation into this second aspect of the targeting scandal; predictably, Elijah Cummings objects.
We challenge  Rep. Cummings to come up with similar harassment of 'progressive' groups.

I remind you once again of my "modest proposal" for IRS abuse in particular, and which can be extended to similar agencies demonstrating political bias:
What I propose is affirmative action with regard to politics. Congress must pass a law that stipulates that the new hiring for any agency must consist of liberals, conservatives, libertarians and communists in proportion to their representation in the voting population of the country (not the region the federal jobs occur in, which would tend to also be very liberal). Thus, in time, conservatives could expect to claim approximately half of the federal jobs in the county.

There are some minor issues. For example, persons claiming the affirmative action quota for a federal job would need to provide evidence that they are, in fact, conservative. In this day of cell phones with built in cameras, it would be easy to photograph your ballot and present it as proof of your political alignment. Don't like to reveal your political alignment? Don't vote and hope for one of the "unaligned" quota spots. Of course, we won't call them quotas, just "guidelines."

Thus, with a diversity of opinion reflecting the countries split on important issues, the few "rogue" liberal agents in the IRS (and other agencies with a political diversity issue; EPA and Education likely have similar issues), would be balanced by conservatives who would scotch any attempts to twist the agencies goal to a liberal line. Similarly, liberals would tend to be sensitive to and resentful of conservative attempts to do the same.

Water in Motion

Another GoPro camera ad, stolen borrowed from Theo's.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chesapeake Eels In Trouble

last year a coastwide benchmark stock assessment called the American eel population in U.S. waters "depleted." It blamed an array of factors, including overfishing, predation, turbine deaths from hydroelectric dams, changes in the food web, pollution and disease. Fluctuating market prices can also cause commercial landings to flounder.

The Chesapeake Bay has typically yielded 63 percent of the annual U.S. commercial harvest of American eel, Tuckey said. But in 2007 commercial landings in Virginia and Maryland represented only 52 percent.

"There are lots of different data sources that show that abundances are down," said Tuckey.
It used to be common (and a righteous pain in the ass) to catch an eel while bottom fishing, especially at dusk or after dark.  Now it's  all but unheard of.  They sold eels cheap as striped bass bait, now most get sent to Japan and Europe where they command high prices as human fare.  I never developed a taste for them.
In response, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate regulatory board headquartered in Virginia, tasked its American Eel Management Board to suggest ways to better protect the stock. Options range from maintaining the status quo all the way to shutting down eel fisheries. A vote is expected on a final plan at the commission's August 7 meeting in Alexandria.

Meantime, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under court order to decide by Sept. 30, 2015, whether the American eel should be protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Sounds good to me.  Stop the commercial fishing, and fix any habitat problems (especially dams) which inhibit their recovery.

Glass Eels
But here's something I didn't know:
A long-term decline in eel harvests, combined with tighter export restrictions on European eels and higher demand in China and other Asian countries for live glass eels for aquaculture stock, has jacked up the price and bred a lucrative market for poachers, experts say.

Two years ago, a pound of harvested glass eels commanded the "gold rush" market price of about $300 a pound. Today, a pound can bring more than $2,000.

"It is potentially as profitable as illegal drugs, and it is definitely a concern," said John Bull, spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, or VMRC, which provides funding for Tuckey's research. "We are keeping a close watch on the situation."
 With an incentive like that, you can expect massive illegal harvest.

Pics From the Garden

I took a little stroll around the garden this afternoon, with an eye to some of the wildlife.  As often happens, we have a frog or two hanging out in the pond.  If I read this right, it's probably a Northern Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans melanota), from the ridges and the raised ear drum.
A little baby Five Lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) ventured out on the driveway.
 Now here is an odd one.  I found this moth hanging around with the butterflies in the Phlox.  I'm sure it's another sphinx moth, and probably the Nessus Sphinx Moth (Amphion floridensis), but I've sent the picture to to be sure.

UPDATE:  Yep, I was right.  And that was quick; I'm impressed.
And another one for the "butterfly life list".  This is (according to, who already answered my query on this one, a Red Banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops).  It's pretty strikingly marked, but it's awfully small and easy to overlook.

Massive Fish Kill at the Beach

What an amazing day for Southern MD at the end of July!  The wind that bedeviled my fishing trip yesterday was most gone, just down to 5 or so from the east, and the temperature was a totally unseasonal 72 with no humidity. 
We hadn't been on the beach long when an Osprey flew over with a fish in it's talons, which isn't that unusual.
But it was being closely followed by an adult bald eagle who seemed to have every intention of stealing it's lunch.
Now about that fish kill... Not to worry, they were jellyfish.   I'm not quite sure what happened, although I suspect the east wind had a lot to do with it, but there were huge masses of Sea Nettles washed up on the beach...
Or being beaten and robbed of their stinging tentacles by being tumbled in the surf.

