Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beach Buttefly Extravaganza

As I said in my earlier beach post, I got distracted way up the beach when I discovered an area chock full of butterflies.  The first clue I had was when I found a Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), and then another.  First a female (the one I posted on the beach post), then this male.

And then, another female, this one, which clearly shows the red and black "bulls-eye" on the hind wings that is the easiest diagnostic sign.  It's similar to the Spicebush Swallowtail.  Both are blacker than the black morph of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and a little smaller, and have a double row of orange spots on the rear under-wings.  The Spicebush has the classic "comet" mark, but the Black has the complete row, with a little "pile up" of orange dots.

I wish I knew what this plant is.  It's a large shrub, with big leaves and fine white flowers, and it's a major attractor for butterflies, bumblebees and wasps of various sorts.

2013: A Beach Odyssey

Georgia begged off the beach walk this morning, and I got a late start, arriving a little after noon.  The weather, as you can see, was nearly perfect.  The temperature was in the low 80s, and the breeze was moderate from the south (hence, no waves).  This is going to be a long post. with lots of photos.  I was out almost 4 hours.
The north beach (the one we walk) was nearly empty when I started (see above), but people were already using beach south of the harbor.
Tooth hunting, well, sucked.  I only found 6, including this nice, but kind of small Snaggletooth lower. 
Partly the reason is because, like yesterday, the tide was way up (south wind and all), at least a foot above the astronomical tide, and there was not much beach.

Rule 5 Saturday - An International Incident - Paulina Porizkova

This weeks Rule 5 extravaganza post is in honor of Paulina Porizkova, one of the super models from the 80s. The second woman to grace  the cover of the SI swimsuit edition twice, 1984 and 1985, she's also done a certain amount of light acting, in addition to the usual round of modelling work.

She's probably the only model who has spurred an international incident:
Born in Prostějov, Czechoslovakia, Porizkova was a toddler when her parents fled Czechoslovakia to Lund, Sweden to escape the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion. She was left in the care of her grandmother. Czechoslovakian authorities would not allow her parents to reclaim her, and the ensuing battle was widely publicized in the Swedish press, making Porizkova a cause célèbre.

After a failed rescue attempt, in which her mother was detained by the national police, international political pressure led by Olof Palme caused the communist government to allow the Pořízek family to be reunited after seven years. Porizkova acquired Swedish citizenship.
 At 48, she's still keeping the figure.

 Older pictures of Paulina below the fold

That's Gonna Be One Heck Of a Butterfly

Wow, that almost 6 miles for every dollar of the US deficit this year!
A stellar ‘caterpillar’ in the midst of a metamorphosis has been spotted by astronomers.
The light-year-long cosmic squiggle is currently collecting material from an envelope of gas surrounding it. Astronomers are now keen to see what will emerge from the protostar, which is in a very early evolutionary stage.

 A cool video sort of puts the scale of space into perspective...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stay There, Kitty!

Cyclist Has Amazing Encounter with a Mountain Lion in Los Angeles
Known for its scenic vistas, Mulholland Drive intersects the city of Los Angeles and is popular with residents and tourists for its splendid views. But one view you don’t usually encounter is a mountain lion eating a deer. Irv Nilsen, who took these amazing photos, happened to be riding his motorcycle on Mulholland this past Sunday and became the first person to discover the mountain lion. Soon after, cyclist Danny Benson pedaled by and also received a big surprise. As he told CBSLA News last night, at first he just thought the deer was roadkill...

This was sent to me by my brother Mark, who lives in the area, and drives these roads routinely. It's one of those things; you'd like to see a mountain lion in wild, but you wouldn't want to get too personal with it.

The Wolf at the Door...

comes inside: Camper Wakes With Head in Wolf's Jaws
A Minnesota teen says he won't be going camping again for a while after surviving the first known wolf attack on a human in state history. Noah Graham, 16, awoke before dawn to find his head gripped in the jaws of a 75-pound gray wolf. ".
Noah needed 17 staples to close a wound in his head and is receiving anti-rabies shots. Police later shot and killed a wolf believed to have been the culprit... The wolf had a deformed jaw which would have made it hard to go after large prey, it may have become accustomed to scavenging for food at the campground, and Noah's reddish-brown hair may have caused the wolf to mistake his head for a smaller creature.

Friday at the Beach

It was another pretty good morning for the beach.  While our hot weather is not over for the year, it's pretty clear the weather has turned, and from now on a cooling pattern will prevail.  It's been a remarkably mild summer in any event.
Today we were struck by the smell of flowers.  Two major ones seemed to dominate.  This Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) covers a few big chunks of the cliffs, climbing into the trees.  An escaped import from Asia, it is sometime considered an invasive species.
And, of course, the Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)  which is definitely an invasive, and covers most of the cliff.  Both are in bloom and very fragrant.
Nothing new in the the butterfly world, but a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) stopped by at a Jewel Weed plant.
and a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) sipped at the clematis.
The tide was very high today, in some cases up into the Kudzu, which will knock it back some, as it doesn't tolerate the salt water.
A strange one from Patuxent River Naval Air Station (most likely; maybe Andrews Air Base).

Is It Time to Let Go of the Panda?

Over at Ace's, Ace just completed a troika of post on "outrage-trolling", with Slate a particular object of his ire.

