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Storm Update [Casaubon’s Book]

So we made it through. Let me just note, however, that anyone who says that Irene was a wimpy storm that didn't do much damage shoulda been here. We're safe, but it was a near thing.

We had close to 9 inches of rain and wind gusts that I'd estimate above 60mph - they took down two big locust trees and several willows. One of the locusts came down 10 feet from the buck barn where the buck goats and the calves were, another 10 feet from the rear of the house, while my kids were sitting in the room reading. Our enormous beech tree was entirely surrounded by the rushing creek (it is normally well up on the banks) and it rocked and creaked a few times, but did not come down, which is a good thing, since it would have taken out a good chunk of the house.

Both barns held up well - they got a little wet but not too bad, and will need only minor repairs. The goats are presently outside clearing fallen brush, and in the net pretty happy that these yummy trees came down. After they are done with them, we'll move on to firewood.

The creek did cross its banks, but the house is on enough of a rise that we didn't flood - but again, it was a nearer thing than we've had before. My neighbor, she of the shared sheep was not as lucky - she evacuated, her home flooded and her livestock are spread among friends and neighbors. Our friends down in the Schoharie Valley and at the lower ends of Schenectady have it very rough.

We lost power on Sunday afternoon, which worked out very well, since the sump pump ran most of the day. We were out until this morning, which again, isn't anything I can complain about - we've had longer outages in winter from random storms. As always, we're pretty power-loss ready.

Besides the trees and one of the barn doors ripped apart by the winds, the biggest loss was my garden - the main garden was under nearly 2 feet of water. I had debated harvesting a lot of things on Saturday, but elected to spend the day at a foster parent event instead. I lost a lot of stuff - including, sadly a lot of the flowers that were slated for table and bimah decorations at a friend's bar mitzvah this weekend - I've been planning all summer for this event, but most of the flowers were blown down or broken. I'm working on finding more, but a lot of the farms around here have similar damage Still, this should be the worst thing that ever happens to us! A few broken flowers and rotting squash are small potatoes.

I'm not sorry I spent Saturday at the foster parenting event, however, instead of harvesting. Some of you (who track my stuff on facebook) will know that we were called on Wednesday to take a group of five kids (and no, not the same group of five kids that they wanted us to take the previous week, believe it or not), several of whom were suffering some severe health problems due to neglect. We got the call Wednesday afternoon and expected to have the children (ages 6 1/2 to 5 weeks) arrive that evening, then we were called suddenly and told that the judge removed only one of the children, the one who was actually hospitalized.

We weren't able to find out a lot more information immediately afterwards, and I admit, I've been losing sleep worrying about the kids not being safe. I hadn't intended to spend my Saturday afternoon at this picnic, but went in the hopes of getting more info on the kids. Fortunately, it worked - I met someone involved with the case who was able to tell me that in this case, she thought the decision was right. The parents are young, overwhelmed and have missed some major medical issues they should have caught - but from ignorance. The parents needed services and support - and now they will get them. I have to say, that did more to let me sleep well than knowing the basement was dry.

The creek has gone down enough that I'm not scared either the kids or the baby goats will fall in and drown, and I'm grateful for our near miss. I don't usually put "hurricane" on the list of major threats to upstate NY, but I might as well add it to the list of reasons why I'm glad we stay prepared.

I hope all of you are safe and well. Please let us know how things came through in your neck of the woods!


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Our post-racial society by David Atkins

Our post-racial society
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Rush Limbaugh, de facto leader of the Republican Party:

When it comes down to it, the "titular head of the Republican party, the ideal model Republican" will vote for the Democrat, says Limbaugh, because "melanin is thicker than water, folks. And that's what'll happen."

Of course, it's not about race with Republicans. Herman Cain is totally one of their best friends.


A Detailed Guide To Write An SEO Optimized Blog Post in WordPress

If the content is the King, we can say SEO is the Queen. 1WD has already brought you a lot of articles on SEO to help you optimize your blog and make it search engine friendly so you can increase your traffic and your sales. Today I will talk about WordPress SEO Optimization, being that it’s the most used platform by self hosted blogs. They say that WordPress is SEO Optimized which is the reason they use it, but it’s not fully SEO Optimized and so to reach the 100% you have to put in a little hard work apart from all the plug-ins we suggested already.