They will not be missed.


“Saudi royal and billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal thinks the US shale boom is endangering his country’s economy. The WSJ reports that the prince published a letter yesterday that he wrote in May to the Saudi Oil Minister and several others, warning of the dangers to Saudi Arabia of American gas production. Still, the importance of Saudi oil to the US and to the world market is not diminishing. The Kingdom’s spare capacity and ability to increase exports in times of need (during periods of decreased supply from Iran and Libya, for example) helps keep the global oil market stable. Saudi oil has been consumers’ best shield against price shocks for a while now, and as long as we consume oil, no amount of cheap American gas can make that otherwise. But if you’re in the House of Saud, that’s not much comfort. There’s no denying that the Kingdom’s economy will suffer under decreased demand for petrochemical exports from its biggest customer—the US. American domestic production means a steep drop-off in demand for the $100 billion Gulf petrochemical industry, and if China masters the exploitation of its own shale reserves, the cracks in the Saudi economic model will grow wider still.”

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of terrorism-exporting religious fanatics.
Frack, baby, frack!

Midnite Music - On the Horizon

A cool video effect.

I Hear They Looked Like They Could Be Obama's Sons, Too

A Bethesda man was beaten and robbed early Saturday morning in Adams Morgan by three men who yelled, “This is for Trayvon Martin,” before attacking him, police said.

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime and robbery, according to D.C. police spokesman Araz Alali.

Three black men approached an adult white male from behind while he was walking in the 1700 block of Euclid Street NW at 1:26 a.m. Saturday, police said.
Thanks Obama, for helping to make this more likely.

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Fishin'

I took advantage of a "Walk-On" day with Walleye Pete to take another trip to the Maryland Eastern, after I had such a great trip a little over a week ago.  As of last night, the forecast was calling for 5-10 knot northwest winds, which would be favorable.  We set out from Buzz's Marina with a full boat just a little before the sun rose above the horizon.
The wind was already a little higher than predicted when reached the Bay. 
We lingered on the western shore a while, checking a few structures for fish, and hoping for the wind to slack before heading to the other side
Fishing was tough.  The wind was howling at 15-20, with 3-4 foot chop all 16 miles way across the bay from Point Lookout.  Once there, the islands offered only a little protection against the wind, and the drift was fast and tough.  We caught only two Speckled  Sea Trout (specks) for the day, barely avoiding Pete's dread Speck Skunk, but this young man persevered despite a bout of seasickness on the way over, and caught this nice Redfish near familiar structure (below).
Pete called it a lost day around noon when the wind failed to fail, and beat our way back west around noon.  Once on the western side, with a little little shelter from Pt. No Point, we tried some shoreline spots, with nothing for our efforts but some croaker and some chopped tails.
If you wanted to see birds, not a bad day.  St. Jerome's Creek is Osprey central.  I saw some Oyster Catchers over on the other side, and the usual compliment of gulls, terns, cormorants, pelicans, as well as a few pairs of Bald Eagles on the west.

That's Gotta Hurt!

I can't entirely relate, but this can't be comfortable.

A Trick Even I Didn't Know As a Kid

And I wish I had:

How To Turn A Match Into A Tiny Rocket

The swift strike of a match on July 4 typically precedes sky-high spectacles. But matches themselves can be fireworks. When ignited, the bulb of fuel on a match’s tip combusts into space-hogging gases. By containing the gas in aluminum foil and directing it downward, you can create a miniature missile. Follow these steps to become a rocket scientist in your own driveway.
Sewing pin or needle
Paper clips
Aluminum foil

1. Bend a paper clip into a 45-degree angle. Presto! You have a launch pad.
2. Lay a pin along a matchstick so that the sharp tip touches the match head. Wrap the head with a piece of aluminum foil, and gently crease the foil around the pin (avoid tears and holes).
3. Remove the pin. This leaves a hollow channel that will direct gas downward, so it can act as propellant.
4. Rest the match on the launch pad, hold a small flame under the foil-wrapped match head, and start your countdown.

Time: 10 minutes
Cost: About $3
Difficulty: Easy
Of course, if I had, there's an excellent chance Southern California would have burned even worse than it did.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Iconic 9/11 Photo Too "Rah Rah" for Museum Director

This iconic picture of firefighters raising the stars and stripes in the rubble of Ground Zero was nearly excluded from the 9/11 Memorial Museum — because it was “rah-rah” American, a new book says.

Michael Shulan, the museum’s creative director, was among staffers who considered the Tom Franklin photograph too kitschy and “rah-rah America,” according to “Battle for Ground Zero” (St. Martin’s Press) by Elizabeth Greenspan, out next month.

“I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently,” Shulan said.
Eventually, chief curator Jan Ramirez proposed a compromise, Greenspan writes. The Franklin shot was minimized in favor of three different photos via three different angles of the flag-raising scene.

