Sunday, May 19, 2013
I haven't posted a picture of the extraordinary Cheryl Cole for awhile, and it's been even longer since I updated her relationship status. (She's in one, and it's working, it appears - more on that soon).
She's also a face of L'Oreal cosmetics, and as a perk of that she gets to show up at the Cannes Film Festival and model gorgeous gowns.
And with Cheryl, it's the smile that makes her more than just a pretty face and great body. The smile makes her both radiant and girly, at the same time. (The dimples, of course).
Turns out that she and another gorgeous girl, Eva Longoria, with whom Cheryl shares a history of being married to a professional athlete who did not comprehend his outrageous fortune, met up at Cannes and showed that putting beauty together is multiplicative, not additive.
Cannes Film Festival: Long-lost 'twin sisters' Eva Longoria and Cheryl Cole
This is all just fun with the red carpet glam, but that can indeed be fun.
at 12:01 PM
The Ashes (vs. Australia) are coming up again, and England is playing New Zealand at Lord's right now. They had a disappointing visit to NZ a few months ago.
(I'm sorry that I mainly write blog posts about England cricket, but that's what the Daily Mail covers, mostly).
As of today, it turns out that impressive bowling from Stuart Broad finalized a victory at Lord's for the English team.
Broad's 7-wicket haul clinches victory at Lord's
England got 71 runs from this new guy Joe Root in their second innings; the most NZ could get in their second innings was 13.
They start the second Test on Friday.
at 11:52 AM
As the Washington D.C. area hockey fans were burned and spurned again by the fickle Gods of Hockey, I wondered how bad it's getting for here compared to elsewhere in the hockey universe.
The answer is that it's getting pretty bad, but isn't quite yet as bad as it is in other places.
I get my info from Sports Illustrated here: Longest Stanley Cup droughts
- The LA Kings won the Cup last year for the first time, not having won it before in their entire 44 years of existence, with their other appearance the infamous serious famous for the curve in Marty McSorley's blade and the godlike goaltending of Patrick Roy. Oh yeah, they also had Wayne Gretzky that year.
- Toronto Maple Leafs, last Cup in 1967, finally made the playoffs again this year. (46 years)
- St. Louis Blues, 44 years, haven't been to the finals since 1970.
- Vancouver Canucks, 41 years, 3 Stanley Cup finals.
- Buffalo Sabres, 41 years, two finals, and a few more conference finals.
- Washington Capitals, 37 years, 1 Stanley Cup final.
- Philadelphia Flyers, 37 years, but they've won a couple, and been in few more recent finals.
- Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets, 33 years. No finals, but made it to the Western Conference final last year.
- The New York Islanders, 29 years; but yeah, there were four Stanley Cups before that.
So the Caps aren't the worst it can be, yet, but part of the recent problem is that they've been ousted early with Ovie and the Young Guns. There are a lot of reasons why, and clearly hockey IS fickle, and no one ever guaranteed that every team has to win a championship. Yet I think the Caps deserve a change of luck next year, but with the new NHL alignment, they might not even make the playoffs next year. The repercussions of such a failure like that will be fairly large, I would think.
at 11:42 AM
Due to climate change, aka global warming, Rocky Mountain snowpack is getting smaller.
I'm really starting to get concerned about New Mexico's water supply.
Warmer Springs Causing Loss of Snow Cover throughout the Rocky Mountains
"Each year we looked at temperature and precipitation variations and the amount of water contained within the snowpack as of April," said USGS scientist Greg Pederson, the lead author of the study. "Snow deficits were consistent throughout the Rockies due to the lack of precipitation during the cool seasons during the 1930s – coinciding with the Dust Bowl era. From 1980 on, warmer spring temperatures melted snowpack throughout the Rockies early, regardless of winter precipitation. The model in turn shows temperature as the major driving factor in snowpack declines over the past thirty years."Got that? Global warming = warmer springs = less snow = less water. Reason for serious concern.
