Wednesday, August 31, 2011
With this Russian satellite gone rogue and threatening to hit another one, thereby causing more space junk problems and potentially more damage to other viable satellites, this would be a great time for some entrepreneuring space company to get a contract to demonstrate a de-orbiting technology that works -- and bring down this rogue before it messes things up worse.
Lost Russian satellite poses threat to space navigation
New Zealand has created new marine reserves. The more the better to help bolster depleted piscine populations. We need much more area to really make a dent into the depredations of overfishing, but every reserve helps.
Five new marine reserves are being created off the South Island's West Coast
Friday, August 26, 2011
Indicated to exist by low offshore salinity.
I will have to read more about this.
Scientists find underground river beneath the Amazon
Well, we who know science do, candidate Mitt. The answer is (in the modern era): most of it is caused by humans.
Doesn't matter now, anyway. Your goose is cooked. You're not dumb enough, conservative enough, Christian enough, and ideological enough to be the candidate of the current dumb-as-nuts GOP.
Romney says would not put limits on emissions
Asked about global warming at a town hall meeting in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Romney said he believed the world is getting hotter and humans contribute in some way to the change -- but could not judge to what extent.
"Do I think the world's getting hotter? Yeah, I don't know that but I think that it is," he said. "I don't know if it's mostly caused by humans."
"What I'm not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to."
First question that pops to mind: how're you going to get that answer, Mitt?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I always thought Brenda Song was pretty good-looking, in an Asian-American way. I also thought that she was pigeonholed for a long time as a ditz due to her role on a Disney show. "The Social Network" was a breakthrough for her. I also thought that she was probably a child prodigy, driven by her parents into a show-business life, and a high achiever who hadn't had much time for a private life.
Thus, the news that she is pregnant by Trace Cyrus, who is definitely NOT the type of guy that I imagine parents with high expectations of their daughter would expect her to bring home, catches me less surprised than others might be. I think Trace fights the exact mold of the "wrong" kind of guy that a young woman wanting to send a message would pick. Now, that doesn't mean she doesn't have romantic feelings for him; it just means that I suspect Song was attracted to the kind of "bad boy" her parents wouldn't approve of.
I could be totally wrong with this pop psychology. But there's a reason that rockers get the hot chicks, and it's not all about looks. Ask Paulina Porizkova.
Brenda Song and Trace Cyrus Expecting First Child
Now, more support for my theory, from the Wikipedia bio:
"When she was six years old, Song moved with her mother to Los Angeles to support her acting career; the rest of the family followed two years later. As a young girl, Song wanted to do ballet, while her younger brother wanted to take taekwondo. She said, "My mom only wanted to take us to one place," so they settled on taekwondo. Although Song cried all the way through her first class, she now holds a black belt in taekwondo. Song was named an All-American Scholar in the ninth grade. She was homeschooled and earned a high school diploma at age 16, then took courses at a community college and online from the University of California-Berkeley with a major in psychology and a minor in business."
That makes me think that I'm on target here. Also from the bio:
"On being a young role model to kids, Song said: "Oh goodness, I hope I can set a good example. If I can do it, anyone can. I’m living my dream every single day."
Makes me wonder if being a role model includes using birth control so as not to get knocked-up with an unplanned pregnancy. Now, I'm not saying this was unplanned, but having a baby with your rocker boyfriend at 23 when you've got a rising starlet career ahead of you... well...
Father-to-be; every mother's dream?
Controlling lionfish is turning out to be difficult. They've been spotted in a National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. Not good. Invasive species are like that - they invade.
Lionfish spotted in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
The best place for lionfish - on a plate.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Emmanuelle Chriqui's bright new day
It astonishes me that she is so adept at avoiding the paparazzi. What techniques does she use that other celebs don't? I guess it proves that if you don't want to be photographed, you don't have to be. She may also have one heck of a home gym so that she doesn't have to go out in public to the gym, where the paps photograph so many other celebs. She must do somethings to keep that marvelous shape in such marvelous shape.
She's in a low-budget, low-distribution movie called 5 Days of War that opened in August 19. Rotten Tomatoes was 45%. This would appear to be a movie that just barely avoided the straight-to-DVD route, despite having some decent name actors and actresses, and a based-in-reality plot about the Russian-Georgian war.
Not much to worry about Chriqui's career, though. I think the Entourage movie will be pretty big. If they play up and resolve the E - Sloan checkered love story properly, it could be really big for her, too.
Opportunity will be taking a close geological look at the flat tabular rock formation that I suspected had caught the interest of the controllers. They named it "Tisdale-2" -- no relation and no resemblance to Ashley Tisdale (or Wayman Tisdale, for that matter).
Wildlife responds increasingly rapidly to climate change
Species have moved towards the poles (further north in the northern hemisphere, to locations where conditions are cooler) at three times the rate previously accepted in the scientific literature, and they have moved to cooler, higher altitudes at twice the rate previously realised.
We've known this for years, but glaciers in Greenland are melting. A new report indicates that one of them is melting faster.
