Sunday, August 31, 2014

Climate Stability Threatens to Eliminate Bait

Sheepshead Minnow
Approximately 10,000 years ago, just after the end of the last glacial maximum, and it's subsequent rebound in the Younger Dryas event, in a long vanished wet and lake filled Southwest, a drying climate trapped a population of the common Sheepshead Minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus), or something very much like it
in a small, hot geothermal spring in Nevada, where, isolated from it's fellows, and subject to extreme heat and chemical conditions, it evolved into the Devil's Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis), which still looks a whole lot like a Sheepshead Minnow:

Devil's Hole Pupfish
Now, according to scientists, the climate, which has not changed in the last 17, almost 18 years according to the satellite data set RSS, threatens the little fellow with extinction:

Climate change puts endangered Devils Hole pupfish at risk of extinction
Climate change is hurting reproduction of the endangered Devils Hole Pupfish, threatening the survival of this rare species that has numbered as few as 35 individuals, new research by the University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute shows.

Scientists report that geothermal water on a small shelf near the surface of an isolated cavern in the Nevada desert where the pupfish live is heating up as a result of climate change and is likely to continue heating to dangerous levels.

The hotter water, which now reaches more than 93 degrees, has shortened by one week the amount of time pupfish larvae have to hatch during the optimal recruitment periods. The recruitment period is the 10 weeks during which water temperatures are conducive to egg hatching and sufficient food is available to sustain the newly hatched larvae. This decrease contributed to the decline of the adult pupfish population, according to a scientific paper published in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Yes, climate change is definitely a threat to the Devil's Hole Pupfish. Extinction is what often happens when a species evolves in a limited habitat to unusual (and borderline lethal) conditions. Mother Nature has no sense of mercy, or direction, and is likely to either change conditions in a harsher direction which ultimately kills of the species, or relents, and causes its habitat to rejoin the larger population it evolved from, where it faces the possibility of having to compete with the parent population, which may also lead to its extinction, too. Or, it may find itself in a new niche in which it might live in relative peace, not competing with the parent species or it's descendants.

The lesson here is not that climate change can and should be stopped; any look at time beyond normal human scales shows that climate changes, a lot, for reasons we don't yet fully understand. The danger is having your species needs too narrow. I don't think that, in general, human beings fall into that trap, although specific civilizations have.

The temperature and salinity tolerant, and food adaptable Sheepshead Minnow continues to thrive around the country. Their primary value is food for larger fish (not present in Devil's Hole), and to be sold as bait.

Why Solar and Wind Energy Don't Cut the Mustard

Basically two problems reduce their real world efficiency, the indeterminacy of their power sources, and the low energy production compared to their energy consumption in the manufacturing process:

The Catch-22 of Energy Storage
The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al.1 in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it. It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on. The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even. A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1. But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.
Diagram showing the energy use and output of power supplies
Unless, of course, the government does it; they can suspend repeal the laws of economics and thermodynamics.
There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society. An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.

For countries like the US and Germany, Weißbach et al. estimate this minimum viable EROEI to be about 7. An energy source with lower EROEI cannot sustain a society at those levels of complexity, structured along similar lines. If we are to transform our energy system, in particular to one without climate impacts, we need to pay close attention to the EROEI of the end result.

The EROEI values for various electrical power plants are summarized in the figure. The fossil fuel power sources we’re most accustomed to have a high EROEI of about 30, well above the minimum requirement. Wind power at 16, and concentrating solar power (CSP, or solar thermal power) at 19, are lower, but the energy surplus is still sufficient, in principle, to sustain a developed industrial society. Biomass, and solar photovoltaic (at least in Germany), however, cannot. With an EROEI of only 3.9 and 3.5 respectively, these power sources cannot support with their energy alone both their own fabrication and the societal services we use energy for in a first world country.

Note that solar energy is well below the economical threshold, while wind is above it, until you have to provide back up power to tide you past the periods of no wind. If you're content to live in the dark at night when the wind doesn't blow, it works. I think as a society we will decline to make that choice.

Now, wind and solar might be improved, by lowering manufacturing energy costs, and raising their efficiency, and extending their useful life span, but they have a very long way to go before they can compete with natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear.  In particular, this last graph points to what a shame it is we have been unable to expand our nuclear capacity because of bogus health and environmental complaints.

Scientists Invent Telepathy

Scientist transmits message into the mind of a colleague 5,000 miles away using brain waves
Brain-wave sensing machines have been used to ‘telepathically’ control everything from real-life helicopters to characters in a computer game.
Now the technology has gone a step further by allowing someone in India to send an email to his colleague in France using nothing but the power of his mind.