Runoff from Rocky Mountain winter snowpack accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the annual water supply for more than 70 million people living in the western U.S., and is influenced by factors such as the snowpack’s water content, known as snow water equivalent, and the timing of snowmelt."
at 11:22 AM
Eventually, water supply is going to be more important, and probably cause far more difficulties (as well as deaths), but right now, the world's most critical agricultural crisis is ...
Honeybees. (Kudos to you if you've been paying attention and already know this.)
As it stands, I think that it would make some sense to store away some almonds in anticipation of the imminent almond shortage. That would sound kind of funny if I didn't believe I wasn't kidding. Hazelnuts and cashews and walnuts, too. And there are some fruits that it might pay to save: blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, tangerines, tangelos, oranges, apples, avocados, pears, raspberries... are you starting to get worried yet?
Orange blossom honey? In your dreams, sweetheart.
The plight of the honeybee (from National Geographic)
This is where it gets downright scary:
"The latest data, from the 2012-2013 winter, indicate an average loss of 45.1 percent of hives across all U.S. beekeepers, up 78.2 percent from the previous winter, and a total loss of 31.1 percent of commercial hives, on par with the last six years. (Most keepers now consider a 15 percent loss "acceptable.")"
This article is even more apocalypse-is-nightic:
Bee deaths may have reached a crisis point for crops
How bad is it?
Farmers who grow crops like almonds, blueberries and apples rely on commercial beekeepers to make sure their crops get pollinated.
But the number of honeybees has now dwindled to the point where there may not be enough to pollinate those crops.
Pettis says that this year, farmers came closer than ever to a true pollination crisis. The only thing that saved part of the almond crop in California was some lovely weather at pollination time.
"We got incredibly good flight weather," Pettis says. "So even those small colonies that can't fly very well in cool weather, they were able to fly because of good weather."
Some more concerning articles:
Bee deaths create a crisis for crops
Without honeybees, we may cease to be
Mystery malady kills more bees, heightening worry on farms
Mr. Dahle said he had planned to bring 13,000 beehives from Montana — 31 tractor-trailers full — to work the California almond groves. But by the start of pollination last month, only 3,000 healthy hives remained.
Almonds are a bellwether. Eighty percent of the nation’s almonds grow here, and 80 percent of those are exported, a multibillion-dollar crop crucial to California agriculture. Pollinating up to 800,000 acres, with at least two hives per acre, takes as many as two-thirds of all commercial hives.This past winter’s die-off sent growers scrambling for enough hives to guarantee a harvest. Chris Moore, a beekeeper in Kountze, Tex., said he had planned to skip the groves after sickness killed 40 percent of his bees and left survivors weakened.“But California was short, and I got a call in the middle of February that they were desperate for just about anything,” he said. So he sent two truckloads of hives that he normally would not have put to work.
Like I said, you may want to lay aside some almonds for a rainy day.
at 11:17 AM
Friday, May 17, 2013
On the Web site for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a new Science Brief released along with a new published paper:
Coal and gas are far more harmful than nuclear power
In this, the authors make the case that direct deaths caused by nuclear energy are far less than those caused by fossil fuel burning.
I am certain that this paper will be critiqued, criticized, examined, and revisited. But it says some things that are self-evidently true, such as:
"Likewise, we calculated that nuclear power prevented an average of 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) net GHG emissions globally between 1971-2009 (see Fig. 3). This is about 15 times more emissions than it caused. It is equivalent to the past 35 years of CO2 emissions from coal burning in the U.S. or 17 years in China (ref. 3) — i.e., historical nuclear energy production has prevented the building of hundreds of large coal-fired power plants." (emphasis added - and coal-fired power plants cause direct health problems, regardless of the climate effects)And for those impressed with the rise of fracking and the concomitant rise of U.S. natural gas production, there's this eye-opener:
"Our findings also have important implications for large-scale "fuel switching" to natural gas from coal or from nuclear. Although natural gas burning emits less fatal pollutants and GHGs than coal burning, it is far deadlier than nuclear power, causing about 40 times more deaths per unit electric energy produced (ref. 2)."Wowsers.