Research finds Greenland glacier melting faster than expected
The researchers found that Greenland's longest-observed glacier, Mittivakkat Glacier, made two consecutive record losses in mass observations for 2010 and 2011. The observations indicate that the total 2011 mass budget loss was 2.45 metres, 0.29 metres higher than the previous observed record loss in 2010. The 2011 value was also significantly above the 16-year average observed loss of 0.97 metres per year.
We've known this for years, but GOP conservatives are totally mind-bended to deny climate change in any form or function. I don't have any new reports on that, but it's damn obvious.
The only thing notable about the last Test other than the ease of dispatch was that Tendulkar of India fell 9 runs short of scoring his 100th century in international Test cricket. I have a feeling he'll stick around until they play a weaker team to get that elusive #100 100s.
England completes 4-0 whitewash of Test series against India
Hard to believe, but there are far-fetched plans afoot to build a tunnel under the Bering Sea for a train. First question: how in the world would there be money enough to make train travel on that route economical? Second question: what rail lines are going to get built in Alaska and Canada through wilderness, and how is that going to get pass environmental review? (Maybe after all the tar sands mining is done in Alberta, the Albertans won't care -- and I know the Alaskans don't if there's a buck to be made in the deal.)
The cost would be $99 billion dollars (oh, why didn't they just go ahead and call it a nice round $100 billion?) and would be done in ... 2045.
I think I have to file this one in my RIDICULOUS folder.
Bering Strait tunnel approved (sort of)
Postscript: I think they have a much better chance of launching that space hotel than ever getting the first dirt dug out for this tunnel.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Nuclear power after Fukushima: it is, still, the energy of the future
Great read, making many points that I have thought or somewhat stated (briefly, at least) regarding my energy source of choice and employment. Here's what I like best:
"Any decision to slow down nuclear-energy development needs to be taken in full understanding that nuclear fission competes almost directly with fossil fuels, not with some idealized power source that carries no risk and causes no harm to the environment. The electricity that Germany has refused to accept from seven large nuclear plants that the government ordered closed after Fukushima has not been replaced by the output of magically spinning offshore wind turbines or highly efficient solar panels. It has been replaced by burning more gas from Russia, by burning more dirty lignite in German coal plants, and by purchasing electricity generated by nuclear-energy plants in France."
Now, I'm all in favor of drastically improved societal energy efficiency, biofuels, solar panel farms in the Sahara, wind turbine arrays in the ocean and on the Great Plains. As a society, we need to be more diversified, and we need to be more conservation-minded. Conservation IS a virtue. However, economic development requires energy, and sustainable development requires clean energy. Nuclear provides that option. It is not an error that China and the Middle East are investing heavily in nuclear energy and moving forward with increased nuclearization. To their credit, they may be paving the way for the rest of the Earth to follow their lead, have abundant energy, and...
... maybe perhaps hopefully, also head off the climate change dragon that threatens to consume future generations with declining environmental conditions around the world.
What the dip on your lip reveals about your sex life
Here's the highlights:
"A recent study by the University of the West of Scotland found that women with a prominent, sharply raised ‘tubercle’ on their top lip — commonly known as a Cupid’s bow — are 12 times more likely to reach orgasm through sex alone."
OK, so I read this more than a week ago. So now I find myself standing in a grocery store line or walking in a busy downtown restaurant district on a warm summery day, and now in addition to checking out the chassis on attractive ladies that I happen to espy, I'm also trying to surreptitiously judge the depth of their tubercular dip - and then speculating on their bedroom joyfulness.
It's enough to make me forget how much the polska kielbasa cost.
Now, to give two random examples of this, here are two face shots of two well-known celebrity women that I find attractive. So... do they or don't they respond explosively when linkaged to their paramours?
Even if the first thing you don't look at it in this picture is her tubercle, you can examine it, and according to the orgasmic scale, Emmanuelle Chriqui is supposed to require either alternate methods or additional stimulation to achieve ultimate ecstasy.
On the other hand, Abbey Clancy appears to possess the necessary tubercular depth to allow her to respond supremely-positively to stimulation from the male organ of copulation during the copulatory act.
Wouldn't you like the opportunity to field test this theory? Just the pick-up lines alone could be priceless.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Why is Sex Fun?
Airs Sunday, Aug. 21 at 8pm e/p
And like I said, here's a video of a woman having an orgasm. Under a sheet, in an MRI tube. The sexiest thing about it is when one of the watching doctors says: "Should be coming around to blastoff I suspect, soon."
Oh yeah, it also shows throbbing pleasure centers in the brain.
The irony of this is that Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is one of the most effortlessly sexy women in show business, narrates the show. More on Maggie later.
It was fungal spores.
Must have been a lot of 'em, but that's what the scientists say. Probably not harmful. The other side of my brain wonders if this is some weird manifestation of Arctic climate change, but there is no way to know.
Orange goo at Alaskan village was fungal spores
Further tests with more advanced equipment showed the substance is consistent with spores from fungi that create rust, which accounts for the color, said officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The gunk appeared Aug. 3 at the edge of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community at the tip of a barrier reef on Alaska's northwest coast.
Rust as in a plant disease, not the red stuff that forms on metal. Authorities were cautious that it wasn't dangerous, but they wouldn't drink the stuff, either.
