Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Music - "Season of the Witch"

I didn't know she did this cover, but it works. Another. . .

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: The Hearts of Space" up at The Other McCain.

More Changes

Acting on a tip from someone in our exercise program we visited one of the local pet rescue places today, to see a Siberian Husky who was up for adoption.

The dog is almost a ringer for our last husky, Skye, except for two blue eyes instead of blue and brown, and in fact, had already been given the same name. It's almost eerie.
We talked ourselves into adopting her, and based on our previous husky experience, and answers to their questions, they waived the home visit and allowed us to take her home immediately. Her foster family gave her good bye kisses and promised to be available if needed.

We've already seen a few difference in their personalities, but nothing scary. Being a Siberian (well known for their propensity to run off), it will be a while, if ever, before we trust her off leash at the beach or anywhere.

And a new chapter opens.

Rule 5 Saturday - Elvira's Halloween Special

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (aka Cassandra Peterson) stars in this special All Hallows Eve morning edition of Rule 5 Saturday.
Born in Manhattan, Kansas, Peterson grew up near Randolph, until the area was flooded to create Tuttle Creek Reservoir; her family then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to a 2011 interview, Peterson states that as a child, while other girls were occupied with Barbie dolls, she was more fascinated by horror-themed toys. During her teens, Peterson worked as a go-go dancer in a local gay bar.
Days after graduating, she drove to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she became a showgirl in "Viva Les Girls" at The Dunes, where she met Elvis Presley. She had a small role as a showgirl in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, played a topless dancer in The Working Girls (1974). She also purportedly posed for the cover of Tom Waits's 1976 album, Small Change. Peterson has since described it as "a giant mystery," claiming that while she has no memory of the event, the picture looks enough like her that she feels "pretty sure" that it is her. She is a vegetarian and has appeared in a humorous Halloween-themed ad for PETA promoting a vegetarian diet.
More meat for me!
In the early 1970s, Peterson moved to Italy and became the lead singer of the Italian rock band I Latins Ochanats and The Snails. During this time she had a chance encounter with director Federico Fellini, which led to a small part in Roma (1972). Back in the United States she toured nightclubs and discos around the country with a musical/comedy act, Mammas Boys. In 1979, she joined the Los Angeles-based improvisational troupe The Groundlings, where she created a Valley girl-type character upon whom the Elvira persona is largely based.

During the 1970s, Peterson also modeled for several men's magazines, such as High Society, Man's Delight (magazine) and Modern Man.

Traces of these photoshoots remain on the internet (NSFW links)
Peterson auditioned for the role of Ginger Grant for the third Gilligan's Island television movie in 1981, shortly before KHJ-TV offered her the horror-host position.Peterson also was a personality on Los Angeles radio station KROQ 106.7 from 1982 to 1983.
But she didn't get the part, and we got Elvira. Win - win!

In the late spring of 1981, six years after the death of Larry Vincent, who starred as host Sinister Seymour of a local Los Angeles weekend horror show called Fright Night, show producers began the task of bringing the show back.

The producers decided to use a female host. They asked 1950s horror hostess Maila Nurmi to revive The Vampira Show. Nurmi worked on the project for a short time, but eventually quit when the producers would not hire Lola Falana to play Vampira. The station sent out a casting call, and Peterson auditioned and won the role. Producers left it up to her to create the role's image. She and her best friend, Robert Redding, came up with the sexy punk/vampire look after producers rejected her original idea to look like Sharon Tate in The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Peterson's Elvira character rapidly gained notice with her tight-fitting, low-cut, cleavage-displaying black gown. Adopting the flippant tone of a California "Valley girl", she brought a satirical, sarcastic edge to her commentary. She reveled in dropping risqué double entendres and making frequent jokes about her cleavage. In an AOL Entertainment News interview, Peterson said, "I figured out that Elvira is me when I was a teenager. She's a spastic girl. I just say what I feel and people seem to enjoy it." Her campy humor, sex appeal, and good-natured self-mockery made her popular with late-night movie viewers and her popularity soared.

GOODSTUFFs BLOGGING MAGAZINE (214th Issue) hits a similar theme: This monstrous Halloween Ho Down blog has all the tricks and treats. Like Vampira, Morticia Addams, Esther Williams, Elizabeth Montgomery, Veronica Lake, Elvira, Vampirella and udder crazy stuff. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links. Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Just What It Says On The Label" ready at The Other McCain to fulfill any Rule 5 needs I might have missed as well as "FMJRA 2.0: Ride Across the River."

Now included in the Canonical List of Rule 5 Posts.

High School Chem Lab Fire Sends Six to Hospital

Six injured in chemistry classroom fire at Woodson High School in Fairfax
An ordinary chemistry class erupted into chaos Friday morning as five students and a teacher were injured in a fire during a classroom activity at W.T. Woodson High, one of Fairfax County’s top-performing schools.

The students were injured seriously enough to be taken to the hospital, two of them flown by helicopter to hospitals in the District. They were in “serious condition” but did not have life-threatening injuries when they were hospitalized, according to Chief Richard Bowers of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

But later Friday afternoon, one of the students was listed in critical condition and was in surgery at Children’s Hospital, according to Capt. Randy Bettinger, a fire department spokesman. A spokeswoman for Washington Hospital Center said that doctors there are treating one patient who was in fair condition.

Three others were taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital. The classroom teacher suffered minor burns, according to fire officials, and was treated at the scene and has been speaking to investigators.
So what the heck were they doing?
Details of the mishap were not yet clear, but several students who said they were in the class at the time of the fire described a regular chemistry experiment that went awry: They said the chemistry teacher was demonstrating how the color of fire can change when something suddenly went wrong. They said several students near the experiment were engulfed in flames.
I hear flames get really yellow and red when you throw gasoline into them. But I wouldn't know anything about that. . .

As paranoid as school administrators are in this day and age, I'm surprised that a chemistry class would have a lab involving open flames.

