Plug the blowout with Sarah Palin?

June 9, 2010

Some wag started a group on FaceBook, “1,000,000 Who Want to Plug the BP Oil Spill With Sarah Palin.”

Vicious.

Sarah?  How’s that “Drill, baby!  Drill” thing workin’ out for ya?


Foul ball! OUCH!

June 9, 2010

Rangers Ballpark panorama, 6-8-2010, Rangers v Mariners - IMGP2029 - photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

"Hmmm. Sitting here, we might be able to catch a . . . FOUL BALL!" Click thumbnail for larger view

Kathryn scored some great seats, with great parking pass.  Rangers ran away with the game, eventually, beat the Mariners 7-1.

Just after I took this panoramic shot, I thought I should put the camera away in case a foul ball should come our way.

And then it did.  Fast!

I got a bruise on my left thigh where the little spinning devil first hit, but it spun away and bounced about three rows in back of us.  On the way it took out the nachos of the guy next to us.  Whoever got the ball probably got a cheesy surprise.

I have the bruise, but lost the ball.

Another surprise: The brätwursts down on the lower level of the Ballpark at Arlington are pretty good — not so good as the bräts at Miller Stadium in Milwaukee last June, but very good.


How Extreme Will the Texas GOP Get? (via Texas Freedom Network)

June 9, 2010

Mothers, hide the babies: Republicans are coming to Dallas this weekend.

Come to think of it, you maybe ought to hide your Bible and any other books of note — dictionaries, science books, history references — too.  Texas Freedom Network has the full rundown.  Be sure to read the specific stupidities.

UPDATE: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that immigration is likely to be a key point of contention in the Texas GOP’s platform debate this weekend. Other platform proposals are expected from “birthers” who don’t believe President Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen and people who want Republicans to support the Constitution against threats by “Sharia law adherents living in the United States of America and the rest of the world.” … W … Read More

via Texas Freedom Network


One hopes it’s a joke

June 9, 2010

TV is gooder then books is

Everyone is a critic

You need to read the sign.  Click the picture for a larger view.

Can anyone identify the location of this muffler shop?


Lorrie Otto, environmental warrior

June 9, 2010

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel carries the news that Lorrie Otto has died.

When DDT spraying killed birds and bats in her yard, Lorrie Otto went to work to stop the destruction.  Otto won.  Someone should step up to take her place, in each of the things she did.

‘Nature Lady’ Otto helped lead DDT fight

Lorrie Otto leads Natural Landscape Tour in Milwaukee - Journal-Sentinel photo by Michael Sears

Caption from the Journal-Sentinel: Lorrie Otto (left) leads the "Natural Landscape Tour" along the banks of Lake Michigan in the 9700 block of N. Lake Drive. A video crew from NBC News photographed the event for a segment. Journal-Sentinel photo by Michael Sears

She began with natural yards, progressed to national causes

By Amy Rabideau Silvers of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: June 2, 2010

Lorrie Otto understood that it wasn’t nice to mess with Mother Nature.

And so the woman known as “the Nature Lady” planted her Bayside yard with native species and wildflowers – fighting for the right to keep her land natural and teaching others how to do the same. She rose to become an environmental warrior, a leader in the battle to ban DDT in Wisconsin and then nationally.

She shared her vision that average people could make a difference by eliminating the standard lawn for more ecological alternatives. The well-manicured lawn was not, she said, a healthy green space.

“They look like golf courses,” Otto once said, then corrected herself. “They look like cemeteries.”

Otto died of natural causes Saturday in Bellingham, Wash., where she moved in 2008 to be near her daughter. She was 90.

Otto served as a founder and leader with groups including Citizens Natural Resources Association of Wisconsin, the Riveredge Nature Center and Wild Ones. She became a nationally recognized naturalist and speaker, called “the godmother of natural landscaping.” Media credits include everything from Martha Stewart Living to “NBC Nightly News.”

“In recent years, a New Yorker article credited her and Rachel Carson for leading the movement,” said daughter Tricia Otto, referring to the author of the famous book “Silent Spring.”

Lorrie Otto, Milwaukee environmental activist, in 1999 - Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal photo

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel photo: Lorrie Otto, shown in 1999, kept a lively prairie garden.