The rest of the world would do well to watch, and then to emulate the Aussies.
Australia Cabinet to vote on carbon tax
"Under the controversial tax, Australia's 500 highest-polluting companies will pay $24 per ton of carbon pollution they emit beginning July 1, 2012. In addition, a market-based carbon trading scheme would be introduced in 2015, allowing major polluters to buy offsetting shares in companies producing emissions less than target levels."
Apparently a lot of Australians don't like it. Big deal; the government is actually doing what governments should do, putting self-interest and potential political self-preservation behind them in the interests of long-term planning and what's truly best for the country. Sometimes elected representatives have to believe that they were elected because the people that elected them expected them to use their best judgment, not always act as if solely motivated by political machinations.
Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Wednesday the government has ruled out putting off the carbon tax.
"This is a reform that is in our economic interests to make," he told Sky News.
"This will drive investment in new technologies, innovation, it will improve the productivity of our economy over time -- there is no case for delaying it here."
Like I said, good on you, Australia.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Rick Perry Hits the Campaign Trail Stumbling
The IBT says:
"It's early in the 2012 presidential race, but if Gov. Perry is trying to show that he's qualified to lead an enlightened, diverse, complex society amid a period of economic, social, and technological change, he's doing an awful bad impression."
But that's not what he wants to do. Perry wants to lead an enlightened, diverse, and complex society to a different perceived destiny. He wants to change its path drastically. In this destiny, diversity is discouraged, enlightenment is not seen as an attribute, and complexity is undesirable. What is desired in this vision of destiny is simplicity, both in thought and action; conformity to the same code of moral rules and regimens; and a reversal of the "Great Society" in which Americans worked together to reduced societal ills.
In this vison of destiny, societal ills are the fault of those who suffer them the most, and they are the same ones who have to work the hardest to alleviate their suffering -- and not at the expense of those who aren't suffering.
Essentially, Perry wants to turn back the clock. Decades. And that's what he perceives the Tea Party wants to do, too.
Here's what Deval Patrick says:
"It is now clear that the Republican strategy is to drive America to the brink of fiscal ruin and then argue that the only way out is to cut spending for the powerless. Taxes — a dirty word thanks to [Grover] Norquist’s “no new taxes” gimmick — are made to seem beyond the pale, even as the burden of paying for our society shifts disproportionately to the middle class and working poor. It is the height of fiscal folly. It is also not who we are as a country."
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Y'know, I was going to make this post about the new pact between California and Nevada to reverse the decreasing clarity trend in Lake Tahoe, but then I found something more disturbing.
Anthony Watts blames the warming of Lake Tahoe on its decreasing clarity.
Now, to me, this intuitively seemed outlandish. While Tahoe's clarity is decreasing [as evinced by the figure shown on his Web site, shown below, not of his making, but properly attributed to the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC)], it isn't exactly mud-clear yet. Now, yes, more suspended matter would probably absorb radiation, but for this to be significant, it would have to be a pretty big change to overcome the basic air temperature effects that maintain the temperature of a body of water.
Now, let's review some basics here. Bodies of water and caves are similar -- left to themselves, they will equilibrate at the average temperature of their region. This actually works really well with outdoor swimming pools; if you want to know what the average temperature (diurnally) was over the past few days, go to your local outdoor swimming pool and check the temperature early in the morning. It'll be within a degree or two of the average. Lakes are an extended temporal version of this; they will equilibrate to the regional average. And it takes a considerable change in the regional average to change them. Not a slight increase in the concentration of phytoplankton in what is still a very oligotrophic (not even close to mesotrophic) body of water.
Now, I read all the comments. But before I did that, I found this paper (which one of the commenters mentioned, and another provided a link to).
The warming of Lake Tahoe
The Watts Up With That article was written in 2009, so maybe this wasn't as easily findable then. It sure was easy for me now.
Anyway, here's the abstract:
"Abstract. We investigated the effects of climate variability on the thermal structure of Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada, 1970–2002, and with principal components analysis and step-wise multiple regression, related the volume-weighed average lake temperature to trends in climate. We then used a 1-dimensional hydrodynamic model to show that the observed trends in the climatic forcing variables can reasonably explain the observed changes in the lake. Between 1970 and 2002, the volume-weighted mean temperature of the lake increased at an average rate of 0.015 ◦C yr−1. Trends in the climatic drivers include 1) upward trends in maximum and minimum daily air temperature at Tahoe City; and 2) a slight upward trend in downward long-wave radiation. Changes in the thermal structure of the lake include 1) a long-term warming trend, with the highest rates near the surface and at 400 m; 2) an increase in the resistance of the lake to mixing and stratification, as measured by the Schmidt Stability and Birge Work; 3) a trend toward decreasing depth of the October thermocline. The long-term changes in the thermal structure of Lake Tahoe may interact with and exacerbate the well-documented trends in the lake’s clarity and primary productivity."
So, basically, the climate is driving the temperature increase of the lake, and the clarity decrease might be somewhat related to that, but it is more due to increased nutrient input from increased development around the lake.