Slate, the Amateur Online Webzine Specializing in Hit-Trolling and Outrage-Fishing: First of a Series
Slate, the Group Blog That Troll-Baits With Provocative Stupidity: Second in a Series
Slate, The Blog That Trolls Its Own Readers, Last in a Series

To which Stacy McCain could only bow in obeisance (don't you hate it when you misspell a word so badly even the spell checker has no clue what you're thinking? It can confuse you and make you miss closing a parenthesis).

This next article (found courtesy of Ace's ONT) is outrage trolling for wildlife lovers:

Why I Hate Pandas and You Should Too
Congratulations on your new panda cub, Washington! You're prolonging the existence of a hopeless and wasteful species the world should've given up on long ago.

I understand the impulse. Some people find them cute. Pandas don't have much of a habitat left in the wild, thanks to heedless human development. And zoos imagine they're doing the right thing, pulling in some extra visitors while helping conservation efforts.

But the first test of a species' worthiness for conservation should be some instinct for self-preservation. And pandas fail objectively.

First, their breeding habits don't suggest a species brimming with vitality. Pandas at a research center in Chengdu were so disinclined to mate that workers there subjected the poor things to Viagra and videos of other bears procreating, hoping they'd get the idea. Zoos, including in Washington, more often resort to artificial insemination. In the wild, where birthrates aren't much better, pandas are prone to inbreeding. Females only ovulate for a few days each year, and if a mother does manage to have more than one cub, she abandons the weakling. That's fine; nature's mean. But don't whine when a species with such habits falls into inexorable decline.

Second, although blessed with a bear's predatory teeth, the lethargic beasts eat almost nothing but bamboo -- a plant that's nearly devoid of nutritional value and disappearing in the wild. Pandas consume 40 pounds of it a day, eating constantly, speeding their own demise.
But they'd much rather eat meat, which is used to bait traps for Pandas in the wild.  They're just too incompetent to catch and kill prey on their own.  But they gladly eat carrion.

"Here's a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac," Chris Packham, a British author and wildlife activist, said in 2009. He argues that "the panda is possibly one of the grossest wastes of conservation money in the last half-century."
Of course, it's not really our choice; it's the Chinese who will get to decide the fate of the Giant Panda in the wild.  As long as the Panda helps pay the bills while not hurting their slow shuffle to world dominance, they'll keep them going.
This in a country where roughly 160 million people still live in extreme poverty. And all to protect about 1,600 dim herbivores that are debasing the word "bear," which otherwise applies to noble beasts that manage to find plenty to eat in the wild.

Look, Darwinism isn't for crybabies. And conservation requires making tough choices. Pandas had a pretty good run for 3 million years. All that money is better spent on preserving diverse habitats rather than on a single hopeless species.
I wonder how they taste?

States Rights: Good for Pot, Not for Marriage

A blistering attack on the hypocrisy of liberals and the Obama administration who see states rights through the Fresnel lens of what they want. States’ Rights: OK for Dopeheads; Hateful Hillbilly Bible-Thumpers, Not So Much
...the re-election of President Obama meant that the gay agenda would be imposed top-down by executive authority, and the Internal Revenue Service will now recognize same-sex marriage without regard for whether it is legal in the couple’s state of residence.

The “Don’t Ask Bradley Manning, Don’t Tell Chelsea Manning” policy was wiped out by a stroke of Obama’s pen, and the Supreme Court has voided the Defense of Marriage Act, so that the “emerging awareness” doctrine articulated by Justice Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling has advanced to the point that, with the de facto federal imposition of gay marriage (despite constitutional amendments to the contrary in more than 30 states) we are now a judicial hop, skip and jump from a Supreme Court decision mandating compulsory sodomy
While state-based opposition to gay marriage is thus rendered meaningless by Treasury Department decree, however, the Department of Justice has decided that federal drug laws are optional and if states legalize marijuana, hey, toke up, dude. Party on.

So, basically, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, was cause for celebration by dopeheads and buttf*ckers. In Obama’s America, sodomy and sinsemilla are the most important national priorities.
I think that he's probably wrong. Liberal see states rights are great as long as they advance "the agenda", but once a foothold is gotten in a state, anywhere, the demand that the new entitlement (gay marriage, getting stoned at work, or choosing the bathroom of an inappropriate sex) be nationwide becomes the great goal.  States rights was never a goal unto itself, only a pit stop in the race to Gomorrah.

Counter-Trayvonism, Yeah or Nay?

In last few weeks we've seen multiple instances of Negroes Blacks, African Americans committing grievous, or in some simply egregious attacks on Caucasians, Whites European Americans (and in one case, Aussie European Australian).  Often mentioned is the Trayvon trial, as in, where are the black leaders willing to address the issue of the outrageous rate of violence in the African American community as a whole?

Liberals are generally outraged by the comparison, and they should be.  There's simply no fair comparison to a white hispanic killing a black teenage who was sitting on top of him and bashing his head on the concrete simply because he thought he was being dissed to cases where the victims appear to have been chosen for death at random because they were the wrong color and vulnerable.

Ann Althouse, liberal and yet libertarian blogger thinks that this trumpeting of the random racial attacks by blacks is wrong, and counterproductive:

 The conservatives' high ground on race is colorblindness, and they'd be fools to abandon it. 
Conservatives have rested on the principle of colorblindness for a long time, and they've taken abuse for it. Look at how left liberals abuse Chief Justice Roberts for writing, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." They consider that kind of talk naive (at best). They push the perceived sophistication of what Justice Blackmun said back in the first affirmative action case: "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way."
To stir hearts counter-Trayvonistically is to nurture feelings that white people are oppressed by black people. This alternative to colorblindness is profoundly stupid. 1. It abandons the easy to express, principled position that many people perceive as the high ground. 2. It steps into the arena of taking account of race, where the left liberals would love to take you on. And 3. It gives air to the white supremacists among us. These people have been outcasts for a long time, but they exist, perhaps not quite yet recognizing what they are.
While I have stepped lightly onto the counter-Trayvon movement, I haven't leaped onto it with both feet as I share some perhaps less well layed out misgivings.