I remember in the good old days of junior high, we had a lab where we heated red mercuric oxide in a test tube to disassociate it, and produce elemental mercury (as a gas which condensed on the inside of the test tube as a silvery coat) and oxygen, which we tested for by taking a piece of wood, like a little Popsicle stick, setting it on fire, blowing it out, and sticking it in the test tube, where the extra oxygen would cause it to burst into flame again.

I can't imagine that being done today. And that's a shame.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beach Report 10/30/15

We made a quick trip down to the beach right after lunch, which landed us there near the bottom of a low, but rising tide. This Great Blue Heron resented our approach, and flew off.
 It's cool and breezy today, 10-15 N and middle 50's, but bright and sunny. There was a decent scatter of shell hash to look though, and we found a reasonable selection of shark's teeth (12), one drum's tooth (mine) and a piece of a crocodile tooth (Georgia's)
Old friends getting ready to greet.

Beware of Snakehead Bites!

Capt. Mike Starrett with a Matawoman Snakehead
From the USGS: Invasive Northern Snakehead Carries Bacteria as Bad as its Bite

The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

The team found that a group of adult northern snakehead collected from Virginia waters of the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. were infected with a species of Mycobacterium, a type of bacteria known to cause chronic disease among a wide range of animals.

"Mycobacterial infections are not unusual among fish, but they are nonetheless noteworthy because they can have an impact at the population level and potentially even affect other fish and wildlife," said lead author Christine Densmore, a veterinarian with the USGS.
It's also notable because mycobacteria in fish can cause human disease, notably "Fish Handlers disease" 
There are many known species of Mycobacteria that have been identified in fish, including fish from the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay area. Several years ago, mycobacterial infections were associated with severe disease typified by ulcerative skin lesions and wasting among wild striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Some species of Mycobacterium are also known to cause diseases among other animals, including mammals. For instance,Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the cause of human tuberculosis and Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, causes Johne’s disease of cattle.
Not to mention leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae).
The effect of this particular species of Mycobacterium on humans is not known.

Mycobacterial disease in fish is often called piscine mycobacteriosis, and it is associated with many different species of mycobacteria. In this instance, no external signs of disease were noted on the infected snakehead fish, and the disease was discovered microscopically as lesions associated with the bacteria that were visible within internal organs.
A few years ago it was reported that 60% of Stripped Bass in Chesapeake Bay were infected with Mycobacteria. Only a fraction of them show symptoms, which can range from liver nodules to massive skin lesion and emaciation.

"Another interesting feature of this particular mycobacterial organism is that we have not been able to identify it in the available gene sequence data base, so this may be a unique, undescribed species of Mycobacterium. However, more research is needed to further characterize the bacteria and its potential effects on the northern snakehead population and other native species," said Densmore.
So, in short, we have a new species of Mycobacterium infecting a new species of fish, one the authorities (if not sport anglers) would like to do away with. We don't know if the bacteria substantially affect the fish, and we don't know if it it communicable to other fishes or humans, although precedent suggest it may well be.

Zombie Crabs Haunt Chesapeake Bay

And now as we roll up towards Halloween 'Zombie' crabs invade the Chesapeake Bay
Imagine you are going about your day as usual when you encounter a foreign creature. It injects something in you, but does not kill you. Over the next few weeks, you notice a growth in your abdomen. A network of tube-like threads spreads throughout your circulatory system. Soon, you start losing control of your motor functions. You adopt defensive postures and develop maternal instincts to care for the growth instead of caring for yourself. Then, the mass begins to expel larvae, which seek out and infect anyone nearby. Your behavior is forever changed and your reproductive system destroyed.
Bring it on!

This scenario may seem like something out of a science fiction novel or the latest zombie thriller. But for many black-fingered mud crabs, the parasite Loxothylacus panopaei, or loxo, has made this situation a reality.

Loxo was discovered in the Chesapeake Bay about 50 years ago. Scientists believe it was carried from its native range in the Gulf of Mexico on oyster shells during early restoration efforts. Since then, researchers have found sites throughout the Bay where the parasite is highly prevalent, with infection rates as high as 30 to 50 percent.
Curiously, the crabs do not seem to be in danger of dying out.
“This is huge, especially because this parasite is a castrator, so infecting crabs means they can no longer reproduce,” said Carolyn Tepolt, Biodiversity Genomics Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institute. “[The crabs] are still alive, but essentially dead as far as genes are concerned, because they are not contributing to the next generation of crabs.”
But don't worry about you're crab cakes just yet. The Black Fingered Mud Crab is one of several very small crabs that live in mud, and among shells on an oyster reef. They're much too small for humans to waste their time on, although fish, and their larger, more delicious relative, the Blue Crab relish them.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Just What It Says On The Label" ready at The Other McCain to fulfill any Rule 5 needs I might have missed.

The Martian Bear

and a whole bunch of other weird pictures from Mars.

Do you see it?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Great Pumpkin of Climate Doom

Is there any enjoyment too trivial for the climatistas to nag about? Apparently not:

DOE issues press release: The Halloween Pumpkin Climate Menace (no, really)
The US Department of Energy has issued a (serious) press release which suggests that Halloween pumpkins contribute significantly to global warming.
To commemorate National Energy Action Month, we’re featuring some scarily effective ways to save energy at home. As cooler weather lurks around the corner, tune in to all week long for ways to save energy and money—and avoid cold weather terrors like energy vampires. We also put together some energy-themed pumpkin patterns to help “energize” your neighborhood for Halloween. Send us photos of your energy-themed jack-o-lanterns via Twitter,Instagram, Facebook or email at and we’ll share our favorites.
With the passing of Halloween, millions of pounds of pumpkins have turned from seasonal decorations to trash destined for landfills, adding to more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year. This Halloween, think of turning this seasonal waste into energy as a very important “trick” that can have a positive environmental and energy impact.
Do you notice the trick? Changing units from lbs of pumpkins to tons of trash, a mere difference of 2000 or so, to make the pumpkins seem more important.
At landfills, MSW decomposes and eventually turns into methane—a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). However, when MSW is used to harness bioenergy—rather than simply being thrown away—the end result benefits the environment and helps our nation become less dependent on carbon-based fuel. Harnessing the potential of bioenergy allows the United States to generate its own supply of clean energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also limits stress on landfills by reducing waste and could ultimately create jobs for manufacturing, installing, and maintaining energy systems.
But then, methane isn't really increasing very fast:
The Energy Department is working to expand waste-to-energy opportunities in the United States, and its partnership with these companies is helping to remove barriers to the commercialization of fuel and power production from waste, including yard and food wastes. It might not be long until the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins we produce annually are nearly as important to our energy security as they are to Halloween!
We've been too lazy to use a real pumpkin since the kids grew up and left, but this might inspire me to go out and buy one to carve.