Its pretty easy to submit your blog or website to the search engines by just copying your sitemap’s URL and hitting the next buttons for their submission process. But in order to make the search engines pick your new posts and inject them into their site’s data we need to optimize our posts, just as we optimize our blog. It includes the keywords, that we use in our blog or website’s header as well as the Titles and the Tags. So in order to write a perfectly SEO optimized blog post, we need to think about it just as a web page and use some, or all, of my tips below. We will focus mainly on WordPress, for it is pretty easy to optimize for the search engines.

Post Title and SEO Title


Many users might not have yet realized that the title you write in the top bar is different than the one you write down in the SEO plugin’s bar. The title that you write in the POST Title bar is the one that appears on your blog above your post’s description or on the header bar of your browser. Whereas the SEO Title is the one that is tracked by the Search Engines and put up in their search results. Google shows up to 60 characters in their search results so it would be a better idea if you use as close to 60 characters as you can.

SEO Description And Keywords


I know many of the WordPress users just write a post, submit it and put it up on their Social Media thinking it will save the day. But trust me, that’s not the right way to deal with getting traffic. You need to have some organic and search engine traffic and search engines rely on the SEO description and keywords of your blog, more than the post content. You need to insert something into that description box that a reader can get the gist of the post easily, that it’s the thing they are searching for, because this description is the one that is shown below the post title in the search results. You should write up to 160 characters in here for the same reason as in the post title. And don’t forget about the keywords at all, for these are something that makes your post appealing. The words in this tab shows the search engine what the post is about, just like the description shows the reader.

Now, the real fact is that some users, just put in all the keywords related to the post inside that keywords box. But that is not going to give you any fruit, because search engines take these keywords and then search them throughout the content of the post, to confirm whether the post is truly about the keyword that reader has searched for. Now you might be thinking about what to put in that box, well here is deal, just think of yourself as a reader and look for the words that you would use to search for a specific blog post, for they are the one that will be more effective.

Post Permalink


This permalink is what adds up to your blog post’s link to let the readers get directed towards it. Most of the users use their post title as the permalink, and so you would be wondering whats the importance of a permalink. Well take the example of this post. The post title is ‘A Detailed Guide To Write An SEO Optimized Blog Post in WordPress’, and now if I use the same as my permalink, it would hurt my SEO. The reason is that the words ‘A, To, An, In’ are STOP words, and these are skipped by the search engines, to save their disk space and speed up indexing. We need to avoid having these stop words in our permalinks, and so the permalink I used for this post is rather ‘guide-write-seo-optimized-blog-post’. Oh and by the way if you have already submitted your post, don’t try to change your permalink now, for the old permalink will give an ERROR to your readers and it will effect your blog/website’s reputation.

You can find some more stop words HERE.

Post Interlinking


This is a crucial step while writing a blog post, especially when your blog has a very high bounce rate. Bounce rate is actually the percentage of the readers that run away from your blog without jumping to another page. How we work it out is that we link the old post on our blogs to the related words on our new blog post. WordPress has a new feature now while inserting/editing a link. You can now easily click or link to existing content and write the related word that you are searching a related post for, and select it. This option in WordPress clearly shows how user friendly WordPress has become for bloggers, to easily optimize their blogs. In SEO terms, interlinking to your old posts improves your page rank and gives a new route to the search engines to crawl over your old blog posts if they may have faced an error crawling it before.

Image Optimization


When I used to blog for my own blog a long time ago, I usually used to ignore this step and didn’t realize that I was doing something wrong until I started adopting this method for my new blog, when I saw some traffic being generated from ‘‘. This happened because I optimized the images that I insert in my blog posts. The method to do that is very simple. After you insert your image, just open its options, and add the details of the image into the tab ‘Alternate Text’. See, for example, the image above is for the image settings, so I used ‘Image-Settings’ as an alternate text. Now whenever someone will search for ‘Image-Settings’ they will land on this post.

There are many plugins to do this, but the best one is SEO Friendly Images which automatically adds the name of the image as its Alternate Text, and so for this purpose when you are saving an image, always save it with the details that are in the picture.

To summarize all the important steps above, I would want you to do take care of your post’s keywords for that is what the search engine will crawl upon your post. In order for your post to gain a good position in the search results (rather than a post that tries to scam the system by filling everything with keyword after keyword and no real content), just take care of these things below and you will notice the difference:

After choosing a keyword for your blog post, try to make sure:

  1. The title contains the keyword.
  2. The title starts with the keyword.
  3. The permalink contains the keyword.
  4. The SEO description contains the keyword.
  5. The SEO description starts with the keyword.
  6. The SEO keyword contains the keyword.
  7. The content has the keyword with a density of at most 4.5%
  8. An image in the post contains the keyword as the alternate text.
  9. The content contains a Bold keyword.
  10. The content contains an Italicized keyword.
  11. The content contains an Underlined keyword.
  12. The content contains a keyword linked to a post on the same blog.
  13. The content contains a keyword linked to a post from some other website/blog.
  14. The content contains the keyword in the first and in the last 100 words.

