Pictures Of Bumblebees, And More Bumblebees

There have been times this summer when I would look out over the lawn and see MANY bumblebees in flight.  They would be everywhere.  On the flowers, and the clover cover on the ground.  They fly and buzz continuously.  These are the same cute insects that we were told as kids that should not fly as they do not have the right size of wings, or the the flaps per second, to keep them in the air.  And yet they do fly……and dip around……and delight.  I love them, and am surprised how many of them have surrounded the area this summer.  I have not seen this many since a boy in Waushara County when I would use a butterfly net to catch them.  Then I placed them into a fruit jar, and added some flowers for “food”, and would be amused for hours.  At night I would release them, only to chase new ones the next day.  This year, for whatever reason they seem truly abundant, and add something special to the blooms.   On Tuesday the bees seemed ready to be photographed.  In the past they seemed more interested in flying away.

The bumblebee above has yellow pollen loaded up on each hind leg, which is visible in this picture of a sunflower.  Bumblebees can fly from a distance of over a mile, and will return daily to the blooms until the the pollen is gone.  Bumblebees are truly incredible.  Sadly in some heavy agricultural areas in Wisconsin bumblebees are not to be found as the toxic sprays kill not only pests, but also these amazing insects.

Pollen is removed from flowers deliberately or incidentally by bumblebees. Incidental removal occurs when bumblebees come in contact with the anthers of a flower while collecting nectar. The bumblebee’s body hairs receive a dusting of pollen from the anthers which is then groomed into the corbiculae (“pollen baskets”). Bumblebees are also capable of buzz pollination.

There are over 250 species of bumblebees in the northern hemisphere, and the bees have an interesting home life.

Bumblebees form colonies. However, their colonies are usually much less extensive than those of honey bees. This is due to a number of factors including: the small physical size of the nest cavity, the fact that a single female is responsible for the initial construction and reproduction that happens within the nest, and the restriction of the colony to a single season (in most species). Often, mature bumblebee nests will hold fewer than 50 individuals, and may be within tunnels in the ground made by other animals, or in tussock grass. Bumblebees sometimes construct a wax canopy (“involucrum”) over top of their nest for protection and insulation. Bumblebees do not often preserve their nests through the winter, though some tropical species live in their nests for several years (and their colonies can grow quite large, depending on the size of the nest cavity). The last generation of summer includes a number of queens who overwinter separately in protected spots. The queens can live up to one year, possibly longer in tropical species.

The bees never seem to mind us, and I wonder where there home is.  I would like to think that they are our neighbors somewhere close.

Though it is hard to see there are three of my friends on this sunflower that towers over my head. Bumblebees have no ears, and are not aggressive like other bees can be.  I am glad to share our flowers with them!

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Did John Edwards Hurt Hillary Clinton In Democratic Nomination Fight?

Every time the Hillary Clinton team speaks there is a severe lack of rounded perspective to their explanations for things.  Over the past 24 hours the latest idea being advanced by the Clinton campaign  is that if the John Edwards sex scandal had come to light in late 2007 or early 2008 she would have been able to take advantage of the nomination fight, and prevail as the Democratic nominee.  Not so say the experts.

Assuming this is the actual breakdown of how things would have split among Edwards’ thirty percent, this scenario would have given a little more than 50 percent to Obama and a little less than 40 percent to Clinton, guaranteeing him a double-digit Iowa win.

It’s also likely that Obama may have snatched somewhere closer to 60 percent, given that Iowa had already turned into a two-person contest. But maybe Joe Biden or Bill Richardson would have popped up on the radar in an Edwards-less field.

The idea that Clinton’s standing would have somehow improved in Iowa without Edwards is just not supported by data or observation.

Both Edwards and Obama were running as populist change agents. They pigeon-holed Clinton as the status quo politician.

If anything, Edwards’ relative strength with labor unions kept Obama from getting key early endorsements — backing that could have secured an Iowa blowout and possibly a victory in New Hampshire.