“Several images undercut the myth of ‘one iconic moment,’ Ramirez said, and suggest instead an event from multiple points of view, like the attacks more broadly,” the book says. “Shulan didn’t like three photographs more than he liked one, but he went along with it.”
This reminds me of the Smithsonian's Enola Gay exhibition controversy:
Enola Gay became the center of a controversy at the Smithsonian Institution when the museum planned to put its fuselage on public display in 1995 as part of an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The exhibit, The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War, was drafted by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum staff, and arranged around the restored Enola Gay.

Critics of the planned exhibit, especially those of the American Legion and the Air Force Association, charged that the exhibit focused too much attention on the Japanese casualties inflicted by the nuclear bomb, rather than on the motivations for the bombing or the discussion of the bomb's role in ending the conflict with Japan. The exhibit brought to national attention many long-standing academic and political issues related to retrospective views of the bombings. As a result, after various failed attempts to revise the exhibit in order to meet the satisfaction of competing interest groups, the exhibit was canceled on 30 January 1995. Martin O. Harwit, Director of the National Air and Space Museum, was compelled to resign over the controversy.
Let's face it; the art and museum industry is dominated by liberal who would rather eat iceberg lettuce than  say something good about America.  Only public pressure and shaming, and occasionally firing one for exceptional assholery will keep them in line, and then only just barely.

Sphinx Moth at the Beach

Today was overcast, about 80F and muggy.  We left Skye at home so we could take a longer walk.  We arrived later than usual, and there were a few more people on the beach than we often encounter.
 A solitary sandpiper of some sort.  If my golden book of birds is right, it's probably a Spotted Sandpiper (Actitus macularia).  Although the books claim they're common, I believe that's the first I've noticed here.
I was hanging around some Honeysuckle growing on the cliff, trying to get some good photos of Spicebush Butterflies when this Sphinx Moth, most likely the White Lined Sphinx Moth ( Hyles lineata) buzzed by.
Did I mention the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies?  They were out in abundance, too, on the Honeysuckle, in the Kudzu and puddling on the beach, along with the usual Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.
 A good day for a paddle...
Or to just sit by the water.

David Gregory Charged for Violating D.C. Gun Law?

Back in December, David Gregory took a 30 round magazine for an AR-15 (illegal in DC where his news show was being filmed), and brandished it in the face of Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, to make some point about gun control.  After much fuss was aired in the conservative media and blogosphere to have Gregory charged for violation of D.C.'s strict gun laws, the authorities in D.C. decided not to charge him with violating the law, even though he had been warned in advance.

No, instead, a gun-rights activist has now been charged with possession of a gun in Washington D.C. in violation of those same laws:
Adam Kokesh, a controversial activist seen loading a gun in D.C.'s Freedom Plaza in a video posted to YouTube July 4, has been transferred from Fairfax County and charged in D.C. with openly carrying a shotgun in violation of D.C. laws.

He is specifically being charged with violating the following offense:

Carrying a Rifle or Shotgun (outside Home or Place of Business), in violation of 22 D.C. Code Section 4504 (a-1) (2001 ed.))

The maximum penalty for those who have not previously been convicted of a felony is a fine of $5,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

Those who have been convicted of a felony could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.
So, is it justice to administer the laws to favor of activism on the liberal anti-gun legalization side versus the other conservative, pro-gun legalization side?

Costco Raises Product Placement Ads to Whole New Level

If you’re a millionaire corporate bigwig using your wealth to influence elections, and using your company’s clout to influence legislation, President Obama might give you a tongue-lashing. Unless you’re a fundraiser and donor for the Obama Victory Fund, and your company’s lobbying agenda coincides with the White House’s — then Obama will give you a shout-out in a major economic address.

In his nationally televised speech Wednesday, Obama sang the praises of retail giant Costco, whose founder Jim Sinegal gave Obama the maximum contribution in two elections and hosted fundraisers for his reelection. Costco has also lobbied for many of Obama’s legislative priorities, including higher minimum wage, Obamacare, and price controls on financial processing fees. Given the company’s politics and tendency to seek profit through big government, Costco stands out as a model of Obamanomics. The money trail and the free advertising also give off a whiff of cronyism.
To recap: Raise $2 million for him, give his campaigns $180,000, lobby for his legislation, and the President will advertise for your store.
With this administration, you get the government you pay for...

American Apes Japanese Weirdness

Former Rule 5 subject Kirsten Dunst does this video making fun of Japanese fads. Some of the Tokyo backdrops are a little NSFW.

IIRC, I found this at Ace's ONT.

After Midnite Music

RIP J. J. Cale

Musician JJ Cale dies; wrote Clapton, Skynyrd hits
Cale, the singer-songwriter and producer known as the main architect of the Tulsa Sound, passed away Friday night at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. His manager, Mike Kappus, said Cale died of a heart attack. He was 74.