A Quickie from

A little short of time; we spent most of the day on the road. Let's see how fast I can do this.

Over at Powerline, John Hinderacker asks a question that makes the same point I have made several times: Was Hillary Clinton Ever Really Secretary of State?
One of the weirdest moments in today’s House committee hearing came when Hillary Clinton testified that she did not have a computer in her State Department office:
If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn’t have a computer, I did not do the vast is majority of the work on my e-mail.
Whoa. So the Secretary of State’s office is one of the last in the world that contains no computer.
No, Hillary Clinton was appointed "Nominal" Secretary of State, an "honorary" position designed to satisfy her legion of democratic supporters, and keep her out of trouble. She spent most of her time fund raising for The bureaucracy at the State Department was just as happy to have someone who wasn't actually paying much attention to their actions in charge.

Fred Hof: “I was wrong”
I’ve devoted a lot of verbiage on this blog to demonstrating how hard it is for most people to admit they were wrong about something, and how rare it is as well. Hof has done just that, in a very public and difficult way. No, it doesn’t change the consequences of his having been wrong, but it’s still the act of a person of integrity—and, I might add, bravery. His piece makes almost tragic reading and he does not for a moment excuse himself or whitewash the truth.

But let him describe it:
By September 2012, when I resigned my State Department post as adviser on Syrian political transition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I knew that Syria was plunging into an uncharted abyss—a humanitarian abomination of the first order. And I knew that the White House had little appetite for protecting civilians (beyond writing checks for refugee relief) and little interest in even devising a strategy to implement President Barack Obama’s stated desire that Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside. …
And as Syria began to descend into the hell to which Assad was leading it, I did not realize that the White House would see the problem as essentially a communications challenge: getting Obama on “the right side of history” in terms of his public pronouncements. What the United States would do to try to influence Syria’s direction never enjoyed the same policy priority as what the United States would say.
Again, I'm willing to grant the notion that Nominal Secretary Clinton had little influence over Preznit Barack Obama's foreign policy. But she would be better serve the truth, if not her presidential prospects, to just come out with it.

Why Congress needs to keep probing the Clinton cash register. The former first couple has been commingling public and personal business for years
Now that Hillary Clinton’s much anticipated congressional testimony is in the rearview mirror, the House Select Committee on Benghazi can move toward completing its investigation and issuing a final report. It’s also an appropriate time to urge standing congressional committees on both sides of the Capitol to press new investigations into a crony capitalism network the Clintons built inside the State Department. They ran a political cash register that blurred the lines between official government business and private enrichment and left behind many unanswered ethical questions.

The blueprint for this shakedown machine is laid bare in emails that the group I head, Citizens United, has been able to force into the public domain through Freedom of Information Act requests and subsequent lawsuits. Over the past several months, Citizens United has released many of these never-before-seen emails, and it prompted me to reminisce about the past.
Rasmussen reports that Hillary is Paying a Price Now for Her 2012 Lies About Benghazi.
Nothing is free in politics, but there is some question as to when you'll pay the price. Obama paid no price in 2012: He was re-elected. But Hillary Clinton, rated dishonest and untrustworthy by most voters after the Benghazi committee unveiled her private emails and spotlighted her video lie, is paying a price now.
How the FBI Could Derail Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run
James Comey – not Bernie Sanders -- is the biggest challenge to Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, a prospect that should keep the former Secretary of State up at night. The fiercely independent head of the FBI is directing the investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email server and attendant issues raised during the Benghazi inquiry, which could lead to indictments of the former Secretary of State or her various aides.

If the probe determines that Hillary or her aides mishandled classified information or obstructed justice, her campaign will likely collapse. (Hence, the rumored possibility that Joe Biden could still emerge as a “draft” candidate.)
. . .
Comey has a reputation for integrity, a quality lauded by President Obama when he nominated the former Deputy Attorney General for his current post. Obama told how Comey prevented an ill Attorney General Ashcroft from being hoodwinked into reauthorizing a warrantless eavesdropping program, in the process standing up to President George W. Bush and putting his career on the line.

"He was prepared to give up the job he loved, rather than be a part of something that he felt was fundamentally wrong," Obama said.
I don't see it as likely myself, but if Comey threatens to resign if Obama tries to rein him in I would be impressed. I do expect to see a stream of leaks from the FBI investigation that reflects poorly on Clinton and the administration.

Talk about an instant turn around. First Hillary’s outrageous effort to whitewash the VA hospital crisis in which Hillary attempts to pin the VA scandal on Republicans for making a trivial problem seem ginormous for political gain, and then " Team Hillary swings into damage control mode after VA comments backfire" (brought to you via Wombat-sochos "In The Mailbox: 10.28.15."
Last week, Hillary Clinton dismissed the VA scandal as not “widespread” and a story that’s been partly blown out of proportion by Republicans pushing an ideological agenda.

The Clinton campaign obviously sensed those comments sparked a PR disaster, because Team Hillary’s coming out with a plan to address problems now called “systemic” that last week were referred to as not “widespread.”
Hillary has two arguments. "Vote for my vagina" and "Those mean Republicans are picking on little old me, a girl (vote for my vagina)."  That works well with her supporters, but gets a old with the uncommitted.