Since the co-author of this piece is climate skeptic target James Hansen, it's not surprising that it comes down hard on GHG-emitting power plants. But what's surprising to me is the way that they approach it - not in terms of economic cost, but in terms of human cost. The alternative is that "underpowered" Third World countries could do better health-wise with more robust economies built on increased energy production. Since they may be spiting themselves with fossil fuel energy production, the alternatives are primarily solar and nuclear -- and until we get a lot of big flow batteries online, nuclear is the only proven alternative.
at 9:51 PM
Wrote at the Washington Post, in the Comments section on Thomas Boswell's column, "Washington Capitals Playoff Exit: A tradition that's getting old" :
My first comment:
"I follow tennis quite a bit. In singles tennis, you can see a player's mental state pretty readily. There have been numerous hard-fought five set (mens) matches, or three set women's matches, that were battles through the first 4 (2) sets, and which then turned into laughers, like 6-0 or 6-1, in the final set. Because in a hard-fought battle, every thing is razor sharp. Every point counts. The stress level is incredibly high when so much is riding on each swing of the racket.
But then... something goes wrong for one of the players. A call they thought was surely out was barely in. A fan yellls in the stands at the wrong time, disrupting a serve that turns into a double fault. They mishit an easy volley. SUDDENLY, in the player's mental state, everything is against them. Shots that were an inch in now fall an inch out. First serve lasers now are just long. They can't make that last step to make a return. And against them is an opponent that senses the desperation, the weakness, the errors creeping into the game, and their confidence soars. They blast away, and the opponent's weak resolve collapses. Match over.
Over and over in this series [Capitals vs. Rangers] we heard "hold serve" for the home wins. But we also heard "clinch in 6" when the Caps went back to NY. Yeah, even from Barry Melrose [ESPN hockey commentator]. They had the big MO, the confidence. Does anyone forget the nail-biting game 5 win? [Overtime win] Wasn't that mental toughness? However it happened, the refereeing in game 6 affected the outcome. The obvious interference on Perreault - not called (even he asked "Where's the penalty?"). The slew foot on Green. As one writer put it, were the Rangers such gentlemen? And the Caps lost a very close one, 1-0, creating an edgy mentality for Game 7. And when things started to go wrong in Game 7 (including an almost "I'm going to be a hero" moment for Wilson), it snowballed. They collapsed. Mental edge - pfft.
Bos, remember the Cubbies? The Bartman ball? What happened after that?
My second comment:
Having said all that, what can be done differently? When does bad karma reverse itself? You never can know. The Red Sox [pro baseball team], famously, tantalized their fans with occasional World Series appearances - which they famously, heartbreakingly lost. They kept trying to build a team with skills and mental toughness not to give up. When you have that, sometimes luck finally lends a hand. Like Mariano Rivera walking Kevin Millar, 9th inning, Game 4, down 3-0. Like Dave Roberts making a steal, just barely beating a tag from an incredible Jose Posada throw. Winning that game, just introducing enough doubt into NYY [New York Yankees] that suddenly a team that always lost couldn't lose. And finally, after decades of infamous frustration, didn't.
Certainly, personnel-wise, Caps have a lot to think about. Cap space, age, prospects (or lack of them), injuries - all of these will figure into what they do going forward. There are no easy answers. I personally think that the main thing they really lacked this year was a true reliable second scoring threat. At times in the season I thought Brouwer was that (pardon me, where was HE in the playoffs? - I thought he filled the big body tough guy in front of the net role). We never will know what a healthy Erat might have contributed, but the second line of Ribeiro-Brouwer-Fehr didn't seem to be much of a factor.
After their horrid start, this team could have packed it in and gone home early. They steadied and got some puck luck to get into the playoffs, and whatever is said about why, PK-ed a lot of minutes in the playoffs to get it to a game 7. There was one factor that was true the whole season; when they had a lot of PKs early, the offense rarely got on track during the game. I saw that happening against an effective Rangers shot-blocking D.
Final thought: did Rangers crash the net and play tough around the net to win game 6? As I recall, it was a fortunate shot from the point that fell in that made the difference.
No magic for the Caps. [I'll write a bit more about magic and the Stanley Cup later this month.]
at 9:38 PM