While his best known songs remain in heavy rotation on the radio nearly 40 years later, most folks wouldn't be able to name Cale as their author. That was a role he had no problem with.

"No, it doesn't bother me," Cale said with a laugh in an interview posted on his website. "What's really nice is when you get a check in the mail."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Went Fishing

This is from yesterday.  It was such a lovely afternoon.  75 F or so, light wind, clear skies, a few puffy clouds.  This Double Crested Cormorant was sunning on the piling at the mouth of Flag Harbor when I set off.

 He wasn't much fazed as I motored past.
 I ran down to "Location X" and quickly caught a limit of small rockfish (Striped Bass in Chesapeake).  It helps to know where to go, and not to be afraid to go in shallow water near rocks.
There were a couple of charter boats anchored out in the discharge.  From what I saw, they were catching small fish, Spot, Croakers  or White Perch.  I decided to do the same, but in a different place.
So I ran most of the way home, and stopped in shallowish waters offshore off south Long Beach and set out the bottom rigs with circle hooks  using Fishbites, an artificial bait.  Croaker action was insanely fast; I had trouble keeping up with three poles, and many came up with doubles.  Unfortunately, most were below the 9 inch minimum.  However, a few were larger, and I came home with enough for fish tacos for Georgia and I for dinner.

Whatever Your Problem Is...

That’s a 10-word sentence that would fit on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker, or which any Republican politician could add to his stump speech — an effective answer to the perennial message that the Democrat Party offers to the aggrieved and malcontented.
Stacy's on a roll again...
We have an unemployment rate that is too high, and would be 40 percent higher if not for the millions of Americans who have simply given up trying to get a job, or who are scraping by with part-time jobs because of a Democrat “health care reform” law that discourages companies from hiring full-time workers. Vote Democrat!

Detroit went bankrupt after being promised by Democrats that the solution to their problem was a multi-billion-dollar bailout for the auto companies. Instead, the bailout was a ripoff that handed more money and power to the same corrupt labor union bosses who were the cause of the problem in the first place. But hey, vote Democrat!

How’s that “Arab Spring” working out for ya, huh? More than 100 protesters killed in Cairo, because vote Democrat!

We have a dead U.S. ambassador and three other Americans — including two former Navy SEALs — who were killed by radical Islamic terrorists armed with weapons provided through a secret State Department program. The administration started lying about the Benghazi attack on Day One and they’re still lying about it now, so . . . vote Democrat?

And let’s talk about spying, OK? If you’re afraid of the government reading your e-mail, just send an e-mail to the White House Press Office with “Benghazi” in the subject line. I guarantee you, they’ll never read that e-mail, and they sure as hell won’t answer it. Vote Democrat?

NSA wants my passwords?  What a coincidence! Me too!  Maybe they'll save me the trouble of finding whichever scrap of paper I've scrawled a particular one on.   Hopefully I can just e-mail the NSA for the password for PJmedia instead of going through that ridiculous process of sending an e-mail, getting a temporary password, resetting the password, and forgetting it again, over and over and over.

Spain Taxes Sunlight

Or rather the use of sunlight by 'ordinary people' to make energy.  In a move to protect their solar industry, Spain is taxing private makers of solar energy prohibitively for the sin of using the sun to make their own power.  Note that article is "Google translated" from the original.  You should try reviewing a scientific paper that reads like this...
Spain privatizes the sun. Spaces generate power for consumption
Madrid, July 21 ( - were "privatized" the Sun in Spain: if you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use you can drop a fine not exceeding 30 million. So if you were thinking that this false crisis caused, the best option was just to have some solar panels that were down 80% at cost and have the opportunity to disconnect from the mains and your bill scam, you can forget.
The possibility of producing your own electricity using renewable resources solar panels or small wind turbines installed on private property-is very attractive for Spanish homes. "Out of every 50 incoming calls per month, 35 are of particular interest in the subsistence" says Francesc Mateu, manager of Sun Gironés, a company specializing in renewable energy and pioneers in this sector. "At the moment we say they have to wait until September or October that things are clearer," he adds.
Spain, putting the 'S' in PIIGS.

Found at Watts Up With That.

Weiner: Yes, I'd Totally Hire a Pervert to Run the Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was an ugly exchange on Friday between New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner and a Staten Island teacher and principal. And in another bombshell, the candidate was asked if he would he hire a schools chancellor or a police commissioner with the same sexting addiction he has.

Weiner thought his Staten Island campaign stop would get him back to talking about the issues affect New York. In this case people hurt by Hurricane Sandy.

But a local teacher and principal rained on his parade.

Peg Brunda asked the question Weiner definitely did not want to hear.

