Weather-Free Links (For Those Who Are Tired of the Irene Coverage)

Does contraception afford women greater freedom? No, not really:

Can contraception make America better?
by Carolyn Moynihan @

It’s in this market setting, described by economists, that we confront the failure of the other contraceptive agenda: liberation. Men in fact still have the upper hand in sex and women find themselves paying a high price, materially and emotionally, for the relationship they hope for. And that’s to say nothing of the cost that children bear. Increasingly for the lower middle class, that relationship is likely to fall short of marriage, not last, and, if it produces a child, to result in one parent leaving the home by the time the child is 16.

Rather than doing their research among their pals in the birth control industrial complex (the “science and existing literature”), Drs Obama, Pelosi and Sibelius should have got out into Middle America and confronted the damage that contraceptive culture has already done. They should have interviewed some of the women stalled in uncommitted relationships and feeling they must risk the birth of a child anyway before it is too late, or trying a second or third gamble in the sexual market; the women who must be asking themselves, “Is this all?”

Paul VI truly was ahead of the curve when he wrote Humanae Vitae.


Badass of the week:

Joseph Lozito

(Language warning!)

Lozito took down a spree killer on the New York subway and is now being celebrated as a prime example of traditional American masculinity.


The pathetic Wisconsin left battles on. Their target this week? A Catholic school:

Locks superglued prior to protests of Governor Walker at local school

MILWAUKEE – Protesters crowded the street outside Messmer Preparatory School in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood as Governor Walker visited the school Friday to read to children.

The protests came just hours after someone vandalized the school ahead of the Governor’s visit.

“Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school,” said Br. Bob Smith, OFM, the president of Messmer Catholic Schools, about the school on the corner of North Fratney and East Burleigh Streets.

He told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that a woman was walking in front of the school Thursday, asking people to protest.

According to Br. Smith, one protester said ” ‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”

This is why you keep losing, you union goons. When you pull these stunts, people logically conclude that you don’t actually give a crap about anyone other than yourselves.


And lastly, Obama’s super-rich champion is a hypocrite (naturally):

Warren Buffett’s taxing hypocrisy
@ NetRightDaily

What likely got the Administration’s attention was Buffett’s oped in The New York Times. Buffett proposed that “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” He implied he would like to see the capital gains be treated equally as income.

To wit, he wrote of the so-called “super-rich,” which he apparently defines as households earning $1 million or more a year: “Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.” Isn’t that nice of Mr. Buffett?

But if he were truly sincere, perhaps he might simply try paying the taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says his company owes? According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.

And thus we discover why raising taxes on the rich doesn’t work. The very rich, you see, have high-priced tax attorneys.

Irene Watch: Hurricane Entraining Dry Air, Weakening Slowly

Well…this isn’t rthe first time I’ve gotten fooled by a hurricane undergoing the start of a rapid deepening in the presence of dry air nearby. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: The storm fires convection as its’ structure improves…the new storms are initially very impressive, giving the hurricane a potent look and lowering the central pressure of the cyclone.

Step 2: The winds increase temporarily in the outer parts of the storm (the size of the tropical storm force wind region expands)

Step 3: These stronger winds suck in dry air from neighoring regions, creating gaps and instabilities in the central dense overcast of the storm.

Step 4: The dry air intrusions lead to a cooling of the atmosphere in the center of the storm, reducing the storm’s power and weakening it. The pressure rises.

Step 5: Eventually, the storm finds an equilibrium between active convection (feeding on the healthy structure of the storm) and dry air intrusions. Less convection = less dry air intrusion = more favorable environment for convection. It’s a negative feedback cycle that will cause Irene to hold at a lower intensity until she makes landfall in North Carolina and again on Long Island.

This somewhat reduces the likely impacts of the storm, but it is still jsut as powerful overall as it was yesterday at this time…the wind field is simply wider and slightly weaker in the middle and the rain will simply be more episodic to the east and south of the storm. This means less total rainfall in Eastern New England and far Eastern Long Island, no change in rainfall forecasts further west, weaker winds near the point of landfall (less hurricane force wind affects and less catastrophic damage), stronger winds even in dry quadrants of the storm out to 300 miles from the center…more tropical storm force winds early in the event…perhaps more tree damage to the west of the center than previously forecast.