But here's the best part:
AW: " A couple of points about your claim of “ignoring” this paper. First, I’m not in the mainstream academic world as you are, I’m in the business world, so things that are “givens” for you being exposed to with periodicals and such (paid for by your university) are not part of my world. 2) Given that you do biology of lakes, (love those daphnia, spent hours loking at them as a kid) I’m sure your were already aware of this study a couple of years ago. This convenience of being in mainstream academics that I don’t have sets you up to unfairly judge me for “ignoring” a paper that I wouldn’t have the same opportunity to be pre-exposed to that you do.
Me, I have to find such things with Internet searches. The word “turbidity” is not mentioned anywhere in the Coats et al paper, so I didn’t find it in searches. Oddly with all the measurements they made, that is the one thing that paper didn’t cover. [I found the paper searching with "Lake Tahoe" and "warming" and "trend".]
There’s a lot of interesting things in the Coats paper, much of which I agree with, some that I don’t, and some that supports my idea. I’ll have more in the next couple of days. – Anthony
As far as I can tell, he never said another word about the subject. "I was wrong" might've been too simple.
Denier Rick Perry Takes $11 Million from Big Oil, Then Claims Climate Scientists ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money
This Rick Perry character is evil, stupid, ignorant, bigoted, and hateful, among other adjectives I might apply to him. There has never been a more dangerous politician who was taken seriously as a presidential candidate in my lifetime, and that includes Barry Goldwater who wanted to nuke Vietnam.
We're on the same page. Precisely because of his perceived electability on the far right regions of the Republican Party, I've been calling Governor Perry, and probably will for awhile unless his campaign ends, "The Most Dangerous Man in America".
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Room with an intergalactic view: Russian firm reveals plans for space hotel (but you might need a good book)
Well, the Daily Mail is late to the party (and I mean "party" in the absolute best sense of the word), because I wrote about this almost a year ago in September:
I can think of two ways to make money with this
Put simply, I figured that this would be the right place to get over our collective hump of wondering if two spacefarers have ever "done it" in space (and it's very likely that none ever have). Suitably presented, it could be a major money-making opportunity for ALL involved. Particularly the high-altitude honeymooners.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Using the word "chunky" is probably unfair to someone who was in marvelous shape and looked it, but she just wasn't as long and slender.
Not anymore. Pictured below is her recently spotted SLEEK physique.
Speaking of bounce-back mommies, Melissa Rycroft, former DWTS fill-in & runner-up, is looking pretty sleek herself:
So here's a study of fisheries published in Science using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) methodology.
Things are somewhat surprisingly better than I thought. But with regards to the tunas:
"In the current study, a review team of fisheries experts from the U.S., Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan first compiled a global database of information from fisheries reports and scientific publications. They then analyzed the data using IUCN Red List criteria. Their results showed that 7 of the 61 species studied (11%) were threatened (i.e., vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered), 4 species (7%) were "near threatened," and 39 species (64%) were of "least concern." Eleven species (18%) lacked adequate data and were thus classified as "data deficient."
The seven threatened species are southern bluefin tuna, Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, blue marlin, white marlin, and two species of Spanish mackerels. Graves says two main factors contribute to these fishes' troubled status: the tunas' high dollar value leads to heavy fishing pressure, and all the species are slow to reach sexual maturity, prolonging any recovery from over-fishing."
Not surprising at all, given what the news has reported over the last couple of years.
What to do, what to do??"Graves and his co-authors write that the quickest road to recovery for the most-depleted stocks -- Southern and Atlantic bluefin tunas -- is to ban harvesting of these fishes until their populations can rebuild to healthy levels. They recognize that this would cause economic hardship and increase the incentive for illegal fishing, and thus call for strong deterrents such as controlled international trade through a listing of these species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)."
Yeah, I figured that would be the logical answer. At what point do the concerned parties actually listen and react positively and responsibly to these recommendations? I can guess: the point at which it's too late.
I posted a few articles ago about the remarkableness of Brooke Burke's 39-year old, had-four-kids body. Which still looks pretty appealing.
Now here's the miraculous Miranda, one child parturitioned, a bit younger than Brooke, and well, just about plain amazing.
Like riding a bike... Miranda Kerr is back in a bikini for Victoria's Secret just six months after giving birth
This article features a baker's dozen of Kerr bikini-clad. I like the fuchsia number best.
Oh, and it says this:
"Miranda, 28, slid her post-baby figure (which is no different to her pre-baby figure) into a variety of different swimsuits from the new VS range."
I'm sorry, that statement is just not true. Her cups are much more amply filled, and I suspect that's a happy by-process of child-having and child-raising, in the nutritional sense.
The controversy about putting wind farms off of the Normandy beaches illustrates another problem with wind power -- it isn't particularly aesthetically pleasing. Now, that doesn't mean a coal-fired plant or a nuclear station are paragons of beauty either, but the problem with wind power (and solar farms, too), is that they have to cover a fairly large amount of acreage to generate the significant amounts of power needed. So therefore they are encroaching on the shore, and of course it makes sense to be as close to shore as possible to reduce the lengths of the power cables underwater, too.
In this particular case I hope that the French move the windfarms out of sight. I don't know if they will or not, though.