“I don’t quite understand how you would feel you would have the moral authority as the head administrator in the city to oversee employees when your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that’s expected of me,” the retired teacher said.

Weiner responded by saying, “You’re not voting for me?”

Brunda: “No, I’m not voting for you, sir.”

Weiner: “I want to let other people make the decision for themselves.”
“People have their personal lives. If it is unconnected to their professional duties, of course, I’m not going to judge someone’s personal life,” Weiner said.
Ah, the old Clinton defense. Funny how close his wife is to Hillary.

It's too early this morning to be outraged, so I'll be mildly disgusted instead.

Rule 5 Saturday - Diane Kruger - The Bridge to Troy

This weeks lucky Rule 5 subject object is Diane Kruger.  A couple of weeks ago we starting watching "The Bridge", an absolutely chilling murder mystery series about a series of murders in Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas via 'The Bridge."
Diane plays the role of Sonya Cross, a detective from El Paso who would be labeled with Asperger  Syndrome, if Asperger's hadn't been eliminated as a legitimate diagnosis having been dropped from the DSM-5.   For example, feeling horny, she drops into a bar, and being offered a drink by a hunk, she declines.  When said hunk wanders off with his feelings hurt, she hunts him down and asks why.  When he reminds her she declined his drink, she says she wanted sex, not a drink.  You can guess what followed.
Diane is the first German I've featured as a Rule 5 girl. Her original career plan as a ballerina being ended by injury, modeling and acting became her Plan B.  Since I have no interest in opera, I'm OK with that.

In the past Diane has starred in both "National Treasures" (2004, 2007) , Troy (2004)"Inglorious Bastards" (2009) and "The Host" (2013), among others.

If You Voted For Obama to Improve Race Relations

You screwed the pooch...

Poll: Race relations have plummeted since Obama took office
Public attitudes about race relations have plummeted since the historic election of President Barack Obama, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

Only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks have a favorable opinion of race relations in the country, according to the poll, which has tracked race relations since 1994 and was conducted in mid-July by Hart Research Associations and Public Opinion Strategies.

That’s a sharp drop from the beginning of Obama’s first term, when 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of American race relations.

Negative views on race relations have also increased substantially. According to the poll [pdf], 45 percent of whites and 58 percent African-Americans now believe race relations are very or fairly bad, compared with 2009, when only 20 percent of whites and 30 percent of blacks held an unfavorable view.
Whoda thunk?  Oh that's right, a lot of did.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Because Nobody Cares About Social Issues Anymore

First, the headlines:


– Inside Edition

–American Power

– KPBS-TV, San Diego

– The Hill

– Los Angeles Times

- Fox News


Now, the serious commentary: These are not the disease, these are merely symptoms of the disease, and the pattern is not coincidental.

Why has Amanda Bynes gone crazy? Why is Sydney Leathers being treated like a celebrity? Why can’t Anthony Weiner remember how many women he “sexted”? Why is Miley Cyrus naked? Why does Bob Filner think “therapy,” and not resignation, is the answer?

Don’t tell me we don’t know the answer to why President Ho Chi Minh is in the White House and Amanda Bynes is in the nuthouse. This kind of escalating madness doesn’t “just happen,” does it?
As they say, read the rest.

O'Malley Set Sights on Energy Price Rise for Maryland

The O'Malley administration's aggressive new plan to fight climate change calls for Maryland residents to further cut their energy use or face higher monthly utility bills.

The plan, to be released Thursday by Gov. Martin O'Malley, also requires that more of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
And just what renewable sources is he talking about?  Wind and solar?  Both are substantially more  expensive than the fossil or nuclear energy that provides the bulk of Maryland's power currently. 

So O'Malley is planning a double whammy on Maryland residents, higher energy costs overall and energy from more expensive, and land hungry sources.

Maryland's goals for reducing greenhouse gases are among the most ambitious in the nation. The plan requires stricter measures than previously proposed to meet the requirement set by the General Assembly in 2009 to cut carbon emissions that scientists say drive climate change.

"Although it might seem high, it's really the first step, the first down payment that we need to make in order to avoid a real climate catastrophe in the world," said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
Of course, the relative amount that the Maryland's energy cut backs will reduce climate change, even assuming the worst of IPCC's models is trivial and if the rest of the country were to follow suit, would hardly be any better.

Furthermore, the plan discounts fracking for natural gas as a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, despite the fact that US greenhouse gas emissions have fallen as a result of natural gas produced by fracking.

Where Were These When I Was a Kid?

Midnite Music - The Great Gig in the Sky

How can you get so much emotion out of so few words?

