Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kids Dressing Funny? Blame Andy Griffith...




Don't tell me that I got no class
Disrespect me, I'll kick your ass






Because I am suave and I have style,
And I owe my image to Gomer Pyle

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mammograms and Our Wives, Mothers, Daughters and Sisters

This blog hits close to home. Women, please read.

Here is what a recent US government panel concluded about mammograms for women under 50 years of age (This panel is empowered by the US Department of Health and Human Services):

The harms resulting from screening for breast cancer include psychological harms, unnecessary imaging tests and biopsies in women without cancer, and inconvenience due to false-positive screening results. Furthermore, one must also consider the harms associated with treatment of cancer that would not become clinically apparent during a woman's lifetime (overdiagnosis), as well as the harms of unnecessary earlier treatment of breast cancer that would have become clinically apparent but would not have shortened a woman's life. Radiation exposure (from radiologic tests), although a minor concern, is also a consideration.


This is my wife in a nutshell. My wife is currently 49 years old. Last year (2008) and the year before (2007) she had mammograms that revealed suspicious areas. Both times Rose went through what the government panel states is "psychological" and physical "harms". Anxiety, invasive (and painful) stereotactic biopsy, and a result of "no cancer". Her situation appeared to support the government study.

The third time around, ironically, occurred the same week this government study was released. My wife and I even joked about it, because for the third time in three years, here was another painful biopsy and a one-week wait for results. She even asked her surgeon, a local doctor, if all of this was necessary, given the recent information released by the government. To his credit, he pronounced the study "crap" and the biopsy was performed.

The old saying "the third time's a charm" did not prove true in this case. Instead, Rose came back with a diagnosis of Grade 0, in situ breast cancer. Same "false positive" triggers as before, but a far more serious result. At Grade 0, the cancer is considered non-invasive. Unless surgery reveals something unexpected, the cancer should be completely confined to the duct where it is located, and her 5-year cure rate is 99%. And while recurrence is more likely than what the average woman's first breast cancer diagnosis would predict , aggressive radiation and hormone-suppressant therapy should reduce her odds of recurrence to well below 7%. And, if it recurs and Rose continues to get annual mammograms, even if the cancer recurs, the cure rate over 10 years is again kissing 100%.

Not all "in situ" breast cancer evolves into invasive cancer. But 30-50% of the time, it does. And in my wife's case, while still a "wimpy" tumor under most definitions, her's pathology revealed it to be among the most aggressive in its sub-type. What the government panel is recommending for women is something like Russian roulette, or more accurately, the old "watch and wait" method doctors used to advise for early stage prostate cancer in males. My urologist calls that method "watch and die", and having had close to home experience in that arena, I can safely say if I get a suspicious PSA test, I want a biopsy and if its prostate cancer, I want it found early and gone quickly. I'll worry about the side effects later. Rose shares the same sentiments as myself when it comes to her own health. And for that, I am grateful.

Two lessons here. First, if you are a woman under 50, listen to the advice of your physician and utilize your own knowledge of family history and lifestyle (drinking, diet, exercise). My suggestion? Keep getting those annual checks and tell the government where to go.

Lesson two? Do you ladies (studies indicate women are more supportive of "public health care" than males) really want the Feds to tell you how to handle your own medical situation? Trust me, under a public "option" with a promise from Obama to reduce medical costs, eliminating "unnecessary" tests is right up their cost cutting, health care rationing game plan. Remember, your average Congressman (or woman) will be more than able to access and pay for non-public alternatives for their health care, so I imagine their wives will continue to undergo annual mammograms.

Something to think about. And the folks who sponsored the study?

Something to fear. Or at least...ignore. Better yet, send them an email and tell 'em what you think!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And Some More Food For Thought`

It didn't take too long for Ray Midgett's new blog, Eye on Dare, to give me something to write about. In all of my exchanges with Ray, one aspect of our community that seems to get overlooked is a complete understanding of what the private sector actually accomplishes. I find the same attitude prevalent among the anti-ORV crowd.

Here is Ray's recent blog, printed in whole, because it will fit easily here:

To those who say that $1/2 million dollars is not too much for Dare County to fritter away on the ORV issue, (to no avail) because it "affects our economy", EOD needs to ask..

  • "What have you gotten for your $500,000+."
  • Were the county commissioners trying to ride a dead horse, in jumping on the bandwagon in this manner? We think so.
  • Where was the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce when it was time to pay the bills?
  • Where was the Outer Banks Home Builders Assoc., Outer Banks Realtors Association, Motel/Hotel Association, Restaurant Association, when it came time to pay the bills?
  • The Home Builders Association had no problem spending money to hire a local government lobbyist 10 years ago (and still pay one) to look out for their interests. And, they have no problem putting thousands of dollars into the election coffers of "their chosen candidates" every time local elections roll around. If they, and other special interests are really interested in protecting the "overall economy," where were they when it came time to pay the county's legal bills?
Just Food for Thought.