D-Day Vets: Wind Turbines off Normandy Beaches a 'Desecration'
So here's another instance in which pollution caused a popular uprising, this time in Dalian. The reaction of the authorities was swift, and it had better keep on being so, or this particular form of societal cancer in their massively populated country could spread, take root, and grow -- and potentially be the seeds of overthrow. And that would be an economic upheaval, bar none.
China shuts chemical plant amid mass protest
Pictures of the protest posted on Sina's Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, showed people marching down a street with a banner that read: "We want to survive, we want a good environment, give me back my Dalian."
Other pictures showed wide streets full of protesters, hundreds of people staging a sit-in on a square in front of the government office, and children taking part in the demonstrations with their parents.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Cheryl finds Glee: Miss Cole lands cameo role on hit US TV show
Maybe this will help start to get her noticed her in the States.
Brooke Burke got married to David Charvet. Smart move, David, VERY smart.
I first followed her when I didn't know her name but I saw her body in Fredericks of Hollywood catalogs. Then I figured out who she was. Then she was on E's "Wild On" (Wild on beach babes, drinking, and minor debauchery.) Then she got married, had kids, posed nude memorably a couple of times in Playboy, got divorced, got Charveted with a couple more kids, won "Dancing With the Stars", wrote books about being a Naked Mommy, confesses how much she likes getting some weekly, and now hosts "Dancing with the Stars" in formal wear that frequently displays the best breast job in the West (cleavage-wise).
That should be enough. This is what she looks like currently. Geez.
England wins convincingly
This most recent win at Edgbaston (buy a vowel) was by an innings and 242 runs, which is like lapping the field three times. Alastair Cook had 294 runs, nearly a TRIPLE century in cricket jargon. It basically means he hit just about everything he saw long and fast.
Most recent episode of "Suits" (USA Network), the rebellious daughter looked familiar despite the semi-Goth makeup spectrum and the funky chic wardrobe.
So I searched -- and it turned it was up-and-comer, fresh-faced, got most of her career ahead of her, "Whistler" and "Charlie St. Cloud's" Amanda Crew.
Now, Amanda is pretty new to the fame game, and the starlet game, and she's been the good girl in most of her roles. Which explains why one of the hottest pictures I could find of her is below. (No Maxim shoot or "Me in My Place" prancing around in her undies.) So far she's mostly cute and her sex appeal hasn't been stressed in her roles, as far as I can tell. That might change.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
still has got something going for him, namely a concern about the environment. And when the in-particular of that concern involves overfishing, well, I'll cut the Prince some slack.
Prince Charles warns of threat of overfishing
At the unveiling of Project Ocean, which is intended to alert customers and tourists in the Oxford Street area of London to the problems of overfishing, he said the oceans are an important food source that needs to be cared for.
"This is more important than ever today, as our population continues to grow and our demand for jobs and development remains apparently insatiable,” he said.
"In other words, sustaining the oceans, and the vast natural capital they sustain, would enable us to meet more needs, not less. As time goes by, however, and we continue to test our precious world to destruction, it is more and more obvious that we need an urgent change in perspective."
I've been looking and looking and looking, but I can't find a Web site for this conference. Just makes me teary-eyed thinking about it.
Actually, I'd just like to know what kind of onions they recommend on a nice juicy rib-eye steak.
Research helps breeders really know their onions to enhance global food security
"This research will not only help individual commercial growers and seed producers but will also contribute significantly to global food security, particularly in situations where rising temperatures are an issue. Enhanced resistance to Fusarium oxysporum will be of importance in dealing with rising temperatures as basal rot is more active and acute in warmer conditions.
Dr Andrew Taylor will present his work at the Onion Global 2011 conference in Deidesheim Germany which runs from 16th-18th August."
In all seriousness, I'd like to know more about what they discuss at this conference. But there isn't an online agenda anywhere to be found.
I think this is only the 2nd time, in fact.
Get out your red/blue glasses, folks. Opportunity should be generating a 3D view of Endeavour crater too, pretty soon.
3D image of Vesta's equatorial region
(Why does that sound vaguely erotic?)
It's my biased opinion that if the world does not continue to nuclearize, then it will run short of energy. Of course, there's that big solar power installation in the Sahara, and there's always the chance that developed countries will become more energy efficient (I'm not holding my breath) -- and maybe vehicular fuels will get a big contribution from the biofuel side. All of which is a hope, not a reality at all yet.
What's left is wind. Putting up wind turbines seems to be something that is somewhat in vogue these days. The problem with wind is that the individual turbines are not big power generators. For serious energy generation, a lot of them are required. Thus the appeal of offshore wind farms (plus, they don't clutter up scenic ridgelines).
So can offshore wind power be a substantial contributor to the 21st century energy mix?
Here's what the Germans and the Dutch are looking at -- the stormy North Sea.
Offshore wind power in the North Sea offers huge potential but enormous challenges
So, how much is possible?
"... the North Sea could become home to offshore wind farms with a combined generating capacity as high as 135 gigawatts by the year 2030." That's a lot of power. That's like 135 nuclear power plants. And not little plants, pretty good-sized ones.