Also linked at The Other McCain in Wombat-Socho's weekly Rule 5 bonanza "Rule 5 Monday." 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Virginia Gets Hot Air Instead of Oil

Earlier this year, Virginia’s two (Democratic, ahem) senators introduced legislation to end the offshore oil-and-gas leasing shutout that the Obama administration effectively imposed on the eastern seaboard and west coast with the five-year drilling plan they released last year, which only allows for drilling in limited areas in the Gulf Coast and for lease sales off the coast of Alaska later on. With our economic growth still moving at a snail’s pace, opening up more areas for drilling would provide a lot job opportunities as well as bring in more government revenue, and it didn’t take long for the House to take up and pass their own version of some offshore-drilling expansion legislation.

The bipartisan support in Congress, however, isn’t enough to sway the oh-so-steadfast Obama administration in their top-down, federalism-crushing, and economically-damaging decisions concerning the domestic oil-and-gas industry, but hey, at least they have something else in mind in the meantime! Here’s the joyous announcement from the Department of Interior:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to move our economy toward domestic clean energy sources and begin to slow the effects of climate change, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today announced that BOEM will hold its second competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The auction, scheduled to take place on Sept. 4, will offer nearly 112,800 acres offshore Virginia for commercial wind energy leasing.

In June, Secretary Jewell and Director Beaudreau announced the nation’s first wind energy lease sale for an area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which will be held on July 31.

“The competitive lease sale offshore Virginia will mark an important transition from planning to action when it comes to capturing the enormous clean energy potential offered by Atlantic wind,” said Jewell. “Responsible commercial wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, increase our energy security, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness.”

Under the terms of the Final Sale Notice, the wind energy area offshore Virginia will be auctioned as a single lease. The area is located 23.5 nautical miles from the Virginia Beach coastline and has the potential to support more than 2,000 megawatts of wind generation – enough electricity to power approximately 700,000 homes. As part of President Obama’s comprehensive climate action plan, he challenged Interior to re-double efforts on the renewable energy program by approving an additional 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy production on public lands and waters by 2020.
A more complete description of the area being auctioned off for the bird and bat blending, low efficiency, high maintenance, expensive wind generators is here

Grocery Bag Ban Leads to Increased Theft

Plastic bag ban leads to nationwide increase in shoplifting rates
On Friday, New Jersey Democratic operative James Devine was arrested for attempting to snatch $22 worth of merchandise from a local ShopRite pharmacy. Devine tried to smuggle lettuce, shampoo and protein powder out of the store, perhaps trying to hide the fact that he was about to make the world’s most disgusting salad. To avoid detection, he stashed the goods in a reusable grocery bag.

What seems to be just another edition of Democrats doing dumb deeds actually represents a nationwide problem. Thanks to laws in several major cities banning the use of plastic carryout bags in retail stores, there has been a spike in shoplifting incidents over the past couple years, a trend that business owners, law enforcement officials and customers have duly noted.

In 2011, Washington D.C. enforced a reusable bag tax and officials became steadily more suspicious of shoppers’ activities.

“Since the fee was established last year, we have noticed customers using traditional bags, along with less traditional pieces such as backpacks, to not only transport items from the store, but to carry items throughout the store,” spokesman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission of Washington D.C. Craig Muckle said in an interview with Washington City Paper.

This suspicion solidified into disturbing data a year later on the other side of the country. When a Seattle ordinance banning plastic bags took effect on July 2012, 21.1 percent of surveyed Seattle business owners said that the plastic bag ban led to an increase in shoplifting problems. Seattle’s Lake City Grocery Outlet, for instance, had thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen that year.
Never mind the fact of increased rates of gastrointestinal diseases, some even leading to death, because of the use of (nice opaque) reusable grocery bags.

Mind you, I'm not opposed to reusable grocery bags; I'm opposed to mandatory reusable grocery bags.  Bag Freedom!  But if store employees choose to check you more closely when you carry in reusable bags, that's a reasonable profiling based on the added risk.

Butterfly, Shoes

Yesterday evening, Georgia called me to say there had been a butterfly on a pair of beach shoes I had sitting outside to dry off, and she didn't recognize it.  It had flown off, but when I checked later it was back.  A moderately beat up specimen of Red Spotted Purple, puddling on the wet shoes.

Vicious Businessman Attacks Playful Raccoon

Security Video Captures Digg Founder Tossing Raccoon From SF Home

Tech mogul Kevin Rose is again generating huge traffic on the Internet, after he posted a video of himself confronting a raccoon on the steps of his San Francisco home.

Rose – the man who founded Digg – posted multiple angles of a video that showed him picking up the animal and throwing it from the staircase of his home early Saturday morning.

Emma Stone, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton Walk Into a Bar

 Who do you choose?

It seems Kate Upton is the new standard against which all other women are to be compared:

Athletic Cameron Diaz takes on curvy Kate Upton in a battle of the bikini bodies as pair sport tiny two-pieces
Film productions can be long arduous work, so it's no wonder Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton and Leslie Mann made the most of their day off by splashing around in the Caribbean sea.

