Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celestial bodies for January, part 3: Miranda Kerr in Wonderbra

Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Yes, it's been a short while since we've seen marvelous Miranda in lingerie. But she still fits right into her role as a lingerie model, quite well in fact.

See what I mean here:

Bra-vo! Miranda Kerr puts her stunning curves on display as she strips down to lingerie for latest Wonderbra campaign

In case you want a preview (because if you share my inclinations, you'll click on the link to see the whole thing), I have one of the pictures from the article below.

The next picture isn't from the most recent release, but let's remember when contemplating it, that this woman had a BABY.  (Pictorial proof, in nude form.  And also here.)

And looks like this now.  Sheesh.

Celestial bodies for January, part 2: Big rings

This new report from Science discusses the discovery of a brown dwarf (not to be confused with a dwarf planet) or even a young giant planet that has a really big system of orbiting rings.

Gigantic ring system around J1407b

In case you just want to see what an artist thinks it looks like without clicking on that link to know more about this discovery, I've grabbed the accompanying picture to show below.

Celestial bodies for January, Part 1: Ceres

Since we've been treated to very high resolution pictures from Rosetta of Comet 67P-Churyumov-Gerasimenko, it's time for the next Solar System object that we've never seen close up before to come into view.  JPL released images from the remarkable Dawn satellite as it approaches Ceres, and this is stated to be 30% better than could be achieved by Hubble.  So now we at least know that even if Ceres doesn't have a Great Red Spot like Jupiter, it does appear to have a Bright White Spot.

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Captures Best-Ever View of Dwarf Planet

The real close-ups happen in early March.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Just a quick pointer

Here's a quick pointer to a Washington Post article about two volcanic explosions from Mexico's Colima volcano.

Two incredible eruptions of Volcan de Colima captured on Webcam

Isn't hard to remember a time when this type of thing wasn't available for easy viewing?  And yet a volcano Webcam focused on an active volcano was a unique thing a dozen years ago.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Edgy Predictions for 2015

Edgy Predictions  (If just one of these is right, I’ll be satisfied.   If I get two right, I’ll be ecstatic.  Three right – the Big O.)

1.     The Washington Nationals will play in the 2015 World Series.

I picked them to  be in the playoffs in the Undangerous Predictions.   So it’s a bit edgy, given all that can happen in the postseason, to pick them to be in the World Series, but with this pitching corps, they ought to be.

2.    The Washington Capitals will play in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.

Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it helps to have a top-tier goalie.   So if they get in (see the Undangerous Predictions), Braden Holtby may be reaching that top-tier classification, and maybe maybe they can play for the Cup.

3.    Caroline Wozniacki will win a Grand Slam tournament, finally.  (Bonus:  she’ll release another line of underwear.)

I picked her (in the Undangerous Predictions again) to get into the semis in at least one major this year. She’s good enough to win now, Serena just can’t be expected to win them all (she’s less consistent now), and she’s proven she can fight.   If she doesn’t win one, I’d sure like Simona Halep to host a major trophy this year.

4.    Michelle Keegan will get a role in a major Hollywood movie.  (Bonus:  she’ll get married this year.  I think that’s already on the calendar. Yes, it is -- I just checked.  Probably will have major media coverage.)

Since I’ve been expecting the glorious Keegan to continue on her campaign to achieve world domination, this will be a logical next step.

5.    Hillary Clinton will declare her candidacy for President.

Well, everybody expects her to, despite the potential downsides.  Major question, unfortunately, is health. Speaking of world domination, I hope she does.

6.    A major earthquake or tsunami, or both together, will cause a minimum of 2,000 fatalities.

These things happen. I don't want these things to happen, but plate tectonics is not a hoax

7.    Senator James Inhofe will make a stunningly stupid remark about global warming in Congressional hearings.  It will be recognized widely as being totally incorrect and very stupid. Even the climate deniers will be shocked at how wrong it is, but they will still try to explain why it is correct.

I can hope!  Fox News recently had to apologize for an extremely wrong statement made by a guest about Muslim "no-go" zones.  I expect Inhofe to get incensed at a reliable scientific testifier in testimony before his committee who basically tells him that he’s wrong, and in the course of trying to prove he isn’t, the Senator will say something that shows he’s even wronger than we can imagine.

8.    In the first released results from NASA’s new precipitation mission, there will be either an excess or deficit of rain in some region that is hard to explain.  (Bonus:  some climate denier will use this in a blog post to say that NASA does bad science because this result was unexpected.)

The data should come out this year.   Clearly there has to be somewhere where there is more or less rain than conventional meteorology would expect there to be, right?

9.    The Entourage movie will do a first-weekend box office of at least $50 million dollars.

Well, I am definitely going to go see it.

10.    The Avengers:  Age of Ultron movie will set some kind of box office record in its opening weekend.

Well, I think everybody is planning to go see it (if you’re into superhero movies, and it appears that a lot of us are).