The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to record electrical activity from neurons firing in the brain, and convert the words ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’ into binary. In EEG, electrical currents in the brain are linked with different thoughts that are then fed into a computer interface. This computer analyses the signal and controls an action.

In the latest study, published in Plos One, researchers decided to replace the computer interface with another brain to receive the signals.

In the initial test, the greeting was sent from a volunteer in Thiruvananthapuram, India to Strasbourg, France. There, a computer translated the message and then used electrical stimulation to implant it in the receiver’s mind.

This message appeared as flashes of light in the corner of their vision.

I predict commercialization when they prefect it to the point of being able to send medium definition porn.

Feminists Demand Right to Go Through Life Drunk and Stupid

Feminists Courageously Defending Their Right to Another Red Solo Cup
Having long ago noted the connection between (a) college girls getting drunk and (b) college girls getting raped, I knew that the “campus rape epidemic” hysteria would ultimately compel feminists to defend the right of underage girls to get completely blitzed:
The former president of George Washington University had some practical advice for college women dealing with aggressive men at campus parties, speaking Tuesday on the public radio program The Diane Rehm Show.
It boils down to “don’t get sh*t-faced.” And it’s getting him a lot of sh*t from feminists, according to The GW Hatchet.
Stephen Trachtenberg’s Cro-Magnon remarks?
Let me guess, he's going to require women take responsibility for their own actions?
“Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave,” Trachtenberg said on the show. “And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.”
Feminist blog Jezebel‘s Erin Gloria Ryan, who can apparently get sloshed without losing her judgment in any way, calls Trachtenberg’s advice “jaw-droppingly stupid” and sarcastically calls it “a failproof solution” and “real fresh thinking.”
Stephen Trachtenberg’s liberal credentials are impeccable, but then again, the same was true of Lawrence Summers before feminists chased him out of Harvard University for daring to suggest there are “innate” differences between men and women.
No, men and women are all the same. Just look at them.
The Orwellian Nightmare of university life in the 21st century has re-defined everything to conform to radical feminist doctrine. Students arriving at college ought to be greeted by signs warning them that the Bill of Rights does not apply on campus. It is against the law for an 18-year-old to possess or consume alcohol. Yet if a freshman girl gets illegally drunk at a party, where she meets a freshman boy who is also illegally drunk, and if they proceed to do together what drunk college freshmen have been doing since time immemorial, only the male can be held responsible for this activity. (The penis is synonymous with sexual power, according to feminist theory.) Thus, if the drunken activity is unsatisfactory to the female participant — or if her memories of it are too vague for her to remember whether she enjoyed it, or if the guy isn’t as nice in the morning as he seemed the night before when she was guzzling vodka and grinding with him in the dimly lit frat-house cellar – she will accuse him of rape, and he must be presumed guilty.

“Empowerment” for women thus means utter irresponsibility, and anyone who disagrees is a misogynist defending “rape culture,” according to feminists, who consider common sense an oppressive social construct of the heteronormative patriarchy. . . 
I'm so glad my college days are long gone.

The Brutal Truth: Feminists Are Here For Our Amusement!

Wombat-socho is on time and within budget with this weeks giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Are You Ready For Some Football?" post.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carest Thou to Joust?

Kelly and Alex are visiting from Canonsburg this weekend, and somewhere in the endless question of what can we show Kelly that's new around here, Georgia mentioned that the Jousting Tournament was being held at Christ Church on Broomes Island Road today.
So off we went to Christ Church, where we parked in their field with a few hundred other cars, and walked over to the jousting field next to the graveyard.  Christ Church is one of the older churches in the Unites States, have been continuously operating since 1672.
Now, jousting as a sport is a little different than two guys in armor on armor plated horses bashing each other with 11 foot breakable poles. Here, most of the contestants (especially at lower levels) are female, there's no armor involved, and instead of wailing on each other with blunt sticks, contestants try to catch a small ring hung from a large frame they ride through, using a small pointy thing they call a lance. It is also Maryland's official state sport.

The size of the rings is astonishingly small, and changes with the level of the riders, and gets smaller in the jousts to decide ties.
When we arrived, the novices were still competing.  In the lower classes, the runs are not timed, and some of the younger and less experience riders went through at a fairly stately pace.  However, the pro riders are timed, and the riders have developed uncanny skill at holding their body (and lance) up and stable, not bobbing at all on a galloping horse.
Competitors came in all ages,

 sizes . . .