James Tarantos of the Wall Street Journal considers these arguments, accepts the first, but rejects the second and third: The Harms Race
Our first reaction on reading this a few days ago was to agree enthusiastically, particularly with that first point. We are an exponent of the colorblind view and are no more comfortable with counter-Trayvonism than with Trayvonism.

But on further reflection, we have some doubts about points 2 and 3. To begin at the end, we'd say worries about "white supremacists among us" are overblown. The impulse behind counter-Trayvonism seems quite the opposite of a supremacist one. It imagines whites to be in an inferior position to blacks--"that white people are oppressed by black people," as Althouse herself puts it.
What troubles Marshall, of course, is counter-Trayvonism--or, as he puts it, the "jagging about the 'double standard' when the same thing happens and the races are reversed." He observes accurately that the Martin and Lane cases are actually quite different: Whereas Zimmerman was interviewed and released after shooting Martin, the suspects in the Lane murder were promptly arrested and charged with murder. Marshall does not note the other obvious difference: that unlike Zimmerman, Lane's alleged killers do not appear to have any basis to claim self-defense.

Anyway, although Marshall makes some reasonable points, his tone is not a reasoned one; clearly he is agitated by the comparison. So is Brian Beutler, who wrote a similar piece the same day for We read this as evidence that the counter-Trayvonists have struck at a weakness, not a strength, of the left.
Saul Alinsky's fourth rule was: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." The counter-Trayvonists may ultimately be wrongheaded, but if they can provoke as conventional a liberal as Josh Marshall into disparaging "the racial victimization bus"--a colorblind sentiment if ever there was one--then perhaps they serve a dialectical purpose.
And finally, last, but not, Stacy McCain follows both articles (Hmm. @JamesTaranto Mildly Disagrees With @AnnAlthouse? Let Me Try That.), but says:

The correct conservative argument is that liberal media hyped up and deliberately distorted the Trayvon Martin case because it was an election year and an apparently juicy story about racism and gun control was a nice way to exploit black grievances against whitey. Let’s be honest: If you’re a black person who thinks The Man is keepin’ you down, you’re not going to vote for Mitt Romney, and so Trayvon Martin became a Democrat Party voter-turnout poster child.

There, I said it: This was just Democrats playing ugly partisan politics.

Democrats have never recognized any standard of decorum, civility, decency or honesty in political rhetoric, and the fact that they would exploit a shooting in Florida this way surprises no one who has paid attention to American politics. (Fact: In 1916, Woodrow Wilson’s re-election slogan was, “He Kept Us Out of War”; less than a year after he was re-elected, America went to war.)

Democrats are just goddamned liars. The fact that one of their more politically useful falsehoods nowadays is telling black people that their problems are caused by white racism should not require us to treat that lie any more seriously than we do any other Democrat lie.

When Democrats say we need “a conversation on race,” what they really mean is they want to have a monologue, a tedious lecture about all the evils perpetrated against black people by those evil racist Republicans. Your part of the “conversation” is, shut up.
Yep, sometimes these things can be over-analyzed.  The reality is that most political thinking is gut level, and agonizing over the fine points is pointless.  Keep your guns pointed in the direction of the enemy, not your friends.

So Bad, and Yet, So Good

Actually, she's quite a talented guitarist, skip around through some of her other videos.

Wombat-socho must be taking his Metamucil; he's back on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday: Short Skirt/Long Jacket", his weekly compendium of Rule 5 links.

Walking in the Air

Haven't had one of these for a while.

Use HD if possible.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Clupeids in the News

There are three different articles about clupeid (herring family) fish in the Chesapeake Bay in today's Chesapeake Bay news, non terribly exciting in and of themselves, but in combination suggesting that these basic forage fish are in trouble in the ChesApeake:

Service rejects bid to add river herring to endangered species list
Populations of river herring may be at low levels along the East Coast, but the small fish are not likely to disappear and do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, a federal review has concluded.

In 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council had petitioned for the fish to receive protection as a threatened species under the act, saying overall numbers of alewife and blueback herring — collectively known as river herring — were a “tiny fraction” of their historic abundance.

But in August, the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that available information indicated that alewife stocks along the East Coast were generally either stable or increasing. The situation for blueback herring was slightly worse: Some stocks were stable, but those in the mid-Atlantic were decreasing.

Overall, the review said the risk of alewife extinction was small, while the risk of blueback herring extinction was moderate-low. While not threatened or endangered, the review did agree that both stocks were low compared with historic levels, and that available data for both species is often poor.

Biologists say this spring’s shad run remained at relatively low levels, though they also reported a robust season for stocking hatchery-reared fish in tributaries around the watershed.

They also reported strong numbers of American eels at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River and the launch of a river herring stocking effort on the Patapsco River. American shad, as well as eels and river herring, are near record low levels along the East Coast.

For shad, long a restoration priority in the Bay watershed, the news was especially bad on the Susquehanna River, where only 12,733 American shad were lifted over the fish elevator at Conowingo, located just 10 miles upstream from the Bay. That was, by far, the worst number reported at the dam since 1997, when the multimillion dollar fish lift became the primary means for moving fish upriver.