Undangerous Predictions for 2015

Undangerous Predictions for 2015 (goal is more than 50% correct)


1.     The Washington Nationals will make the MLB playoffs again.

I made this prediction after they traded Tyler Clippard, but before they got Max Scherzer.  Their pitching is loaded.   Ryan Zimmerman should take the place of Adam LaRoche with no difficulty (and now he doesn’t have to throw to first base).   Some say that the team is the favorite to win the National League now. 

2.    The Washington Capitals will be in the NHL playoffs for the 2014-2015 season.

Despite some slip-ups, the ne’er-do-great Caps are playing a good system under new coach Barry Trotz, and Alex Ovechkin is much more of a two-way player now.  The unknown K-factor is Kuznetsov, who is making progress toward being a star, like he was expected to be.  If he can get there this year, they might do well in the playoffs.  And if they stop taking so many penalties!

3.    Caroline Wozniacki will be in the semi-final round of at least one Grand Slam tennis tournament this year.

She appears to still be playing very well.   And she showed last year that she can get to the finals.  So I think she’ll at least be in the last four at one of the 2015 majors.

4.    Crystal Palace FC will avoid relegation in the Barclays Premier League this season.

Wasn’t so sure in December, but the new manager Alan Pardew seems to have given them a new attitude.    Just staying in this tough league IS an accomplishment.


5.    One of these Democrats:  Hilary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, or Joe Biden;  and one of these dangerous Republicans:  Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, or Scott Walker;  will declare their candidacy for President in 2015.  I don’t consider Chris Christie or Jeb Bush dangerous.

This one doesn’t require a lot of thought, because most of these names have taken steps toward candidacy or at least declared interest in running.

6.    Either the  state of Kansas or the state of Maryland will be reported to be making “unconventional”, “unprecedented”, “draconian”, “extraordinary”  or “dramatic” steps to reduce its budget shortfall.  One of those five words will be found in an article about either state’s budget.

I live in Maryland, and the new governor had promised cuts due to the budget shortfall (notably the outgoing governor and prospective Presidential candidate, O’Malley, made some late-term cuts already).   And the Kansas budget is a disaster under Brownback, who apparently wants the whole state education system to go back to the days of the little red schoolhouse with a single schoolmarm.

7.    The efforts of Congress to reduce Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority will be unsuccessful.

They can chafe and squawk all they want, but if they really try to push back against the EPA, the GOP will face a bevy of lawsuits and an outcry in the media.  Ultimately, I don’t think that they will make major inroads.  I’m wrong on this one if they pass a law that doesn’t get vetoed (ha) that does make a major cutback in what the EPA can do.


8.    Both the Mars Opportunity Rover and the Mars Curiosity Rover will still be working at the end of 2015.

They better be.  But this is not certain, as Opportunity is old and could have a major problem any day.  But those JPL engineers are pretty smart.  As for Curiosity, it has a considerable way to go and a lot more to discover as it climbs Mount Sharp.

9.    The New Horizons mission will find at least one more moon of Pluto during its flyby.

Well, there are already four that have been telescopically detected from Earth.  Enough so that the flight engineers are worried about running into an undetected Pluto ring.  So I’m betting they’ll see at least another moon.

10.    The Dawn mission will discover something “surprising”, “unexpected” or “unexplained” about Ceres.  One of those words will be used in an article about the discovery.

Well, I go with this prediction because very little is known about Ceres, and Vesta turned out to be loaded with surprises when Dawn visited.  I don’t expect Ceres to be simple.


11.    One celebrity couple that had a baby together, born after November 2014 and extending into 2015, will break up before the end of 2015.  This does not include Jeremy Renner, since that already happened.  (Plus, the mother of his child wasn’t really a celebrity. ) This is for at least a major-minor celeb pairing, not a major or minor celeb paired with an “ordinary” person.

Couplings in the heat of passion that result in offspring tend to be volatile, and taking care of a little one without much of a prior commitment can be emotionally and physically taxing.  While I don’t wish any of the new parental couples to break up quick, I think it’s inevitable that somebody will.  Note to Ryan Reynolds:  do NOT under any circumstances break up with Blake.  You can’t be silly.

12.    A well-known actress/starlet will do her first bare-breasted nude scene in a movie.  It will be noted as a surprise (or words to that effect) in reporting.

They always do it if its necessitated by plot and the artistic verismilitude of cinema.  Cameron Diaz dropped her top last year.  So I expect another previously-covered actress to uncover.   (Emmanuelle Chriqui, oh please oh please oh please…)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vonn = Great

Lindsey Vonn was a world-class skiing champion, an Olympic medalist (including gold), and a driven athlete BEFORE she ripped her knee ligaments in a horrific crash.  She tried to come back for the 2014 Olympics, couldn't quite do it, and kept working on her rehab after that.

Well, if you haven't heard, over the weekend she tied the all-time record for World Cup ski race wins by winning a downhill in Cortina, Italy, and then broke the record with a massive win in the Super-G the next day.

Breaking the record is one thing.  Breaking the record after breaking your knee is another.  That spells greatness.

Supposedly there's a documentary about her return on this weekend on NBC.  I plan to watch.

Lindsey Vonn breaks all-time World Cup wins record

Oh yah, Tiger Woods was there to mark her achievement with a kiss.  But that's a secondary storyline to the athletic triumph.