Monday, December 31, 2012

The Tea Party is winning

This whole fiscal cliff drama ignores the central fact of what it entails;  despite abysmally low public opinion ratings (except in the reddest red counties of the Red states);  despite dragging down perfectly good Republican candidates that might actually be able to do something good for the country; despite standing up for family values gun rights even after the massacre in Connecticut;  despite promoting anti-science political positions as if they were virtuous; despite contributing directly to the deregulatory environment that caused the recession, anti-environmental stances that poison the fetuses they purport to protect, defense of the wealthiest from paying any more of their share to maintain the basic functions of a civilized NATION;  despite the dismissal, denunciation, and disaster of their chosen son candidates in the most recent election;  despite all that,

the Tea Party is winning.
How?  By being so intransigent, insane, and incontrovertible that That Which Seemed Unthinkable is Now Happening.

Oh, I know I'm not the first to say it.  And there are negotiations going on that might blunt some of the tax increases which would be a drag on the economy.  And I expect that the sequestration will get significantly reduced. 

But we're not sure yet.  And I think the low-IQ Tea Party representatives want it this way,  like it this way, and don't want to change it.  Partly because of where they're from (read the article) and partly because they aren't convinced that anything, yes, anything that government does is worthwhile.  Which makes one wonder why they are even in the government, but that's a question for another day.

But look at how we got into this miasmic muddle of a mess in the first place.

In 2010, many Tea Party zealots got elected after demonizing the Obama administration's health care plan, which was conceived and implemented partly to reduce our increasing health care costs, which are making the national deficit go higher and higher!  But did that prevent the Tea Party from making a big socialist deal out of it?  No. 

Once in office, then they held the country's faith and credit hostage over ridiculous demands to tie the debt ceiling to deficit reduction (through ONLY spending cuts).  That led to a national credit downgrade (which means our borrowing costs go up, which INCREASES the DEFICIT), and to a bad deal in which a supercommittee would come up with a plan to reduce the deficit, or if they didn't, really BIG, really BAD, UNTHINKABLY RANDOM budget cuts would take place.

Everybody knew that wouldn't happen, because some of the biggest cuts would fall on the Department of Defense, and everybody knows that Republicans are big on defense, big budget projects that keep the home citizens employed, and national defense is supposedly one of the few things that Tea Partiers agree the national government should do, because it says so directly in the Con-sti-two-shun. 

But then the Tea Party, waggling the lips of their robot John Boehner and their marionette Eric Cantor (note that they have their hands up the asses of both of these clowns to manipulate them), said that the supercommittee could not consider, propound, or suggest a realistic plan for deficit reduction over a decade that included increased revenues (also called 'taxes').

So, no plan.  Then the election, in which the Tea Party forced Mitt Romney to swing so far to the right that he amazingly couldn't flop back to the middle (despite his best efforts to do so), and an election that delightfully showed what empty brains and empty suits the true Tea Party candidates really were.

So, Obama won.  But the Tea Party core did too, at least most of them in the safe ruddy red gerrymandered districts.  And they didn't acknowledge that Obama had won because the majority of the electorate had repudiated both their candidates and their positions. Poll after poll after poll after poll shows that Americans in the committee of the whole, meaning us, want a solution that works, and one that includes higher revenues,
most of it from people that consider a Mercedes Benz minivan the family car.

So they didn't give.  And they even shot the seat out from under Speaker Boneless, by not giving him his Plan B. 

This is what they want, actually.  They want the sequester.  They want a big f*cking slice out of the government, no matter how many people on the lower rungs get kicked off the ladder into the mud, no matter if you have to wait a year to get a passport processed by the one remaining employee who knows how to do anything at the State Department, no matter if another interstate bridge collapses due to inadequate inspections and postponed repairs and kills another 50 people or so.

That's because they don't CARE.  They are beholden, like cultic apostles, to an inflexible belief system.  They will serve that system unthinkingly, no matter what the cost it incurs on real people that just want a government that manages to do something, let alone inspire us to higher aspirations.

So no matter what happens to the fiscal cliff and the sequester and the next round of debt ceiling hostage taking, by getting us this far, and by making the Speaker dance to their tune and Mitch McConnell sing their praises, remember - the worse it gets, the more that the Tea Party wins.  And also remember, the worse it gets;  credit  downgrade, recession, higher unemployment, lapses in national security, more brutal massacres of children and firefighters with assault weapons, less mental health treatments for those that need it, more hungry kids, more teen mothers who can't get abortions --  that's how the Tea Party wants it.  Even if they say they don't.

And in case you think I'm wrong about this, just look at how Sam Brownback is  screwing up Kansas.

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/29/3986555/first-in-a-series-brownback-says.html

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Miley Cyrus can sing, too


Miley Cyrus has seemed to be making more news recently with her body upgrade, her edgy style, her risky Twitpics, her fit abs, and her gorgeous hunky Hemsworth boyfriend.   And her movies have mostly flopped.  So it makes sense for her to get back to basics and sing, which she's pretty good at.

Miley Cyrus covers Dolly Parton's classic 'Jolene' (video at the link)


I could spend all day playing with this


NO, it is not my still-potent male sexual organ. 

It's a constantly-update map with Webcams outside people's houses (or other places) that show current weather conditions.

Yes, that indicates I'm a dweeb.  But Webcams that show what's happening, all in one place?  That's fun!!

I'll have to hunt around and find some of the better ones, and report back here later.

Weather Underground Weather Webcams


A great comet for 2013?

Great comets are rare and wonderful;  I just hope this one isn't a portent.

Comet gazers anticipating brightest comet in generations, outshining the Moon?


Sunday, December 23, 2012

As hot as she gets


Kelly Brook's behind-the-scenes video for her new calendar is so hot that I almost feel embarrassed linking to it here.   So if you accidentally click Play, cover your eyes.  The red suit border on outrageous, not that that's a bad thing when it comes to Kelly.





Daily Mail article:
Has Kelly Brook gone too far?

in case you're interested.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Great pictures from a relatively mild volcanic year


There haven't been any really big eruptions this year, but volcanoes make for highly interesting natural subjects nonetheless.   This article has some of the best.

The year in volcanic activity

This was my favorite, though the explosive ones are pretty impressive, too.




Whatever happened to Elena Berezhnaya?


The Oksana Baiul thing made me wonder whatever happened to Elena Berezhnaya, the really cute pairs skater that got a skate blade in the head and lost her ability to talk for awhile, recovered from that, got a new partner, moved to the top of the rankings, then unfortunately got caught up in the 2002 Olympic figure skating judging scandal and ended up sharing the gold medal with Pelletier/Sale, an event which resulted in the much  more fair system that's in place today (and the skaters are doing a decent job artistically, as well).

The big news is that after the Olympics, she got romantically hitched to British skater Steven Cousins, had two children with him, and at some point also got married to him (not sure in what order). She did some exhibitions post-Olympics but is now retired from skating.  She was on a Canadian  skating reality show called "Battle of the Blades".

I found a couple of semi-sexy pictures of her too.  Like I said, she was (and still is) really cute.  She matured from the pixie cut look she had in the Olympics.




Whatever happened to Oksana Baiul?