The track has not changed since yesterday’s forecasts were issued…a landfall in western Long Island seems most likely (along with the Outer Banks fo NC). You shouldn’t focus on the track, however. The effects will be much more widespread and uniform than a typical hurricane.

Irene Watch: Second Rapid Intensification Cycle may be Beginning

Although major hurricane Irene has been struggling a bit with too many islands in its’ path creating unstable circulations in its’ fractured eyewall, it has continued to slowly improve its’ overall satellite presentation in the last day of two. This afternoon (Thursday, 1 PM), the storm has healthy outflow in all directions and a well-rounded central dense overcast, though the vertical structure of that CDO is a bit ragged. It may have undergone one eyewall replacement last night as it crossed the Central Bahamas, and today, as it crosses Grand Bahama, it is definitely undergoing another replacement – very visibly changed center-points and reforming the eyewall in the last two hours. These kinds of things are common even in intense hurricanes, but particularly when the eye is over land.

The central pressure of Irene continues to hover near 950 mb, but as the storm lifts north away from the islands, I expect pressures to fall further and the CDO to re-flare one last time. Starting tomorrow around midday, the storm will begin feeling the effects of the westerlies with WSW shear increasing over the storm from 5-10 m/s to 20 m/s as it nears Cape Hatteras Saturday. The shear will initially cause the storm to become more asymmetrical, and eventually cause it to weaken, but only slowly, as it is a very large circulation and will take time to spin down.

The trend westward with track continues in today’s modelling, suggesting that the heaviest rains may get back into the I-95 corridor south of Philly a little further than I was thinking last night. A large area of greater than 3 inches of rain will overspread the coastal plain from southern North Carolina to interior upstate New York and all points east…however the heaviest rain, which will be in excess of 10 inches, will be confined to a band from eastern NC through the Old Dominion of Virginia, Lower Southern Maryland, the DelMarVa Peninsula, the Phi9lly metro area, most of the state of New Jersey, lower Upstate New York and far Western New England.

The strongest winds with the storm will be felt on the3 outer banks of North Carolina and in the southern Tidewater of VA, however, hurricane force winds also seem likely in extreme coastal new Jersey and most of Long Island, at least in gusts. The further inland track than earlier forecasts had suggested implies lesser impacts for eastern New England, where there had been concerns for hurricane conditions prior to last night.

However, a large area of 20-30 foot waves and 5-10 foto storm surges will impact the outer banks of North Carolina, the Tidewater of Virginia, the Southern coast of the DelmarVa Peninsula, all of coastal New Jersey and all of the southern Coasts of Long Island, as well as Nantucket, Block Island, Martha’s Vinyard (take THAT, Obama!!) and Cape Cod. Although the storm is expected to weaken to a category one hurricane by the time it makes final landfall in Long Island of coastal New Jersey, it will have carried a wall of water that gained momentum from earlier, stronger parts of it’s history, and because it’s such a large storm, a large area will be affected.

Many in Long Island were around to witness Hurricane Gloria, which impacted very near the current forecast landfall site and did tremendous damage even to western Long Island. I expect impacts form this storm to be similar…perhaps a tad worse in spots due to the shear size of the circulation of Irene. As level-headed as I tend to be during weather disasters (and as much as I make fun of people running to the store to buy toilet paper and bullets every time there’s a storm), even I’m going tonight to acquire emergency provisions in case I am without power for an extended period of time. I recommend anyone in the affected coastal locales do the same.

Election News

This will be a general round-up thread, to keep us up to date on the potential candidates for the GOP.

A few general news items:

A new contender? George Pataki might be getting into the race:

Reuters has the story.

Pataki is a social moderate, but all indications from New York residents indicate that he was ENORMOUSLY popular here (and would have been in power longer if not for NY’s gubernatorial term limits) for hsi no-nonsense approach to fiscal reform in the state. He was hindered by a legislature as useless as the one in Washington and a state that is slow to accept changes, but his GOP supporters in NY credit him with being invaluable in revitalizing the economy of NYC.

When your left-of-center friends hear that Pataki is getting into the race and say “I would actually vote for him!” with the kind of excitement that suggests they’re looking for anything they can get behind to take out Obama…you have to give that some thought.

Another interesting little nugget:

From the UK Telegraph (and several other papers):

John Huntsman continues to run as “the guy who’s hoping to get in as a VP” and, although he protests that he’s super serious! about winning the Iowa primary and the nomination, he has been linked to Bachmann…maybe Michelle figures that a moderate on her ticket would ease moderate GOP voters’ minds about getting behind her candidacy?