Typical: Hillary pledges to protect ‘law abiding’ illegals she was ‘adamantly against’ a dozen years ago
Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton pledged to make President Obama look like a rank amateur when it comes to executive amnesty:
“I am going to back and support what President Obama has done to protect DREAMers and their families, to use executive action to prevent deportation,” Clinton said to applause. “And I have said that if we cannot get comprehensive immigration reform as we need, and as we should, with a real path to citizenship that will actually grow our economy — thenI will go as far as I can, even beyond President Obama, to make sure law-abiding, decent, hard-working people in this country are not ripped away from their families.”
As you might expect, that’s precisely in line with what she said a dozen years ago.

Well, not really:

Hillary has a long record as liberal weather vane. Republicans should continually challenge her on her re-orientations.

Aussie Develops Sudden Interest in Mexican Weather

But it would still be better if the world adopted the Fahrenheit scale for weather:

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Just What It Says On The Label" ready at The Other McCain to fulfill any Rule 5 needs I might have missed.

Chewbacca Busted in Ukraine

Chewbacca Arrested During Ukraine Elections
Video has been released of the moment Chewbacca was arrested in Ukraine for unlawfully canvassing for the country's Internet Party.

The Wookiee was stopped by police on Sunday while driving Darth Vader to a polling station in Odessa where the pair were campaigning for Vader in the mayoral elections.

Ukraine's local election law forbids candidates from canvassing on the day of voting and Chewbacca was taken into custody after failing to show police his ID.

It took four officers to restrain and handcuff the space pilot after he resisted arrest and he was later fined 170 hryvnia (£4.87) despite protests from Lord Vader.

After being released Chewie said he could not pay the fine because his money is tied up in an intergalactic bank that does not have a branch on Earth.

And it's only sort of a joke
Bitter old rivalries from the Star Wars universe apparently don't apply when it comes to the political strategies of Ukraine's Internet Party.

Darth Sidious, aka Emperor Palpatine, was reportedly just elected to a seat on the city council of Odessa, Ukraine's fourth largest city. And not even the arrest of Chewbacca on Election Day could stop it.

Bizarre as it sounds, this is all nonfiction. Videos from multiple angles like the one below have been popping up online in the last 24 hours of someone in a full Chewbacca costume being arrested for violating a law in Ukraine that forbids campaigning on Election Day. Who was the Wookiee campaigning for? Darth Vader, of course.

Ukraine's Internet Party has been adding a bit of levity and subtle satire to the country's tense politics for a few years now. While the party, which has claimed at least 11 million members, has had little electoral success until now, it actually has a rather serious platform centered on its call to implement an electronic government.
One would think they had more important things to worry about in Ukraine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This Looks Like Something Out of a Marvel Comics Movie

After A Year Of Delays, Sikorsky's CH-53K King Stallion Flies For The First Time
The huge, triple-turbine engine, 22,500hp chopper’s first flight has been delayed since 2014 due to technical issues, mainly with the helicopter’s main gearbox. These have since been solved with the Marine Corps eagerly awaited their new helicopter’s test flight phase.

The CH-53K is set to replace the USMC’s aging CH-53E Super Stallion fleet of heavy helicopter transports, offering significant improvements across its predecessor’s entire performance envelope. You can read all about the King Stallion program here.
From one of the local engineers:

Crew: 5: 2 pilots, 1 crew chief/right gunner, 1 left gunner, 1 tail gunner (combat crew)
Capacity: 37 troops (55 with centerline seats installed)
Payload: * 35,000 lb (15,900 kg)
Length: 99 ft 1/2 in (30.2 m)
Rotor diameter: 79 ft (24 m)
Height: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)
Disc area: 4,900 ft² (460 m²)
Empty weight: 33,226 lb (15,071 kg)
Loaded weight: 74,000 lb (33,600 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: * 84,700 lb (38,400 kg)
Powerplant: 3 × *General Electric GE38-1B turboshaft, * 7,500 shp (5,600 kW) each
Rotor systems: 7 blades on main rotor (each 35' x 35"), 4 blades on tail rotor

Cruise speed: * 170 knots (196 mph, 315 km/h)
Range: * 460 nmi (852 km) no reserves
Combat radius: * 110 nmi (126 mi, 204 km)
Service ceiling: * 14,400 ft (4,380 m)
Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (13 m/s)

2 window-mounted .50 BMG (12.7 mm) M3M/GAU-21 machine guns
1 ramp-mounted .50 BMG (12.7 mm) M3M/GAU-21 machine gun
Other: Chaff and flare dispensers

But It's Good to Be a Guy

Via Stacy McCain: What ‘Rape Culture’ Really Means: Your Male Heterosexuality Is Problematic
The Internet erupted in controversy last year over “Comment 171,” in which MIT Professor Scott Aaronson responded to a discussion of “sexual harassment” by describing the sexual fears he experienced as a nerdy Ivy League student in the late 1990s. Professor Aaronson’s specialty is computer science, but in describing how he was driven to suicidal despair by the terroristic campus crusade against “harassment,” he performed award-worthy work as a psychologist or sociologist, exposing to the world what goes on inside the mind of a socially awkward heterosexual male when confronted by feminism’s pre-emptive accusations of wrongdoing. Because he is a male, and because he is attracted to females, such a student is made to feel as if his interest in the opposite sex is a shameful secret that he must be careful never to reveal.

If by any word or gesture he signifies his attraction to a female — or if he even makes a joke that discloses his heterosexuality in a general way — the male student could be accused of “harassment.” When your parents are spending big bucks to send you to an elite school like Cornell University (annual tuition $49,116), the possibility that you could be accused of “harassment” must be a frightening thing, and the risk of a “sexual assault” accusation is the Nightmare Scenario From Hell.

