Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The far end of the bell curve


In case you're wondering what 33-year-old mother of two and supermodel to the world Gisele Bundchen is looking like in a bikini these days, I can help.

Gisele Bundchen's sizzling swimwear shoot for H&M

This is one way of defining the top 0.1%.  Because the other 99.9% of the women in the human race don't look like this at 33 and after bearing two kids the natural way (by carrying and birthing them herself).


Haven't we heard this story before somewhere?


Seems like in Virginny (across ta river from me) dere's a chancit that the state guvmint could git shetdown becausin the Ree-Pawb-Lickins doesn't want to give po people Medicaid.

Seriously.

I.e., the GOP won't support an expansion of Medicaid because they aren't sure who's going to pay for it three years from now.

Seriously.

VA assembly, convening Wednesday [the day just past], unlikely to solve Medicaid, budget issues

Quotes from the above:

Unless the chambers decide to suspend their rules and take up matters not on their agendas, they will finish the day as they started — with no plan to fund schools, colleges, local governments and all manner of state services for the next two years.

and

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and a narrow majority in the evenly divided Senate say expanding Medicaid would help 400,000 uninsured Virginians and help the state’s economy. The GOP-dominated House says that Washington cannot afford to keep its promise to pay most of the cost, estimated at $2 billion a year.

and

A.E. Dick Howard, a constitutional law expert at the University of Virginia, said there would have to be a way to keep essential functions of government operating. He noted that the constitution vests the chief executive with certain powers that “at least raise the question of whether the governor has some inherent power to save the commonwealth from destruction.”

Time marches on.  In the case of the GOP, it seems it runs backward.


Lighthouse of the Week, April 20-26, 2014: Jetee de Sud Light, Lake Geneva, Switzerland


Switzerland is land-locked, but it also has some fairly large lakes.  Two of them have lighthouses. Lake Geneva has a few actual lighthouses, one that's apparently pretty famous, for which it is easy to find lots of pictures of.  The other one is less famous, and because it is in close proximity to a very large water fountain, sometimes it is not noticed.  But it is there.  It is called  the Jetée du Sud Light ("Southern Jetty" light, I would think).   The first picture shows it with the fountain (full size here). The second one shows just the lighthouse itself.  The third one shows the most famous one in the distance with the Jetée du Sud Light in the foreground.


























Monday, April 21, 2014

I do like the IPCC


The IPCC, much reviled by know-very-little-but-think-they-know-it-all climate change skeptics, is an organization that calls climate change like it is: happening now, caused by humans, very likely to get worse. 

And since climate change is their thematic centrality, they don't worry much about some of the things that worry the rest of humankind, such as the peripheral issues surrounding safe, clean, low emission nuclear power.

Because of that, they are calling for a BIG increase in humankind's nuclear generating capacity to forestall the worst climate change paths that humanity could be headed upon.

IPCC Working Group III calls for nearly 4x nuclear energy

"At the global level scenarios reaching 450 ppm are also characterized by more rapid improvements in energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from renewables, nuclear energy AND fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) OR bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050. (p. 15)"

That's what has to happen.  If we are to keep on a path that avoids the worst climate calamities that we are currently creating for ourselves. 





Confirmations made during a break


OK, I am back.

Believe it or not, it has been 10 days since I last wrote here.  Did anyone notice?  Well, probably not.  Such is my lot, to be little heard and seldom seen.   But I will still stake my place in the electronic maelstrom which we call the Web.

I even missed my Lighthouse of the Week last week.  But I'll have one for this week, tomorrow.
 
I confirmed a few things while on the break.  Here are some of them.

1.  Gelato is one of mankind's highest culinary creations.  There is probably no such thing as a bad gelato.

2. You can go home again, but home will have changed while you were gone.

3. Sometimes someone you know will have appeared to have followed a less fortunate path in life than you, and then with one critical decision, they will have followed a more fortunate path in life than you.

4. It hurts when the home team loses, even if they aren't your home team. And it feels good when the home team wins, even if they aren't your home team.

5. Young women with firm buttocks, large breasts, and flat tummies are still very attractive to me, especially when they are nearly completely exposed and only a few feet away from me.

So those are some of my observations while observing -- and not commenting.

I'll be back to full speed in a few more posts.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The great Ledecky


Up in the Washington suburbs north of here, they had the high school Metro Championship swim meet a few weeks ago.  This is essentially the state championships of Maryland, a state that doesn't have swimming statewide as a sport, but nonetheless seems to be regularly producing pretty good swimmers (Mike Barrowman, Anita Nall, Katie Hoff, Jack Conger who set the 500-yard freestyle record for boys last year, some guy named Phelps, too).

Well, now Metro Maryland is also the home of Katie Ledecky.  Katie looked a bit tired in December, but at the Metros she was rested and ready.   So she proceeded to become the first woman ever to break 4:30 in the 500-yard freestyle, a new American, U.S. Open, and of course high school record.   She did this in the prelims, because she had something else to do in the finals, which was to smash the high school record in the 200-yard freestyle.

Now, I looked around and around and around, but could not find a video of the record-breaking 500-yard swim end-to-end. I did find what I think is the end of that race; see below.  She won the 500 in the finals, about 3 seconds slower, and that video is available.  If you're interested, go find it.  I did find the 200, which is also below.

It may sound trite to say that is pretty impressive swimming.  But it sure is.


The 500

The 200

So if you're not dead by now...


This is one of the deadliest animals known.
















It's a box jellyfish.  Those lovely tentacles hold a very powerful venom.  If a swimmer encounters the box jellyfish and gets the tentacles on them, it's extremely painful.  The pain can cause swimmers to go into shock;  in the water they can drown.

Box jellyfish can kill.  It's no laughing matter.

If a box jellyfish victim comes ashore with the tentacles still attached, the standard way to treat the stinging tentacles has been to wash them off with vinegar (if it's available - if not, urine can work too, but not as well. Seriously.) New research has indicated that maybe that isn't the best way to do it.  But the research was attacked as not being conducted in such a way as to be comparable to the situation when a swimmer actually has tentacles on their skin.

Read about it here:
Should we stop using vinegar to treat box jelly stings?  Not yet

So now there's this scientific debate going on about whether or not washing off the tentacles with vinegar is a good protocol to follow, or not.  All of which is very scientifically interesting and proper, but when someone has burning, stinging box jellyfish tentacles on their skin, they aren't interested in the specifics, because they are danger of DYING.  So, based on the current state of the science, if a swimmer gets stung by a box jellyfish, don't consult the Internet to see what to do.  Wash them off with vinegar as fast as possible.

(Of course, if you're accidentally reading this because you're searching for how to treat someone that's been stung by a box jellyfish, then you didn't follow my advice.  OK, take care of that unfortunate victim NOW!)