We’re in a bit of a quiet period while we wait for the debate in Florida…but it seems like the consensus amongst GOP insiders is that “all of these candidates suck…let’s keep throwing spaghetti at the wall and maybe something will stick!”

Irene Watch: Rapid Intensification Underway

As of 8 PM (Tuesday, 08/23), Hurricane Hunter aircraft have found a significant drop in the central pressure of Hurricane Irene, now located 25-40 knots south of the Turks and Caicos Islands (the easternmost extent of the Bahamas) and wobbling WNW (305 degrees) at 10 knots.

Irene has been fighting off some southwesterly shear and the intrusion of dry air from the high terrain of the Dominican Republic, but as the storm begins to pull away from Hispaniola, and the subtropical trough of low pressure sitting in the western Caribbean backs off, the storm is finally freed to intensify. Signs of this uptick in strength began about three hours ago as the outflow in the western quads of the storm began expanding and convection re-intensified over the center. Now a series of well-defined concentric rings of cold clod tops are taking shape within the central dense overcast and the minimum central pressure has fallen from 981 mb to 969 mb in the last 9 hours (by definition, this is a rapid intensification if it continues at this rate).

I expect that by the time you wake up tomorrow morning, Irene will be “eying” the Southeast directly…and will probably be a category 3 hurricane (or darned close). The storm has the potential to eventually become a category 4, but I doubt it will have that intensity by the time it nears the Carolinas.

As for the end-game…the forecast models seem to be coming into better agreement as to the likely landfall location – somewhere between Wilmington, NC and Cape Hatteras (highest probability: Morehead City) some time late Saturday night. There is even improving agreement about the trajectory of the storm after it makes landfall, with an increasing number of the major global models seeing a path that would take Irene back over open waters near the VA/NC border and then perhaps 10 or 20 degrees east of north from there to somewhere on Long Island or Block Island…though this last part of the forecast continues to have a decent amount of spread.

Further updates will follow as more information becomes available. Folks living in North Carolina know the drill…it’s time to prepare, and if you’re in an evacuation prone area, you might save yourself some aggravation and leave a little early…and you should DEFINITELY make sleeping arrangements for the weekend.

Rare Major Earthquake Strikes US Eastern Coastal Plain

If you felt the Earth move today, you weren’t imagining things. Felt from the Carolinas to Southern New England, a magnitude 5.8 (Richtor scale) quake occurred in Northern Virginia at 1:51 PM EDT today. Magnitude 4+ equivalent seismic waves were felt in NY City and Raleigh…the primary wave from the quake traveled hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes and surprised the hell out of East Coast residents.

Fortunately, the worst of the quake happened in very rural Northern VA, so structural damage is likely to be minor. Nonetheless…that was a startling experience!

Edited @ 7:51 PM EDT by Stephanie S.:

The Washington Post has coverage of the quake here.

“I moved to Washington from L.A. three years ago and am used to tremors,” said Nick Peters, who works in the District. “This one was a real one. Our office building in downtown D.C. shook steadily for a good 45 seconds, and the intensity kept building until it stopped. I was hanging on to my desk waiting for something to fall, but nothing did. Still, this was no little bump.”

That’s what we felt here in Woodbridge. It was totally bizarre. I mean, I know earthquakes do happen on the East Coast occasionally, but still…

Edited Again @ 8:11 EDT:

They were taping over at AccuWeather when the quake hit:


EDITED @ 8:17 PM by SABR Matt:

My own experience with the quake was similar to the description from DC except much lower in magnitude. I’ve felt 4.0 quakes on the east coast…but they’re usually short, sharp bumps…like what you get when you stand next to the road while a heavy tanker hits a pot hole. They usually only last a few seconds. This was a very low-frequency vibration that felt like I was on a boat. I thought I was having a stroke for a second – like I was very dizzy for no reason. But once my office mate turned and said “do you feel that?” I realized it was an earthquake. It made no sound in New York…but it did cause a pressure wave in the atmosphere as the ground rolled just enough to change the air pressure above it. Fascinating feeling the waves in my ears.

This far-reaching impact came from the “primary” wave of the tremor…the first set of vibrations…and had a distinctly transverse pattern (side to side, not just up and down). All classic signs of a settling quake…as is the extremely shallow position of the quake (estimated at less than a kilometer below ground level) and the long duration of the event.