So are there problems?
"Researchers believe that the potential capacity calculated in this study can only be implemented if favourable conditions are created in all countries with a North Sea coastline. This means that politicians will have to make a larger area of the North Sea available for wind power than has so far been the case."
As I read this, that could potentially mean that hundreds of turbines (stretching to 1000s) would be needed to generate all this power. Most turbines are 1, 2, and occasionally 4 MW. Let's say that all the ocean turbines are 4 MW. So how many turbines would be needed to generate 135 gigawatts?
33,750. And if they were all the big offshore wind turbine variety that companies are still trying to engineer, it would still be 13,500 turbines.
Yeah, a MUCH larger area of the North Sea, I guess.
Offshore, in a windy stormy ocean, and I'm sure a few of those thousands of turbines might break down every now and then. Good money job maintaining those things.
I'll believe it when I seen an offshore wind turbine farm generating 10 gigawatts.
Multiply this by 50 - if each of these was a 10 MW turbine -
to get 10 Gigawatts.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Dancing does wonders for the glutes. Exhibit A, Peta Murgatroyd's glutes:
NASA Mars Rover Arrives at New Site on Martian Surface
(The color photo is at the link.)
This current idea is to strap a small rocket engine to it, and then de-orbit the piece of space junk. It might work for big chunks of junk, but I don't think it's feasible for all the little pieces of stuff up there.
'Housekeeping' could solve space junk mess
And the basic idea is:
The process would involve launching a specialized satellite that would rendezvous with the largest examples of space debris, like spent rocket bodies, and attach a small propellant kit that would nudge the junk toward Earth's atmosphere where it would burn up harmlessly, the BBC reported Tuesday.
The scheme could inexpensively remove five to 10 such objects per year of operation, the authors of a study published in the journal Acta Astronautica said.
It does make sense to take down the big pieces so that they don't run into each other and hence makes lots more little pieces.
Now, the alternative below won't work now because the Space Shuttles are done flying. And the inner layer of the junk-catching can would have to be made of some pretty strong material to resist puncturing in a collision with something moving several thousand miles an hour. But I'm just being a pragmatist.
Monday, August 8, 2011
So what to do? DESALINATE!!
Better desalination technology key to solving world's water shortage
As I suspected:
"The globe's oceans are a virtually inexhaustible source of water, but the process of removing its salt is expensive and energy intensive," said Menachem Elimelech, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale and lead author of the study, which appears in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal Science.
Yes, indeed it is. So it needs lots of energy -- where to get that? Where, I wonder, WHERE?
Solar and wind are going to come up short to meet the energy demands of wide-scale, high volume desalination. Nuclear energy can meet those demands.
... eggs. But they don't know what the eggs came from.
My recommendation would be to let them hatch, but they haven't gotten that far yet. Now, considering that they don't know what's in the eggs, is it more comforting to have an unidentified orange goo in your village, or unidentified orange goo eggs in your village?
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Japan's power supply dilemma
Last week the Japanese government's energy and environment panel did an overview of the country's energy needs, reviewing government pronouncements that it would scale back the nation's dependence on nuclear energy. The committee concluded that, for the sake of the country's economy, the nation's nuclear power plants should be allowed to restart operations after their safety has been confirmed.
The government's energy and environment panel policy statement showed the government backtracking from the optimistic policy toward "denuclearization" suggested by Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the wake of the March 11 nuclear debacle at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.
Not so easy, is it? Pay attention, Germany.
The Republicans' Double-Dip, and What Must Be Done
Here's the setup:
First, the economy looks like it's dead in the water. The Commerce Department reports almost no growth in the first half of the year. And job growth is just about at a standstill. Far fewer jobs were generated in May and June than necessary just to keep up with the growth in the potential labor force -- meaning the employment picture is actually worsening. Investors fear Friday's jobs report for July will show more of the same.
Secondly, investors now know the federal government's hands are tied. The original stimulus is over; the Fed's "quantitative easing" is over.
This week's deal over the debt ceiling cinches it. The market is now on its own -- without enough rocket power get out of the continuing gravitational pull of the Great Recession.
And here's the punchline. I made the part I wanted to emphasize bigger and bolder.
We need a bold jobs bill to restart the economy. Eliminate payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income for two years. Recreate the WPA and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The federal government should lend money to cash-strapped states and local governments. Give employers tax credits for net new jobs. Amend the bankruptcy laws to allow distressed homeowners to declare bankruptcy on their primary residence. Extend unemployment insurance. Provide partial unemployment benefits to people who have lost part-time jobs. Start an infrastructure bank.
Orange Goo Washing Up in Alaska village of Kivalina
Now, if you haven't seen the movie "The Blob" (the original or the remake), my little addition might not make much sense. But if you have seen it, you'll get it.
"ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Authorities say a mysterious orange-colored substance has washed up on the shores of a remote village in northwest Alaska.
Tests have been conducted on the substance on the surface of the water in Kivalina (KIV'-uh-LEE'-nuh). City Administrator Janet Mitchell told The Associated Press that the substance has also shown up in some residents' rain buckets.
