Links for April 27th

  • Virginian Pilot: Large alligator spotted near NC-VA state line
    Global climate change means alligators are marching northward, clear to Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli should go for a swim in the Pasquotank River with seven feet of global warming hoax.
  • The Washington Post: The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies
    Ezra Klein's sensationalist headline aside, it's a fact that the president's agenda is substantially consistent with standard Republican positions in the early nineties. Cap-and-trade, an individual mandate for healthcare, and mixing tax increases and spending cuts for deficit reduction—all sensible conservative positions that Republican leaders are hysterically insisting are the stuff of communism. Conservatives eager to pretend that Obama is a "socialist" or a "Marxist" have tacked so far to the right—giving the president a wide berth—that they're left with Donald Freaking Trump as the most likely get to the the Republican nomination.
  • Future Journalism Project: Who Pays Teachers Best for their Time?
    A ranking, by country, of how much teachers work and their salary. Teachers in the United States work more than in any other ranked nation, but are paid the fifth-lowest amount.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

8 replies on “Links for April 27th”

  1. Regarding the alligators, I disagree with the global warming angle. While I agree that global warming is real and that human industry probably has a lot to do with it, this alligator sighting has no bearing on that.

    There has been a sustained population of gators in a pond about 16 miles south of the Virginia border for a very long time. That represents the northernmost population of American alligators known. Having one gator move 11 miles up a river isn’t that big a deal.

    Furthermore, note that it was a seven foot long alligator. If someone spotted a baby then *that* would be interesting and would suggest a northern move in response to climate change. See, there is no reason why alligators can’t survive even here in central Virginia. They can get by all right with the slightly longer winters. They just grow more slowly. I believe that the problem is that they can’t breed successfully and sustainably this far north. We can still get cold snaps during the mating season, which could screw up that whole ritual for them. Alligator eggs incubated at less that 86 degrees in the first few weeks will be 100% female, which would tend to halt population growth in the long run. I suspect that alligators at the northern end of their range would tend to include more females than those closer to the equator.

    Anyway, one seven footer showing up a little farther north is kind of neat but its size tells us that it is a vagrant rather than something that represents a shift in the animals’ range in response to climate change.

  2. Global climate change is a slow process. So alligators are found fifty miles south of the border. Then forty. Then thirty. And so on. Looking for the year that they leap 100 miles north is like creationists wanting a “transitional life form”—it’s slower than that. Defenders of Wildlife and EPA are two organizations that believe that this is exactly what’s happening with alligators. I’m sure a little googling would turn up quite a few more likewise reputable organizations who agree.

  3. @Waldo, I’m not saying that we need to wait for some specific number of miles worth of change in the range of the American alligator. What I’m saying is that the movement of a grown adult means practically nothing, no matter how far north it is. 17 years ago you’ll recall that there was a 5 foot alligator right here in the Rivanna. Probably released by a herp hobbyist, it survived for at least a few years. Random adult alligators found outside of their normal range are neat but ultimately mean nothing unless there is evidence of breeding.

    If even one baby alligator is found even a few miles north of where they’ve been in the past then I will consider that evidence of a climate-based shift in the range of the species. I’m not taking issue with the matter of incremental movement, I’m just insisting that reproduction is the factor that really counts in range expansion of non-migratory animals.

  4. So, it would be interesting to see a similar study for physicians. The working assumption is that “socialist” health care leads to lower physician compensation, and that’s why American physicians would never consider leaving. But are American physicians really as well compensated as it seems? Considering ( and the fact that medical school in many nations is paid for by the government it seems like there’s a very real argument to be made that in the end, for the work performed and the costs associated one could net more as a physician in a socialist system.

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