. . . and colors
Before the pros started there was a brief parade, featuring all the riders, with one dressed up as a Disney Princess with a bicycle helmet (mandatory for competitors under 18).

One of our local retired politicians, Bernie Fowler of the wade-in fame, was there scoping out the action. Few know that Bernie, best known for his environmentalism with the wade-ins, actually made his money, and got into politics as a local developer. Nothing wrong with that, just sayin'.

And an interesting assortment of tattoos.

Diamonds are a Paleontologists Best Friend

Most of North America’s megafauna — mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and horses — disappeared close to 13,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. The cause of this massive extinction has long been debated by scientists who, until recently, could only speculate as to why.

A group of scientists, including UC Santa Barbara’s James Kennett, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science, posited that a comet collision with Earth played a major role in the extinction. Their hypothesis suggests that a cosmic-impact event precipitated the Younger Dryas period of global cooling close to 12,800 years ago. This cosmic impact caused abrupt environmental stress and degradation that contributed to the extinction of most large animal species then inhabiting the Americas. According to Kennett, the catastrophic impact and the subsequent climate change also led to the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, known for its big game hunting, and to human population decline.
Raquel Welch models Clovis spear
In a new study published this week in the Journal of Geology, Kennett and an international group of scientists have focused on the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, one type of material produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million square kilometers across the Northern Hemisphere at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB). This thin, carbon-rich layer is often visible as a thin black line a few meters below the surface.
 No impact site has been identified for the event, and one theory is that it hit the still rather large North American ice field, and gouged a crate in the ice which disappeared upon melting.
The team found that the YDB layer also contained larger than normal amounts of cosmic impact spherules, high-temperature melt-glass, grapelike soot clusters, charcoal, carbon spherules, osmium, platinum and other materials. But in this paper the researchers focused their multi-analytical approach exclusively on nanodiamonds, which were found in several forms, including cubic (the form of diamonds used in jewelry) and hexagonal crystals.

“Different types of diamonds are found in the YDB assemblages because they are produced as a result of large variations in temperature, pressure and oxygen levels associated with the chaos of an impact,” Kennett explained. “These are exotic conditions that came together to produce the diamonds from terrestrial carbon; the diamonds did not arrive with the incoming meteorite or comet.”
Is the debate over? Probably not. While I think the evidence that something extraterrestrial happened at around the Younger Dryas Boundary, there is nothing yet that conclusively links whatever happened to the climate changes that occurred after and lasted a thousand years.

Wombat-socho is on time and within budget with this weeks giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Are You Ready For Some Football?" post.

Rule 5 Saturday - Cemetery Woman: Anna Falchi

Today's Rule 5 special is dedicated to Anna Falchi, the Finnish-Italian model and actress best known for her European films:
Anna Falchi was born Anna Kristiina Palomäki in Tampere, Finland, the daughter of an Italian father Benito (Tito) andFinnish mother Karina. Anna has a brother Saro and a half brother in Sweden Peter (same father). In 1978, at the age of six, she moved to Italy with her family. She started her career as a model. She first appeared on television in a commercial for an Italian bank in 1992.[1] The ad starred Paolo Villaggio, and was directed by the celebrated Federico Fellini. This helped her launch a film career, starting with Nel continente nero (On the Dark Continent) in 1993.
If she's good enough for Fellini, she's good enough for A View from the Beach.

She appeared in many films since, including the 1994 fantasy movie Desideria e l'Anello del Drago, the 1997 film La principessa e il povero and the 2005 comedy Nessun messaggio in segreteria. She has also been a popular television personality, hosting various specials on Italian television.
She is less known in the English speaking world. Some know her as the lead female in a film called Dellamorte Dellamore, which was released in the U.S. as Cemetery Man.
European zombie flick!


The only problem with doing a Rule 5Anna Falchi was finding a good selection of non-NSFW pictures. A horrible problem. An few NSFW ones here, here and here.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup." GOODSTUFF is celebrating Kari Byron, the nerd magnet from Myth Busters in his 153d blogging magazine this week, among others, and also linked by GOODSTUFF in his 154th Blogging Magazine.Wombat-socho has the grand "Rule 5 Sunday: Labor Day Weekend Lovelies" up at The Other McCain. Also linked at Blackmailers Don't Shoot in "Rule 5 Linkfest with Demi Lovato."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Obama Vindicates MCain