Feminist rhetoric defines both “harassment” and “sexual assault” in terms of experiences that the female deems “unwelcome” or “unwanted.” If a college boy thinks a girl is cute and starts talking to her with the hope that she might reciprocate his interest, his conversation could be considered “harassment” if she dislikes him. Read enough feminist blogs, and you see countless variations of this theme, The Clueless Unattractive Male Who Won’t Take a Hint. His behavior is offensive — “creepy” or “stalkerish” — because (a) he likes her, (b) she doesn’t like him, yet (c) he dares to speak to her without permission, and (d) he doesn’t seem to notice her signals of disinterest. We can easily imagine how a sensitive and intelligent young man like Scott Aaronson circa 1997, being lectured about harassment and rape in a freshman orientation session, must have been stricken with fear upon learning how loathsome his heterosexual orientation made him in the eyes of his fellow students. . .
Sure glad I went to college in the 70s. But enough, try it from this much more attractive vessel of anti-feminism. . .

While you you contemplate the 100 Best Things About Being Male:
  1. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
  2. Movie nudity is virtually always female.
  3. You know stuff about tanks.
  4. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
  5. Monday Night Football
  6. You don't have to monitor your friends' sex lives.
  7. Your bathroom lines are 80 percent shorter.
  8. Old friends don't give a crap whether you've lost or gained weight.
  9. Dry cleaners and haircutters don't rob you blind.
  10. When clicking through the channels, you don't have to stall at every shot of somebody crying.
  11. Your ass is never a factor in job interviews.
  12. All your orgasms are real.
  13. A beer gut doesn't make you invisible to the opposite sex. . . . 
Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Just What It Says On The Label" ready at The Other McCain to fulfill any Rule 5 needs I might have missed.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Revived

Oh yes, it's still alive and kicking:

Watchdog: Obamacare Exchanges Fail to Detect Counterfeit Documents
Obamacare exchanges are failing to verify key enrollment information, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This new report is the latest in a long line finding that controls on federal and state Obamacare exchanges are abysmal.

As part of its review, GAO tested application and enrollment controls on the federal exchange and two state exchanges (California and Kentucky). Ten fictitious applicants were created to test whether verification steps including validating an applicant’s Social Security number, verifying citizenship, and verifying household income were completed properly.
. . .
As a result, each applicant received the Obamacare premium tax credit and cost-sharing reduction subsidies, without being properly verified. The ten applicants received a total of $2,300 in tax credits per month.
So, in this respect, the program is working pretty much how democrats wanted it to.

Doctors Agree: Obama’s Electronic-Medical-Records Mandate Is the Worst!
. . . in the clumsy, power-grabbing hands of Washington bureaucrats, Obama’s one-size-fits-all EMR regulations have morphed into what one expert called “health-care information technology’s version of cash-for-clunkers.”

In 2013, health-care analysts at the RAND Corporation admitted that their cost-savings predictions of $81 billion a year were vastly inflated. In 2014, RAND researchers interviewed doctors who spotlighted “important negative effects” of the EMR mandate on “their professional lives and, in some troubling ways, on patient care. They described poor EHR usability that did not match clinical workflows, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, and overwhelming numbers of electronic messages and alerts.”
. . .
The American Medical Association, which foolishly backed Obamacare, is now balking at top-down government intrusion into its profession. Better late than never. The group launched a campaign called “Break the Red Tape” this summer to pressure D.C. to pause the new medical-record rules as an estimated 250,000 physicians face fines totaling $200 million a year for failing to comply with “meaningful use” EMR requirements.
Well, if you lay down with dogs. . .

Obamacare Enters a Downward Spiral as Co-ops Fail and Enrollment Slows
As of this week, nine of the law’s 23 state co-ops — nonprofit health-insurance companies set up to help people enroll in Obamacare — have collapsed. Over 600,000 people who enrolled in co-op health plans will lose their insurance at the end of this year. Many of them were forced into the co-ops to begin with when Obamacare canceled their private insurance policies in 2013, meaning they will have lost their health insurance twice because of the law.

All this is despite, of course, Obama’s now-infamous promise that if you liked your health plan, you could keep it. The bad news shows no sign of abating. According to recent news reports, eleven more co-ops are on the verge of failure. Twenty-two of the 23 co-ops lost money in 2014 despite receiving $2.4 billion in taxpayer support. The nine that have already failed received over $1 billion combined. Not even that was enough to keep them alive.
. . .
But co-op customers and insurers are not the only ones facing problems. After Obamacare drove up the price of individual-market insurance by 49 percent in 2014, and then caused millions of people to see double-digit increases, again, this year and next, new-enrollee projections plummeted. Last week, the White House announced that it expects just 1.3 million new enrollees in 2016, far below the 8 million originally predicted for 2016.
. . .
Perhaps this is why Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell expects it to be “challenging” to enroll more than just one in four eligible people, despite the president’s repeated insistence that the law is working. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama and his allies, reality can’t be hidden behind lofty rhetoric or “the stupidity of the American voter.” These are the realities of his health-care law. And three years in, it’s only getting worse.
Billions in Obamacare exchange money remains unaccounted for
Sixteen states (plus the District of Columbia) collected more than $5B to set up Obamacare exchanges after the Affordable Care Act kicked into action. But years later, much of that money was never directed toward the IT development costs for the exchanges or – in some cases – for any specified cost. And yet almost none of it has been returned. So what happened to all that sweet federal cash? That’s the question Fox News is asking today.
About $4.6 billion was given to these 17 recipients, including California, New York, Washington state and Kentucky.
But the GAO report found that so far, just $1.4 billion of that has been spent on IT projects, and a total of $3 billion has been “spent or drawn down,” though not all the spending is detailed.
That, then, leaves at least $1.6 billion unaccounted for. Yet only three states returned any portion of the money – a total of just over $1 million was given back.
“[T]he specific amount spent on marketplace-related projects was uncertain, as only a selected number of states reported to GAO that they tracked or estimated this information,” the report said.
Even though states were supposed to set up their marketplaces by the end of last year, they are not yet legally required to return unused funds.. . .
There’s a real puzzler for you, eh? 85% of the money went to states with Democrat controlled governments and they either didn’t use it for the intended purpose or it just disappeared. Shocking, I know. But how often do you see federal dollars going anywhere with the recipients turning around and saying, oh, that’s okay. We didn’t need that much. Take the rest back. That’s not how the system works, and frankly I’m not sure if Uncle Sam would know what to do with the cash if anyone actually gave it back.
A billion here, a billion there, and eventually you're talking real money.