Just 202 American shad made it past all four hydroelectric dams on the lower Susquehanna, making it the fourth- worst year since all of the lifts became operational in 2000.
Commission shuts down Potomac River menhaden fishery
The Potomac River Fisheries Commission closed all menhaden fisheries in the Potomac River Aug. 22 complying with new catch limits mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The commission determined that overfishing was taking place and set new limits.

Twenty pound net fishermen take about 99 percent of the menhaden in the Potomac River. This accounts for about 26 percent of the coast-wide quota.

This year menhaden were not as abundant in the Potomac as last year, according to Ellen Cosby, assistant executive secretary of the commission. The commission tracks menhaden catches closely. Instead of the fishery being closed in June, it closed this month.

Now That's a Tough Critic

Kim Jong-un's ex-lover 'executed by firing squad'
Kim Jong-un with his wife Ri Sol-ju
Kim Jong-un's ex-girlfriend was among a dozen well-known North Korean performers who were executed by firing squad nine days ago, according to South Korean reports. Hyon Song-wol, a singer, rumoured to be a former lover of the North Korean leader, is said to have been arrested on Aug 17 with 11 others for violating laws against pornography.

The reports in South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper indicate that Hyon, a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, was among those arrested on August 17 for violating domestic laws on pornography.

All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea's most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime's assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated.

“They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on,” said a Chinese source reported in the newspaper.

That's some racy stuff, there...
The 12 who were executed were singers, musicians or dancers with the Hyon's band,, the Unhasu Orchestra or the Wanghaesan Light Music Band and were accused of making videos of themselves performing sex acts and then selling the recordings.
Uh, Miley better not plan any trips to Norkville.
Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before marriage and one theory is that Ri objected to the continuing high profile of her husband's former girlfriend.
Aren't communist dictatorships just lovely?

Old Lady No Longer Wants Girls Just to Have Fun

Just Wanted to Have Fun
Ripped from today's "Life at Five" by Wombat-socho at The Other Mccain:

In a radio interview with Australia's Brig & Lehmo on Gold 104.3, the '80s superstar slammed the former Hannah Montana actress for her racy performance at Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards.

"That was girl gone wild. So sad, so sad," Lauper told the radio hosts when asked about Cyrus' bumping and grinding as the latter joined forces with Robin Thicke for a medley of their hits "We Can't Stop" and "Blurred Lines."
No Longer Just Wants to Have Fun

The 60-year-old Grammy winner, who recently earned a Tony for scoring the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, said she was disturbed by the musical pairing of the songs, saying it sent the wrong message to Miley's mostly adoring teen fans.

"She's in a song that literally says that the blurred lines allowed you to—when a woman says no, she means yes—and that's frightful because that's date rape," noted Lauper...

"And there she is, a young twentysomething trying to prove she can hang with the big boys and girls, you know, basically simulating a Girl Gone Wild video onstage. And I just felt like that was so beneath her and raunchy, really raunchy," added Lauper. "It wasn't even art."
She would have had more moral authority if she hadn't been an early advocate of the youth rebellion industry.  The very least she could do was admit to changing her mind a little as she got older.  Now she reminds us more of the mother in her iconic video...

Wombat-socho must be taking his Metamucil; he's back on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday: Short Skirt/Long Jacket", his weekly compendium of Rule 5 links.

Bald Eagles Not an Unmixed Blessing

It turns out that giant charsmatic predatory birds do what predators do, kill things:

Bald eagles bad news for seabird on Oregon Coast
The recovery of bald eagle populations in Oregon is an environmental success story that has resulted in a resurgence of this iconic symbol in the state, which is good news – unless you happen to be a common murre living at the coast.

Scientists at Oregon State University who are studying the seabird have documented how the increase of bald eagles – especially along the central Oregon coast – is having a significant impact on the murre’s reproductive success. It is developing into a fascinating ecological tale of which the ending has not yet played out.

What has happened, the researchers say, is that bald eagles have taken up a seasonal residence near Yaquina Head and forage on the murres, which have a major nesting colony there. The predation of an occasional adult murre isn’t the issue, the researchers point out – it is the encroachment of “secondary predators” that is having a negative impact on the murres’ reproductive success.

“An adult eagle that swoops down and grabs an adult murre may disrupt the colony for a minute or two, but things get back to normal rather quickly,” said Robert Suryan, an OSU seabird expert at the university’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “The problem arises when the eagles – especially juveniles that are not yet accomplished hunters – land on the colony and send the adult murres scurrying.
Stupid teenage eagles, twerking and raising a ruckus, and generally ruining the hunting for adults.  But why is this a big problem?
“That opens the door for brown pelicans and gulls to come in and grab the eggs, or even the murre chicks, and the results are pretty devastating,” Suryan added. “They literally will destroy hundreds of eggs in just a few minutes.”
Cheryl Horton, an OSU graduate student working with Suryan on the project, said the eagles affect the colony in other ways as well.

“When juvenile pelicans or eagles land on the rocks, all of the birds scatter,” said Horton, a master’s candidate in fisheries and wildlife. “We documented some 300 murre chicks that washed up dead on the beach last summer after a single pelican disturbance. They no doubt panicked and slipped off the rock and weren’t yet able to swim.”
So it's really the Brown Pelicans?  Curiously, both Bald Eagles and Brown Pelicans have rebounded from endangered status to healthy populations since the banning of DDT in the United States.   Good days to be a murre, eh?