A couple of days ago, Stacy McCain called out Preznit Obama for his lack of strategy in Syria as well as elsewhere: Nobel Peace Prize Winner
There seems to be some confusion about President Obama’s “foreign policy.” At times, it has been alleged that he actually has a policy, but these allegations have never been substantiated. My perception, after watching this administration’s actions for the past five years, is that the “foreign policy” is just one continual ad hoc improvisation.
It’s not a Mozart concerto, it’s bebop jazz. For example:
The White House is struggling to deliver a clear message on the threat posed by radical Islamist group ISIS and what the administration might do to counteract it.
Officials have sowed confusion by giving different statements at different times on the level of danger posed by the Islamic group, whose full name is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. . . .
Exactly what the hell is the policy? Today is Tuesday, so the Obama administration’s Tuesday policy is in effect, and the Tuesday policy is whatever the hell they decide it is. There’s no long-term plan, no overarching strategy. For the first four years, the Obama administration’s foreign policy was the same as its domestic policy, i.e., “Whatever It Takes to Get Obama Re-Elected.” Now, it seems, the policy is “Whatever It Takes to Help Harry Reid Keep the Senate Majority.”
In today's Post: Obama: U.S. doesn’t ‘have a strategy yet’ to comprehensively respond to Islamic State
Amid conflicting congressional demands, impatient Arab allies, and public concern that he will do too much or too little, President Obama made bluntly clear Thursday why he has not yet implemented a comprehensive U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency that is rapidly spreading across the Middle East.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said, in response to questions about when he is prepared to begin military action in Syria, and, if not, why not?

Rarely has a president spoken so plainly.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said. The suggestion that “we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL . . . that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress, still out of town, is going to be left in the dark, that’s not what’s going to happen.” ISIL is one of several acronyms referring to the Islamic State.
Oddly, he seems rather proud of this, like there is some virtue in indecisiveness. Sometimes problems go away if you ignore them long enough. Head chopping jihadists are not one those.

So, maybe, somewhere in the time you spend being driven around on the various gold courses and being entertained by adoring celebrities, you could take a few minutes to consult with some knowledgeable people (hint, you might have to reach beyond Valerie Jarrett) and think about this.

6 AM Wake Up - "Shake it Off"

Based on a "recommendation" from Wombat-socho in yesterday's "Live at Five: 08.2814", I went to check out Taylor Swift's new release:

I thought Avril Lavigne had this niche pretty well filled. I can live with pop, I can live with country, but I do appreciate a difference.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup." Wombat-socho has the grand "Rule 5 Sunday: Labor Day Weekend Lovelies", up at The Other McCain.

It Seemed Inevitable

Polygamy effectively decriminalized in Utah as judge strikes down ban in victory for husband and his FOUR wives who appear in TV show ‘Sister Wives’
A judge has ruled that parts of Utah's law banning polygamy are unconstitutional, effectively decriminalizing the practice, in a victory for the family that appears in the reality TV show 'Sister Wives'.

Kody Brown, who stars in the TLC reality show with his four wives, filed a lawsuit against the state after leaving Utah fearing prosecution after the programme aired.

Now a federal judge has issued his final ruling in the case that strikes down parts of the state's anti-polygamy law.
The next question is why one would want multiple wives (or husbands). One is complicated enough. However, if a good looking Russian or Thai women was to volunteer to keep the house. . .?

Under the ruling, multiple marriages were not deemed legal, but the co-habitation with multiple unofficial wives (spouses?) was not to be discriminated against.

I've never been interested enough to watch the show, but it looks like the pro-agonist is more of a hippy than a Mormon. I've always maintained that the problem with polygamist marriages would be how to permit it for hippies and Muslims, and forbid it for Mormons, who are not a favored minority.

What's next? Consensual incest and necrophilia seem like the logical choices, as both are clearly victimless crimes.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Day Late for the Beach

Pictures from yesterday; today's are still in the camera. Another really excellent day (today was a little warmer and more humid, but still good No wind to speak of and the Bay was glassy.
The Navy project.  I don't know what is going on, but the black helicopter is towing some sort of object at the end of a long tether. The white one is clearly marked as a Navy chopper. They've coming around for at least a week. Click photo to expand.
Peanut bunker making circles in the surf.  There were several of these along the beach, some much bigger.
A Great Blue Heron on the posing post. Probably panting as he/she tries to digest a belly full of Menhaden.
The best shark's tooth of the day, a pretty decent Snaggletooth.
A Common Buckeye on the "butterfly" bush.
And another skipper to try to identify.

Strangelovian Obamacare Schadenfreude

August 26, 2014 Democrats won't be mounting a big political offensive around the Affordable Care Act any time soon, but they're beginning to test the pro-Obamacare waters.