Under single-payer, Coloradans will have another failed health-care experiment
Like many other states, Colorado’s Obamacare exchange has been plagued with problems since the get-go. Unrealistic expectations of the costs of government run health care, improper planning, and the absence of oversight over executives in charge of implementing the program has meant that Connect for Health Colorado is facing tough financial times.

But undeterred, Colorado lawmakers, appear to be ready to double down on their government run health care experiment and by doing so, will likely make the state’s financial problems even worse. How could it get worse you ask? By implementing a single-payer plan.

Through what is dubbed, “Initiative 20,” the state would dissolve Connect for Health Colorado and replace it with a single-payer system. As the Denver Post asks, “Would you trust an elected state board to govern your medical needs more than private insurers and Obamacare?” This in a state where the Obamacare co-op just canceled 80,000 plans. Thanks for asking Denver Post, but no, I wouldn’t.

But lawmakers like state Senator Irene Aguilar, a Democrat from Denver, thinks that even with all its failures Obamacare hasn’t gone far enough. She said, “The Affordable Care Act has made insurance available to more people, but we haven’t made a dent in the under-insured people who struggle to afford the deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.”

How would Senator Aguilar and her supporters pay for such a plan? For starters, “Coloradans would pay another 10 percent in premium taxes to cover their medical care.” Colorado has already proved they’re incapable of estimating health care costs appropriately, and there’s no reason to expect that the 10 percent tax would be enough either. In fact, according to Tammy Niederman, a Highlands Ranch insurance agency owner, “Private insurers doubt the 10 percent premium tax is a reliable figure to cover the costs and that it could force locally elected ColoradoCare boards to raise premiums.”
The purpose of Obamacare was always to fail and set up the prospect of single payer. Colorado is just getting ahead of the curve.

The quick answer is no: Is Obamacare Sustainable?
. . . In principle, the burdens could become lighter over time as firms learn how to adjust to the government programs. But if the government continues to push hard, that won’t happen. It is therefore disheartening to know that Obama’s response to the high premiums is the following: “If commissioners do their job and actively review rates, my expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.” Idle talk like that from a ratemaking amateur will only aggravate the problem. It is precisely the risk of insufficient rate hikes that undermines the stable healthcare environment needed for these markets to work. The only way in which to reverse these pressures is to go for partial deregulation.

The only difficulty with a proposal for market liberalization is that it cannot happen in an Obama administration. Given its inflexible commitment to high government involvement in the healthcare market, the likely response of the Obama administration to its own failure is to renew its call for a single-payer plan that the less radical Democrats of 2010 were not prepared to endorse. But the utter decimation of the centrist bloc of the Democrats in Congress means that the new claim will be that the exchanges and co-ops failed because they did not go far enough. Sadly, however, any single-payer plan will fall prey to all the pathologies of over-ambition, given that monopoly government agencies cannot manage complex businesses that have frustrated the implementation of the more modest Obamacare plan.

In the absence of any meaningful market role for private healthcare insurers, it will be no longer possible to benchmark public norms to sensible standards of private behavior. But on this issue, progressives believe in the one-way ratchet: When markets fail, turn to government regulation. When government regulation fails, turn to more government regulation. . . 

Modern Vampires Plague New Orleans

I blame Anne Rice: Inside the human blood-drinking, ‘real vampire’ community of New Orleans
John Edgar Browning met his first “real vampire” in a Gothic apparel store. A doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University at the time, Browning had already been on the hunt for several months. He was talking to the store owner of Wicked Orleans, a Gothic-style clothing and leather shop in New Orleans’s French Quarter, when a middle-aged woman and two teenage boys walked through the door.

The store owner stopped mid-sentence. This woman, he motioned, was one of the people Browning was looking for.

Nervously, Browning approached her and started talking to her about his ethnographic study of “real vampires.” To be clear, these aren’t people who possess the supernatural powers that we associate with the likes of Count Dracula, but rather individuals who claim to have a medical condition that requires them to drink blood (human or animal) in order to sustain themselves.

Well, that's no fun. What's the point of being a vampire if you don't get to live forever (or until somebody stakes you or exposes you to sunlight) and have special powers?
Members of this community have chosen to identify themselves as “vampires” in defiance of the negative images that the label evokes. Did she know anyone who fit that description?

The woman smiled, and Browning had his answer — her open lips revealed teeth that had been filed to a point, like fangs.
So they're just hipsters with unusually odd dietary habits.
Surveys conducted by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance have found that there are at least 5,000 people in the United States who identify as real vampires. Browning said there are about 50 living in New Orleans alone — a figure that he guessed is common for most major cities and corroborated by sociologist DJ Williams to the BBC.

That seems like a low number to me, given the number of people in the United States that consume vampire literature and media.
These communities have largely kept to themselves, knowing enough about public perception to not want to attract prying eyes. Browning, aware of the visceral disgust that his research is likely to provoke, seldom brings it up in everyday conversation. But his own initial belief that there was something wrong with these people faded after he started getting to know them.

“After a short period of time,” he said, “I realized that they weren’t crazy. At least, they weren’t any crazier than your Average Joe.”
Which is not a particularly high bar.
According to Browning, symptoms of vampirism start to manifest around puberty, when those who later become reliant on ingesting blood find themselves physically “drained” for no discernible reason. They usually discover accidentally that blood offers a remedy: They might bite their lip, for instance, and realize that swallowing the metallic liquid between their teeth gives them an instant burst of energy.

