Cool New Honeybee Technology

mite protection

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The varroa mite is really working a number on honey bees here in America – and we need help.

Nature might be starting to combat the scourge in her own way by producing queens that are able to bit the legs off the mites.  But working with Bayer – we may have another option:

…A four-year field study by the Bee Research Institute in Oberursel, Germany has found that the parasite is at the heart of the problem: “If we keep up our efforts at controlling the varroa mite, many more bee populations will survive,” explains Professor Nikolaus Koeniger, who was the institute’s director for many years; he and his wife have been devoted to studying the varroa mite for decades.

As this famous bee expert couple knows, it is horizontal infection that is most dangerous. “Particularly at the end of the flowering period, foraging bees from healthy colonies invade colonies weakened by varroa to steal honey.

They then become infected and take back large numbers of mites to their own population.” The researchers want to prevent this transfer of mites, since “it is vital for effective mite control to stop new pests constantly entering the hive.”

They have therefore concentrated on the strategically most important point, and the joint efforts of the Bee Institute and Bayer have led to the creation of the varroa gate, a structure at the entrance to the hive. Every bee must climb through this gate when leaving or returning to its own hive. At first sight it doesn’t look anything special: just a plastic strip with holes through which the bees fly in and out.

Only a closer look shows the immense benefits of this innovation. The plastic strip is coated in chemicals. Whenever a bee passes through the gate, it touches the edge. This transfers a mite poison (acaricide) to the bee and kills any mites it may be carrying. The substance needs to be permanently available on the surface of the strip so that protection can last for several weeks. This proved to be a particular technical challenge. It was solved when Bayer’s scientists thought back to an earlier project: the flea and tick collar Seresto™ for dogs and cats.

This innovative collar was the result of a joint venture by scientists from Bayer HealthCare’s Animal Health Division, Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer CropScience.

They used a little physical trick: “The active substance molecules move between the polymer chains of the plastic matrix. They are always trying to balance out the gap in concentrations between the collar and the animal’s coat, and so rise to the surface. When some of the active substance is removed, it is automatically replenished,” says Krieger, explaining the principle.

Scientists are now using the same system to protect bees: “The acaricide is embedded in the plastic. When some is transferred to the legs or hairs of a bee, fresh supplies are automatically released from the strip to balance out the gap in concentrations between the plastic matrix and the surface,” he explains. This means that the device remains fully effective for the several weeks needed for treatment. At the same time, the amount of chemical available is never more than necessary. Scientists are still fine-tuning the formulation and application rate, and are testing two Bayer substances on bee populations in the field at various concentrations.

Very cool

 

2010 Election – A Boon to North Carolina Repulicans?

Republican vs Democrat

Prior to 2010 North Carolina was a strange state – reliably democrat in state politics and mostly republican in Presidential elections.

But then 2010:

WASHINGTON — The 2012 election should have been a good one for Democrats running for Congress in North Carolina.

They received a total of 2.2 million votes — about 81,000 more than their Republican opponents. But when those votes were divvied up among the state’s 13 House districts, Democrats came up short. Way short.

Republicans won nine seats and Democrats only four.

How did Republicans pull off this unlikely feat? State lawmakers set the stage when they redrew the boundaries of congressional districts following the 2010 Census.

Before redistricting, North Carolina’s congressional delegation was closely divided. Democrats held seven seats and Republicans held six. In any given election, three or four races could be competitive.

Amazing.

But is there a reason?

But the 2010 election was historic for Republicans in North Carolina, and the ramifications are still being felt. In 2010, Republicans won control of North Carolina’s entire state legislature for the first time since 1870, giving them control of the redistricting process.

North Carolina still had a Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue. But in North Carolina, the governor has no say over the congressional map. The entire process is controlled by the legislature.

To be sure the maps would e different after more than 140 years in the dark – but did the republicans go too far?