Saw the "Nutracker on Ice" with Oksana Baiul last weekend.  No doubt about it, she was balletic.  This made me  wonder whatever happened to her, of course.  Well, she's got a Web site, but apparently she hasn't done  anything for a year.

http://www.oksanastyle.com/index.htm

But she does have a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/OksanaBaiul), keeps it updated fairly regularly, and from that I gather she was in a recent Evening with Champions show somewhere.   More work could
probably figure that out, but I've done enough.  She lives in Pennsylvania now.   No indications of her romantic life or prospects. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Eat mo' avocados


Passing on this public service announcement:  avocados are good for you!

More reason to think so:

"Specifically, the pilot study of 11 healthy men suggests that fresh Hass avocado, when eaten with a burger may neutralize Interleukin-6 (IL-6)—a protein that is a measure of inflammation—compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado. The researchers observed a significant peak (approximately a 70 percent increase), of IL-6 four hours after the plain burger was eaten, but little effect on IL-6 (approximately a 40 percent increase) over the same time period when fresh avocado was eaten with the burger."

Hass Avocado Board study published in Food and Function journal

Of course, you have to be wary about a study of only 11 subjects that was sponsored by the producer of the product being studied, but still, I think avocado burgers are tasty.

So, enjoy one tomorrow.

If I were a player, I'd want to play for the Rays

Evan Longoria's girlfriend is pregnant (she joins pal Lauren Anderson as Playboy Playmates giving birth to Tampa Bay Rays players babies - Anderson had Reid Brignac's child.)
 
Ray's Longoria and Jaime Edmondson expecting child

Evan Longoria and Jaime Edmondson proudly announce pregnancy

Young, rich, talented, and this.  Evan, there's a word for that:  fortunate.  Stay smart.

The mother of Evan Longoria's baby - geez

Low water in Lake Michigan


This was an interesting story, because low water levels in the lake are also echoed by low water levels in the Mississippi River.   There is some snow in the upper Midwest now (finally) - maybe that will help down the line.


Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why it's hard for Superman to have sex


With apologies to Larry Niven, this is why.





I can see your coccyx.

And your sacrum.


XXX rated calendar: Pin-up shows off her skeleton in series of X-ray poses 

Gives new meaning to the term "boning", doesn't it?



Finally, can I have an OMG for Hayden Panettiere?


In contrast to Bar Refaeli, Hayden Panettiere is not a supermodel.  But what she embodies is wholesome cuteness in an athletic compact package.   And viewing her love/sex life, she likes her boys big and strong, which has it's own lascivy appeal. 

So here's Hayden, showing how bikinis look on her.  Nothing wrong with that. They look good on her.






Another OMG from Bar Refaeli


Now, let's consider why this is an OMG moment.  Lots of women can be found naked these days in the world of electronic data transfer (i.e., the Internet).  Lots of beautiful women can be found in that state.  And it's not unusual for top level supermodels (like Miranda Kerr or Erin Heatherton) to Expose All.   But it's still rare, and usually those are posed situations.

But when ultrasupermodel Bar Refaeli gives us a glimpse of domestic nudity (even if we don't get the entire cabana), meaning this is what Leo DiCaprio got to live with for several years -- I sure hope he didn't ever get entirely accustomed to it -- that's a different level.  It gives us a chance to put ourselves in the scene right there with her, watching her in the bath, emerging from the shower, cleaning the pool (well, that's not exactly sexy), lounging on the sofa and ultimately exposing her dimpled backside, which defines the word delectable in the physical sense.

That's why I go OMG, and happily enjoy her overt advert.

Get naked with Bar Refaeli

Top moments at :57 and 1:04



Menhaden on the mind




It was quite a victory for the humble, unyummy but highly important menhaden (also called bunker) when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) bucked a lot of pressure not to do anything (mainly from the neighboring state across the water, Ol' Virginny) and put in a catch limit on menhaden.  Menhaden is not sleek and sexy, but it feeds a lot of glamorous sportfish;  it's a vital link in the pelagic food chain. 

" “When there’s bunker in the water, I have striped bass, weakfish and bluefish for my customers to catch,” said Capt. Paul Eidman, a charter boat captain from New Jersey and the president of the advocacy group Menhaden Defenders. “Without abundant menhaden in the water, my game fish go somewhere else.”

The main business that Omega Proteins in Virginia has been in has been taking out as much menhaden as they could to make omega-3 fatty acids and fish meal (mainly to feed farmed fish).  Now, of course I've said that they've got to come up with tasty fish that eat plant protein and produce omega-3s, and I think back in my recent files they've been able to do some of that.   But still, Omega Proteins has a big business, but the pressure from all the other states that don't have an Omega processing plant came to bear, and this led the ASMFC to really do the right thing this time and cut back.

Catch Limits Put on Menhaden

They reduced the harvest by 20%, which Omega said was a "deep cut".  Sorry, since when unless you're trying to sway public opinion is a 20% cutback "deep"?    50%, that's deep. 

This is good, real good, because it's a recognition that fisheries are not limitless and conservation is important to maintain the healthy functioning of the oceans.  We as humans are putting tremendous negative pressure on the ocean environment;  it's nice to see something that's positive, even if it's only a little.  


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Planet, planets everywhere


One of the great unknowns in wondering if we are alone in the vastness of the galaxy and universe was (!) how many planets there are.  Now it seems that if you're a star and you don't have at least one planet, you're probably in the minority.  Planets of all sizes are popping up in all sorts of orbits, some of them in the essentially right place for life to be quite possible.

So now, in our cosmic backyard (about 12 light years away), comes the putative discovery of a planet in that star's habitable zone.   It's not like we're going to get there soon to check, but it's remarkable to me that now we have evidence of one of the basic needs of life elsewhere in the Universe that close by.    I doubt I will live long enough for there to be definitive proof that We are Not Alone, but I think it likely that before I die there will be sufficient evidence for scientists to be able to state with strong conviction We are Probably Not Unique in the Vast Cosmos.

News in brief:  possible planet looks habitable

The star is Tau Ceti, by the way.  What's really neat about that is that Tau Ceti has been used in several science fiction stories, notably L. Sprague de Camp's Viagens series and Asimov's The Caves of Steel.  I'm sure this news would make them smile if they were with us now.  (And, speaking lasciviously, the Krishnans, who lived on one of the Tau Ceti planets, where oviparous mammals who could mate with humans, even though they couldn't have offspring.   Shades of John Carter and Dejah Thoris.)

Tau Ceti in fiction (Wikipedia)

And what's even more neat is that de Camp had three inhabited planets in the Tau Ceti system, and the astronomers think it has five, even though only one is in the potential habitable zone.  Can't have everything.


Those clever octopi


They may be only cephalopods, but those octopi are SMART.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

A quick and unexpected OMG


As in "OMG - she's had two kids"

Alessandra Ambrosio is on the beach, phenomenally, for Victoria's Secret.

Victoria's Secret... yummy mummy... St. Bart's... bikini... enough already

(complete with OMG video... leopard lingerie... mirrors... bed...)