If anything, Edwards was the reason why Obama didn’t rule the roost pre-Super Tuesday.

But I want to touch on another aspect of the Edwards story that no one seems to be paying attention to in Clintonland.

Had this affair come to light during the Democratic primary process, it could have potentially destroyed Hillary’s candidacy.

Why? A smooth-talking Southern politician getting caught having an affair with an eccentric “blonde” woman? Sound familiar? Exactly.

An Edwards revelation in late 2007 or early 2008 would have forced Hillary and her campaign to relive all things Monica and Gennifer and Paula.

How helpful would that have been? You think the cable pundits were tough on Hillary because of her gender? Imagine a world where Bill’s paramours were front and center once again.

Talk about feeding into Obama’s “turn the page” message, wow…This would have been a Rev. Wright-level issue for Hillary. In order to save her candidacy, she would have been forced to give the “Bill speech” or sit down with Dr. Phil and explain why she stayed.

Of course, count me as someone who always thought she should have given this speech anyway.

A number of Obama’s key supporters were with him simply because of Clinton’s baggage. If these folks could have heard Hillary explain how she planned to distance herself from Bill on these issues, they might have been won over.

We can go on and on about these Edwards “what ifs,” but it seems there are more anti-Hillary scenarios than pro-Hillary ones in an Edwards-less race.

As I said, the Clinton team lacks rounded perspective.

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Why Is Newsweek Magazine Thin This Week?

The postal person delivered the mail this afternoon, and since I was outside brought the load directly to me.  I was happy to see that among everything else the latest edition of Newsweek had arrived.  As I glanced at it I thought it seemed somehow smaller, with fewer pages than usual.  How could that be I thought as I glanced at the top of the magazine and noticed in dark letters “Summer Double Issue”?   A double issue that is so thin!  It was then I noticed splashed on the cover “What Bush Got Right” by Fareed Zakaria.  Now I know why the magazine is so thin!

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Atlantic Monthly Writes Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Was Inept And Mark Penn Heartless

The Atlantic Monthly pulls off another amazing read, and I think it essential if one wants to better understand the dysfunctional workings of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination. In the midst of the political chaos is the man I have not been kind to on this blog, Mark Penn.  The article shows what a wretched soul this heartless machine carries.  It is not pretty.  But Joshua Green’s article is a must read.

Two things struck me right away. The first was that, outward appearances notwithstanding, the campaign prepared a clear strategy and did considerable planning. It sweated the large themes (Clinton’s late-in-the-game emergence as a blue-collar champion had been the idea all along) and the small details (campaign staffers in Portland, Oregon, kept tabs on Monica Lewinsky, who lived there, to avoid any surprise encounters). The second was the thought: Wow, it was even worse than I’d imagined! The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men. Surprisingly, Clinton herself, when pressed, was her own shrewdest strategist, a role that had never been her strong suit in the White House. But her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence—on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to “do the job from Day One.” In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.

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Penn also left no doubt about where he stood on the question of a positive versus negative strategy. He made the rather astonishing suggestion to target Obama’s “lack of American roots”:

All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light.
      Save it for 2050.
      It also exposes a very strong weakness for him—his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values. He told the people of NH yesterday he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell—but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.
      How we could give some life to this contrast without turning negative:
      Every speech should contain the line you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century. And talk about the basic bargain as about the deeply American values you grew up with, learned as a child and that drive you today. Values of fairness, compassion, responsibility, giving back.
      Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t. Make this a new American Century, the American Strategic Energy Fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds.

Clinton wisely chose not to go this route. But the defining clash within her campaign quickly became the disagreement over how hard to attack Obama, if at all. Invariably, Penn and Bill Clinton pressed for aggressive confrontation to tear Obama down, while senior advisers like Harold Ickes, Patti Solis Doyle, Mandy Grunwald, and Howard Wolfson counseled restraint and an emphasis on her softer side that would lift her up. The two strategies were directly at odds.

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