 

A [climate] Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Climate Models

I’ll add one – Crap

The Liberal Version Of Tolerance

Confused

I’m in DC this week taking in the sights.

Got me to thinking about things like Liberty and Freedom.

Some time ago the left was aflutter over the bill passed in Arizona allowing businesses to deny service based on religious freedoms.

Ridiculous, of course.  Everyone who believes in people being free support people businesses denying service to anyone for any reason.

But not the left – THEY have cornered the market on tolerance.  See:

Silversun Pickups have demanded that the Romney campaign stop using the band’s song “Panic Switch” at political rallies. It is the latest pop group to object to the use of a song at Republican events.

The band sent a formal cease-and-desist letter to the campaign on Wednesday, saying the Republican presidential candidate never sought permission to play the song. “We don’t like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don’t like the Romney campaign,” the lead singer, Brian Aubert, said in a statement.

And going a little further back:

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign also came under fire for using music from artists who did not support it.

In 2008, the band Heart asked the campaign to stop playing its song “Barracuda” in honor of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s nickname on her high school basketball team, “Sarah Barracuda.”

The band even went on national television to express its outrage.

“Sarah Palin’s views and values in no way represent us as American women,” Ann and Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly. “We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image.”

McCain also settled out of court with Jackson Browne for using his 1977 hit “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad without the artist’s permission.

Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp and Boston asked McCain and other candidates to stop using their music.

And Tom Petty didn’t find Michele Bachmann his type of “American Girl.” The rocker’s manager asked the Bachmann campaign to stop using his 1977 hit “American Girl” after it was played during the kickoff event for the Minnesota representative’s presidential bid.

See, it’s okay to deny service as long as it’s properly liberal.

538 Reason The Left Is Going To Explode

538As I mature in my political dialogs, I’m really trying to control the partisan in me and rely more and more on data.

It’s hard to dispute the success of Nate Silver inn 2012.

But THIS is going to make democrats and the left in general go crazy:

Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.

More:

Silver gave Republicans a 60 percent chance of wresting the Senate out of Harry Reid’s hands—a big blow to the final two years of the Obama presidency.

 

How Liberty – Democracy – Is Lost

West WIng

I’m watching the West Wing on Netflix.  Awesome clip from Season One Episode 7.  A democrat no less:

Teacher Pay In North Carolina

Corporate Competition

I need to stipulate three things: 1.  I used to be a senior high math teacher 2.  I work in corporate America in a highly competitive environment 3.  I am payed more than both the national average and mean Okay, teacher pay, here in NC it’s pretty bad:

Under the current state base pay scale, a teacher who started in the system with no experience would take 16 years to reach a $40,000 salary. North Carolina school teachers have only seen one one raise since 2008, which was 1.2 percent.

Like I said, pretty bad.  And we need to improve it. But let’s think about why.  Do we wanna pay teachers more because we only love them and think they deserve more pay?  No, at least not me.  I wanna pay teachers more because by creating the incentive to be a teacher, you attract better teachers. And why do we want better teachers?

The work of Bill Sanders, formerly at the University of Tennessee’s Value-Added Research and Assessment Center, has been pivotal in reasserting the importance of the individual teacher on student learning.4  One aspect of his research has been the additive or cumulative effect of teacher effectiveness on student achievement. Over a multi-year period, Sanders focused on what happened to students whose teachers produced high achievement versus those whose teachers produced low achievement results. He discovered that when children, beginning in 3rd grade, were placed with three high-performing teachers in a row, they scored on average at the 96th percentile on Tennessee’s statewide mathematics assessment at the end of 5th grade. When children with comparable achievement histories starting in 3rd grade were placed with three low-performing teachers in a row, their average score on the same mathematics assessment was at the 44th percentile,5  an enormous 52-percentile point difference for children who presumably had comparable abilities and skills.