But while Cameron, 40, showed off her sleek and toned, athletic figure, Kate, 21, was all about the curves with her bikini barely containing her ample cleavage.

The blonde stars of fashion and film hit the surf on Sunday with their co-star Leslie, 41, and had a great time bonding on the beach.

Advantage Upton.  And in a nearly unrelated story...

Emma Stone voted best girlfriend material over blonde bombshell Kate Upton

Down-to-earth actress Emma Stone has been voted as the most datable leading lady in a new poll of more than 20,000 men. asked its readers which female celebrity they would most like their girlfriend to embody and 29per cent opted for the 24-year-old, flame-haired beauty.

She was swiftly followed by busty Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, who both scored 28per cent of votes.

Hmmm, a much tougher call.  More research is needed:

IRS: Records? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Records!

Delaware state officials have told Congress that they likely destroyed the computer records that would show when and how often they accessed Christine O'Donnell’s personal tax records and acknowledged that a newspaper article was used as the sole justification for snooping into the former GOP Senate candidate’s tax history.

The revelations to Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office came Tuesday as the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, the government’s chief watchdog for the Internal Revenue Service, formally reopened its investigation into the matter by re-interviewing Ms. O'Donnell.

“It is an active investigation now,” Ms. O’Donnell told The Washington Times after meeting with the same Treasury agent who first informed her in January that her tax records were improperly accessed. She declined to be more specific about what the agent questioned her about in Tuesday’s session.
I do note that it's Delaware State officials who seem to be immediately at fault here for requesting Christine O'Donnell's tax records from the IRS on a flimsy pretext, and then destroying the records of who requested them.  And certainly no one has jumped up and claimed to remember the details of the incident. And yet, I still think the IRS should be held ultimately responsible for this.  It's their records, and they should not be releasing them, even to states, without assurance of a good justification (perhaps a judge needs to sign a warrant), and decent accountability.

Another good article on the IRS scandal from the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the investigation is beginning to get close to the White House, and why that's a good thing:

Meet William Wilkins: Will the IRS scandal implicate the White House? Let's hope so
Have you noticed that the Internal Revenue Service scandal seems to be getting ever closer to the White House? The IRS originally tried to set up "rogue employees in Cincinnati" as fall guys. But in congressional testimony, they revealed that the targeting of dissenting groups was directed from Washington.

As Peggy Noonan noted, the Washington supervisor, Carter Hull, last week implicated the IRS's office of chief counsel: "The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And . . . he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS."
So at this point, knowledge of the IRS targeting conservative groups reaches well into Washington D.C., and indeed, right up to the step below the Preznit.  And this is a good thing because?
As this column has argued before, the higher this scandal goes, the better it is for the country. We say that not because we don't care for Barack Obama--let's be honest, a President Biden would be no bargain either--but because the president can be held accountable if it turns out he or his top aides essentially instructed the IRS to steal the 2012 election. A corrupt administration can be dealt with, as Richard Nixon's was 40 years ago.

By contrast, if career IRS employees acted on their own, it means the integrity of American democracy itself is threatened by an out-of-control administrative state. In that case, how to solve the problem is not at all clear.
There's always my modest proposal for the IRS.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Riverkeepers Run Conowingo Extortion Racket

A coalition of conservation groups from the Lower Susquehanna River Basin and the Chesapeake Bay have filed a motion to intervene in the federal relicensing negotiations of the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam – calling for a commitment from the dam’s owner, Exelon Corporation, to mitigate almost 200 million tons of sediment pollution that has amassed behind the dam since its construction in 1928.
200 million tons of sediment which, I might remind you, have not entered the Chesapeake Bay as a result of the dam. One might argue whether or not the dam should have been built, but the fact is, having been built, the dam has been operating to reduce the sediment load to the Bay.
 “Our seven years of research on Conowingo leaves us with no doubt that the unnatural amounts of sediment that are scoured from Conowingo Pond into the Bay during major storm events are damaging the Bay, making the work of cleaning up the Bay even more difficult,” said Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Michael Helfrich, who represents Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna (SOLS). “Solutions to this, and other impacts, must be addressed in this relicensing process.”

The interveners, which consist of 100 groups and individuals from SOLS and 18 riverkeepers from Waterkeepers Chesapeake, say they “support relicensing of the Dam as long as the final license includes adequate plans to mitigate the environmental and recreational impacts caused by the Dam.”
May I suggest each take custody of 2 million tons of sediment?  That should just about take care of the problem. Or perhaps they could dredge it, and send everyone who has benefited from the dam a package (more like a truckload) of the sediment, and a bill for the cost.

SOLS and Waterkeepers Chesapeake filed on the grounds that they would feel the direct impact of adverse conditions “adopted in the final Dam license” and that the relicensing proceedings are “vital for determining what will be done about the Dam’s impoundment and release of large amounts of pollutants – especially sediment.”