Otto was named to the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in 1999. The Schlitz Audubon Center’s annual natural yards tour is named in her honor.

“If suburbia were landscaped with meadows, prairies, thickets or forests, or combinations of these, then the water would sparkle, fish would be good to eat again, birds would sing and human spirits would soar,” Otto said.

She was born Mary Lorraine Stoeber, taking the name Lorrie after marriage. She grew up on a family dairy farm in Middleton and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

During World War II, she saw an advertisement for the Women Airforce Service Pilots – what the ad called the “Cream of the Crop” – her daughter said.

“You had to be college-educated and have a pilot’s license,” Tricia said. “She went to the local airport and, with her own money, became a pilot.”

WASP pilots were civilians and the first women to fly American military planes. Just before she graduated, the war was coming to an end and the program quickly disbanded. She married her high school sweetheart, Owen Otto, and they settled in Bayside about 1952.

For Otto, the battles for natural landscaping and against DDT began in her own yard.

The former farm girl planted the family’s yard in a natural way, mostly to create “an enchanting place for my children to play.”

Soon Otto was confronting what she called “the lawn police” in Bayside. One day, a crew arrived and mowed part of her yard. She fought back, proving that her yard might look wild but that it did not contain weeds.

“She was so passionate,” Tricia said. “She would appear in court as an expert witness to defend someone whose yard was being persecuted.”

In the late 1950s, she learned of plans to develop the Fairy Chasm woodland area in her area. “She finally triumphed in 1969, when the Nature Conservancy purchased Fairy Chasm,” according to a copyrighted article by the National Wildlife Federation.

Those were also the days of routine DDT spraying, first to kill mosquitoes and then to kill the beetles destroying elm trees.

“Robins would go into convulsions. . . . I’d see the dead robins near the road,” she told The Milwaukee Journal in 1992. “Red bats would be dangling dead in the rosebushes.”

“She carried big bushel baskets of dead robins into village hall,” Tricia said. The official response ranged from indifferent to angry. “They said, ‘What do you want, lady, birds or trees?’ ”

Otto took the fight to the state level, finally deciding to sue. She contacted the Environmental Defense Fund, a fledgling out-of-state group that won a national reputation for action in Wisconsin. In 1970, Wisconsin banned the use of DDT. The federal ban was approved in 1972.

“She invited scientists from all over the country to her house, and they worked on the paper to present to Congress to get the ban on DDT,” said Dorothy Boyer, a friend and president of the Milwaukee North chapter of Wild Ones. “She had scientists sleeping in sleeping bags in her living room.”

Years later, she was still making new friends and encouraging others. One younger couple, Susannah and Lon Roesselet, began their own natural landscaping in Bayside a few years ago.

“One day the doorbell rang and this little white-haired woman was there, saying, ‘Hello, my name is Lorrie Otto,’ ” Susannah Roesselet said. “We knew about her. She stepped in and became our mentor. Our entire yard is now natural; she is everywhere. She’ll be missed, but she left her mark.”

When Otto finally had to leave her own home, she moved to Washington state to live with her daughter on a hundred acres of natural land.

“She was just having a ball,” Tricia said. “Living here, she said, you could believe the world was happy and whole.”

And Otto made plans for her own last plot of land, delighted to find a green burial cemetery and planting flowers on what would be her own grave. She will be buried without benefit of embalming or chemicals, returning to the earth she loved.

Otto is also survived by her sister, Betty Larson.

A Wisconsin gathering is being planned by friends.


Washington Times felled by DDT poisoning

June 9, 2010

Washington Times‘ owner, the Unification Church, put the paper up for sale earlier this year — tired of losing north of $30 million a year on the thing.  It appears that, in a cost-cutting move, the paper has laid off all its fact checkers and most of its editors.

And anyone with a brain.

DDT use in the U.S. peaked in 1959, with 70 million pounds of the stuff used in that year.  This ad comes from about that time.

DDT use in the U.S. peaked in 1959, with 70 million pounds of the stuff used in that year. This ad for a French product containing DDT comes from about that time.

How do we know?