One other sporty SPOTY item from England


Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France and an Olympic cycling gold medal, was picked as the British sports personality of the year, with heptathlete gold medalist Jessica Ennis second and Andy Murray third.  I think in any other year than an Olympic year Murray would have won it (but also, one of the reasons he was a contender was that he won the Olympic singles gold, so maybe not).  If he wins Wimbledon he's a shoo-in.

Bradley Wiggins wins the British SPOTY



Day 5 of 4th Test match in India


England is pretty comfortably in the lead;  if India doesn't pass them in their second innings, then they'll get a draw and win the series, which they haven't done in India for a long time.  Good for the 'tourists'.

Day 5 Live from Nagpur

Star English batsmen for the first innings were the reinstated Kevin Pietersen and newcomer Joe Root, both with 73.   In the second innings, as I write this, Jonathan Trott, who hasn't had a great season to date, is still batting.  In the first innings he did something not cricket, and it made India mad (he hit a bowl that was essentially a dead ball and scored 4.  But sometimes you have to show the other team who's in charge).

Oh yeah, apparently there were a lot of bad calls, because they weren't using instant replay.  From what I can tell, the sentiment is that this will be likely one of the last times they don't have instant replay (which they call Decision Review).




Morano, Watts fighting rear-guard action: 80% see global warming is a serious problem


A new poll has found that 80% of Americans (that's 4-out-of-5 for nonp-statisticians) see global warming as a serious concern for the United States.

Poll:  4 out of 5 call climate change a serious U.S. problem (as reported by The Hill)

Also, 77% say that a great deal or something should be done about it - by the U.S. government.

AP Big Story:  poll results

And this shows that the super-skeptics like Morano and Watts are losing traction:

The biggest change in the polling is among people who trust scientists only a little or not at all. About 1 in 3 of the people surveyed fell into that category.

Within that highly skeptical group, 61 percent now say temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years. That's a substantial increase from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 percent of those with little or no trust in scientists believed the world was getting warmer.

This is an important development because, often in the past, opinion about climate change doesn't move much in core groups — like those who deny it exists and those who firmly believe it's an alarming problem, said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University social psychologist and pollster. Krosnick, who consulted with The Associated Press on the poll questions, said the changes the poll shows aren't in the hard-core "anti-warming" deniers, but in the next group, who had serious doubts.
So I think it's time to declare the loss and pack it in, skeptical leaders.  The only people you're convincing are the ones who are already convinced it's not a problem.  The fence sitters are getting off the fence onto the intelligent side.  Now we have to take this momentum and do something with it.




It can't be that hard to get astronauts there

Apparently the business of asteroid fly-bys is pretty decent. The U.S. has done it, the Japanese have done it (even bringing back little flecks of one), and now the Chinese have flown by the bi-lobed Toutatis.  Given that it seems relatively easy to rendesvous with a near-Earth asteroid, why don't we just figure out how to get some astronauts onto one?

I pride myself in keeping track of these kinds of missions, and I have to admit that I didn't know they were doing this until I read the article. But I did know this satellite was imaging the moon. Apparently they jumped from a Lagrange point into the intercept orbit.

Deep space fly-by:  incredible pictures of Toutatis 4.5 million miles from Earth

And they came in really close, approximately two miles according to the article. Good nav.

Now Toutatis is more than just shadowy radar images.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

And they're also good on burgers and steak


Did you ever think about the waste that's generated in the commercial preparation of onions and garlic?  Frankly, despite the fact that I enjoy both, I didn't either.  But now it appears that there's something useful that can be done with it:

Onion soaks up heavy metal

"Biotechnologists Rahul Negi, Gouri Satpathy, Yogesh Tyagi and Rajinder Gupta of the GGS Indraprastha University in Delhi, India, explain how waste from the processing and canning of onion (Allium cepa L.) and garlic (Allium sativum L.) could be used as an alternative remediation material for removing toxic elements from contaminated materials including industrial effluent."

So that's a double good thing, good taste and cleaner water.


Bar Refaeli is an OMG Santa


Second of a short series.

Merry Lingerie Christmas!

First of several OMG articles


Last couple of days have been good regarding lovely pictures of lovely examples of the female form.   There were of such a nature as to generate an "Oh my God" (OMG) response.   So I'll be echoing my OMG moments here.

Here's the first:























And the article which generated it:


Blue Crush! Candice Swanepoel stretches out her flawless figure in several bikinis against the stunning St. Barts backdrop

The surface of Mars sometimes looks, well, alien


The Curiosity rover took this picture recently as it trundles toward Mt. Sharp.



Here's the story about where it is right now and where it's going:

Curiosity Rover nears 'Yellowknife Bay'


Oh no! Not the pasta too


Previously in the projections of global warming, such luxury (to some people necessary) items as chocolate, coffee, and wine have been predicted to be significantly, negatively impacted by global warming.   Makes sense - they are all crops that are sensitive to weather.  Now, I'll bet wine will do OK, but maybe not all the varietals.  Coffee is notoriously sensitive to climate, and farmers are already giving up on some locations due to changes (notably moutain slopes that were cool enough but aren't anymore). The situation is somewhat similar for cacao beans, from whence cometh chocolate.

Now, there are projections that the wheat that makes semolina pasta will be affected by global warming.  All I can say is -- these global warming trends are making it really tough to be French or Italian.

Global warming could hurt pasta industry

"Of the three grains that make up the foundation of human diets -- wheat, corn and rice -- wheat is the most sensitive to high temperatures, Hertsgaard writes. "Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it," Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University, tells the magazine."


Speaking of British sports: 4th Test match v. India is close


Since I'm on the subject of British sports, I'll note where the 4th (and last of this series) cricket Test match of England vs. India is right now.  Apparently it had a heck of ending near the end of the day's play, though I haven't found the video of it yet - captain Cook (now where have I heard that before?) got a run out just before one of the India batsmen made a century.    It's nearly even at the end of the first innings.   If England wins or draws this match, they win the series, which is a pretty good outcome for a team that was having trouble earlier in the year.


England had 99 problems then captain Cook struck! Dhoni just misses out on century as stunning run out helps tourists maintain slender advantage

Good year for British sports: Daily Mail picks Andy Murray


Article in the Daily Mail picks Andy Murray for British sports personality of the year.

I'd have to agree.  The article points out the near-miss at Wimbledon to Federer, Olympic gold medal over Federer, and U.S. Open championship over Djokovic.   That's pretty good.

But as the article summarizes, British sports had a good year overall.

... there can only be one winner, it must be Murray


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Perfectly Padma


Back in earlier pages of this blog, the speculation about who fathered Padma Lakshmi's child was discussed.   It appears that the father was somewhat recruited, and never had a long-term relationship with Padma in mind or in practice, even though I'm pretty sure he successfully petitioned for and received a subordinate but participatory role in his child's life.  (Yup, they made an agreement).

But seeing recent pictures of Padma at beachside, bikini-clad, must make him think wistfully about how lucky he was to be the male participant in the baby-making.  Provided, of course, that he had a true physical role in that baby-making.  If not, I'd sure be disappointed that I hadn't had the chance to do it in the traditional fashion.  Somehow I think that he probably did get to point Cupid's arrow in the direction of Padma's cervix, and I can mull that over in a visual reenactment a couple of times.