And how good are we at measuring teacher effectiveness?  Well, consider this:

The vast majority of school districts in the U.S. presently use teacher evaluation systems that result in nearly all teachers receiving uniformly high ratings.  For instance, a recent study by The New Teacher Project of twelve districts in four states revealed that more than 99 percent of teachers in districts using binary ratings were rated satisfactory whereas 94 percent received one of the top two ratings in districts using a broader range of ratings.[i]  As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put it, “Today in our country, 99 percent of our teachers are above average.”

Ridiculous.

We have no useful or meaningful way of evaluating a teacher’s effectiveness.  And that has to change.  We not only need to identify the best teachers and reward them appropriately, we need to identify poor teachers and remove them from our schools. And we have to go further. We need to pay more for the teachers teaching subjects we value more.  For instance – there is no reason that an elementary music teacher or a physical education teacher.

Further, raises and bonuses need to be assigned proportionately – the better the teacher the higher the raise.  And bonus. Some say that this will create a corrosive culture and pit teacher against teacher.  I dispute this theory and point to corporate America as my example. As I mentioned above, I live in corporate America and am compensated relatively well.

I earn more than some of my peers and less than others.  I achieve stronger raises than some and less than others; bonuses in the same manner.  And I ave yet to feel a level of resentment that leads to less collaboration or cooperation. In fact, the reverse is true – I see that it increases such traits as fellow co-workers seek to emulate the stronger employee. The pay of our teachers is a disgrace.  But the method by which we determine pay is a direct result of the teacher’s unions and needs to be scrapped for a merit system without tenure.

Five Thirty Eight And Understatement

538

So first, Five Thirty Eight is live!

That is great news.  And my excitement is only heightened by reading Silver’s manifesto, specifically relating to journalism vs math:

Conventional news organizations on the whole are lacking in data journalism skills, in my view. Some of this is a matter of self-selection. Students who enter college with the intent to major in journalism or communications have above-average test scores in reading and writing, but below-average scores in mathematics. Furthermore, young people with strong math skills will normally have more alternatives to journalism when they embark upon their careers and may enter other fields.

Ya think?  As if the dig on conventional journalism wasn’t bad enough, he goes further and dings journalists in general.

I like this guy.

The Impact Of Obama’s Policies On Job Creation

Wanna see how politics in DC can impact job creation?

From IBD via Care Diem:

Proponents of a large minimum-wage hike have ignored its potential interaction with ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which the CBO suggested may result in a bigger near-term job loss than a wage hike by itself.

Firms that do offer coverage, even of the skimpy variety, would face a fine of $3,000 per full-time worker who receives exchange subsidies. This penalty is nondeductible, so for profitable retailers facing a 39.2% federal and state tax rate the fine would equate to $4,930 in wages. That comes to $2.37 an hour for a 40-hour-per-week, year-round worker.

Coming on top of a federal minimum-wage hike of $2.85 an hour, ObamaCare fines could mean a 70% increase in compensation costs for a low-wage worker.

Obama’s message to his base:  “Were here to help you find a job by making you 70% more expensive to hire.”

This is the devastating impact of populism vs. reality.  The brutal reality is that Obama’s base doesn’t understand the basic economics of his policies.

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

North Carolina Unemployment – January 2014

North Carolina continues to see positive movement in unemployment numbers:

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate continued improving in January to near the national average, falling to 6.7 percent, the state Commerce Department reported Monday.

The report was the latest to contain mixed messages about how well the state’s economy was shaping up for workers and why. While the report found the number of people employed increased by 17,407 between December and January, another survey found nonfarm payrolls recorded 7,200 fewer jobs.

While like to see the unemployment rate go down, we need to acknowledge that we are fighting serious headwinds as related to that number going down due to discouraged workers leaving the job market.  But there might be reason for a positive outlook there too:

The release of the January data was delayed by about a month as researchers revised and updated previous information, an annual process. The results of the revision indicate that the steady drop in North Carolina’s unemployment rate had less to do than previously thought with discouraged workers quitting their struggle to find jobs and no longer being counted, Brod said.