I think Oregon needs more Ospreys for the eagles to rob, to spare the murres the trouble.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Incompetent Army Doctor Loses Salary

But the good news is that he was also sentenced to death.

Judge Pooh Poohs Chicken Poop Suit

In a case closely watched by citizen advocacy and farm groups, a federal judge on Tuesday rejected a farm industry bid to collect $3 million in legal fees from a group that sued Perdue Farms and a family farm in 2010 over Pocomoke River water pollution.

U.S. District Court Judge William M. Nickerson tossed out the Waterkeeper Alliance’s Clean Water Act case last year, concluding in an opinion that the action was flawed and “not pursued or litigated as well as it could have been.”

“It is most unfortunate that so much time and so many resources were expended on this action that accomplished so little,” Nickerson wrote, adding later: “That, however, is not the same as concluding that the underlying claim was ‘frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation,’ or ever clearly became so.”
We've been watching this suit, and the prior suit that initiated it for some time.  After suing the farm and Perdue over what the Waterkeepers alleged to be chicken waste piles on the farm, it turned out the piles were not chicken shit after all, but rather compost from a sewage plant bought to be a fertilizer (likely to replace the chicken shit they were no longer using).  When the error was pointed out, they switched the suit to cover some dust that probably escaped the chicken houses through ventilation fans.  Clearly, they intended to make a target of the farm and Perdue, and the waste was merely a pretext.

The judge warned them at the time that they might face a suit to recover court costs, but they persisted in the suit, and lost.

I suppose I would have preferred the judge allow this suit to go forward as a warning to enviroweenies to make their suits on matters of substance,  not show.

Previous posts on this suit:

Feb 08, 2013, Perdue, Farmer Sue Waterkeepers Over Chicken Shit Suit
Jan 24, 2013, Waterkeepers Cut Losses in Chicken Shit Suit
Jan 10, 2013, Farmer, Perdue Sue Waterkeeper for Cool Three Million
Jan 08, 2013, Chickenshit Lawsuit Unites Eastern Shore ...
Jul 01, 2013, Chickenshit Suit Goes to the Judge - Redux
Dec 21, 2012, Farmer Wins Chicken Shit Law Suit
Oct 25, 2012, Chickenshit Suit Goes to the Judge
Oct 09, 2012, Waterkeepers Roll the Dice on Chicken Suit
Apr 02, 2012, Judge Whacks Waterkeepers, UMD Legal ...Jan 19, 2012, Why Is University of Maryland Suing Farmers?
Nov 21, 2011, UMD Law Dean to O'Malley: STFU!
Nov 18, 2011, Gov. O'Malley Scolds Law Students for Farm ... 

Black Senator Not Invited to March on Washington

Would it surprise you he's Republican?

Would it surprise you he's the only black Senator at this time?

Nation’s only black Senator not invited to speak at March on Washington
Noticeably absent from the speaker line-up at the Let Freedom Ring event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington today: the nation’s only black Senator, Tim Scott.
African-American leaders who did receive an invitation to speak at included Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – who participated in the original March – Martin Luther King III, MSNBC host Al Sharpton and movie stars Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker.

It's Called the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect...

...writes Ted after we talked about how this on vacation:
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
Michael Crichton
I recalled that when I read this article on acid rain and alkalinization in streams..,

Acid Rain Threatens Chemistry Of Rivers And Streams By Changing Alkalinity; 'Legacy Effect' From 5 Decades Of Pollution May Be Bad News For Aquatic Life

Warning: incredibly annoying autostart video ad on this page
...Alkalinity is a measurement of how well the water neutralizes invading acid. A higher alkalinity can lead to toxic ammonia and algae blooms, which are a big threat to wildlife..
The first is true, of course, and is the mechanism by which soils neutralize acids from rain and runoff.  However, alkalinity in and of itself does not lead to ammonia toxicity, higher pH does.  Increasing alkalinity is the process by which waters incompletely resist the effect of acids lowering the pH of water.

Acid rain and agricultural runoff are mostly to blame for this phenomenon, the harsh substances eat away at limestone and even cement, which "infects" the water with alkaline particles.
The word infects should never be used in such chemical discussions.  Infects applies a microorganism such as a bacteria or virus invading a larger organism and replicating itself.  This is quite the reverse of the neutralization reactions are self limiting.

It's too bad when journalists do not understand the science they are reporting, and then use hyper-emotive language to convey a false impression.  Unfortunately, it's all too common

Reign of Pain Update: Feds Rush the Exits

 From yesterday's Izvestia Washington Post: Wave of retirements hitting federal workforce
The number of executive branch employees retiring this fiscal year, which ends next month, is on track to be nearly twice the total who retired in 2009, according to government figures. And the rate looks certain to accelerate. In 2000, about 94,000 people age 60 and older worked for the government. Last year, the number was 262,000.
So one reason for the increase in retirements is simply the large demographic bulge in 'baby boomers', who are rapidly approaching the age at which retirement seems a better option than working.

The exits are helping to bring down the size of the federal payroll and — where funding is available — could afford agencies the chance to hire younger workers with crucial skills. The retirement of clerks could clear the way for experts in cybersecurity and information technology.
That would seem to be a positive to me.  Getting getting rid of Encouraging the higher paid people with older skills to retire, and replacing them with younger people with more recent training at lower pay scales seems win-win to me.  Of course, there will be some older workers with important skills, but short of an immortality potion, that will always be a problem.  As Charles De Gaul said "The graveyards are full of indispensable men."  The Frogs always were sexist bastards; it's women too.  And it looks like he plagiarized the quote.