I'll bet Morano gets this all wrong



I've had a running little Twitter and comment battle with agitpropist Marc Morano and climate court jester Steven Goddard about snow and global warming.  You see, Morano and Goddard delight in pointing out incidences of increased snowfall as being at odds with global warming, when in fact they probably aren't.  (Let's get this straight right here - because the Earth is warming, EVERY weather phenomena will be somehow affected, because Earth's weather and climate are interrelated.  Of course, some types of phenomena will be minimally affected, and the connection to warming will be hard to tease out.  In other cases, the connection(s) will be much more obvious and discernable, and quantifiable.

Heavy early snow in the U.S. north was predicted before this winter because it was expected that colder air with moisture coming off the Arctic Ocean, due to the exposed surface caused by sea ice retreat caused by global warming would make the snowstorms happen. 


More ice loss through snowfall in Antarctica


This study here says some very interesting things.  One of the clearest statements it make is that global warming CAUSES MORE SNOWFALL on ANTARCTICA. 

Quote:  "The one certainty we have about Antarctica under global warming is that snowfall will increase," Winkelmann explains."

Got that?  And the next neat thing about that is that increased snowfall leads to increased ice mass and accretion.  Now we find out that it will also cause increased ice loss.



Quote: "Snow piling up on the ice is heavy and hence exerts pressure -- the higher the ice the more pressure. Because additional snowfall elevates the grounded ice-sheet but less so the floating ice shelves, it flows more rapidly towards the coast of Antarctica where it eventually breaks off into icebergs and elevates sea level."

Got that?  More snow, more ice piling up in the middle, more ice lost at the edges.

All due to global warming.

Now, Morano will just see "more snow in Antarctica" and send out a notice to his followers about something else that doesn't jive with global warming, when in fact it totally does.


Ouch

It is (quoting Taylor Swift) never, ever, ever good to here about a vertebrate species going extinct. These river fauna seem to be particularly vulnerable.  Apparently this particular species was attractive for its fur, which led to a more rapid demise.  Too bad.  Otters are cute, entertaining, and virtually undestructive creatures, and here we wiped this species out.  I wish we (collectively, humanity) would learn a lesson from this.


Japanese river otter declared extinct



But we won't.



Asteroids and comets and meteors, oh my


As we're into the period of the Geminids meteor shower (peaking tonight), reputed to be really good, but one that I've never seen much of because of the weather, there are some interesting articles out about what causes it.  Now, most meteor showers have been connected to various comets.  The article describes how the Geminids are connected to object 3200_Phaethon, which doesn't act like a comet, but might be sort of a comet:  rather that the "dirty snowball" model commonly applied to comets, 3200_Phaethon is possibly a "snowy dirtball".   (Why that phrase never showed up on "Hill Street Blues", I'll never know).

Anyhow, I found one little picture of 3200_Phaethon imaged by radar (top), and a picture of it in the star field (bottom).











Also, some better pictures of Toutatis from the Goldstone radar.  Toutatis just made a close pass, but not as close as it has been before.  And it's a funny-shaped object.

 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not all the months, but still


Pictures from Kelly Brook's 2013 calendar.

Here.

What more need be said?

What more COULD be said?

I'll think about that.

This really is real, really


It's not quite visually true, as it's a combination of visible and radio data (collected by different kinds of telescopes, OK?)   But it's stunning, totally.

Read about it here:

The labor of Hercules-A, by Phil Plait

Much larger images available on that page.



ABSO - F**ING - LUTELY


There is a lot of talk lately about the patent unfairness of the Senate filibuster, and some movements toward finally changing it, because it has been so abused of late.

This article shows just how MUCH it has been abused.   And why Mitch McConnell is a bastard of the finest sort.

Dethrone the Filibuster King

Just short of 20 years later, the Senate made it easier to end a filibuster by cutting to 60 the number of votes needed to end debate. But the Senate has also made it much easier to conduct a filibuster. It no longer compels obstructionists to do any work. All they have to do now is call a filibuster. They don't have to actually stand up and talk. At all. Ever. It's a silent filibuster. It's a go-home-and-put-your-feet-up-after-stopping-the-work-of-the-majority filibuster.

And those lazy, silent filibusters have increased dramatically under king McConnell. Republicans have pulled 348 go-home-and-put-your-feet-up filibusters since Democrats became the majority party in the Senate six years ago. In just the two years of 2009 and 2010, Republicans pulled more of these lazy, silent filibusters than the total number of filibusters that occurred in the two decades of the 1950s and 1960s.

And does anyone wonder why it is so commonly held that our governmental system is nearly broken?  Just up there is one of the reasons why.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

England's ahead of India in Test cricket


England's cricket team, which hadn't been playing particularly well, woke up after the 1st Test match in India, bombed the hosts in the 2nd, and then took a well-contested one in the third.  Kind of notable because India is considered kind of good in Test cricket (ranked 5th to England's 2nd), and because Tendulkar, though he's not what he used to be, is still playing for them.  

Plus, England is the visitors (the tourists), and India is known as a very tough home team to beat.

England beat India by seven wickets in third Test




"Thoughts while watching a woman near the cusp of maturity"

New sonnet for early December.

Thoughts while watching a woman near the cusp of maturity

She radiates innate, intense, and yet
untapped potential sexuality -
unbridled confidence with needs unmet,
(and likely still unrealized); to see
it blossom, be the agency which first
releases floods of physical entrance-
ment and emotional reactions - burst
of ecstasy as she invokes the dance
of her acceptance, chants which cross the bound-
daries of language, surely recognized
as universal; that would grasp the crowned
exultance of my maleness, and the prized
infusion of my self in her, a role
in which I would emplace my seed and soul.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

I always wondered what it would be like to have one


New reality show about "Trophy Wives".

Like the title implies, if you have to ask the price, you can't afford one.

Secrets of a Trophy Wife


I certainly hope that's over and done with


Brooke Burke-Charvet had her thyroid cancer surgery.  Since she is truly one of the Seven Wonders of the Caucasian Female World, I hope that it's gone, eradicated, and won't be coming back.

Brooke Burke-Charvet recovering after successful thyroid cancer surgery

I've admired her ever since I first espied her in the Frederick's of Hollywood catalogs.

(This is the only example of that I could find on short notice).


Does GOP stand for "Getting on Program"?


I sure hope they're right.

Some in GOP urge lawmakers to back tax hikes for changes in safety net programs

Quote from it:

“I and some others are advocating giving the president what he wants,” said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio).  But he stressed that this must be part of a package that slows federal borrowing and reduces the debt by $4 trillion to $5 trillion.

“Quite frankly, some people in this 2 percent who call me, they’re more worried about the fiscal cliff than  about the rates going up a couple points. That has bigger risk for them,” said LaTourette, a close Boehner ally who is retiring in January.

...

"Such views are reverberating on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a champion of smaller government, on Wednesday became the latest voice to join the chorus.

“Personally, I know we have to raise revenue. I don’t really care which way we do it. Actually, I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future,” Coburn said on MSNBC."

