Possibly more ‘possum

March 19, 2012

More shots of our rather tame, wild neighbor.

Possum on the fence in Dallas IMGP8930 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

S/he may have been trying to reach the safety of the area under the heat pump -- but the dogs caught on, and "treed" it on the fence. I worried about rabies, but it seemed healthy.

I’m torn, really — are they cute, or really ugly?

Possum in Dallas IMGP8937 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

Walt Kelly would have been pleased at its familiarity with the idea of a mugwump, as it demonstrates, here.

A possum's tail IMGP8935 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

The hairless, "rat" tail is one of the least attractive features. How much cuter would it be with a furry tail?

Possum on the fence - IMGP8933 Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

He does have a very cute, pink nose, however. You could get used to dealing with these little guys.


Wegman Report plagiarism doesn’t bother George Mason University officials

March 18, 2012

Over at Desmogblog, John Mashey details problems with George Mason University’s conclusions that plagiarism did not really occur in  a report written for Congress that plagiarized several different sources.

If true, not only did GMU violate its own policies on duration, but on process, because they have ignored numerous well-documented complaints, including about 4 papers with Federal funding.  This process involved VP Research Roger Stough, Provost Peter Stearns and President Alan Merten, so it was certainly visible inside GMU.

See No Evil,

Hear No Evil

Speak No Evil … except about Ray Bradley [the fellow who filed the plagiarism complaint], who has yet to receive any report.

The attached report enumerates the problems that GMU managed not to see, shows the chronology of a simple complaint that took almost 2X longer than specified by policy and finally produced an obvious contradiction. People may find GMU’s funding and connections interesting, including similarities and relationships with Heartland Institute.  Finally, readers might recall the WR was alleged to be an attempt to mislead Congress, so this is not just an academic issue.

No e-mails stolen to expose the problem, but still no action against those who deny climate change occurs and will plagiarize papers to make their point.  It’s a not-pretty pass.

I suspect reporters get MEGO syndrome reading the stuff, but Desmogblog points to real problems, real difficulties in science, that deserve to be covered better than they have been.

Go read Mashey’s report and follow the links.

More:


Odd site to defend Peter Gleick’s exposing of Heartlandgate, citing the law that will let him skate

March 18, 2012

Much angst among Heartlandgate perpetrators over the increasingly obvious fact that Peter Gleick not only shouldn’t be prosecuted, but can’t be prosecuted under federal law, for duping Heartland employees into revealing their true intentions, to lie about global warming so people won’t “believe” it and support solutions.

Peter Gleick - World Economic Forum Annual Mee...

Peter Gleick, lifetime of informing the public accurately at a researcher's greatly diminished salary; Heartland Institute is spending thousands of dollars to convince people he changed suddenly. Who to believe? Here's Gleick at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

But this odd site cut through the clutter and posted the words of the relevant law, establishing Peter Gleick’s lack of criminality:

18 U.S.C. 1343:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both….

Did you catch that, Dear Reader?  Gleick would be guilty of federal wire fraud had he asked the perpetrators of Heartlandgate to send him money or property.

But all Gleick asked for was a copy of their agenda for a meeting, and the supporting data.  No money, no property.  Nothing of value.  Nor did he intend to use, nor could he use, any of that information to get money or property.

You noted, of course, the site is one promulgated by the Heartland Institute itself.

(Did they really mean it that way?  Probably not.)

(By the way — you may want to read the actual law from an authoritative source like the Cornell University Law Library’s Legal Information Institute (LII), and not a version filtered by people who deny global warming, nor its severity, nor its causes, or who don’t work to hoodwink gullible politicians.)

Peter Gleick:  Deep Throat of the climate denial scandals.

How can you tell whether you should be concerned, Dear Reader?

For example, if you’re a teacher, should you be concerned that in Heartlandgate, the Heartland Institute reveals itself to be working to “dissuade” science teachers from teaching science?  Or, if you’re just a concerned citizen, should you be concerned that you’ve heard precious little about the analysis of the documents released, from major news outlets?

If you are in any degree confused about who to believe in this issue, or worse, if you are convinced that there is a pattern of skirting of the laws by scientists (contrary to the evidence), you should be concerned that you’re not getting the full story.

More, Resources, Further reading:


Vote Irish for the presidency in 2012: O’Bama it is!

March 17, 2012

I’d forgotten about the birthers’ greatest nightmare — Obama’s got Irish blood in him!

Democratic Underground features a series of photos of President Obama with an Irish cousin at one of my favorite old haunts in Washington, the Dubliner.

President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness with his ancestral cousin from Moneygall Ireland Henry Healy, center, and the owner of the pub in Moneygall Ireland, Ollie Hayes, right, at The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Washington (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness with his ancestral cousin from Moneygall Ireland Henry Healy, center, and the owner of the pub in Moneygall Ireland, Ollie Hayes, right, at The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Washington (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Many great memories of the Dubliner.