Of course, the Washington Post being the Democratic Party's hometown paper, we are supposed to feel sorry for those leaving cushy jobs after accumulating a hefty pension at tax payers expense.
In interviews, recently retired senior executives from across the government offered a range of reasons for their decisions to leave. Most cited the pay freeze, the public’s negative opinion about federal workers and government spending cuts, which have resulted in furloughs, less overtime and a larger workload for many.
 Poor babies.

Best Scam Ever!

Kind of NSFW. And likely to give you bad ideas, too. 'Filthy' Filner is beside himself with jealousy.

Even better than the "ghost penis" guy...
A self-proclaimed “ghostbuster” was arrested in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province after he charged a young woman 20,000 yuan ($3,279) to exorcise the ghosts in her vagina with his penis. Police arrested Huang Jianjun on August 1 after the woman, A Xin, called police one day after having sex with Huang, reported the Southern Metropolis Daily.

A Xin, a spice shop employee, consulted Huang after hearing he could advise her how to attract her boss, whom she had a crush on. The two agreed to meet at a hotel room, where Huang asked her to strip naked and lay on the bed for an examination.

Huang then convinced A Xin to have intercourse after explaining that ghosts in her vagina are preventing her boss from falling in love with her - ghosts he could only catch with his penis. Huang explained that he had sacrificed his virginity for the exorcism.
Wombat-socho must be taking his Metamucil; he's back on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday: Short Skirt/Long Jacket", his weekly compendium of Rule 5 links.

Cause of Dolphin Deaths Determined

A little while ago, I blogged on how dolphins had been washing up dead on many parts of the East Coast, including lower Chesapeake Bay.  At the time, it was speculated that the cause was thought to be a virus of a type known as a morbillivirus, in the same family that causes measles in humans and distemper in canines and other animals.  

It turns out to have been the culprit:
"We are now calling it a morbillivirus outbreak," Teri Rowles of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program said during a telephone press briefing on Tuesday. As of Monday, 333 animals have died on coasts between New York and North Carolina.
Morbillivirus belongs to a family of RNA viruses that cause rinderpest in cattle, distemper in canine species, and measles in humans. In dolphins, the virus suppresses the immune system, so researchers are seeing "animals that are very thin, animals that have a lot of other diseases and infections," Rowles said.
Between now and then, there's not much researchers can do to stop the spread of the virus — logistics stand in the way of research vessels going after wild dolphin herds with vaccines.
And the last is a key; there's really nothing people can do about it.  The dolphins will die of it until they don't anymore, just like in the good old days of human epidemics, before antibiotics, and vaccinations.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Robber Fly

Probably Promachus rufipes.

When I first saw it, I thought it was a Clear Wing Humingbird Moth, but after it landed, I saw it was this large Robber or Assassin Fly. Note that it has a bug in it's jaws that it is draining.

Never Bring a Taser to a Gun Fight

Brutal game ends when assault victim fires his concealed handgun

The 17-year-old in gym shorts approached his target. The 28-year-old Lansing man was waiting for his daughter at her school-bus stop at REO Road and Ballard Street.

It was May 29, and a nice day. Temperatures would reach 79 degrees. It was partly cloudy, fairly gusty.

The teen had two friends nearby - dropped off by a third friend in a van after they scouted their target. They knew what Marvell Weaver was going to do. They had discussed it.

Weaver approached his victim from behind, a black KL-800 Type Stun Gun in his pocket. It is capable of generating 1.8 million volts.

He passed him and turned back, pressed the stun gun into the victim’s side. Again and again, and … nothing. It had fired earlier when testing it, he would later tell police.

“The button was like stuck down … or something. I don’t know what caused it not to work,” according to a transcript of Weaver’s statement.

‘Please don’t kill me’

The intended victim moved quickly, pulling his stainless steel .40-caliber Smith and Wesson. It had a full 10-bullet magazine, and was worth about $900 police estimated.

He shot Weaver in his buttocks as the teen turned to flee... Weaver ran, sat down across the street, his leg going numb, bleeding. Pleading.

“‘I’m sorry, please don’t kill me, I don’t know why I did that, I’m high you know, I just wanna go home,’” the teen told the man who had just shot him.
I'm not sure about the legality of shooting him in the ass as he tried to flee, but I do think it was the right thing to do.
The teen was hospitalized with a non-life threatening injury. At first, Weaver said he merely removed the stun gun from his pocket to look at it and the man shot him. He later confessed to the attack, records show.

Police asked for an attempted robbery warrant. The prosecutor authorized a lesser charge, illegal possession of a stun gun, a maximum two-year felony. A plea-bargain conference was scheduled for last Wednesday, but postponed until Sept. 4. The teen is free on bond.
He should be in jail.
Whatever the outcome, the teen has written a letter apologizing to his victim.

“I don’t blame you for what you did. You were only trying to protect yourself. I only wish I could go back to change it to were (sic) I never did it.”

“Im very sorry,” he closes at the letter’s end.

The hand-scrawled note is written on one-page of lined binder paper. The printed apology is at least five times larger than the rest of the words.
It's just remotely possible that this scared him enough that he won't do anything like it again.

Let 'em Eat Salad!