Our old friend Stephen Milloy complains about Time Magazine’s “50 Worst Inventions” list, including, especially the listing of DDT, as discussed earlier.  It’s wrong, and silly.  Good fact checkers, and good editors, wouldn’t let such claptrap make it into print.

Milloy packed an astounding number of whoppers in a short paragraph about DDT:

From 1943 through its banning by the EPA in 1972, DDT saved hundreds of millions of lives all over the world from a variety of vector-borne diseases. Even when Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (and closeted environmental activist) William D. Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972, he did so despite a finding from an EPA administrative law judge who, after seven months and 9,000 pages of testimony, ruled that DDT presented no threat of harm to humans or wildlife. Today, a million children die every year from malaria. DDT could safely make a tremendous dent in that toll.

Let us count the errors and falsehoods:

1.  DDT was used against typhus from 1943 through about 1946, and against bedbugs; it saved millions, but not hundreds of millions. Death tolls from typhus rarely rose over a million a year, if it ever did.  Bedbugs don’t kill, they just itch.  If we add in malaria after 1946, in a few years we push to four million deaths total from insect-borne diseases — but of course, that’s with DDT being used.  If we charitably claim DDT saved four million lives a year between 1943 and 1972, we get a total of 117 million lives saved.  But we know that figure is inflated a lot.

Sure, DDT helped stop some disease epidemics.  But it didn’t save “hundreds of millions of lives” in 29 years of use.  The National Academy of Sciences, in a book noting that DDT should be banned because its dangers far outweigh its long-term benefits, goofed and said DDT had saved 500 million lives from malaria, and said DDT is one of the most beneficial chemicals ever devised by humans.  500 million is the annual infection rate from malaria, with a high of nearly four million deaths, but in most years under a million deaths.  Malaria kills about one of every 500 people infected in a year.  That’s far too many deaths, but it’s not as many lives saved as Milloy claims.

NAS grossly overstated the benefits of DDT, and still called for it to be banned.

The question is, why is Milloy grossly inflating his figures?  Isn’t it good enough for DDT to be recognized as one of the most beneficial substances ever devised?

My father always warned that when advertisers start inflating their claims, they are trying to hide something nasty.

2.  Ruckelshaus didn’t ban DDT on his own — nor was he a “closeted” environmentalist. He got the job at EPA because he was an outstanding lawyer and administrator, with deep understanding of environmental issues — his environmentalism was one of his chief qualifications for the job.  (Maybe Milloy spent the ’70s in a closet, and assumes everyone else did, too?)  But EPA acted only when ordered to act by two different federal courts (Judge David Bazelon ordered an end to all use of DDT at one of the trials).  At trial, DDT had been found to be inherently dangerous and uncontrollable.  Both courts were ready to order DDT banned completely, but stayed those orders pending EPA’s regulatory hearings and action.

In fact, regulatory actions against DDT began in the 1950s; by 1970, scientific evidence was overwhelming (and it has not be contradicted:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency with responsibility of regulating pesticides before the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, began regulatory actions in the late 1950s and 1960s to prohibit many of DDT’s uses because of mounting evidence of the pesticide’s declining benefits and environmental and toxicological effects. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 stimulated widespread public concern over the dangers of improper pesticide use and the need for better pesticide controls.

In 1972, EPA issued a cancellation order for DDT based on adverse environmental effects of its use, such as those to wildlife, as well as DDT’s potential human health risks. Since then, studies have continued, and a causal relationship between DDT exposure and reproductive effects is suspected. Today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen by U.S. and international authorities. This classification is based on animal studies in which some animals developed liver tumors.

DDT is known to be very persistent in the environment, will accumulate in fatty tissues, and can travel long distances in the upper atmosphere. Since the use of DDT was discontinued in the United States, its concentration in the environment and animals has decreased, but because of its persistence, residues of concern from historical use still remain.

3.  Judge Sweeney ruled that DDT is dangerous to humans and especially wildlife, but that DDT’s new, Rachel-Carson-friendly label would probably protect human health and the environment. EPA Administrative Law Judge Edmund Sweeney presided at the hearings in 1971.  As in the two previous federal court trials, DDT advocates had ample opportunity to make their case.  32 companies and agencies defended the use of DDT in the proceeding.  Just prior to the hearings, DDT manufacturers announced plans to relabel DDT for use only in small amounts, against disease, or in emergencies, and not in broadcast spraying ever.  This proved significant later.