Exelon is asking to renew its license through 2060.

In a press release on Friday, Helfrich challenged the assertion often made by Exelon that it is not responsible for sediment pollution that flows to the Dam from Pennsylvania and New York. Helfrich acknowledged that the pollution comes from upstream but said the Dam creates an “unnatural release of pollutants.” He said the sediment behind the Dam weighs in at the equivalent of 2,000 aircraft carriers.
I have my doubts.  Certainly the kinds of moderate to large storm events that cause excessive sediment releases with the dam in place, would also cause in most cases, larger releases than they do now.  Only in the most extreme cases, like tropical storms and hurricanes, would the release exceed what might be released in the absence of the dam.
“The fact is that they created a “storage facility” that traps the pollutants, and then releases these pollutants in quantities that would otherwise not have entered the Bay all at once,” Helfrich said. “During Tropical Storm Agnes, the Susquehanna delivered three times the amount of pollution to the Bay than it would have if Safe Harbor, Holtwood, and Conowingo Dams didn’t exist. This unnatural release of pollutants is why we believe that Exelon needs to take some responsibility for the cost of cleaning up the sediment from behind their dam.”

Found a 'New' Butterfly

New to me, at least.  For now, I'm about 99% sure it's a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), but I'll send the photos to to be sure.

It was hanging out on a Verbena in a little bit of sunny that is up along the driveway to the house.  It tried the Butterfly Bush that the swallowtails have been all over lately, but came back to the Verbena.  It was quite tame, and allowed me to get very close for lots of pictures.  New screensaver material.

I like the last shot because it puts the size into scale.  The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the largest butterfly in the United States (although, being male, that one might be a little below average)... 

While I was out, I looked around and found this, which appeared to be the smallest butterfly I have ever seen.  I'm pretty sure it's a Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntus), which I've seen before, but never one this small. Compare to the grass blades for scale.

Federal Policy Kills Birds

Barred Owls (source)
This article from my old stomping (literally) ground in Southern Oregon: 

Feds plan to shoot barred owls 
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they've been driven out of over the past half-century. The agency has been evaluating the idea since 2009, gathering public comment and consulting ethicists, focus groups and scientific studies. It will issue a final decision on the plan in a month.

"If we don't manage barred owls, the probability of recovering the spotted owl goes down significantly," said Paul Henson, Oregon state supervisor for Fish and Wildlife.

The agency's preferred course of action calls for killing 3,603 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California over the next four years. The plan is expected to cost about $3 million and requires a special permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits killing nongame birds.
I wrote about this plan in 2011. My opinions haven't changed.

And in other dead bird news, the Federal government continues to tolerate high bird losses, particularly the loss of large and charismatic bird to wind power generators, that they would not tolerate for less prosaic power producers:
A new study found that the federal government underestimated the number of birds that die colliding with wind turbines across the country.

In fact, bird deaths were found to be 30 percent higher than previous estimates given by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009.

“I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012,” writes K. Shawn Smallwood, author of the study that was published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
“Despite numerous violations, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — has unofficially exempted the wind industry from prosecution under the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts,” wrote the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce. “By exempting the wind industry from prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, the federal government is providing another indirect subsidy to the sector.”
In 2009, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of killing 85 federally protected birds and agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees. That same year, Oregon-based PacifiCorp was also fined $1.4 million for the killing of 232 eagles in Wyoming, which were electrocuted by the company’s power lines.

“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp.

Your Wednesday Morning Eye Opener

I think that's a Great White Shark's tooth right there. Nice Specimen!

Also linked at The Other McCain in Wombat-Socho's weekly Rule 5 bonanza "Rule 5 Monday."

Monkeys Mob Moron

Monkeying With Biden’s Security
Mr. Biden started a four-day visit to India Monday with a trip to the Gandhi Smriti, a memorial to the leader of India’s freedom movement at the site where he was assassinated in New Delhi in 1948.

In what could be described as bad timing, about a dozen adult monkeys–some with babies in tow– took a fancy to thick clusters of raw mangoes hanging on a tree above a tall statue of Gandhi, just before the American dignitary was due to reach the spot on his carefully choreographed walkabout of the site.
As Mr. Biden and his wife walked towards the statue, and the monkey filled mango tree, Monday evening, photographers trained their cameras on the couple with a glint of anticipation. But no fruit fell from the tree as the U.S. vice president posed for a few seconds in front of the statue. Perhaps his security team had that covered too.
Professional courtesy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Anthony Weiner is a Totally Shameless Dickhead

The big news of the day.

Althouse has the definitive comment:
They're a power couple, yoked for power. Of course, they move forward. It's not that complicated. I don't even believe they indulged in "a whole lot of therapy."
UPDATE:  Apparently he was done in by an Obama operative.  That's almost enough to make me feel sorry for him, but not quite...