Coast Guard Petty Officer David Mosely tells KTUU that it's not a petroleum substance and it's not man-made. Mitchell says the village is requesting that an algae expert from the University of Alaska Fairbanks investigate.
Pictures taken by resident Mida Swan show an orange sheen across the harbor and on beaches in the village about 625 miles northwest of Anchorage.
Swan says she didn't smell anything odd when she dipped her hand into the substance.
Soon after that, her hand fell off."
Friday, August 5, 2011
I wonder which regulations he's talking about. Most likely the environmental ones!
My respect meter for Boehner dropped down ANOTHER notch. It can't go past zero, but it's pushing into the red zone.
Too many heat records yest. to even try to summarize. 100-year-old record broken in Texarkana, AR tho w high of 110F (prev. record from 1897).
OK, that's hot.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Well, kids can dream about being President (but I think they'd rather be pro baseball players instead), but it's a really hard job. Which is, of course, a vast understatement. And President Obama (Happy Birthday to a fellow August birthday boy) has a lot on his plate. It would be hard enough to be elected when the global economy has just barely avoided depression, and we are learning that giving too much to the non-working classes isn't sustainable. Ask Greece, or Portugal, or even the Brits. But we also have wars and unrest and terrorism and the Tea Party -- not that I'm saying those last two are equal, but when you hold the world hostage to get your way, you aren't exactly NICE.
Now we face the fact that the economy sucks, likely weighed down by the continuing euphemistically-phrased "softness" in the housing market -- as long as people are getting foreclosed on, it's hard to sell houses for value. And the fight over the debt didn't help. And being way in debt several trillion dollars is bad. That's why I didn't panic when the GOP took over the House -- I remembered back when divided government resulted in a budget surplus, slightly aided by the dot.com bubble. But that was still illusory, because of those damned entitlements. We're all getting older and living longer (and healthier, too). So what's wrong with raising the retirement age a couple of years, I ask?
Ultimately I was hoping that divided government would result in sensible compromise, entitlement and tax reform, and something serious (to the tune of $4 trillion) would get done about the deficit. But primarily it seems because the Tea Party idiots wouldn't accept anything that sounded like a tax, even if it really wasn't one, actual progress on the deficit was forestalled due to that hostage taking alluded to earlier. So now we're stuck with a very imperfect debt deal. And the Tea Party crash of the market. Hope that stops soon, or pretty soon I'll be losing real money.
But the ultimate question is how to get the economy going again. And I return to something I said before. We need to fight a war. And because the energy sector is where the war is being fought, we need to fight a war to GET MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT. This has huge economic benefits, because if taxpayers weren't shelling out for either heating in the winter or cooling in the summer, they'd have more money! There are scads of inefficient appliances in this country: room air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, computers that suck up energy when they're sleeping; and houses leak heat and cold because of old-fashioned doors and windows and attics; and buildings could be much more efficient with smart sensors that turn off lights when people aren't in offices ...
I could go on and on and on and on. But I think my point is made. What is needed is an incentive program to retrofit buildings and homes to make them more energy efficient, paint roofs white or install solar panels on them, remove clunker appliances and replace them with Energy Strrs, and the consumers (us) will reap the benefits and have more spending money to buy things and energize the economy. It's a long term plan because energy efficiency investments accrue over time. But it also makes us more nationally secure too, and our allies, because we'll be less dependent on oil. And if we are to make renewables work, and if the world is now too scare of nuclear energy such that the nuclear renaissance is forestalled, then energy efficiency is needed to usher in the Age of Renewable Energy.
It can be done, but the strapped government has to fund the upfront costs. Our country as a whole needs to invest in the future, give people and businesses the money to become more energy efficient, and the saved money will pile up. Get the economy going and the current level of tax revenues will increase.
The Great Depression ended when the U.S. had to militarize for World War II. War is the answer -- war on the inefficiency of obsolescence and antiquity. If we started an EEE -- the Energy Efficiency Echelon -- much like the Civilian Conservation Corps of yore (ooooh, that was catchy), we could put American back to work making America better.
If not now, when?
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
But the Europeans are trying real hard to build wind generating capacity. I sorely doubt that it will be enough, but it's hard to fault them for trying.
European wind power output tipped to treble by 2020: report
This part is impressive, but how exactly do they get a 3x increase in power generation with less than a doubling of the number of turbines?
"By the end of 2010, there were more than 70,000 turbines in operation, and the EWEA says 60,000 more of the same size would be needed to meet 2020 targets, although installing bigger machines could reduce the number to half or less depending on technology developments."
Trevor Sikorski, head of environmental market research at London investment bank Barclays Capital, calculates that Germany will emit an extra 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. That is more than the annual emissions of Italy and Spain combined under the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS).
This quote is from The carbon cost of Germany's nuclear 'Nein danke!'
Why will it cost more money? Because the EU trades carbon emissions. They are going to try to become more efficient (a laudable goal everywhere), but here's what happens if it doesn't work:
But if Europe fails to cut emissions by raising efficiency, by 2020 the trading system will have a shortage of permits equivalent to 120 million tonnes of carbon, according to Barclays Capital. If so, on the basis of today's fossil fuel prices the carbon price would be forced up to €70 per tonne.