Edited @ 8:57 by Stephanie S.:

I just laughed my ass off at this:

DC Earthquake Devastation

Horrors! How will we ever recover?

Hurricane Irene Threatens Carolinas and New England

As I’ve been privately warning my friends and colleagues in the area all summer, the summers following major La Ninas have been heavily populated with major U.S. East Coast hurricane hits. A few notable examples:

– The “bad girls” of 1954 – Carol and Donna.
– Hurricane Floyd (1999)
– Hurricane Gloria (1985)
– The great ’38
– The 1889 Disaster (the thing that destroyed an entire island near NYC)
– Hurricane Bob (1991 – the first year of a five-year El Nino, but followed a strong La Nina in 1989/1990

I had a rather aggressive forecast out as early as March that this hurricane season would be characterized by high impacts along the east coast (and in Texas…but not the central Gulf Coast), and that there could be as many as 3 major hurricane hits on U.S. soil this season. Well, the ninth storm of the 2011 hurricane season is looking like a doozy. We wasted about three names that never should have been used on short-lived atypical tropical disturbances – a common practice at the NHC these days – but this one is looking like a major hurricane rating is in the bag. A wide circulation is evident on the latest satellite imagery and the storm has well-defined outflow in all quadrants as it passes just north of the Dominican Republic.

The upper pattern stearing the storm is nearly non-existant…it is poised at the SW corner of the so-called “Bermuda High” but the winds aloft are very weak. The storm is expected to move very slowly throughout most of its life time…taking as much as 5-6 days to threaten landfall if it stays on its’ current projected east-leaning trajectory (which I believe is likely). The westerlies are further north than is typical for this time of year with a very subtle weakness in the height field between a high centered over the inter-mountain west and the Bermuda high. The major global models are in agreement out to hour 120 or so as to the relative lack of storminess across the eastern US…the pattern lacks a “kicker” trough to come down and get the hurricane and take it out to sea. Meaning it will likely continue meandering slowly northwestward and only by Sunday or so will it be caught by a much stronger looking short wave trough which is forecast to dig into the Ohio Valley area. At which point…depending on the depth and position of that short wave, the hurricane could turn NNW or due N or even NE, but by then, it will likely already have made landfall somewhere between Florida and North Carolina. I tend to lean more toward the latter than the former.

The pattern is also ideal for the formation of a very heavy rain event in advance of the storm. The scientists dub these “predecessor rain events” and they are capable of out-producing the core of the hurricane for total rainfall and magnifying the flooding impacts of a major hurricane. One such event occurred with Floyd, for example…in DC, it rained for 60 straight hours before the hurricane even made landfall over North Carolina. My co-author will remember the massive flooding and damage this storm caused on the campus of William and Mary as a result of that PRE.

Wherever this storm goes, it’s likely to cause damage on US soil, so I’ll keep the readers posted on its progress as we get closer.

News of the Bizarre

Chronic fatigue syndrome researchers face death threats from militants
by Robin McKie @ The Observer (UK Guardian)

Chronic fatigue syndrome – also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) – is common and debilitating. A recent BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) feature suggested that as many as one in 250 people in the UK suffers from it. Patients are sometimes unable to move and become bedridden, occasionally having to be fed through a tube. For more than 20 years, scientists have struggled to find the cause, with some pointing to physiological reasons, in particular viral infections, while others have argued that psychological problems are involved.

It is the latter group that has become the subject of extremists’ attacks. The antagonists hate any suggestion of a psychological component and insist it is due to external causes, in particular viruses. In the case of McClure, her “crime” was to publish a paper indicating that early studies linking the syndrome to the virus XMRV were wrong and the result of laboratory contamination. So furious was the reaction that she had to withdraw from a US collaboration because she was warned she might be shot.

Wow, guys. You seriously need to chill. Even if your condition is psychological, that doesn’t make it any less real.

You know what I suspect, though? I suspect the umbrella term “chronic fatigue syndrome” covers a lot of unidentified maladies, some of which are conversion disorders and some of which are physiological. “Chronic fatigue syndrome” is like the term “idiopathic” in a way. As Dr. House once cleverly observed, “idiopathic” is Latin for “we’re idiots because we don’t know what’s causing it.”