Heading into the 2014 midterms, Republicans continue to hold a clear advantage in the politics of Obamacare. And even if the tide does ultimately shift for the law, it almost certainly won't happen by November. Still, there are signs that Democrats are slowly becoming more confident talking about the health care law, or at least parts of it.

"There is a palpable comfort that didn't exist as recently as six months ago," said Chris Jennings, who worked on health care strategy in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. "I think we're in transition, moving from a defense to an achievement strategy."

If that transition is happening, though, it's still in its very early phases.

Democratic strategists cautioned against reading too much into the trickle of pro-Obamacare messaging some candidates have embraced. The health care law is finding a place in Democrats' campaigns often as a byproduct of some other political need, they said, not because of a broader strategic shift within the party.
Remember How Obamacare Is Supposedly No Longer a Campaign Issue?
Sure you do. Of course, the facts show that Obamacare remains very much a campaign issue–the unsubstantiated claims of Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman notwithstanding–and now, via InstaPundit, we have an indication that if anything, not enough is being made about the deleterious effects of health care “reform”:
Institutions say complying with the Affordable Care Act has caused them to pass on some costs to employees, according to a new survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
Since the act began to take effect, some 20 percent of institutions have made changes to benefits in an effort to control associated costs, the survey says. About the same percentage of colleges are considering making changes, or making further changes, in the year ahead. Of those institutions that have made changes so far, 41 percent have increased employees’ share of premium costs. Some 27 percent have increased out-of-pocket limits, while about one-quarter increased in-network deductibles or dependent coverage costs, or both. Some 20 percent increased employees’ share of prescription drug costs.
No one is actually going to claim that we should be happy with this state of affairs. Right?
Bearing in mind the high percentage of academics who routinely vote for the democrats, my sympathies are , to say the least, limited.

Md. Health Exchange Under Review For Possible Fraud
A Maryland Congressman says subpoenas are being issued in a federal investigation into Maryland’s health exchange. He believes there was fraud in the system that cost taxpayers millions but didn’t work right at the start.

Congressman Andy Harris says there appears to be evidence of fraud. He is Maryland’s only Republican in Congress and has fought Obamacare. But this investigation—if it’s happening—is being conducted by what is supposed to be a non-political government agency. Maryland’s health exchange—the connection to Obamacare here—never worked as easily as the ads promised at launch. It crashed and was filled with technical problems.

The exchange is now being revamped but Harris says there’s a growing federal investigation into the millions of taxpayer dollars already spent on the website.
He says the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General is issuing subpoenas for fraud.
. . .
It’s unclear who is being targeted in any possible investigation, whether the subpoenas are for government workers or contractors. The health exchange and fixes to it are expected to cost taxpayers more than $260 million.
Maryland has a reputation for a certain level of corruption. Not as bad as New York and New Jersey, but more than enough to keep the constituents working for them. Expect contractor wrist to be slapped, but no real reform.

Press finally finds government spending to oppose: Obamacare Lawsuit
Fiscal profligacy has been a conservative concern of near paramount importance since the 110th Congress passed Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout funding – a development that many believe gave rise to the conservative insurgent movement which later became known as the tea party. Since then, tea party conservatives have been expressing deep concerns about the government spending ranging from the Affordable Care Act, to the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to Defense Department procurement waste, to ballooning entitlement spending and liabilities, to the nation’s nearly $18 trillion in debt. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Furthermore, conservative groups have screamed at the top of their lungs about government waste and fraud, amounting to billions per year in poorly used taxpayer dollars. The Heritage Foundation has a helpful post which itemizes some of the most wasteful government programs, ranging from the $25 billion Washington spends on maintaining vacant federal buildings, to $2.4 billion used to provide the Pentagon with jets they will never use, to $2.6 million the U.S. government applied to a program aimed at “training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.”

Most of these concerns were scoffed at and dismissed by the media when they weren’t ignored outright. Publicizing any of this waste is of little value to the public, the press apparently surmised. But when Republicans get it in their heads to enforce the separation of powers and put a Democratic president in a political bind by compelling him to administer all the provisions of a deeply unpopular law he championed, then all of the sudden the media finds itself incensed by the application of American tax dollars to such a frivolous cause.

“The House of Representatives will pay a law firm $500 an hour to represent them in their lawsuit against President Obama, a move that drew scorn from their Democratic counterparts,”CBS News reported on Tuesday.
Foolish consistency and all.