It is then that the supporters of the German nuclear shutdown may wish to reconsider. Had Germany kept its reactors going, the ETS [Emissions Trading Scheme] would have had surplus allowances even without the efficiency savings. "Germany will make it more expensive for everybody else. They are requiring a market price to be higher to meet the same reduction target," says Sikorski.
So, to repeat, shutting down existing nuclear power generating capacity is pretty dumb until there is something equivalent and renewable to take its place. And I don't see what that's going to be yet.
Culo (link to the HuffingtonPost article, which has a video that you won't want to be watching at work, but hey, if you do, it's art, right?)
Now, the photographer is Raphael Mazzuco and the producer is Jimmy Iovine. Most known as a music producer, Iovine had the fortune to be married to a Playboy Playmate for many years, the former Vicki McCarty, also known as the "Phi Beta Kappa" Playmate.
Since we're sitting on the subject, one of my favorites, this mildly nude link shows off a tempting glimpse of Vicki's basic asset when she was Playboy's featured monthly girl, something I'm sure Jimmy won't mind us contemplating.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Rush Limbaugh, global warming, and our weather
Americans get their scientific information (and this is no joke) primarily from television weather casters. Most TV weather folks aren't prepared to talk about long-range climate realities as they focus their attention on the five-day outlook. An exception is Paul Douglas, formerly of KARE-TV and WCCO-TV, he is now the head of WeatherNation. He says: "One instrument playing out of tune would be noise and insignificant. We have an entire global orchestra playing out of tune with all these weather extremes happening simultaneously. At some point you have to recognize that this is not your grandfather's weather system. I'm seeing things I've never seen before."Then he adds, "Just last month, in July, we had 2,676 records broken. The most ever. The hottest in Washington, D.C., since 1871. There is more moisture in the atmosphere than we've ever seen before."
But it didn't happen, of course. Now, here's the thing. The best outcome of this whole process would have been a "grand bargain" that included revenues. Even a modest revenue capitulation would have been a stunning victory for the forces of light and good. So if Obama messed that up by asking for more revenue, then it was his mistake. But I think that he didn't mess up. I think that there was no way Boehner could have gotten the House to vote for anything that included even a smidge of revenue. I think that when Obama asked for more, it gave Boehner the chance that he was looking for, to walk out on negotiations that would have made him look bad -- becuz if he'd shaken hands with the President on a deal that included revenue, and then came back to the House and got it voted down (just like basically happened when he didn't have the unbelievably stupid "Cut, Cap, and Balance" framework in the bill, which the Tea Party ultimately forced on him) -- then he'd have looked even worse than he did. And face it, the Thursday night mutiny made him look bad: weak, unable to lead, and it made the House GOP look like what they are -- unable to govern the country responsibly.
So anyway, James K. Galbraith summed it up nicely in "Vote No to the Debt Deal":
"On dishonesty: the proposed cuts would reduce discretionary public spending as a share of GDP to what it was before the government had any major role in transportation, housing, education, safety, health, medical research or environmental protection. To where it was before the NIH or the CDC, before HUD, before the EPA, before OSHA, before the Department of Education. This is a false promise: those cuts cannot and will not be found. To promise them is to play to the gallery of the ignorant. To pretend that to make them would be good policy is to repudiate the entire past half-century. To make them would bring on a disaster, in many small and large ways, as the physical structures and legal and institutional protections built up over decades crumbled and fell apart."
Monday, August 1, 2011
So here's what he's saying now:
DeMint could back incumbent primary challengers over debt-ceiling vote
"After the 2010 elections, DeMint promised his colleagues he would not endorse any primary candidates, but the debate over raising the debt ceiling has changed his mind. DeMint said in mid-June that "if we have folks who go the wrong way on [the debt ceiling vote], it's going to be pretty hard for me to sit still" and stay out of primaries.
The new deal does not pass muster with him, which should worry some of his fellow senators. The Senate Conservatives Fund spent $8.2 million on its preferred candidates last election cycle, and DeMint has said he hopes to raise and spend $15 million this time around."
Dedicated and deranged is a dangerous combination. Let's hope DeMint does as well picking candidates this time as he did last election for the control of the Senate.
The problem is (as of right now), these are only records for cities. NOAA doesn't rank cities, it ranks states. Which means all the weather stations in a state, not just the urban ones. The skeptics will decry the city data as being contaminated with Urban Heat Island effect or airport tarmac warmth or something like that -- and they'll probably still do that when the state rankings for July come out in a few days, with some argument that the state data is dominated by the supposedly "bad" urban sites.
July 2011 -- all-time hottest month
So we'll see what happens. But combine this data with the other things going on -- notably an Arctic ice melt race to the bottom, where this year's minimum might exceed the remarkably low minimum of 2007 -- and the ability of skeptics to minimize the effects of warming will be diminished.
Sadly for all of us, it is definitely warming, and what we are seeing this summer emphasizes that -- even though the more alarming effects are shorter and warmer winters, which people generally like (nobody likes to be cold), but which are more crucial harbingers of the climate changes that are becoming dangerous trends globally.