The reason of having a keyword in the title, permalink, description and keywords is obvious. The keyword density being too low will prove that your post is not a scam. The keywords being bold, italicized and underlined is because search engines sometimes give preference to text that is different than the main body text and detecting the ones that ‘stand out’ as keywords will help further imporve yor ranking. Linking to other blogs also can improve your ranking.

I believe that this detailed guide to writing an SEO Optimized Blog post will help you reach your goal and you will surely notice the difference after implementing this method. Do leave your comments below to share your experience and even if you have something to ask about.


Thanks, Prop 13!

The Ventura County Star reports on another victim of austerity:

Birds from around the world have called it home since it was built in 1926 outside Santa Paula in Steckel Park.

Now Ventura County officials plan to demolish the Steckel Park aviary, saying it is dilapidated and would cost too much to make it an acceptable shelter for the feathered creatures.

"The county just doesn't have that kind of money now," Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long said.

Exactly when the bird sanctuary will be torn down is unknown, said Ron Van Dyck, deputy director of the Ventura County Parks Department, which takes care of Steckel Park.

County officials plan to first find homes for the 100-plus birds now at the shelter, which is next to Highway 150, about five miles north of downtown Santa Paula. The birds include ducks and doves, parrots and parakeets, lovebirds and turkeys, and conures and cockatiels...

Once the shelter is gone, the county expects to save about $11,000 a year, money that is now spent in feeding and caring for the birds, Long said...

Back then, in the pre-Prop. 13 days, the county and other public agencies had enough funding to support not only the aviary but many other amenities, including an amphitheater at Steckel Park, Slaughter said.

"The aviary was a popular place for many years with families and children," Slaughter.

"It was almost like a small zoo."

But many public facilities across California have deteriorated since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Slaughter said.

Grover Norquist be praised. The only question is when--or if--voters will wake up to why we can't have nice things anymore. The sad part is that many of the families who will be upset over the closure will have voted for anti-tax Republicans like Tony Strickland because of "family values."


Quackademic Medicine at Jefferson University Hospitals [Respectful Insolence]

I detest the term "integrative medicine," which is what promoters of "alternative medicine" pivoted to call "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) when they decided that they needed to lose the word "alternative" altogether. After all, no longer were CAM practitioners content to have their favorite quackery be "complementary" to real medicine because "complementary" implied a subsidiary position and they wanted to be co-equals with physicians and science- and evidence-based medicine. The term "integrative medicine" (IM) served their purpose perfectly, and "integrative medicine" departments, centers, and divisions have sprouted up in academia like kudzu growing over a telephone pole. Or perhaps it's more appropriate to say that it's invaded and metastasized like a cancer.

The most recent bit of evidence that I see for the triumph of "integrative medicine" in academia, or, as I like to call it, quackademic medicine, comes from Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson University Hospitals. There, it comes in the form of a post to the JUH Blog entitled Is Integrative Medicine Right for Your Kids? 5 Myths Debunked When I first saw this post, I must admit that it really disturbed me to learn that there is an actual Integrative Pediatrics Program at Jefferson, of which the author of this blog post, Dr. Christina DiNicola, is the director. This bastion of quackademic medicine appears to be part of the the Myrna Brind Center Of Integrative Medicine. As if that weren't bad enough, it appears that Jefferson has a lot of woo embedded in it, and that makes me sad. Actually, seeing woo like this in any academic medical center makes me sad.

To counter that sadness, rather amusingly, I observed that in "debunking" these "myths" about integrative medicine Dr. DiNicola actually went a long way towards inadvertently confirming just how unscientific "integrative" medicine is. It starts out in another most amusing fashion:

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It’s a dirty job

It's a dirty job

by digby
.. and nobody should have to do it:

Reporter Gives Update Covered In Sea Foam:

Tucker Barnes of the Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C. made what is destined to be one of the most famous live shots in history Saturday standing in Ocean, Md. as Hurricane Irene covered him what he thought was "plankton or something."