Not every vampire must drink blood to survive (those who do are called “sanguinarians”). Some simply derive strength from taking the “psychic energy” of others. This can be accomplished through intimate human touch, like giving someone a massage.
Now we're just talking bullshit artists.
The community has adopted terms to describe their unorthodox habits. To “feed” is to drink blood, while those who give their blood are called “donors.” Being “awakened” and “coming out of the coffin” are ways to talk about becoming aware of one’s vampiric identity. “Elder vampires,” then, are those who have been awakened for some time and can in turn advise others on how to cope.
How do 5000 people in 300,000,000 or so manage to find each other?
The vampires whom Browning spoke with claim they can’t control their urges, which amount to a need for around two or three feedings a week. If ample blood is on offer, they might refrigerate it and later combine it with other ingredients, like tea.

Kinesia, a woman who identifies as a blood drinker, told the BBC that she isn’t a vampire by choice. “Many of us would rather not go through the cyclic symptoms and just be happy to live life like a normal person,” she said.

A real vampire in Britain, Alexia, echoed the sentiment: “If the cause could be identified, I would most certainly take a pharmaceutical pill.”
I suppose it's remotely possible that the "real vampires" lack the ability to produce some co-factor in blood that the rest of us produce and use for ourselves.  Kind of like GDF11, the protein in young blood that can apparently reverse aging to some extent. But I doubt it's that simple. And it doesn't explain why people file their teeth.
“This could very well be in our heads,” a vampire who calls herself “CJ!” admitted to the BBC. Yet, those vampires who have tried to stop drinking blood have met scary consequences.

When Kinesia went four months without feeding, she found herself in the emergency room with a low heart rate that would shoot up to 160 when she stood up or walked around. This would be followed by a massive migraine, and sometimes a loss of consciousness.

Browning said he knows of a woman who found herself unable to go to work or even walk after a period of not ingesting blood. When her husband came to see her in the hospital, she fed from him in her room and immediately felt better.
And I know vegans who get sick if they find out they accidentally ate a piece of meat.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Just What It Says On The Label" ready at The Other McCain to fulfill any Rule 5 needs I might have missed.

Tree Survives Atom Bomb

At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, two American pilots dropped a 9,700-pound atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Within minutes, the entire city had been leveled. Some accounts say everything within a four-mile radius of the initial blast was incinerated almost instantly.

Except, it seems, for this now-390-year-old Japanese pine tree, which miraculously survived despite being just over two miles away from the center of the blast.

In 1976, the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., received the tree from Japanese bonsai master Masaru Yamaki in celebration of the American bicentennial.

It wasn't until 2001, 25 years later, when Yamaki's grandsons came to visit the tree in person, that officials learned of its amazing journey.

How could such a tiny thing survive such a massive explosion?

Location, it turns out, and a little bit of luck.

“Location, location, location," Jack Sustic, the bonsai's curator, told The Washington Post. “It was up against a wall. It must have been the wall that shielded it from the blast."
We went to visit the Bonsia exhibit at the Arboretum back in 2010. It turns out, I may even have my own photo of this tree. I'm not entirely sure, it's a little different, and in a different pot, but they do change with pruning and repotting.

There are lots of neat trees in this exhibit; it's well worth visiting if you're interested in such things:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Last Butterfly of 2015 at the Beach?

It was cool, breezy and threatening rain when we went down to the beach this morning at low tide. You can see the beach grasses have almost totally browned out now, and many of our trees are starting to turn.
Trying to find sharks teeth (we found 10), I spotted this Common Buckeye stranded in shell hash on the upper edge of the swash. I noticed it's antennae were still up, and when I picked it up, it stayed there a minute, stood up on its legs, and flew off. I was kind of amazed. It's rather late for them and I would be surprised to see any more.
A Semipalmated Sandpiper stalks the tideline looking for tidbits.
There were no eagles out today that we saw, but here's one from a few days ago that I just took off the camera today. Faces Accounting Woes

A long article on the Clinton Foundations accounting:

How Do You Spell Apparent Fraud? The Clinton Foundation, Shady Accounting and AIDS
The Clinton Foundation has until November 16 to amend more than ten years’ worth of state, federal and foreign filings, but it’s going to be virtually impossible to do so without acknowledging that it has engaged in massive accounting fraud since its inception.

. . . the problems appear set to catch up with the foundation (now formally known as the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation), which has until November 16 to amend more than ten years’ worth of state, federal and foreign filings. According to Charles Ortel, a financial whistleblower, it will be difficult if not impossible for the foundation to amend its financial returns without acknowledging accounting fraud and admitting that it generated substantial private gain for directors, insiders and Clinton cronies, all of which is against the law under an IRS rule called inurement.

Inurement/Private Benefit - Charitable Organizations
A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.imm 
While inurement may sound obscure to the layman, it’s an ancient legal principle and the IRS is very clear that it is verboten. If you are familiar with it, it becomes immediately clear that Bill Clinton – and arguably Hillary and daughter Chelsea as family members and fellow Clinton Foundation trustees – could have big problems come November 16. So, too, could Clinton cronies like Ira Magaziner (see below) and Doug Band, a Clinton administration and former Foundation insider who subsequently became a founding partner of a bipartisan business swamp called Teneo Holdings.

In terms of Bill Clinton, consider that he received a $6.3 million to write his 2007 book “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World,” about his philanthropic activities and he made countless dollars more to give speeches on the topic. Not a bad deal, though admittedly that’s probably a bit less than the roughly $128 million the Clinton Foundation says it spent on all program services between 2001 and 2006, which includes its spending to provide relief to victims of the Tsunami in Asia and of Hurricane Katrina. The same pattern of taking in vast sums from donors and spending far less to help victims has continued ever since. . .
Since most of the money given to the tax exempt Clinton Foundation is going towards supporting Clinton's life style and ongoing political campaign, this is clearly illegal. Read the whole thing.