On August 8th, 400 protesters ripped out seedlings of a new genetically modified plant called golden rice at a testing ground in the Philippines. Genes from bacteria and corn have been added to the rice to make it a source of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness and weakens the immune system, contributing to 2 million deaths every year. (Golden rice is being developed by a non-profit organization, not Monsanto.) As the Philippine government prepares to rule on whether or not to allow farmers to grow the wonder-crop, the anti-GMO movement is digging itself in for a fight...
“There’s so much misinformation floating around about G.M.O.’s that is taken as fact by people,” said Michael D. Purugganan, a professor of genomics and biology and the dean for science at New York University, who sought to calm health-risk concerns in a primer on GMA News Online, a media outlet in the Philippines: “The genes they inserted to make the vitamin are not some weird manufactured material,” he wrote, “but are also found in squash, carrots and melons.”…

“A lot of the criticism of G.M.O.’s in the Western world suffers from a lack of understanding of how really dire the situation is in developing countries,” he said.

With golden rice, we have a real, cost-effective way to safely provide millions of people with healthier food. The anti-GMO crowd is doing its best Marie Antoinette impression, saying the world’s poor should get the vitamin A this new rice provides by eating more fruits and vegetables. A well-balanced diet is a luxury many can’t afford. Cheap, nutrient-rich golden rice can save lives.
Remember, they're not pro-environment, they're anti-human. 

The Miley Cyrus Kerfuffle

It seems the ex-Disney teen star Hanna Montana Miley Cyrus managed to be even grosser than Lady Gaga at the MTV's Video Music Awards, shocking even the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and his kids, as well as a significant part of the nation.

Although I kept my perfect record of never having seen the Video Music Awards intact, I was curious enough to try to watch a YouTube of her performance.  I made it about half way through, not because it grossed me out (that takes a lot), but because it was so stupid and juvenile it wasn't even vaguely sexy.

This 2008 Onion News Network video is eerily prescient:

It's enough to make you miss the good old days...

Beach Tuesday 8/27/13

And yet another glorious morning at the beach.  The temperature and humidity are creeping up slightly again, but they were still in the "excellent" range.
The Ospreys and Eagles were out, but mostly well off the beach, although this Osprey strayed in pretty close.

 She obviously did not forget the phone.  So what's up with the tattoo on her side (the others seem strictly decorative)? 
 "Everything Happens for a Reason"

I don't believe that, except to the extent that I think everything stems from physical causes, even if we can't see or measure them.  I certainly wouldn't have it in-scrolled on my side in indelible ink, but hey, it isn't my side. 
I even found a new butterfly, up in the dunes, feeding on some sort of small flower, which I may attempt to figure out later.  I'm going to tentatively call it a "Common Sootywing" (Pholisora catullus) until I have identify it for sure.  It's one of the open winged skipper group, that I haven't found many of yet.

Skippers fall into two groups, the closed wing, and the open wing.  The open winged ones do sit with their wing open frequently like many other butterflies, unlike the closed wings, which either fold them overhead, or sit with the classic "half open" double wing presentation of many skippers.  I was fortunate to be able to get two half decent shots of the both the upper and lower surfaces of this one butterfly.
After we left the beach, and were talking to a friend in the harbor, these gulls began diving on fish at the surface.  I'm pretty sure they are very small stripers (8-12 inches), but I may have to go find out soon...

I Forgot My Phone

My dumb phone is currently hors de combat.  I'm not sure when it dropped off the grid, but yesterday we figured out it was neither sending or receiving calls, although all the displays seem to work right. I do recall using it in California.  I spent a long time on the phone with two very patient foreigners who tried lots of trick multiple times to try and make it work to no avail.  If we can't get it up and working in the next few days, I'll have to consider my options for a cheap smart phone.

I'm thinking of putting a call in to the NSA to see if they know the secret...

Found at Althouse.

Wombat-socho must be taking his Metamucil; he's back on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday: Short Skirt/Long Jacket", his weekly compendium of Rule 5 links.

Poor, Poor Pitiful Linda

Parkinson's Disease has left Linda Ronstadt unable to sing. The 67-year-old singer, who will publish her memoir, Simple Dreams, next month, revealed her condition Friday in an interview with AARP.

The singer of such '70s and '80s hits as You're No Good, Hurt So Bad and Don't Know Much now uses poles to assist her when walking on uneven ground and travels with a wheelchair. She says she was diagnosed with the neurological disorder eight months ago, though she began experiencing symptoms, including hand tremors and trouble controlling the muscles that let her sing, several years ago. She says she initially attributed her problems to the residual effects of a tick bite and shoulder surgery.

"I think I've had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I've had," the 11-time Grammy winner tells interviewer Alanna Nash. Ronstadt's last album was 2006's Adieu False Heart with Cajun musician Ann Savoy.

"No one can sing with Parkinson's disease," she says. "No matter how hard you try."
That's a shame.  She was a hell of a singer, a hottie in her day and the best thing Governor Moonbeam ever did.

I thought that Parkinson's was going to be a thing of the past once that no-good GW got out of office, and doctors were again allowed to use baby parts to reconstruct celebrities... /sarc

Wombat-socho must be taking his Metamucil; he's back on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday: Short Skirt/Long Jacket", his weekly compendium of Rule 5 links.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moon Over Kudzu

It was a really nice day for a walk on the beach.  The temperature was near perfect, the humiture down, and the sky blue and cloudless.
Georgia beat me at fossil shark teeth today, 5 to 8.  Nothing remarkable, although I found one decent intact ray plate.
The eagles and ospreys were out as usual, and the eagles were bushwhacking the osprey, but a little too far for photos.  However, this Great Blue Heron posed a while before flying off.