"I don't know what it is, it has a sort of sandy consistency," Barnes told Fox's New York viewers, covered head to tow in what looked like frothy pancake batter.

"It doesn't taste great," he said.

Back in his warm and dry station, the MyFoxNY anchor mused, "We've never seen anything like it."

Barnes, struggling to hold onto a boardwalk bench, said he hadn't either.

"Our chief meterologist back at the station said that it's some sort of organic matter. I guess it's plankton or something mixed in with sand and salt," he said.

"I can tell you first hand that it doesn't smell great. It feels kind of soapy."

"Be careful with that weird stuff, okay?" the anchor told him as the WTTG-TV reporter signed off. "That is a bizarre wild substance that is about to bury you."

MyFoxNY reported later that the mystery foam was raw sewage pouring into the sea and being whipped into a froth by the hurricane's winds.

Oh dear lord.

Ponzi Schemer

Ponzi Schemer

by digby

I find it very hard to believe that Rick Perry can get elected president with this crude of a message on Social Security and Medicare. It's bad enough that it's derisive toward the older people who are in the room and depend on the program.(Bunch 'o swindlers!) There's just nobody but wingnut extremists that don't support the program. Certainly, not the young people he says he's "protecting."

It’s not surprising that Americans over age 65 are virtually unanimous in seeing Social Security as an important government program. As a group, they rely on it as the single greatest source of income in retirement.

But a poll commissioned by AARP to mark Social Security’s 75th anniversary (President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the transformational legislation on August 14, 1935) has found something even more interesting: young people line up solidly behind Social Security, too.

In a national phone survey of 1,200 adults by the GfK Roper consulting firm (margin of error: plus or minus 3 percent), 90 percent of those ages 18 to 29 deemed Social Security important. In fact, almost half of them agreed with the statement that it is “one of the very most important government programs,” an opinion held by nearly 80 percent of those over 65.

And nearly three-quarters of these youngest respondents strongly agreed that while they may not need the program when they retire, a time that probably seems infinitely far away, “I definitely want to know that it’s there, just in case I do.” Sixty-two percent said they will rely on Social Security payments in some way. By a wide margin, they opposed cutting benefits to reduce the federal deficit.

George W. Bush was not the brightest light the GOP ever produced. But he wasn't dumb enough to attack the most popular program in history as a con job. This guy is just an aggressive thug. I'm beginning to think they let him in there to make Mitt Romney look better.

Update: Mojo has a nice piece up about the differences between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme. Let's put it this way: is Social Security turns out have been a decades long Ponzi scheme, it means that the US Government will no longer be in existence when these young people get old. In which case, I think they might have bigger problems.


Ride the Real Estate Roller Coaster by David Atkins

Ride the Real Estate Roller Coaster
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Remember all the pundits who said back in 2006 that we were in a different kind of economy, one where housing prices might continue to rise indefinitely, or at least never fall? Many of you will already have seen this, but below is a graphical depiction of the Case-Shiller index of home prices from 1890-2006, plotted as a rollercoaster:

See that death drop at the end? The one that never comes? Someone will have to explain why anyone in public policy listens to the morons who insisted that the inevitable would never happen. Back in 2005, I told anyone who would listen that real estate was coming down, but most people around me trusted the financial experts who said it wasn't. And yet the same fools who inflated the bubble and then maintained the bubble didn't exist, still run our economic policy no matter whether Democrats or Republicans get elected.

A year ago, someone uploaded another real estate rollercoaster video, but this time updated to mid-2010:

You'll notice how much farther it still has to come down to reach pre-bubble levels. That decline has happened somewhat in the year since the video was made, but the fact is that housing is still overvalued.

Trying to force this rollercoaster to move higher again in this context is a fool's errand, and bad public policy anyway. And yet that's exactly what the Administration is trying to do by giving the banks indemnification for mortgage underwriting fraud. Crazy.

These days it's not the real estate rollercoaster that scares me anymore. It's the public policy insanity coaster. Let me know it stops and we can get off, because I'm going to be sick.


Conservationist conservatism

Conservationist Conservatism

by digby


"The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is," she said. "Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn't do it."

In 2002, the federal government at the urging of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million. Bachmann, who wants to get rid of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she would rely on experts to determine whether drilling can be done without harming the environment.

"No one wants to hurt or contaminate the earth. ... We don't want to harm our water, our ecosystems or the air. That is a minimum bar," she said.