Coburn even admitted that the government needed more revenue when he was on the failed supercommittee that couldn't come up with a plan to avoid the sequestration mess we're facing now, because the GOP House nixed any plan that was reasonable and balanced.  So now they're reaping what they sow, and Coburn still, astonishingly, sounds like a voice of reason and sanity.  As if that was something that the GOP could actually USE.


Jim DeMint's first step in running for President?


DeMint will leave Senate to head Heritage Foundation

What Jim DeMint's resignation says about him, the Senate, and the conservative movement

Senators rarely get elected President; they really only have a chance if they haven't been in the Senate long.  So DeMint's bailing to be a full-time conservative with PLENTY of time to give speeches in the next four years.  That's what he'll do as the Heritage Foundation President; give speeches about how what America needs is a rock-hard, nearly insane right-wing conservative as President.  A guy just like him, in fact.

McCauliffe vs. Cuccinelli in Virginia next year will be a preview of Hillary Clinton vs. Jim DeMint in 2016.  Mark my words.

At least one semi-conservative pundit, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, is happily letting DeMint out the door hoping it'll smack his buttocks on the way out:

 Good riddance, Mr. DeMint

in which it says:

He has contributed more than any current senator to the dysfunction of that body.

and

It is a telling comment for what it [McConnell's statement about DeMint's resignation] does not say. It does not say the Senate was a better place because of his service or that he helped enact a conservative agenda. McConnell is a honest man and would not say such untruths.
(Other than the fact that Rubin says McConnell is an honest man, which is arguable (I would argue that he's not even close to honest), the rest of it is wonderful to read). DeMint is, in my estimation, a prime-time, fullblown nutcase.  And if he runs for President, the most dangerous man in America.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not really news, but it's Alessandra Ambrosio nude


It seems like it should be impossible to have two kids and look like Alessandra Ambrosio still does, but she does.

And to make it worse, now she's posing nude to show how she looks, in totality.

The Daily Mail reports on this.  And I appreciate that.

It'd be nice to see more.  But seeing this is pretty good in itself.

Here's a non-nude but quite lovely picture of her, doing what she does quite well and quite often.

And she's from Brazil, too.  Geez.




Why to have a carbon tax


Why?  Because it's positively Pigovian,.

Paying for it

The basic thesis is - everyone in society pays for the cost of profigacy and licentiousness by a few.  And in this case, the few are the big fossil fuel consumers, which we citizens of the U.S. qualify as.

The other thing is, in addition to some of the monies supporting expansion of clean and reliable nuclear power, the revenues from a carbon tax could actually help lower the budget deficit.

Is there a problem with that?  Apparently not much, according to one analysis:

"Perhaps because a carbon tax makes so much sense—researchers at M.I.T. recently described it as a possible “win-win-win” response to several of the country’s most pressing problems—economists on both ends of the political spectrum have championed it. Liberals like Robert Frank, of Cornell, and Paul Krugman, of Princeton, support the idea, as do conservatives like Gary Becker, at the University of Chicago, and Greg Mankiw, of Harvard. (Mankiw, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush and as an adviser to Mitt Romney, is the founding member of what he calls the Pigou Club.) A few weeks ago, more than a hundred major corporations, including Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever, issued a joint statement calling on lawmakers around the globe to impose a “clear, transparent and unambiguous price on carbon emissions,” which, while not an explicit endorsement of a carbon tax, certainly comes close."

It's an idea whose time IS coming, and WILL come.  The sooner, the better, methinks.

A contest I'd like to judge


HuffingtonPost reports on the Brazilian Miss Bumbum contest, in which the prize goes to the woman with the best pair of glutes.   Brazilian-style, that is, which is to say, curved and noticeable, and shapely in the right sort of callipygian loveliness.

The winner was Carine Felizardo, hence the title:  Carine Felizardo wins Brazil's Miss Bumbum 2012 contest

The article comes complete with a 34-picture slideshow.  I'll bet the reporter didn't mind getting behind that assignment.   Ass could I.


Love the words, Eugene


Eugene Robinson scoffed at Speaker Boehner's indignance when the President used the same negotiating tactic on him that the House Republicans used over and over again last year.  I.e., their idea of a compromise was making the President do it the way they wanted.  They passed bills that were ludicrous, and then feigned aghastness when the Senate and the President called them what they were, i.e., ludicrous.

So here's what Gene said, in "Boehner plays a weak hand":

" “The president’s idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask,” Boehner groused.

Hmmm. Where do you imagine the president might have learned this particular bargaining
technique? Might his instructors have been Boehner’s own House Republicans, who went so
far as to hold the debt ceiling for ransom — and with it, the nation’s full faith and
credit — in order to get their way?"
That is so true, Eugene.  So true.  Appallingly so.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Made in menhaden


Going way way back in this blog, I advocated menhaden protections - even coming up with the radical idea of making the entire Chesapeake Bay a menhaden fish farm (which I discovered was probably not a logistially possible idea, but hey, I was trying). 

So now I read the Washington Post coming out strongly for menhaden protection.  They need it, so it's a strong and visionary statement.

Unfortunately, I don't credit the Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly with the ability to do the right thing.  If I am proved wrong in that, I would be tremendous change in the way things are.

A make or break moment for 'the most important fish in the sea'


"Help for menhaden could be on the way. But two things need to happen first.

First, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is considering steps to address the menhaden decline, must produce an aggressive action plan. Reducing annual harvests by 25 percent or more, for example, is an essential first step for allowing the population to recover. The commission will release a new conservation plan this month.

Second, East Coast states must implement the plan — including Virginia. If Virginia fails to adopt meaningful catch restrictions, menhaden simply will not recover."

And I should add, if Ken Cuccinelli gets elected governor, menhaden don't have a chance either.





Oh be serious! Ryan approved it, so we're against it


The intransigent idiot inane Republicans in Congress recycled their same position from last year as the supposed "starting point" in the fiscal cliff negotiations.   It's already been rejected by the White House, which was a certainty.  But when you see the signees, it's pretty obvious that we the conglomerate American people voted this down by voting the Prez back in. 

Boehner, House GOP leaders offer 'fiscal cliff' counterproposal

Here's what kills it:

"For the first time, Boehner managed to get his entire leadership team — including conservative champions such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the 2012 vice-presidential candidate — to publicly sign on to a plan that explicitly calls for new tax revenue. Republicans say they are willing to extract all the new tax money from households earning more than $250,000 a year, the same group Obama wants to target with higher tax rates. But the GOP plan would raise the money by wiping out deductions instead of raising rates."

As previously discussed, that math won't hunt.  And if Ryan's for it, then it is obviously not the plan that the American people (at least a majority of them) voted for in expectation of reasonability and compromise by the leaders of their country.

So get with the program, Boehner, and try to come up with a real plan, or you're going to be raising everybody's taxes.   Politically, that don't look good at all.


The keyword is 'cellulase'


One of the main barriers to widespread production of biofuel from biomass (corn stover, switchgrass, etc.) is breaking down cellulose.  But as this video notes, it's something that the gut bacteria in major consumers of biomass - in this case the panda - do quite readily.  So the key to biofuels is finding the bacteria with the cellulase -- the enzyme that breaks down the cellulose -- in the guts of the consumers.