In 1974, when I interned at the Senate, it was just a small bar on the first floor of the Commodore Hotel.  Rocky Johnson of Sen. Mike Gravel‘s office, one of my roommates, introduced me to Guinness.  The Dubliner was the most reliable source in D.C. at the time.  The bartender was a guy named Paddy.  It was never crowded — and they had good fish and chips with a fine, imported malt vinegar. I wasn’t exactly a regular, but I made several visits.

Ironically, for my summer job that year with the Louis August Jonas Foundation, we had a trip to D.C. planned with about 16 “boys from abroad” and the designated hotel was the Commodore — it was cheap and met our needs, being close to the Capitol.  I was asked to chaperone, and happily went.   So Freddy Jonas, the great benefactor of the foundation and Camp Rising Sun, and I could sneak down to the Dubliner for a nightcap.  Michael Greene, the foundation’s executive director, warned me that Freddy would always ask if you wanted a second drink, but Freddy would not take one himself — and so, of course, neither should staffers.

One night while Freddy and I were capping off the evening we ran into a friend from my interning, Avis Ortner, a former rodeo barrel rider who had starred in a Kodak commercial series, and who worked in a Washington law firm.  She and Freddy struck it off very nicely.  I was surprised at how much Freddy knew about horses, and the questions he had about rodeo riding.  At some point in the evening he asked me if I were going to have a second drink, and of course I declined.  “Well, you only live once.  Avis and I are having a second one, and you should join us.”  People who knew Freddy well still don’t believe me when I tell them the story.  But it’s true.  It’s the magic of the Dubliner.  [Is Avis still cleaning up at bridge in D.C.? [Yes!]]

I was back in D.C. in 1975, again with the Jonas Foundation bunch, and again at the Commodore.  The Dubliner had a successful year, and had taken over the small cafe/dining room next door to bar.

In 1976 I visited again, and after a very successful year the Dubliner kicked out the gift shop of the hotel and opened a second bar there.  It was crowded on weekends.

In 1979 I moved to D.C.  Within a couple of years the Dubliner bought out the Commodore.  You couldn’t get a seat at the bar most nights.  St. Patrick’s Day 1980 the line wrapped around the block, and though the place never had a great stage, the live act was the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem, if I recall correctly.

Reconstruction and massive redecorating made the hotel into a great stop.  Eventually the bar company sold the hotel, but kept the location.  After Kathryn and I got married, we’d walk over to the Dubliner for lunch at least a couple of times a month, and the fish and chips at the Dubliner got better.  I may have done in half the cod from the Grand Banks all by myself.

We’ve been in Texas now since 1987.  I miss the Dubliner.  Obama’s lucky he could get in, on St. Patrick’s Day.  I hope he appreciates his luck.

(Kenny’s in Baltimore tonight — more irony.  Girl Talk on Federal Hill (I think it’s an outdoor concert performance).  Better than waiting in line at the Dubliner.  Go when the crowds aren’t there, and you can savor the place.)


Playing with the ‘possum in the backyard

March 17, 2012

No, not “playing possum.”  Playing WITH the ‘possum.

The mostly-dachsund harasses any animal that may wish to take up residence under our shed — or, in some cases, under the heat pump.  The animals usually stick around for a while, though, because there is so much good stuff to dig up there.  For our part, we don’t mind when they dig up and dispose of the grubs, most of the time.

But these creatures — a possum, a raccoon a couple of years ago, armadilloes from time to time, or even rats (before Smokey the cat took them out, one by one) — eventually wander off, mostly unseen by us because they’re nocturnal.

Yesterday morning both dogs went nuts, and when I looked out, I realized they had something treed.  Between the mostly-dachsund and the border setter, they average out to a couple of beagles, and they can tree something if they want to.  Can’t get it, but they can tree it.

Possum on the fence IMGP2893 (2) photo by Ed Darrell creative commons copyright

It's an election year, so why shouldn't one of Pogo's cousins be on the fence?

It’s probably the same one I saw a few weeks ago when taking coffee grounds to the compost pile (maybe the caffeine is keeping this guy up days, eh?).  Kenny caught him crossing the alley late one night, in the headlights, of course.

I brought the dogs in, and turned them out an hour later, thinking the guy had plenty of time to get to his daytime hiding place.

They treed him again. (Actually, that’s the second treeing, pictured above.)

Later they got him on the fence in a different part of the yard.

Possum in dallas, peeking through the photinia

Possum caught in the early morning, peeking through the Chinese photinia (not red tip). Flash photography confuses the little guys, I think.

By this time I worried that the critter might be suffering from an illness — like rabies, which tends to make nocturnal animals come out in daylight, and be mean.

But there are no other symptoms.  I was relieved this morning to find new digs from the critter.  If he, or she, is digging for food, it’s probably not rabid.

In his jaunts around the world last year Kenny mentioned how ugly possums are, to one of his friends from Britain, who immediately took issue.  Cute?

Turns out Kenny’s friend was referring to the Australian possum, which is quite cute.