"From there, though, that doesn't mean that the two have to be mutually exclusive. We can protect the environment and do so responsibly, but we can also protect the environment and not kill jobs in America and not deny ourselves access to the energy resources that America's been so blessed with."

The Minnesota congresswoman, who is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012, is on a four-day swing through Florida, ending Monday in Miami.

"We do have EPA's in each of the 50 states and I think that it's up to the states," she said. "The states have the right to develop their own environmental protections and regulations, as they all have."

She said she recognizes there is a federal role when environmental issues cross borders, but she added that a big problem with the EPA now is that it does not consider job creation or job losses as part of its role in enforcing regulations. She said the regulations it does have prevent businesses from being able to reasonably create a profit.

"If we create a new department that is focused on conservation and get rid of the EPA, that would send a strong signal about what our priorities are. We believe in conservation, but I also believe at the same time that the EPA has overstepped its bounds," Bachmann said.

Well ok then. Does anyone think that Bachman has a clue about, much less an interest in, this issue? I'm guessing she was told that Floridians quite value the Everglades and that she needs to be sensitive to that when she's campaigning down there. Unfortunately, she doesn't really value environmentalism and so can't make a coherent case for it. No Republicans can (and most Democrats just lie about it.)

If there is a way to drill that guarantees there is no danger to these sensitive environments, I suppose a lot of people might be persuaded. The problem is, there isn't. But then I'm quite sure that Bachman can dig up many "experts" who say there is. In fact, there are a bunch of them working for BP and the government right now, who guaranteed that there was no danger to the gulf if they were unable to cap a well for months on end. In fact, they said that couldn't ever happen. But it did.

And look what's happening in the gulf today:

The fear is palpable on the docks from Galveston to Panama City. Commercial fishermen working the waters hardest hit by the BP oil spill are worried sick about their future. It keeps them up at night. Many are convinced the 200 million gallons of crude that spewed into the Gulf last year have done irreparable damage to the fragile fisheries that provide their livelihood. According to a new CBS News segment, Gulf fishermen “have started catching fish with sores, fin rot, and infections at a greater frequency than ever before.”

It would seem BP’s oil is coming home to roost in an epidemic of sick fish and devastated lives. An Aug. 15 CBS News video – that’s going viral as we speak – captures the uncertainty of tens of thousands of commercial Gulf fishermen: “I don’t think we’ll be fishing in five years,” says Lucky Russell. “My opinion. …Everybody is worried.”

Everybody includes LSU oceanography Professor Jim Cowan, who has been studying the Gulf ecosystem for years:

“When one of these things comes on deck, it’s sort of horrifying,” Cowan said. “I mean, there these large dark lesions and eroded fins and areas on the body where scales have been removed. I’d imagine I’ve seen 30 or 40,000 red snapper in my career, and I’ve never seen anything like this. At all. Ever.”

I'm sure that the new GOP "conservation" department, along with the EPAs in 50 states will ensure that doesn't happen again, right?

But then maybe it doesn't really matter who's in charge:

The State Department gave a crucial green light on Friday to a proposed 1,711-mile pipeline that would carry heavy oil from oil sands in Canada across the Great Plains to terminals in Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

The project, which would be the longest oil pipeline outside of Russia and China, has become a potent symbol in a growing fight that pits energy security against environmental risk, a struggle highlighted by last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By concluding that the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline would have minimal effect on the environment, President Obama would risk alienating environmental activists, who gave him important support in the 2008 election and were already upset by his recent decisions to expand domestic oil drilling and delay clean air rules. Pipeline opponents have protested in front of the White House for a week, resulting in nearly 400 arrests.

At the same time, rising concerns about the weak economy and high gas prices have made it difficult for the administration to oppose a project that would greatly expand the nation’s access to oil from a friendly neighbor and create tens of thousands of jobs.

If I were a cynic, I'd be inclined to think that certain interests were happy to keep unemployment high so as to ensure that this sort of reckless project passes muster.

But, hey, nothing to worry about. We'll have a new and improved GOP "conservation" department that will factor in the fact that 10 years after the big oil pipeline is built, many of the same people will be called back to work to clean up whatever horrific environmental disaster happens as a result. That's how it worked in Alaska, anyway. It's win-win.

h/t to iamdave

Another Week of GW News, August 28, 2011 [A Few Things Ill Considered]

Logging the Onset of The Bottleneck Years

This weekly posting is brought to you courtesy of H. E. Taylor. Happy reading, I hope you enjoy this week's Global Warming news roundup

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