Friday, April 25, 2008

Meet the Narwhal

If you read that headline and thought, "what the hell is a narwhal," you're not the only one. Apparently, it is a horned whale that is more vulnerable to warming water in the Arctic than polar bears.

The polar bear has become an icon of global warming vulnerability, but a new study found an Arctic mammal that may be even more at risk to climate change: the narwhal.

The narwhal, a whale with a long spiral tusk that inspired the myth of the unicorn, edged out the polar bear for the ranking of most potentially vulnerable in a climate change risk analysis of Arctic marine mammals.

The study was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications. Polar bears are considered marine mammals because they are dependent on the water and are included as a species in the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The narwhal is an ugly little beast. Don't expect environmentalists to throw the polar bear overboard in favor of it.

Note to professional media types

For the love of God, please start getting this right because it makes you sound stupid. Follow closely now.

You do not write a blog. You write a post. At a blog. Just like you do not write a magazine or a newspaper. You write an article for a magazine or a newspaper.

I know that the occasional use of blog as a verb confuses you all, but this is no longer a new phenomenon. Get it right, please.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Only in Wisconsin

A cow, drunk driving...I don't think this could happen anywhere else but here.

Helen McCollum says she was just trying to help a guy staggering down the highway after he had hit a cow in the middle of the road.

Instead, she was arrested on a drunken driving charge after hitting the same cow, which did not survive.

"I was helping this guy and I was busted," McCollum  called The Capital Times to say today. "This is why people don't stop and help others anymore."

The Dane County Sheriff's Office reported that Michael Geisler, 43, Edgerton, hit the cow standing in the middle of Wisconsin 73 shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. The accident happened near County B. Geisler was slightly injured, the sheriff's office said, but refused to be taken to the hospital. He was not charged with any traffic violations.

Do you get the feeling that even the cow was drunk? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Et tu, forests?

Arrrggghhh! Even the forests are warming the globe!

An outbreak of mountain pine beetles in British Columbia is doing more than destroying millions of trees: By 2020, the beetles will have done so much damage that the forest is expected to release more carbon dioxide than it absorbs, according to new research.

The study, led by Werner Kurz of the Canadian Forest Service, estimates that over 21 years trees killed by the beetle outbreak could release 990 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - roughly equivalent to five years of emissions from Canada's transportation sector.

The outbreak has affected about 33 million acres, or about 51,562 square miles, of lodgepole pines. Bark beetles also have killed huge swaths of pines in the western United States, including about 2,300 square miles of trees in Colorado.

"When trees are killed, they no longer are able to take carbon from the atmosphere. Then when dead trees start to decompose, that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," Kurz said.

That could exacerbate global warming that contributed to the outbreaks in the first place. Warmer temperatures have allowed beetles to survive farther north and at higher elevations.

With all this unstoppable CO2 leading to warming, we should save a bundle on our winter fuel oil, natural gas, and wood heating, shouldn't we?

The Only Penis Post of the First Decade of the 21st Century

I don't anticipate doing this again for another decade, so if you want to read peener news, you'll have to go elsewhere until 2018. So, without further fanfare, here we go.

-Used right, they might prevent prostate cancer. Only the good die young, I guess.

-They can't effect the gender of a baby as much as the momma's diet. So much for that X and Y chromosome thing.

-The damn things are just plain disappearing again. I wonder which of my insurance policies would cover that.

Why are we so stunned?

By this:

Harry Morse, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said Miller was killed by the 5-year-old bear during the making of a promotional video for Randy Miller's Predators in Action center. The bear's fate has not been decided.

The bear, named Rocky, recently appeared in the Will Ferrell sports comedy "Semi-Pro." Center owner Randy Miller, the victim's cousin, was a stunt double for Ferrell in a wrestling match with the bear.

A trained bear is still a bear. A cute bear is still a bear. A professional might be able to control a lot of a predator's conduct, but the one thing that none of them will ever be able to control for is the fact that they are still working with a predator. As such, it may attack with no provocation.

Deep Thoughts, By Tim Robbins

From the Patriot Post:
"[J]ust when we were close to a national news media providing a general consensus on what the truth is, along comes the Internets [sic] that allows its users a choice on the kind of news it watches and the YouTube. My God, we've got to stop them." —actor Tim Robbins
I doubt he was joking when he said it.

Designer breeds, human-style

Sometimes silly thoughts flood my mind when I'm driving, and this morning was a prime example.  Designer breeds of dogs, like the shitspoo (wait, is that one popular?), are all the rage these days.  If we broke humans out into breeds by nationality/ethnicity, we Americans would be all the rage, too.  I, for one, would be a Norwippewa.  Who doesn't love a Norwippewa?  The lovely Mrs. Jib would be a Germrish.  I've known a number of good Germpoles in my life and think they get a bad rap.  Oddly, you don't meet many Fraglish people, though.
Anybody out there part of a hot human designer breed? 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Denver! Denver! Denver

As of this writing, Hillary Clinton is winning the Pennsylvania primary, and by a significant enough margin for her campaign to likely continue its hobble towards Denver. The public is going to be so sick of the Democratic nominee by the time he or she wins, John McCain is going to seem like a breath of fresh air.