Chesapeake Bay Spear Point Poses Puzzle

A 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool (a stone blade or spear point) dredged from the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay by fishermen in 1974 is only now coming to light. The bottom of Chesapeake Bay hasn’t been dry since 14,000 years ago. The relics were found in a net, brought up from 230 feet down and 60 miles off Chesapeake Bay by a small wooden scallop trawler. The crew cut the tusk and teeth off and dropped the rest of the mastodon skull back into the Bay as it was too heavy to bring in. They split up the pieces as souvenirs and ended up donating some to the Gwynn’s Island Museum in Virginia. That’s where they were discovered by Darrin Lowery, a geologist at the University of Delaware, while he was doing his doctoral paper.
Solutream maid slays mammoth?
So it's not really the Chesapeake Bay, it's on the Atlantic Continental Shelf, through which once ran the Susquehanna River on it's way to the sea, during one of the glacial periods in which the Chesapeake Bay itself was high and dry.
Experts who back an East Coast habitation of North America by Solutreans say the time frame of the discovery backs their theories. The Solutrean culture was known to occupy a piece of Europe between present-day France and Spain. This theory says they came over and along the ice from Europe to America before the Bering Strait time frame. Their spear points were called “laurel leaf” and these experts say they pre-date the Clovis Culture and theorize the Solutreans could’ve become the Clovis Culture by creating the better hunting tools due to the large population of animals they encountered in North America. The Bering Strait theorists will have nothing to do with this, of course. They say there is no context for the discovery, as the only acceptable proof is if they were found in the same geological layer.

Clovis is one of those theories like the Sasquatch which seems to thrive on a smattering of vaguely favorable evidence every few years. It's a theory that would put Europeans in the New World before the ancestors of today's Indians. Unfortunately the only evidence for it is some stone tools which bear a resemblance to Solutrean tool culture of Europe. There's not a speck of genetic evidence that I've heard of.
The Solutrean backers point to other East Coast discoveries, such as those at Cactus Hill in Virginia and Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania. These sites may have been inhabited from 16,000 to 18,000 years ago, but of course that evidence has its own issues, say the Bering Straiters. The Monte Verde, Chile find dated at 14,800 years is the one that started off most of the debate and successive finds continue to push back dates and ignite professional arguments.
I think the evidence for pre-Clovis is pretty strong, but the evidence that they came from Europe via the sea or sea ice is non-existent. See the second story below:
The tusk was dated to 22,000 years old. The blade (a flaked blade made of a volcanic rock called rhyolite) was harder to test, but its Solutrean appearance put it at 17,000 to 22,000 years old. Glacial melting submerged the area 14,000 years ago, so the blade is at least that old. The weathered appearance of both shows open air, saltwater, then seawater exposure and matches the idea that they were on land and then submerged. Of course there’s no evidence tying the two relics together aside from being pulled up together. They could’ve come from hunting in a marsh area near the coast, or from different time frames as the sediment could’ve been mixed. Thousands of years of ocean currents means they could’ve come from anywhere.
Yes, and lightening could have struck in the middle of 8.5 Richter Scale earthquake, but it's not very probable. It's reasonable to assume that the spear point is somehow associated with the mastodon skull.

You know, with enough work, you should be able to find out where in the world that piece of rhyolite came from, using exact elemental composition.  If it was in the Old World, that would be a dynamite result. If it was New World, it would still be long way from home, as there are no volcanic rocks anywhere near the Chesapeake Bay.

And in more paleo-anthropological news, the Kennewick Man has been freed to help science:
. . .The mysterious Kennewick Man, who died 9,000 years ago in the Columbia River Valley, was a seal hunter who rambled far and wide with a projectile point lodged in his hip, five broken ribs that never healed properly, two small dents in his skull and a bum shoulder from the repetitive stress of throwing spears. He came from somewhere far away, far up the Pacific Northwest coast, possibly Alaska or the Aleutian Islands. He might even have come to North America all the way from Asia. That’s the argument of the editors of a new, 688-page, peer-reviewed book, “Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton,” that will be published this fall by Texas A&M University Press.
Either he wasn't a popular man at home, or he was a hell of a wanderer.
“Kennewick Man could not have been a longtime resident of the area where he was found, but instead lived most of his adult life somewhere along the Northwest and North Pacific coast where marine mammals were readily available,” the concluding chapter of the book states.  “He could have been an Asian,” said co-editor Richard Jantz, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Tennessee. “One of the things we always tend to do is underestimate the mobility of early people.”
One of the things to remember is that the people who came before us were hunter/gatherers for the most part. Following animal migrations over long distances was just part of the niche. It was only after agriculture that people could afford to set in one place and watch the grass grow.
The chemical analysis of the molecular isotopes in the bones and the clues they provide to Kennewick Man’s origin are likely to be among the most heavily debated findings. The analysis suggests that Kennewick Man lived off a diet of seals and other large marine mammals and drank glacier-melt water. His wide-set body is akin to what is generally seen in cold-adapted human populations. The book includes a vintage photograph of an Inuit seal hunter on an ice floe in Alaska — a suggested analog to Kennewick Man’s lifestyle.