And this Spice Bush Swallowtail was caught in mid flight.

Drowning Death Revives Patapsco Dam Removal Project

“The dam is no longer needed for its primary purpose, removing it has been on the table,” said Doug Meyer, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

A nearly $4 million federal grant may just make that happen, removing the lowermost dam on the river–as well as a deadly lure. In the past 20 years, five people have drowned in the dam. The most recent was earlier this month.

“If you get caught, you can’t get out. There’s just too much water for you to overcome, even if you’re a strong swimmer,” said Natural Resources Police Lt. Joe Offer.

I first reported on this dam back in June last year, when reports that they were considering removing it surfaced.  With a fresh death, the urgency seems to have increased.  Maybe it will happen.  It would be good for the river, too:
No date has yet been set to remove the Bloede Dam, but once it’s gone, it will open up 44 miles of the Patapsco River to spawning fish.

News From the Home Planet

The 6th annual “Go Topless Day” will be held in Venice Beach this afternoon starting at 2:30! The event, hosted by the Raelian Movement, is part of a nationwide day to celebrate “topless equal rights” (and gain media attention for the Raelian Movement).
You may remember that the Raëlian religion was found by  French former automobile journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon, who either believed, or wanted you to believe that humans were created by an extra-terrestrial race called the Elohim (which sound suspicisously like the Eloi), who then came to us as angels and/or gods.  The religion is organized a bit like Amway, with seven levels of advancement, conveniently labeled zero through six, with zero being trainees, and six the "Guide of Guides."

I'm OK with the idea of women having the right to go topless as they wish, although there are some cases that it might fall into the same category as second hand smoke; permissible if undesirable. However, the Raëlians seem to choose good examples for their educational activities.

This Would Make Me a Little Nervous

To have this many swords slashing around me.  Fish aren't really that smart.

I blame Bert.

Update courtesy of Capt. Dave:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

No Bull!

At least not a real one.

Not suitable clothing for actual cow punching.

And Yet More Butterflies

I spent a while working over the Butterfly Bush in the garden today.  There were the usual assortment of butterflies, Eastern Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails, Zebra Swallowtails, Silverspot Skippers, a few Zabulon Skippers, and a Pearl Crescent.  However I concentrated on a couple of very small ones, and got what I think are really good pictures:

Having been blown out the day before, Alex, Kelly and I took quick boat ride this morning.  Given Kelly's interest in Drum Point Light at the Marine Museum yesterday, I decided to run down to the Cove Point Lighthouse:

The winds were down below 5 knots this morning, and we had a great ride.  We even saw breaking fish at a couple different locations along the way.  I did stop briefly at the Pez Dispenser to show off, but the only fish were sickly...

Only the Names have Changed

At least seven people are shot, including a 15-year-old, in West Baltimore.

Monique Griego was at the scene. It happened in the 1500 block of West Fayette Street. Police still have the entire street blocked off.

Shots fired came into police at 9:15 p.m. Saturday night. Once officers arrived on the scene, they found one victim at the corner. He was shot in the head. Two more victims flagged down officers two blocks away from where the shooting happened.

“This appears to be an illegal dice game that was taking place out here. Most likely—we don’t know what the motive is—but we know from history there’s some connection to a robbery, trying to take money or something along those lines,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts.
Now, from history, a great song, based on a similar moment from the past. The late, great Dave Van Ronk performing "Stackerlee":

If you don't want to hear Dave's commentary, skip to 2:25

Watch the World Change

Since the 1970s, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey have been amassing satellite images of every inch of our planet as part of the Landsat program. Over time, the images reveal a record of change: of cities expanding, lakes and forests disappearing, new islands emerging from the sea off the coast of rising Middle East metropolises like Dubai.

If you could thumb through these historic pictures as if in a flip book, they would show stunning change across the earth's surface, in both our natural environments and our man-made ones. Now, the digital equivalent of that experience is possible – three decades of global change as GIF – in a project unveiled today between NASA, the USGS, TIME, Google, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

Landsat images taken between 1984 and 2012 have been converted into a seamless, navigable animation built from millions of satellite photos. As Google wrote this morning on its blog: "We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public."
Pretty cool.  If you zoom in on our area, you can watch the sand wash down the Bay from the north.

Thanks to Gary Clarke.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We Visit the Marine Museum

 In an effort to see something exciting in Calvert County, Alex, Kelly and I decided to visit the Calvert Marine Museum, down on Solomons Island, which neither Alex nor I had seen in several years, except for concert nights.
 After a run through the fossil displays (a very impressive collection which I envy), and the aquarium (very nice aquaria, but a very limited selection of fish, due to the limited number of fish in the middle Chesapeake Bay), we came out to the otter exhibit.  The otters were having a good time, and many photos were taken.
The Drum Point Lighthouse.  Originally located on Drum Point (obviously) at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the Bay, it was moved intact to the Marine Museum in concert with the building of the Thomas Johnson bridge across the Patuxent between Calvert and Saint Mary's Counties.
The lighthouse was open for visitors, so we went up and through the house.  It has three stories (if you count the little room with the light at the top).  It's well furnished now, and looks like an attractive vacation cottage inside.
Kelly and Alex up in the top, with the light.  Originally an oil lamp which needed to be tended regularly, it's currently equipped with an electric incandescent light.
Another look at the light.  The red windows were there to warn people of dangerous sectors in the original location.
A view of Solomon's Harbor from the second floor of the lighthouse.