Australian ring-tailed possum, photo by kookr

Australian ring-tailed possum, photo by kookr. Australia has 27 different species of possum, all of them cuter and more cuddly than their American cousins.

Ours is not an Australian import.

I hope the bob whites come back, too.  Maybe it was just the drought that discouraged them last year.

It’s been a good year for wildlife, at least those with wings.  One day last week we had a tree full of cedar waxwings, passing through.  Blue jays and white-winged doves flew around them, and into the same tree.  There were a bunch of robins out — making eight weeks of sightings of the things, which leads me to understand some sizable population is staying in the Dallas area now, instead of just migrating through as they would, formerly.  On the live oak, the yellow-belly sapsucker probed for new grubs.  And on the trunk of the red oak the waxwings gathered in, another woodpecker, wholly oblivious to the cacophony, looked for emerging insects itself.   On local roads I’ve seen a bobcat — first for Texas, for me — and a few coyotes (while cousin-in-law Amanda has video of what looks to be wolves, in California!).  We haven’t gone out to look at the snowy owl in Rockwall, but there’s a chance of adding a rarity to the life-list.

With luck, we’ll get the toads, soon.  We should do well — Kathryn’s worked hard to make the yard a refuge for wildlife.  We’re mostly organic, so there should be no poisons to accumulate in any insect-eating critters.  We feed birds, several different species, and we have water for animals in front and back yard.  The National Wildlife Federation will certify your yard as a backyard wildlife habitat.  Working to get there is most of the fun; watching the wildlife is the gravy.

Backyard wildlife study is great fun.

More:


Where are the birth certificates for Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul?

March 15, 2012

Odd as hell.  It’s like Obi Wan Kenobi pulled the old mind-wave trick (“You don’t need to see his identification”), and the birthers suddenly forgot what they’ve been saying, doing and threatening, for three years.

Have you heard any of the most frantic, frenetic, dedicated birthers ask for the birth certificates of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum?

Why all the tough questions for the Democrat, for the non-lunatic, for the Chicago guy, for the kid from the single-parent household, and none for the White Anglo-Saxon Catholic/Mormon/Lapsed Lutherans?

Where’s the birth certificate for Joe Arpaio?  Could he be so tough on immigrants because, secretly, he is one, and hopes not to be discovered?

I think, perhaps, they weren’t really concerned about citizenship qualifications to be president, except to “get” Obama.  If they can’t figure out a way to win — and therefore beat Obama — by cheating, they don’t want to play at all.  Even Leo Donofrio is folding his tent.

If only Congress would get the message that America’s president is president of all of America, and their efforts to bring down the nation to “get” Obama are not working, and should be stopped, I’d be a lot happier guy.

Minor update, March 17, 2012:  Sorta as I feared/expected/realized-from-years-of-experience, the birthers are letting the current group of Republicans slide, so far as I, or they, can tell.  Most of them are completely unaware that at least one candidate has a foreign-born father, most of them don’t know where or when the candidates were born or naturalized, and of course, because the Republicans are not Obama, they don’t really care.  One birther claims to be sure that “others” are looking hard into these questions, experts.  Shades of that other Harrison Ford movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark:”  What experts?  “Top experts.”  And shame on me for even asking the questions calling their bluff.

More (if you can stand it):


Campaign 2012: Texas State Board of Education, those who do not know history . . .

March 15, 2012

Texas Freedom Network SBOE play on Santayana

I get e-mail from people who work for good schools, the Texas Freedom Network:

Texas Freedom Network

TFN Launches SBOE 2012 Campaign

Ideologues on the State Board of Education are doing everything they can to keep our children in the dark (ages). They:

  • censor American history, including what students learn about separation of church and state
  • reject established science and dumb-down instruction on evolution
  • ignore the recommendations of teachers and scholars who know what Texas kids need to learn to be successful today

Ignorance is not a Texas value. Texas needs a new SBOE.

So what can you do?

Every 10 years all 15 seats on the SBOE are up for election at once. This is that year.

Throughout this election year, our campaign will help you:

  • Get informed about SBOE elections
  • Get involved in your community
  • VOTE for candidates that restore sanity to the SBOE

Take the first step: sign the pledge and join the SBOE 2012 campaign at tfn.org/educate.

Regards,
The Texas Freedom Network
tfn.org

P.S. Take another step toward fulfilling part of your pledge by clicking here to send this message to a friend.

P.P.S. For even more campaign updates, like TFN on Facebook and follow #SBOE2012 on Twitter.

Good idea.

For years, when people asked me about my opinions “in the really important races” I’d first ask them which school district they lived in, usually pointing out that I don’t know their district.  Local school board races are probably the most important most people will vote in (or fail to vote) in their lifetimes.  Since coming to Texas and fighting the Texas State Board of Education, I wonder sometimes if the state board races aren’t even more important than your local school board.  Santayana’s Ghost agrees with the sentiments on the TFN logo above.

If you don’t already use the site, you ought to at least check out the TFN Insider, TFN’s blog which covers the Texas  SBOE better than most media in Texas.


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