So you collect panda poop and analyze the DNA of the bacteria.  Simple.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Short news item on Rosamund Pike


Rosamund Pike, Bond villainess and possessor of the most luminously pearlescent complexion I have ever seen on a woman (head to toe), whom I wrote about previously when she took a premarital misstep that resulted in abrupt nuptial cancellation, recently had a baby.

She was actually pregnant on the set and while filming the upcoming action flick Jack Reacher headed by Tom Cruise, but they managed to finish it without complicating the pregnancy.

The lucky father is quite a bit her elder and not exactly a catch, but there's no accounting for taste.  Hers, that is.  I can easily account for his taste.

She named the tyke Solo.  Luckily this was not the name that an unwed Hope Solo (U.S. women's national soccer team goalkeeper) would have chosen for her tot, if she'd had one.   (Or the name of Man from U.N.C.L.E. character Napoleon Solo's son).

Bond girl Rosamund Pike gives birth to baby boy


Short news item on Morena Baccarin


Recently reading an article about Firefly and V and Homeland star Morena Baccarin dropped the news that she'd gotten married in August and I never heard about it until I read that recently.  Since she's one of the lovely women I like to keep track of, I was surprised that got by me.

This was the article:

Homeland star Morena Baccarin: 'I'm definitely NOT in my comfort zone'

Opening:
"I do think it is possible to be in love with two people at the same time,’ says Morena Baccarin pensively, her pretty, pixie-ish features looking sombre for a second. Fortunately for her husband of just 11 months, film director Austin Chick, the 33-year-old actress isn’t referring to her own relationships, but those of her alter ego Jessica Brody in the TV drama Homeland, which recently won four Emmys."

Wondering what they looked like, here they are together:

Short news item on Natalie Portman


I wasn't sure that Natalie Portman was in the Thor sequel, but I thought she probably would be and certainly hoped so, since she played Jane Foster, the golden guy's main squeeze.  Recasts just don't seem to work (vis-a-vis Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the Batman trilogy,  with all due deference to the fact that Maggie is a great actress).

Well, now I know for sure that she is.

Natalie Portman gets dirty* on Thor: The Dark World set

*dirty as in smudged with stuff, not the way that Benjamin Millepied might like in private intimacy.  Oh, c'mon, you were thinking it for a second too.




Friday, November 30, 2012

Self-serving


The Huffington Post, and many, many other media outlets, have reported on a letter from David Petraeus to a friend of his

So I think I should comment as well.

“Team Petraeus will survive though [I] have obviously created enormous difficulty for us,"
Petraeus wrote. "Holly is, however, once again demonstrating how incredibly fortunate
I was to marry her.”

(Because she's sticking with me even after I got to play hide the sausage with a  really hot babe).

"Shelton [the person to whom the letter was written] dismissed the scandal to the Post, blaming it on Petraeus' "Achilles' heel." “He's a man, and all men have an Achilles' heel,” Shelton said.

Actually, I don't think that's exactly the anatomical problem area at fault here.

Another lingerie line


Saw lovely girls in their undies on TV, and it wasn't Victoria's Secret.  It was aerie.com.

So I checked it out, naturally.

 Turns out that it's the lingerie line from American Eagle (AE, aeries are where eagles live, get it?)

They don't have the camisoles and merrywidows and charmeuses and knee-highs and all of Victoria Secret's delectables.  Just bras and panties, as far as I can tell, worn by some cute/fit girls.

Which is fine by me.

( Of course I'll provide an example!  )


Somebody's tax rates are going to go up


If Congress and the President don't reach a deal, EVERYONE pays more taxes.  The Republicans are laughably forgetting who gets the blame for that (as well as the nasty budget cuts that they agreed to so that they would have to reach a deal - which they didn't).

But why raise somebody's taxes, especially the wealthiest among us?

Confident Obama sees path to fiscal cliff win

“For him [Obama] the question on top rates isn’t just about fairness, it’s about math,” said one top financial services executive, who like others interviewed for  this story declined to be identified by name in order to speak candidly about private meetings. “You might be able to get a similar amount of revenue but all of the deduction closings would create their own problems. Closing  the mortgage deduction could hurt the housing market, for example. His  commitment to rate increases is absolutely unshakable and he believes the politics are firmly on his side.”

Unsurprisingly, so do I.

More on the idiots, Boehner and McConnell, soon.

Could Emmy win a Grammy?


Multi-talented Emmy Rossum, who is a) a gorgeous woman, b) a fearless and talented actress, and c) a superb singer, is going with c) and is releasing a new album.   I'd like to hear a few tracks from this.  I really enjoy watching the movie version of "Phantom of the Opera" (even if Gerard Butler isn't all that scary) because Emmy is at turns sweet, loving, and romantic, and at other turns sexy, seductive, and a sultry soprano.

Emmy Rossum News:  Sentimental Journey

Here's what she's singing:
“Sentimental Journey” (Les Brown, Ben Homer, Arthur Green)
“The Object Of My Affection” (Pinky Tomlin)
“I’m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover “(Mort Dixon, Harry M. Woods)
“These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)” (Eric Maschwitz, Jack Strachey)
“(I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time” (Albert Von Tilzer, Neville Fleeson)
“Summer Wind” (Heinz Meier, Johnny Mercer)
“Many Tears Ago” (Winfield Scott)
“All I Do Is Dream Of You” (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed)
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” (Jimmy Cox)
“Autumn Leaves” (Joseph Kosma, Jacques PrĂ©vert)
“Things” (Bobby Darin)
“Pretty Paper” (Willie Nelson)

Bonus Track: "Keep Young and Beautiful" (Harry Warren, Al Dubin)

Not one to worry about for awhile


New views of an NEO (near Earth object).  

According to the article, "The radar measurements further refined the asteroid's trajectory, allowing computer models to accurately compute 2007 PA8's orbit for the next 632 years. NASA scientists were also able to confirm that this was the closest flyby since 1880 and the next flyby that brings the asteroid closer to Earth won't be until 2488".

These images were obtained by radar.

Following the locals in NCAA men's soccer


Just checking in with the Maryland and Georgetown men's soccer teams.  The Terps coasted past Coastal Carolina 5-1, and play Louisville next at 5 PM EST on December 1st.   Louisville was seeded 10th, Maryland 2nd.

Unseeded Georgetown went to penalty kicks to defeat Syracuse, and now will face unseeded San Diego at 1 PM EST on December 1st.

Wish both of those games were on television somewhere.   If they both advance, the semifinals will be televised on ESPN-U.

But there is a televised soccer game on December 1st - the MLS Cup at 4:30 Eastern time.  Last game for David Beckham with the LA Galaxy, so I might try to watch that.

Ahh, I just discovered that the Maryland game will be live (and free) on Terps TV.   I guess I'll have to multi-watch.






Another new vertebrate species


OK, it's not really a surprise when they find new bacteria or insects or plankton or deep sea pelagic species, because they can HIDE.  But new terrestrial vertebrate species are always a surprise.

This one's a new snake, a new species of blunt-headed vine snake.  Somewhat bizarre looking.  Here's a good picture of a different one.