Judge Sweeney did not find that DDT is harmless.  Quite to the contrary, Sweeney wrote in the findings of the hearing:

20.  DDT can have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish and estuarine organisms when directly applied to the water.

21.  DDT is used as a rodenticide. [DDT was used to kill bats in homes and office buildings; this was so effective that, coupled with accidental dosing of bats from their eating insects carrying DDT,  it actually threatened to wipe out some species of bat in the southwest U.S.]

22.  DDT can have an adverse effect on beneficial animals.

23.  DDT is concentrated in organisms and can be transferred through food chains.

DDT use in the U.S. had dropped from a 1959 high of 79 million pounds, to just 12 million pounds by 1972.  Hazards from DDT use prompted federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior to severely restrict or stop use of the stuff prior to 1963.  Seeing the writing on the wall, manufacturers tried to keep DDT on the market by labeling it very restrictively.  That would allow people to buy it legally,  and then use it illegally, but such misuse can almost never be prosecuted.

Sweeney wrote that, under the new, very restrictive label, DDT could be kept on the market.  Ruckelshaus ruled that EPA had a duty to protect the environment even from abusive, off-label use, and issued a ban on all agricultural use.

4.  More DDT today won’t significantly reduce malaria’s death toll. Milloy fails to mention that DDT use against malaria was slowed dramatically in the mid-1960s — seven years before the U.S. banned spraying cotton with it — because mosquitoes had become resistant and immune to DDT.  DDT use was not stopped because of the U.S. ban on spraying crops; DDT use was reduced because it didn’t work.

Milloy also ignores the fact that DDT is being used today.  Not all populations of mosquitoes developed immunity, yet.  DDT has a place in a carefully-managed program of “integrated vector management,” involving rotating several pesticides to ensure mosquitoes don’t evolve immunity, and spraying small amounts of the pesticide on the walls of houses where it is most effective, and ensuring that DDT especially does not get outdoors.

To the extent DDT can be used effectively, it is being used.  More DDT can only cause environmental harm, and perhaps harm to human health.

Most significantly, Milloy grossly overstates the effectiveness of DDT.  Deaths from malaria numbered nearly 3 million a year in the late 1950s; by the middle 1960s, the death rate hovered near 2 million per year.  Today, annual death rates are under a million — less than half the death rate when DDT use was at its peak.  Were DDT the panacea Milloy claims, shouldn’t the death numbers go the other way?

Milloy gets away making wild, misleading and inaccurate claims when editors don’t bother to read his stuff, and they don’t bother to ask “does this make sense?”  Nothing Milloy claims could be confirmed with a search of PubMed, the most easily accessible, authoritative data base of serious science journals dealing with health.

Obviously, Washington Times didn’t bother to check.  Were all the fact checkers let go?

Even more lunatic

Milloy also attacked the decision to get lead out of gasoline.  Ignoring all the facts and the astoundingly long history of severe health effects from lead pollution, Milloy dropped this stinking mental turd:

As to leaded gasoline, we can safely say that leaded gasoline helped provide America and the world with unprecedented freedom and fueled tremendous prosperity. We don’t use leaded gasoline in the United States anymore, but more because people simply don’t like the idea of leaded gasoline as opposed to any body of science showing that it caused anybody any harm. It’s the dose that makes the poison, and there never was enough lead in the ambient environment to threaten health.

The U.S. found that getting lead out of gasoline actually improved our national IQ.  Lead’s health effects were so pervasive, there was an almost-immediate improvement in health for the entire nation, especially children, when lead was removed.  Denying the harms of tetraethyl lead in gasoline goes past junk science, to outright falsehood.

What is Milloy’s fascination with presenting deadly poisons as “harmless?”  Why does he hate children so?

Why do publications not catch these hallucination-like errors and junk science promotions when he writes them?

Antidote to DDT poisoning in humans:  Spread the facts:

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