The dimensions of Kennewick Man’s skull most closely match those of Polynesians, specifically the inhabitants of the Chatham Islands, near New Zealand, the scientists say. He wasn’t himself a Polynesian, however. Rather, according to the scientists, Kennewick Man and today’s Polynesians, as well as the prehistoric Jomon people and contemporary Ainu people of northern Japan, have a common ancestry among a coastal Asian population.

These were hunters of marine creatures and could have followed the edge of the ice around the northern rim of the Pacific Ocean, harvesting seals and using primitive watercraft to travel long distances, Owsley said.  “This is like a highway,” Owsley said of the coastal route of migration. “People are going from the Old World to the New World and back and forth.”

He said of Kennewick Man, “His morphology is what people look like in the Upper Paleolithic period along that whole circum-Pacific expanse.”
Just a regular guy who may have paddled from Siberia to Washington State.

When I read stories like this, I laugh a little about the worry that humanity might be at threat from warming that might (worst case) make Maryland as warm as Georgia. with a few feet of added sea level rise (it's already rising).  The people who came before us not only survived, but evolved to adapt to a world that went from heavily glaciated to the modern world with 300 ft sea level rise.

If another couple of degrees C and a few feet of sea level rise are going to make us extinct despite our new technological abilities, maybe we deserve it.

Wombat-socho has the grand "Rule 5 Sunday: Labor Day Weekend Lovelies", up at The Other McCain.

56 Yr Old Woman Kills Attacking Leopard

Indian woman kills leopard that attacked her
Ms Devi was carrying water from a canal to her field near the village of Sem Nauti in Rudraprayag district when she was attacked on Sunday.

She said she managed to smash some of the animal's teeth during the struggle.

Not a sight you want to see when you look up
 "I fought head on with it for almost half an hour. Then I came to know it was dead," she told reporters from hospital in the nearby town of Srinagar Garhwal.

Doctors were surprised she had survived.
She was lucky enough to be carrying a sickle and a spade.  Too bad she wasn't packing a pistol. I wonder if "Then I came to know it was dead" is a screwy translation, or was she beating a dead leopard for a while. I could see that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zoo Welfare System Corrupts Panda Mom

Live Broadcast Of Panda Birth Cancelled After It Emerges The Mother Was Faking Her Pregnancy
Wow, we even get a hot tub!
The broadcast was planned after giant panda Ai Hin began showing signs of pregnancy at the Chengdu Breeding Research Centre in China, AFP reports state news agency Xinhua as saying.

Pandas thought to be pregnant receive 24-hour care, more food, and live in an air-conditioned single room.

Wu Kongju, who works at the centre, told Xinhua: “They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

It is thought Ai Hin may have experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.

The Chinese news agency says that bears have been known to display signs of being pregnant after becoming aware of the preferential treatment.
That's pretty clever for a bear to figure out it's being favored because it's keepers suspect it's pregnant. It makes you wonder about our definition of intelligence. Maybe we shouldn't let them go instinct after all.

I've cited this before with respect to the corrupting influence of welfare, Optimal Foraging Theory:
Optimal foraging theory is an idea in ecology based on the study of foraging behavior and states that organisms forage in such a way as to maximize their net energy intake per unit time. In other words, they behave in such a way as to find, capture and consume food containing the most calories while expending the least amount of time possible in doing so. The understanding of many ecological concepts such as adaptation, energy flow and competition hinges on the ability to comprehend what food items animals select, and why.
When you extend the idea to humanity, you can immediately see how a welfare system balloons from a system intended to help the poor who cannot take care of themselves to a system covering a large fraction of the child bearing population.  It's not even immoral, it's an instinctive, basic biological adaption to resources. Just because you get those resources at the welfare office instead of clubbing a bear doesn't change the basic situation.