A rather thin and long new snake crawls out of one of Earth's biodiversity hotspots

Glad to hear there are such things as biodiversity hotspots left in the world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republican pundits just don't get it


Jennifer Rubin, "Right Turn" in the Washington Post, writes this in "What to do about Grover?" (that's Grover Norquist, not the blue guy on 'Sesame Street'):

"The president is increasingly acting like, and through his congressional allies signaling, he would just as soon go over the cliff, send us into recession and break his own pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class (which he already broke with Obamacare) than forgo the opportunity to stick it to the rich in isolation. Think about that for a moment. It is breathtaking really how devoted this president is to serving up red meat to his base even at the expense of the country at large and middle-class taxpayers  specifically. But that is the president the voters chose and now they have him."


And my response is:

No, it's breathtaking how the REPUBLICANS will oppose any effort to keep the wealthy from being even more wealthy, Jennifer.  And the sequester, with its drastic cuts to the military, was supposed to force the REPUBLICANS to negotiate in good faith, with an actual compromise possible.  Obama is compromising by NOT letting the tax cuts expire for everyone, just those fortunate few who have a combined annual income over $250,000 - roughly three times more than my family's combined annual income.  Gee, who needs the tax break more?

And here's a bit from Greg Sargent (a liberal pundit in the Post, writing in "The Plum Line", "The Morning Plum: GOP will buckle on high end tax rates" --

"There is no equivalence between the Democratic and Republican sides, however. The GOP has not given an inch when it comes to the core question of whether tax rates on the rich will go up. Yes, Republicans have agreed to new revenues from the wealthy via closing loopholes and deductions. But many experts believe the math simply can’t be made to work without a rise in high end rates, and this was perhaps the central issue in the election that Obama just won decisively. The contrast is simple: Dems have given ground on the need for Medicare cuts — even if you think they haven’t given enough ground, they have given some ground. But Republicans have not given any ground on the central concession they will have to make for a deal to be possible."

And some of the Republicans (but not all of them) seem to be forgetting this little detail:

"Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska tells the Ohama World Herald that the fact that taxes will go up automatically on January 1st  gives Dems the upper hand. “We’re screwed either way. We really have no leverage in these discussions.”
Oh yeah, that.  And the fact that more voters will blame the intransigent tone-deaf Republicans in Congress (more on them later) for an economic downslide than will blame the President, who can take it right to them in both his second inagural address and the State of the Union speech if they keep on forgetting to get real.


Two pictures of Taylor Swift in bed


Well, you didn't think she'd be nude, did you?

The second one is pretty sexy, though.  It's got that vibe like she's just wearing a thin shirt and skirt in a little hotel on the Mexican coast.



Another reason to like Marlo Thomas


I admit, as a young adolescent I crushed on Marlo Thomas in "That Girl", epitome of 60's itness.  And a few decades later, I can still like Marlo because she suggests sex tips from experts:

Expert tips to improve your sex life

Number 7 is the mildly spiciest.  Most of these make perfect sense.  And how many men have NOT heard that the stimulating a woman's clitoris can lead to orgasm?  I mean, really.

"That Girl" below:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November sonnet, "No, it's not about the drink"


' No, it's not about the drink '

A sandy beach might not be quite ideal
for wondrous copulation - but indeed
it has been presented so. Were it real --
were I converged and merged to urge my seed
into the silken depths of her, beside
a coastal berm, the rhythm of my thrusts
enmerged to surging waves, our pleasures cried
to startled seabirds overhead -- my gusts
would not encompass mere concerns.  As she
created we with her entrustment, lust
and love in natural display, our free
expression glorified by starkest trust,
the sunswept shore would be perfection, viewed
unique and crystalline and sparkling nude.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A carbon tax would be good for nuclear energy, too


Nature magazine has an editorial out advocating a carbon tax for the United States.

America's carbon compromise

An excerpt:
" Just consider the possibilities. To put a levy on carbon would raise revenues that could be used to offset lower tax rates for individuals and businesses. This is what conservatives say they want to do. It would put more income — and thus choice — in the hands of consumers. Economists like the idea for more fundamental reasons. Generally, it is best to tax things that one wishes to discourage (such as smoking) rather than those that should be encouraged (such as working). Environmentalists like the idea of a carbon tax because it could generate some much-needed revenue for clean-energy research and development while reducing carbon emissions. "

Yes, that last sentence - not just clean energy R&D, but money to complete, expand, and make even MORE safer (as if that was really necessary) existing and under-construction nuclear power plants.  Which would contribute MORE to the energy mix required to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It's thus a win-win-win situation.  Done right, no downsides.  Seriously.

(And let's note this second excerpt:  "Opposition to the idea may not be what it was. For example, on 13 November, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a conference in Washington DC on the economics of a carbon tax. The institute is a conservative think tank, and its officials have previously raised doubts about climate science. The idea has also been bubbling up in other right-leaning think tanks as a conservative solution to reduce greenhouse gases.")

Like I said.  Seriously.


DWTS ends with an all-(hot)female final


Last Monday, there were five couples remaining in the U.S. Dancing with the Stars competition.   This was them:

Apolo Anton Ohno - Karina Smirnoff
Emmitt Smith - Cheryl Burke
Derek Hough - Shawn Johnson
Tony Dovolani - Melissa Rycroft
Valentin Chmerkovskiy - Kelly Monaco

There's one thing that all these women have in common.

I'd like to see them all naked.  (Monaco and Smirnoff have already complied with that wish).  Also, if it was possible to add in Peta Murgatroyd to the display, I'd appreciate that too.

Watching recently indicated that Kelly still possesses a delectable posterior, Melissa still dances really sensual-sexy like (despite having had a baby, making her another sexy mama), and Shawn combines her power with a remarkable grace and a gymnast's precision.  And they are all dancing really well.  This finals was a surprise because I think generally the women stars are at a disadvantage because the women pro dancers are usually superior to them, skill-wise, and just like in pairs figure skating, the women get to do the WOW! moves while the men hold, lift, and support.  (Yes, they have to be good at that and their steps have to be right for the dances too, but they don't have to do the flips, backbends, splits, twirls, etc. as much as the pretty girls do).

That makes for an intriguing and appealing final.  I guess hoping for another wardrobe malfunction is asking too much.

Nahh.


Melissa Rycroft, Kelly Monaco and Shawn Johnson face all-female battle for Dancing With The Stars trophy after Apolo and Emmitt are sent packing

 (And I should add, I sincerely hope that Brooke Burke, who is at another level entirely with regard to incendiary pulchritudinous femaleness, has successful thyroid cancer surgery and a complete recovery).


Who's going to build it?


The forward-thinking Czech Republic wants to get building (despite the 2025 finish date) two more nuclear reactors at Temelin.   Three companies, including the U.S. firm Westinghouse, are in the bidding.  France's Areva was recently kicked out of the competition, but is appealing, and that's slowing everything down.  But that means the Yanks and the Russians are still in contention.

Unlike other nearby nations, getting these reactors at Temelin built would mean that the Czech Republic will be getting about half of its energy from reliable, non-greenhouse gas polluting, nuclear energy.

That IS forward thinking.

Czechs delay nuclear plant deal over Areva complaint

Amazing, astounding, scarifying


Found this video trailer for "Chasing Ice" on Twitter.   It looks like it would have been quite an experience in theaters, but I'll have to wait for on-demand or DVD.   The message and the images are unmistakable. 