My question is how Ray thinks tax money is raised in the first place. Taxes come from two entities in most cases, individuals and business. Individuals cannot pay their taxes without income, which usually comes from their job, which usually originates in the private sector. Even though a government employee pays taxes on his or her income, collectively they do pay enough into the system to support their salary and benefits. That comes from the rest of us; individuals and private sector companies.

If you want food for thought, think about that line of reasoning. A private sector company pays property tax on its land, buildings, and other assets. It pays sales tax on the materials it purchases. It collects and pays sales taxes, entertainment taxes, occupancy taxes, and excise taxes--all based on the revenue it generates. It pays an income tax on its profits. It pays salaries to its employees, who in turn pay income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes--none of which would be possible without the private sector employees.

Government workers benefit from the collection of these taxes. And of course, the government doesn't pay property taxes on its assets.

Knowing all of this, I expect that local government relying 100% on private sector citizens and businesses for the bulk of their revenues should include protecting that revenue source as part of their cost of "doing business", even if some of those funds come back in the form of state and Federal government distributions. The only other alternative is debt financing, the cost of which is also mostly borne by individuals and private sector mercantile activities. Or a completely public sector world. Think Cuba.

Why EOD believes the private sector and its interest groups need to put even more into government coffers is a mystery. What Dare County citizens got for "their" $500,000 was an attempt by the county to recycle some of those dollars back to the business community. That the effort was in vain is of no concern to me. It was an effort in the counties own best interest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lada Gaga A La South Park

BE AWARE: LANGUAGE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR THOSE EASILY OFFENDED

Dare County--How Others Think We Should Live

Carolina Birds is "listserv" thread that serves NC and SC birdwatchers. It is one of Derb Carter's favorite posting areas, not only for his bird sightings, but as a place to espouse his environmental point of view. Recent discussions there have revolved around the ORV issue and today someone broached the subject of the Bonner (Oregon Inlet) Bridge. Here is a sampling of what some birders feel about our area and how their opinions most likely filter up through their elected officials and interest groups such as the Audubon Society. I present them unedited except for the removal of some words for the sake of brevity. Bottom line--they want us out of here, care more about the environment here than in their own towns (where I assume they live in houses, drive cars, and reside in a place that 1,000 years ago was inhabited by wildlife that eventually was, er, displaced by their presence?? Or maybe not. Perhaps Raleigh was capital of the Caveman Nation, housing millions of nature loving cavemen living in harmony with Red Wolves...)

To make a correction, Pea Island has served as a refuge for wildlife far longer than man has ever been on the island! This area should always be allowed to perform this most important function, whether there are man-made inpoundments or not. It is ignorant to say things like "let the birds go someplace else" or "build the refuge somewhere else." We have got to learn to work around the wildlife, not visa versa.

We may have our own ideas about who we can trust and believe when dealing with such important issues as this - but one thing is for certain - you cannot trust those who merely have a financial interest in any given issue. Money warps good judgement. I for one certainly trust our scientists and wildlife biologists and the organizations that are dedicated to speaking up on behalf of wildlife far more than I would ever trust people that are either trying to increase the local tax base or are just out to make a buck.

Bottom line - There is absolutely nothing more important than protecting the environment and the wildlife that inhabit this planet! No, not even "making a living"! People have got to stop selling out nature in the name of so-called "progress." Does everything always have to be about money - it makes me sick!!!!!

Jeff Lewis

Howdy!



It's been a while since I've posted to Carolinabirds (which I really

love and appreciate--thanks Will!!), but first I wanted to say,



YEAH JEFF!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (One more
exclamation point for Harry!)

Karen Bearden

Raleigh, NC

I respectfully disagree. Barrier islands along the Carolina coast are geologically unstable, shifting sands that are incompatible with permanent structures and associated human habitation. As geologist Oren Pilkey has taught us-it is a waste of taxpayer money to subsidize such structures by Federal programs such as flood insurance subsidies and tax supported programs to build the infrastructure needed to support homes and retail businesses in these areas. Better we return these beaches to the uses Nature intended, let them shift as they will (despite our puny efforts to "nourish" beaches and so on), and enjoy them with access from boats.

Steve Compton
Greenville,SC

Its really a shame that the NCDOT and Dare county decided to replace
the Bonner Bridge with the short version. Many, many studies showed
that this was the wrong course of action if North Carolina wants to
keep Pea Island in existence. I wrote a number of letters to
politicians and folks at the DOT in favor of the long bridge to no
avail.