It's Not Paranoia When They're Really Out to Get You

Wisconsin John Doe investigation was full-blown anti-conservative fishing expedition

"We are in a dangerous place when prosecutors can identify the target first, and then try to find a crime." - William Jacobson
We’ve covered the abusive anti-conservative Wisconsin “John Doe” proceedings many times before.

The short story is that two separate proceedings were commenced under the auspices of Democratic District Attorneys in order to try to take down Scott Walker.

John Doe No. 1 concerned Walker’s time as County Executive and ended without finding any wrongdoing by Walker himself.

John Doe No. 2 concerned Walker’s time as Governor and recall election. Both a state court judge and a federal judge found that even if everything the investigators claimed was true, it was not illegal. This John Doe No. 2 resulted in a federal lawsuit by two of the targets alleging that the investigators violated the targets’ constitutional rights.

Some documents released Friday by the federal Court of Appeals reveal just how abusive this John Doe No. 2 was.

The investigators conducted a widespread fishing expedition through the otherwise private records of numerous conservative activists, as described by M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin Reporter, who has followed the case more closely than anyone (h/t Instapundit). . .
Walker's chief offense, other than being touted as a potential GOP presidential candidate, was to work toward and sign a law allowing Wisconsin civil servants to opt out of union membership, thus denying the Democrat's a major source of taxes support.
Noam Scheiber makes a good case for the importance of the Wisconsin governor’s race at the New Republic. But the most interesting thing comes in what Scheiber, perhaps inadvertently, admits. Referring to the limitations on public employee union bargaining imposed by Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature, Scheiber writes, “He’s effectively defunded a key Democratic constituency.”

Let’s unpack that. Where do public employee unions get their money? Directly from dues paid by public employees, who in turn get that money from taxpayers. Where does that money go? Politically, almost entirely to the Democratic Party, as Scheiber admits. Public employee unions, whatever else they do, are (in almost all cases) a mechanism for mandatory taxpayer financing of one political party. Scheiber’s complaint is that Wisconsin Republicans have cut the amount of such public financing.
Combine this with the recent laughable indictment of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas for having the audacity to threaten to zero out the office of a "democratic activist" head of the "Public Accountability Office" convicted of DUI, and clearly, from the videos of her arrest and booking, abusing her authority, and we see the pattern for the midterms taking shape. Democrats will go to any length to abuse the legal system to harass and, if necessary destroy their opponents. You can't win a war with unilateral disarmament. Republicans must respond in kind.

IRS "Ethics"

IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying
A lawyer in the IRS ethics office is facing the possibility of being disbarred, according to records that accuse her of lying to a court-appointed board and hiding what she’d done with money from a settlement that was supposed to go to two medical providers who had treated her client.

The disciplinary arm of the D.C. Court of Appeals has recommended that Takisha McGee, a section manager in the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, lose her law license over the charge, which stems from a personal injury case she worked about a year before she joined the tax agency.
. . .
The case could pose a credibility issue for the IRS, whose professional conduct office is the watchdog charged with ensuring all tax professionals “adhere to professional standards and follow the law.”

Despite that duty, the office has dispatched Ms. McGee to lecture professionals about the importance of maintaining high ethical standards.
"Do as I say, not as I do" has a long history. So allegedly she stole money from people who had helped her client. Sounds like a perfect IRS employee.

George Will on IRS: "It Is Off The Rails And It Is Now Thoroughly Corrupted"

The 6 AM Wake Up - "Wade in the Water"

by Larkin Poe (Rebecca and Megan Lovell)

Wombat-socho has the grand "Rule 5 Sunday: Labor Day Weekend Lovelies", up at The Other McCain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday's Beach Report

Another outrageously nice (note: I'm not complaining) day in Slower Maryland. Temperature in the high 70's, blue sky, northern breeze, no humidity. Word has it that we'll get more humidity later this week. Darn.
The Osprey and Eagle show was in full swing today. Osprey were all over the place, and there were multiple eagles, including adults and more than one juvenile.
As we were getting ready to leave we saw a classic encounter between the two. For at least a minute, an adult eagle chased, flew above and attacked an Osprey burdened by a fish.  Once pressed close to the water, the Osprey dropped the fish (I saw the splash), and made its escape while the Eagle picked up the fish.  The Osprey went down the beach and resumed fishing.
The "butterfly bush." I wish I knew what it was. There are a few scattered up and down the beach, up at the start of the dunes, but I'll be darned if I can find a matching plant. But they're sure attractive to butterflies and other insects.
It wasn't quite a productive as yesterday, but the Monarchs must be migrating by on their way south, I've seen several recently, including this one.

And a Buckeye.