"No, it was us. Really. Seriously, dude."


Al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the theory that Israel was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks.

In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US.

He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden's network.

Correspondents say the comments underline al-Qaeda's increasing public hostility towards Iran.

There you have it. First, earthquakes in the Midwest. Then, Al Qaeda exonerates Israel. Next? Plague and pestilence.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Did you feel the Great Midwestern Quake of '08?

I did here in southern Wisconsin.  I had woken up at 4 a.m. and was struggling to get back to sleep when a stand in my bedroom start to shake, along with all of the knick knacks that were on it.  I could feel it a little bit in the bed, too.  I think this is the first I've not slept through one of these gentle Midwestern tremors.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Playing with Fire

History is one of this country's worst subjects, so it really shouldn't surprise me that our elected leaders are this historically vapid.

Iraq's financial free ride may be over. After five years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on at least one aspect of the war. From the fiercest foes of the war to the most steadfast Bush supporters, they are looking at Iraq's surging oil income and saying Baghdad should start picking up more of the tab, particularly for rebuilding hospitals, roads, power lines and the rest of the shattered country.

"I think the American people are growing weary not only of the war, but they are looking at why Baghdad can't pay more of these costs. And the answer is they can," said Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Nelson, a Democrat, is drafting legislation with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana that would restrict future reconstruction dollars to loans instead of grants.

Their bill also would require that Baghdad pay for the fuel used by American troops and take over U.S. payments to predominantly Sunni fighters in the Awakening movement. Plans are to propose the legislation as part of a war bill to cover spending through September.

I find it funny. If pressed, every one of these congressional leaders would fall over themselves to praise the Marshall Plan and the Democratic administration that ushered it in. Yet they themselves are so weak and politically self serving that they are willing to pursue similar feeble but expedient policies that once set a post-Great War Europe on the path to a second world war. Are they really interested in stabilizing Iraq once and for all, or do they want an Iraq III if it means political gains today? While Iraq should play a growing role in its own future, lawmakers walk a dangerous line with this gambit if they demand too much.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The time has come to fight back against California

Again, California tries to make choices for businesses and consumers via legislation:

California shoppers could end up paying recycling fees if they decide to haul their groceries home in plastic bags.

Two bills scheduled to be considered tomorrow by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee would authorize fees of 15 cents or 25 cents a bag.

The idea is to discourage supermarkets and large drug stores from using plastic bags.

I can only think of one way to get around this fee and still teach California about unintended legislative consequences: Non-biodegradable, Styrofoam shopping bags. Made at environmentally unfriendly plants in China. I begin outsourcing on Monday.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Believe it or not, sometimes a $13,500 tab is good for business

I'm pretty sure that my opinion on the $13,500 tab run up at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Orlando is going to run against the opinion of every single blogger out there, but hear me out before you blast me. First, the story.

When the U.S. Postal Service rang up a $13,500 tab at an Orlando steakhouse, it spared no expense during a five-hour meal that government investigators are calling "abusive" in its extravagance.

The order -- charged to government credit cards -- included more than $3,000 for drinks, more than $500 for shrimp cocktails and almost $900 for mini crab cakes, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigate arm of Congress.

And then there's the steak.

"The better question is probably what they didn't order," GAO investigator Gregory Kutz said Wednesday. He counted 81 entrees -- including just about every kind of steak -- from the 2006 feast at Ruth's Chris Steak House on Sand Lake Road.

At first blush, that is downright offensive. It sparked a question in my mind, though: Was this pure extravagance or was there a purpose to this dinner? So I read the rest of the story and found this:

McKiernan said the dinner was intended to help woo corporate clients of the U.S. Postal Service, which competes with carriers such as UPS and FedEx for business. "It was just the opinion of the GAO that the cost was excessive," he said.

These included liquid expenses such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnnie Walker Gold Label, according to the GAO report. "Ruth's Chris is a very fine restaurant, and at a fine restaurant, you find fine products," McKiernan said.

Business is still very much about personal relationships, whether the businesses are small, medium, or large. In my life in business, dealing with customers much smaller than the ones that the USPS was wooing, I've seen bills nearly this large. And if you think that was expensive, you should see the money some companies outlay on parties for their customers and prospective customers, usually people just like you and me, at trade shows. The fact is events like this go a long way in developing and securing personal bonds that can be the tipping point that brings in millions and millions of new business, and sometimes prevents other millions of dollars going to the competition. In a vacuum, a $13,500 dollar bill is grotesque. When you consider what the return on investment could possibly be from a dinner like that, it can be a bargain. Would you spend $13,500 if the pay off was potentially $1 million, $20 million, $50 million or more in new business? You bet your butt you would.