I
guess we'll have to say good bye to Pea Island as we know it. And we
get a new Bonner Bridge, that will probably be safe for, oh, 10 years
by the time its all completed. Why does Dare County think building
bridges literally on shifting sand is a good permanent course of
action?

I understand that Outer Banks residents can't rely on
ferries and have to have a road to get to hospitals, veterinarians, and
other services. And I am sorry that your lives get disrupted when
storms come through. You must feel that it is worth it to live in such
a wild, beautiful place. And you must have known that this was the
price you pay when you moved there.

Becky D, Raleigh


Manteo, NC


Gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Surprise, Surprise---Real Estate and Construction Are Important!

From CNBC today:

As the economy emerges from a recession triggered by the housing market crisis, increasing home sales is viewed as essential. Housing and related business account for about 20 percent of the economy, and more sales means more spending on everything from dishwashers to energy-efficient windows.


Wow! Who knew? I mean, besides the Board of Realtors, Homebuilders Associations, the Chamber of Commerce, the folks employed as sub-contractors, sales agents for hard goods that go into homes (dishwashers, ovens, HVAC units), landscapers, dump truck drivers, people who repair trucks, equipment rental companies, plant nurseries, furniture stores, restaurants, barber shops, jewelry stores, auto repair businesses, printers, web site designers, architects, engineers, and other folks who rely on well-paid construction and real estate workers as day-to-day clients, office supply stores, lawyers, insurance agents, school teachers who teach the kids of all of the above, tax collectors, county employees title insurance writers, CPA firms and conservative economists?

Feel free to leave a comment and add any business I left out...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lying Science--More on Audubon & SELC

If the Southern Environmental Legal Center's Derb Carter or the NC Audubon's Chris Canfield were to assume the identity of Pinocchio, their noses would arrive at a press conference fifteen minutes ahead of their bodies.

As an avid birdwatcher, I've been to many Audubon parks, purchased their field guides, and for a long period of time, I was a member. Like many people, my impression of Audubon came mainly from sources that depicted the organization as benign; more conservationist than environmentally radical and prone to litigiousness. Most of us probably receive mailings from them containing cute little address labels and such, begging for donations.

Don't do it. And, even though what follows is long, if you really care about the ORV issue, please read the entire post and utilize the links.

The following is a quote from the Audubon's North Carolina Director, which appears on WRAL's website in Raleigh: (thanks to the Sentinel for pointing out this article)...

“I know there are individuals and businesses out there that have been affected and I'm sorry for that,” said Chris Canfield, director of Audubon North Carolina.

Canfield said statistics show the consent decree is working.

In 2007, four piping plover chicks and 10 oyster catcher chicks grew to adulthood on the National Seashore. In 2009, those numbers grew to six and 13.

Canfield said black skimmers have also nested on the beach for the first time in three years.

“We have more than doubled the number of beach nest birds that have come together on the beach, record numbers of sea turtles,” Canfield said.


And, here is a quote from the Master Blaster of spin, the Southern Environmental Law Center's director Derb Carter.

Throughout the negotiated rulemaking meetings, we consistently offered balanced proposals that made reasonable concessions based on science, were consistent with the park’s legal requirements, and tried to accommodate the interests of other stakeholders. In fact, the negotiations ended with our most recent proposal still on the table.


Really? Let's look at some data from Derb's own website. Here is the link, so you can check my observations:

http://www.southernenvironment.org/uploads/fck/file/hatteras_beach_driving/bar%20graphs%202008%20data-permitted%20photos-final.pdf

Note how both Carter and the Audubon's Canfield select their data when speaking to the media. First, they both leave out historical data streams. Strangely, the 2009 numbers are worse than the 2008 numbers in most of the observed species (see those results below) even though the ORV ban was in force for the entire 2009 breeding season. I can give Derb a pass since his quote was from early 2009, but the Audubon spokesperson is, by now, aware of the 2009 data and chose to ignore it. While the drops were small, overall the ORV ban appears to have had zero impact on the bird and turtle nestings. Certainly not enough to claim "victory" or proclaim the species are "rebounding". Derb Carter is beginning to sound like George Bush when he uttered "Mission Accomplished" in reference to Iraq. In reality, Canfield's quote involves an increase of three birds from 2007 to 2008. And a decrease of one bird under the full 2009 ORV ban.

Also note that Derb's own bar graphs are asymmetrical in their historic results....prior to the ORV ban species numbers exhibit wide variations, even though ORV's were always present. For example, turtle nestings were only around 40 in 2002, but rebounded significantly in 2005, 2006, an d 2007--periods where Derb argues ORV traffic continued to increase. And numbers were close to 100 in 1998 and 1999; years where ORV traffic was not significantly smaller than it was in 2005. Year to year differences, with or without ORV's are widely variable, a scientific fact Derb and Canflield ignore with impunity, and no sense of shame.