The Earth is set on a path toward a very uncertain environmental future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are we all in this together?


Protecting the enviroment requires corporate (that means collective) effort.   The effects of Sandy extend beyond the damage to communities - the storm also significantly damaged wildlife refuges, one of our nation's collective national heritages.  But the problem is, fixing them up will require that often discussed factor - money.

Sandy's damage to wildlife refuges adds to questions about federal spending

Here's a partial tally:
Dozens of refuges between Maine and Virginia were pummeled. Four were damaged severely, including Forsythe, where about 130 boats in the Atlantic City area were blown into marshes, Kahan said.  At Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, part of the public beach and two parking lots were washed away on Assateague Island. At Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, a 1,500-foot breach in a dune sent salt water from the Delaware Bay into a freshwater pond where waterfowl eat, nest and give birth, and flooded homes on an island near the refuge. And at the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex in New York, fallen trees blocked the entrance.
 And here's the problem:

Sandy struck as the Obama administration and Congress prepared to lock horns over the year-end “fiscal cliff,” which includes plans to cut the Interior Department’s budget for refuges by 10 percent, according to a report being released Monday by the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), a coalition of groups from the National Rifle Association to Defenders of Wildlife.

In the report, CARE argues that the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System cannot absorb another cut. Its more than 550 refuges, with 700 species of birds, 200 species of fish and 200 species of mammals, get by on about $3.24 per acre.
 So what we need to do is realize that we are all in this together, and that the protections afforded to wildlife in the refuges also protect coastal assets (as Chincoteague knows), are tourist attractions, storm buffers, and scenic spots, as well as providing safe harbor for shorebirds and migrating flocks.

Let's keep them healthy, shall we?


Good college soccer played in Maryland and DC


The Big 10 bound Maryland Terrapins soccer team advanced in the NCAA soccer tournament with a 2-1 win over Brown on Sunday.  Despite all the malignment of Maryland sports, the article notes that this is the 11th straight season Maryland has made the 3rd round of the tourney (best in the nation!)  They play Coastal Carolina next.

Meanwhile in DC, Georgetown beat Charlotte 1-0.   The Virginia teams didn't do so well, with Virginia losing to New Mexico and VCU losing to Syracuse, which is who Georgetown plays in the round of 16.  Better watch out, Syracuse has a player from England.

Since basketball and lacrosse are normally where these schools are noted (but obviously the Terps should be noted for soccer as well),  I'm glad to see success like this.

Agnelic


Yannick Agnel, a breakout swimming star in London, continued his world-record setting ways with a short course 400-meter freestyle record at the French championships.  And another supersuit record bites the dust.  Happy to see that every time.

Gold medalist Agnel sets world record

He broke the world record by half a second, and (probably because he doesn't swim a SC 400 very often), lowered his own PR by seven seconds.

This video of the swim shows how far ahead of the rest of the finalists he was.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Very appealing


This is Amber Campisi, Playboy Playmate from 2005, getting ready for a wedding.

I just love love love hotel robes.  Especially when they're wrapped around curves like Amber's.


Boehner digs himself deeper into the idiot hole


Umm, yes, Mr. Speaker, we actually DO know what's causing climate change.

Quote of ill repute:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years,” he told USA Today. “What has initiated it, though, has sparked a debate that’s gone on now for the last 10 years.”

 The Ohio Republican continued: “I don’t think we’re any closer to the answer than we were 10 years ago."

 So then the Washington Post editorial board sayeth thusly:
Since the middle of the 20th century, scientists have studied the warming effects of adding large amounts of additional heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, and they have made great progress since then in describing how and why the world is warming, and how that trend is likely to play out years and decades from now.

It's simple. But it behooves the Republican leadership to act like anti-science climate change skeptics, because that's what their constituents want them to be.   How could they not be that, then?

Do we have to ADVERTISE eating endangered fish?


I've heard ads on the radio for the Bonefish Grill.   This guy is talking about how he and his friend are avoiding the mall crowds by having a great seafood dinner at the eatery.   The friend of the narrator has a salmon dish (salmon topped with spinach, bacon, and Gorgonzola cheese).  Not so bad.  But the narrator has Wolffish Rockefeller (wolffish topped with crabmeat).

This got me to wondering.  Is wolffish the same as wolf eel?  Turns out the answer to that is yes.  And I never thought there were so many wolffish or wolf eels in the oceans for this to be a sustainable seafood choice.  So I had to investigate further.

And it turns out my suspicions were right.

Status of Fishery Resources - Atlantic Wolffish

 Here's the first bad sign:
"Total USA commercial landings of Atlantic wolffish increased from 270 mt in 1970 to near 1,200 mt in 1983, but subsequently have continuously declined and reached a recent low of 118 mt in 2005."
 And here's the second:
"NEFSC spring and fall survey biomass indices of Atlantic wolffish indicate the resource is at an extremely, low level. Commercial landings are also at record lows."
 So thus I won't be ordering Wolffish Rockefeller at Bonefish Grill or any other seafood restaurant soon.  But it pains me that Bonefish Grill has to advertise a dish made from an apparently unsustainable (at least by the indications I can ascertain) fishery.

 More info:

Status review of Atlantic Wolffish (a PDF)

The Atlantic Wolffish - a species at risk in the north (from Canada)
 
Atlantic Wolffish - a depleted species that needs our help

And the other thing is;  they are so darned cute!




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lead me to what I want



There has been a different sound coming out of Congress since the election.  They are talking like maybe they'd like to cut a deal on the deficit and taxes.

But this is Congress, and they don't mean it.  What they are doing is making is sound like they want to cut a deal when they really don't want it.

I don't know if Speakeasy Boehner is going to get his shock troops in line for anything, but he doesn't sound any different than he did six months ago:

"This framework can lead to common grounds, and I hope the president will respond today in that same spirit," Boehner said. "This is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers."

Implicit in that statement, however, was the idea that raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans could not pass the House, although in exit polls at Tuesday's elections, about 6 in 10 voters said they favored that approach. The statement also assumes that Democrats should abandon a position, favored by voters, that already represents a significant compromise from their original position.

 So, in essence, what Boehner is saying here is that the President has the opportunity to lead, provided he does it our way and gives us exactly what we want now, which is the same thing that we wanted before the election.

Screw him.

Which is essentially what Paul Krugman is saying: Let's Not Make a Deal


Both the Bush-era tax cuts and the Obama administration’s payroll tax cut are set to expire, even as automatic spending cuts in defense and elsewhere kick in thanks to the deal struck after the 2011 confrontation over the debt ceiling. And the looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession.

Nobody wants to see that happen. Yet it may happen all the same, and Mr. Obama has to be willing to let it happen if necessary. 

Why? Because Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even though the nation can’t afford to make those tax cuts permanent and the public believes that taxes on the rich should go up — and they’re threatening to block any deal on anything else unless they get their way. So they are, in effect, threatening to tank the economy unless their demands are met.
What else is new?  Is there a light at the end of the tunnel, or is that just the light of the train that's coming full-speed to run us off the rails?