Random thought

Sputum is a gross word for a gross thing. Talk about your perfect marriage.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My out of whack priorities

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography, Adrees Latif, discusses the death in the streets of Myanmar that he witnessed through the lens of his Canon 5D. His story is brief but sad and riveting. But what part of the article did I find myself reading most intently? His camera settings and why he chose them. As a person, that's wrong. As a semi-pro photographer, I found myself surprised at his choice of ISO 800.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

California, where childhood fun goes to die

Remember those fun, metallic helium balloons you used to pine for as a kid? Well, the next generation of California kids may never get to enjoy them.

California would become the first state to ban helium-filled metallic balloons under a bill unanimously advanced Tuesday by a legislative committee.

Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, said the party balloons frequently break free and float into power lines, where they can cause electric wires to arc.

He said they cause millions of dollars in losses for utility companies and businesses that lose electricity. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the main utility in Northern California, says the balloons caused more than 200 power outages last year in its coverage area.

California, you really need to consider bumping your legislature back to part time status. They have way too much time on their hands.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Plasma bulb the next big thing?

The incandescent light bulb has been banished by congress, so now the jostling begins for the next big light bulb technology. Some are in love with the CFL while many others (myself included) hate it for everyday use. LEDs are making some headway but have a ways to go. So might the plasma bulb win out in the end?

At 140 lumens/watt, these pill-sized plasma light bulbs by Luxim are a pretty awesome contender for "light of the future". They are almost 10 times more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs, twice as efficient as current high-end LEDs, and they also beat CFLs, most of which are around 50-80 lumens/watt.

I know too little about this technology to make any pronouncements, but I hate CFL's so much (except for certain uses) that I'm willing to hear out any new technology that bury those miserable fluorescent bulbs.

Stone's Bush to begin soon

I'm predicting a flop at the box office for Oliver Stone's Bush.

President George W. Bush is a foul-mouthed, reformed drunk obsessed with baseball, Saddam Hussein and a conflicted relationship with his dad. Or at least that's how he's portrayed in the script for Oliver Stone's upcoming feature "W."

One of the script writers claims to have read 17 books on the topic of George W. Bush. I have a sneaking suspicion that by "books" he meant "posts at Huffpo."

Go Green, Kill the Newspaper

Heh. I was just watching the 10 O'clock news on NBC 15 out of Madison, and in a short piece on going green, they recommended ditching your newspaper subscription and reading the paper online instead. I'm sure that just thrilled the folks at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nominee for Quote of the Year

This is funny:

"I still haven't decided how to split the cow," he told the newspaper. "She should just say what she wants -- the part with the horns or the part with the tail."

Here's the context.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My biggest problem with global warming apocalyptics

Here is my biggest problem with the global warming crowd. Let's pretend for a moment that they are right. What does man (and all warm blooded life, for that matter) have a more difficult time adjusting to-warmth or cold? With additional warmth, man can still grow crops and wild mammals can still find food. With increased cold, crops become difficult to grow in sufficient quantities and large winter starve-offs of mammals are common. So while we would have to figure out how to adapt, would warming really be the end of the world?

And this leads into my biggest pet peeve about the 20th/21st century environmental movement. The natural state of nature is change. This entire planet is in a continual state of flux. Still, for some reason our environmentalist consciouses want to freeze nature in it's appearance as of sometime in 1970. That is about the most anti-environment mindset I can think of.

The Consequences of Legislative Actions

Hillary Clinton on the Tonight Show:

I was in Indianapolis the other day, and I was shaking hands after I spoke. And there was this young boy, about 11 years old. And he was trying to tell me something, ya know, and the crowd was yelling. So I leaned over and he said, "You know, my mom makes minimum wage, and even though it went up, her hours were cut so were not making any more money. Can you help her?" You know, when somebody says something like that to you, it really does energize me and, yeah, I can, I'm going to really try to help you.

Point number one: This is a typical bullshit political story. I don't care who tells it, be it Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Socialist, etc., etc. This is always a made up story. And Hillary should hope that it is a made up story, because if it isn't, then it proves what any number of conservatives have been saying from the get go, and that is that wages are something that a politician can't just decide to increase. When business are faced with forced increases in their labor costs, they have to find ways to absorb those increases. One way is to employ fewer people. Another is to offer fewer hours to those they employ already. I know that Hillary was pandering to economic divisions with this bogus story, but she did more to prove what her opposition says about minimum wage than her opponents could ever hope to.

Hillary as Rocky Balboa

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton compared herself to Rocky.

Of course, this lead a lot of bloggers to note that Rocky got his ass kicked by his black opponent.

I, for one, don't think that's what she meant. I think Hillary was fantasizing about the sixth Rocky installment. You know the one...remember, Rocky's a widower? Yeah, I think that's the Rocky Hillary wishes she was.

I miss all the fun

During the day, the Beltline in Madison is literally at my back. If I look over my shoulder, I can see the traffic moving in both directions. Still, I was somehow oblivious to this.

Happy Birthday Mom

Just wanted to day that.