More interesting, turtle numbers were also significantly up on northern Dare beaches, where nests are almost always moved by the N.E.S.T. organization to higher ground, and where 10 x 10 enclosures coexist with pedestrians and beach goers all around. Even the hatchings are attended by tourists and eagerly anticipated.

American Oyster Catchers? 2009 was lower than 2008, and 2008 showed the same numbers as 2004, when ORV's were running rampant over the beach according to the Audubon and so reported in their nationally distributed magazine.

Piping Plovers are the most revealing. First, the chart is misleading since the raw numbers used are small, creating the visual impression that huge increases are taking place. In reality, the chart measures over ten years a range of fledged chicks from 0 to 14. Thus, an increase from say, 10 to 13 chicks appears significant on the graph, when in reality we are talking about three birds. In any event, piping plover numbers show a steady decline from 1992 to 2002, then a rebound from 2003 forward, all the while with ORV's present and closings to ORV's and pedestrians non-existent in relative terms. Again, 2009 saw a decline.

Thus, when Derb claims as quoted above, that SELC and their allies are using "science" to justify their positions, they lie. Not only is the historical data inconclusive, no real scientist would use a data stream covering one year (the difference in 2007 and 2008). Given the pre-ORV diversity in the numbers cited for the affected species, the 2008 increases are statistically insignificant.

Further, no real scientist would exclude historical data and omit measurements of standard deviations and means in the data range--things even a college freshman learns in introductory statistics courses. Nor does science leave out the concept of controls and control groups. These measurements tell us, over time, what the expected normal range of species breeding success would be, what constitutes an outlier, and how one can determine if a trend is significant, ongoing, or simply within the random movement of the norm. And controls are always needed to evaluate the success of any scientific observation. In nature, animal species often experience localized and range-wide deviations in breeding success. For example, what if plovers experienced breeding success across their range in 2008? What about turtles? If they did, it would be impossible to claim the ORV ban contributed to the slight increases in 2008. Also, in periods of decline, such as 2002 for the Hatteras population of Piping Plovers, what were the results in other areas of the birds breeding range; especially areas where ORV traffic was never present. If the declines occurred across the breeding range, than the presence of ORV's cannot be the primary factor affecting the bird's success rate in mating or fledgling numbers.

Here are some 2009 numbers to contemplate when we, as taxpayers and residents consider the revenues lost, the tourists inconvenienced, the legal expenses billed to taxpayers.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Resource Management Reports
2008 & 2009 thru 8/7/2009 (Summaries)












PipiPiping Plover (PIPL) Summary:





















Total Nests to Date

Total Pairs to Date

Active Nests

Total Nests Hatched

Total Nests Lost

Total Eggs

Total Eggs Hatched

Unfledged Chicks

Lost Chicks

Fledged Chicks

As of 8/7/2009

9

9

0

6

3

42

19

0

13

6

As of 08/6/2008

13

11

0

8

5

?

22

0

15

7

Full Year 2008

13

11

n\a

8

5

43

22

n\a

15

7














AmAmerican Oystercatchers (AMOY) Summary: (includes Green Island)

















Total Nests to Date

Active Nests

Nests Hatched

Nests Lost

Total Chicks Hatched

Unfledged Chicks

Chicks Lost

Fledged Chicks



As of 8/7/2009

31

0

15

16

31

2

17

12



As of 8/6/2008

32

0

13

19

24

2

7

15



Full Year 2008

32

n\a

13

19

24

0

7

17














SeaSea Turtle Summary:






















Nests

Digs

False Crawls


Ratio of False Crawls to Nests






As of 8/7/2009

95

0

98


1.03:1






As of 8/6/2008

101

1

92


0.91:1






Full Year 2008

112

0

103


.92:1







Source is page 6 of CHNS 2008 Sea Turtle Annual Report








And, your odds if a wild predator (note "removal" can and often does mean "killed")

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Predator Removal








2002-2007

2007





Wildlife

NPS Resource





Services

Mgt. Staff

2008

2009

Totals

Species






Feral Dog

1

0

0


1

Feral Cat

26

38

53


117

Raccoon

133

101

77


311

Mink

0

1

31


32

Opossum

46

57

60


163

Muskrat

0

1

1


2

Otter

0

2

5


7

Grey Fox

30

3

6


39

Red Fox

70

6

9


85

Nutria

0

23

49


72







Totals

305

232

291

?

828







Source: 2007 & 2008 CHNS Piping Plover annual reports