Don't expect the Obama Administration to pursue this, however, now that Slow Joe has bowed out of the White House race and the weight of democratic machine will have to coalesce behind Hillary:

 The FBI & Hillary’s e-mails: A Lois Lerner precedent?
On Friday, the Justice Department closed its two-year investigation into the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status and decided to charge . . . no one.
. . .
In a letter Friday, Justice told Congress: “We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.”

In other words, exactly what President Obama ordered up — er, predicted. Back when the “investigation” had barely started, Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly there wasn’t “even a smidgen of corruption” in the case. On “The Daily Show,” he explained that the “real scandal” is that the IRS lacks the budget to do more audits.
. . .
Wondering what the FBI probe will conclude about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private account and server for all her State Department e-mails? Well, Obama already told CBS’s Steve Kroft that it didn’t make for a “national security problem. . . I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

If the Lois Lerner case is any precedent, the FBI might as well wrap up its Clinton probe right now.
But don't go thinking that you can break any law just because you support the democrats. You have to be pretty high on the food chain to get that kind of protection: Obama and Clinton fundraiser, Julian Castro patron indicted on fraud charges
Multimillion-dollar Democratic donor and Clinton and Obama fundraiser Mikal Watts was indicted on fraud charges this week. Federal prosecutors say his class-action suit against BP after the oil spill was built in part on phony clients.

Watts' attorney said the charges "are related to allegations that Watts committed fraud or forgery when he claimed to represent 44,000 clients in litigation against BP PLC," as the Associated Press puts it.

Watts, according to FEC records, has given $2.3 million to Democratic causes and candidates over the years, including nearly $90,000 to Barack Obama. He also bundled at least $500,000 for Obama and hosted multiple fundraisers in his San Antonio mansion for Obama.
But is it fair to hang this on Hillary and Barack?
Now, for a note on media bias:

The Washington Post's only story on Watts' indictment is an AP story, running under the headline "Defense Attorney: Texas Lawyer Indicted Over Oil Spill Fraud." The words "Obama," "Democrat," "Castro" and "fundraiser" never appear in the piece.

The Post's 2013 story on BP's accusations against Watts also omitted his prominent role in the Democratic world.
In contrast:
Timothy Durham was a Republican fundraiser and donor who had given about $800,000 to Republicans. In 2011, federal prosecutors indicted him "on suspicion of operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $200 million," as the Washington Post put it.

"A Republican Fund-Raiser is Indicted in a Ponzi Scheme," blared The New York Times headline. The lead: "A prominent Republican fund-raiser was charged Wednesday ..." The second paragraph began, "The fund-raiser, Timothy Durham, 48, was arrested early in the morning ..." Later in the piece, "Mr. Durham donated more than $800,000 to the Republican Party and candidates in Indiana, including almost $200,000 to Gov. Mitch Daniels."
Yep, it's fair.

And from the 1%er files: Manhattan glitterati support Hillary Clinton at star-studded fundraiser hosted by Anna Wintour at designer Vera Wang's luxurious New York home
  • Anna, Vera, Marchesa's Georgina Chapman, and her husband producer Harvey Weinstein organized the A-list event
  • Tickets to the fundraiser cost a donation of at least $2,700
. . . Co-hosts and power couple Georgina Chapman and Harvey Weinstein arrived separately. Earlier this year, Harvey was involved in a groping scandal with a young model and headlines purported that it wasn't the first time he made inappropriate advances outside of his marriage.
I can see why he might support Bill; but Hillary?

Googling about I noticed that Hillary attended a lot of fundraisers where the donation was "at least $2,700"
An individual may give a maximum of: $2,700 per election to a Federal candidate or the candidate's campaign committee.2 Notice that the limit applies separately to each election. Primaries, runoffs and general elections are considered separate elections. $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC.
Hillary Clinton Is Finally Inevitable, And That’s Bad News For Democrats
Yesterday’s Benghazi hearing is being hailed by the mainstream media as a triumph for Hillary Clinton. But then again, what choice do they have? If she is the inevitable Democratic nominee, then it’s TINA time: There Is No Alternative. So they had their narrative planned in advance.

But there are two new things we’ve gotten out of this hearing that indicate why she’s going to be a vulnerable candidate in the general election.

First, it underscored the degree to which she was primarily responsible for pushing the U.S. into the war in Libya — and that she did so with no plan for what to do afterward. Haven’t Democrats just finished a decade of blaming everything on George W. Bush because he did the same?

But the big news from yesterday’s hearing is that she knew all along that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate, not a spontaneous demonstration about a YouTube video. Three e-mails unveiled by the Benghazi investigation — one to her daughter and two that are notes of her phone conversations with the leaders of Libya and Egypt — show that she knew and acknowledged the truth in private while at the same time she was telling a different story to the American people. Yet all her responses to this sort of question can be summed up in the ultimate Hillary Clinton meme: the real-life “shruggie.”

Yes, I know. “Hillary Clinton Lies” — and in other news, “Dog Bites Man.” But a party’s primaries are supposed to be the arena in which you test your candidates, probe for weaknesses, and see how bad they are before you reach the general election. By failing to find and consider any real contenders, Democrats aren’t doing this.

If Republicans can put forward a candidate who makes a plausible commander-in-chief — which still remains to be seen — then Democrats may come to regret that they left themselves no other alternative.
Clinton: 'I will go as far as I can, even beyond Obama' to welcome illegal immigrants
"If we can not get comprehensive immigration reform as we need, and as we should, with a real path to citizenship that will actually grow our economy then I will go as far as I can, even beyond President Obama, to make sure law abiding, decent, hard working people in this country are not ripped away from their families," she added.
I'll give you "comprehensive immigration reform". Deport every illegal alien you can lay your hands on, regardless of family. It's not like they're not using the welfare system to support their US born children anyway. Enforce the enployment laws forbidding the hiring of illegals, and enforce border security. Get rid of, or at least enormously reduce the H1b visa program which is being used to supress wages in the tech sector too.

Is that comprehensive enough?