Thursday, June 30, 2016

The price isn't right (yet)

I've been following the news about the world's largest uncut diamond found a few months ago, and there was news about it.  Apparently the owner thinks it's worth more than $61 million dollars.

It might be, of course.

The article speculates (briefly) about whether they might try to cut it to make a bigger cut diamond than the Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa.

Buyer offers world record £45million for 1,109-carat rough diamond - the biggest found for more than 100 years - but the owner STILL won't sell

Word of interest

For some reason, I was fascinated by the following word today.  Don't know why.  Nothing frustrating, disappointing, perplexing, or embarrassing happened, and I wasn't defeated, either.


(dĭs-kŭm′fĭ-cho͝or′, -chər)
1. Frustration or disappointment.
2. Lack of ease; perplexity and embarrassment.
3. Defeat.

Lighten up, Kate!

Spectacular Kate Hudson posted a provocative pic on Instagram (apparently a throwback).  Found out about this from the Daily Mail.

Problem was, it was kinda dark.  So as I did for Michelle Keegan, I did a little electronic retouching to bring out the best in her.

See what you think.



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Universe is more beautiful than one can imagine

NGC 6814, by the Hubble Space Telescope.


Another "bad news is really good news" situation

The Republican candidate picking process picked a repugnant candidate for the Senate, which might mean that a potential switch in representation (as Senator Michael Bennet was considered vulnerable) won't happen.   They picked Darryl Glenn, who among other things would put Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court if he had the chance.  Reading about him, Mr. Glenn redefines political loose cannonness and jerkiness.   (And I could say worse.)

This is good news for Democrats, obviously bad news for Republicans, and that's basically good for everybody, even if the Repubs don't realize it.

The Republicans may have forfeited half of their Senate pickup chances

Lighthouse of the Week, June 26 - July 2, 2016: Smoky Cape, Australia

According to one Web site, the Smoky Cape lighthouse is the newest lighthouse in Australia, i.e., the most recently built.   It's in New South Wales (so not far from Sydney), in a national park (Hat Head) and you can also stay in the guest accommodations, which used to be the lighthouse keeper's dwellings.

One of its unique aspects is an octagonal tower.

Two good Web sites about this one:

Smoky Cape Lighthouse dot Com

Lighthouses of New South Wales:  the Smoky Cape Lighthouse

Now to the pictures.  The first one is a bit blurred because it's from a video, but it puts the view in context.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I'm not concerned about the Senate's concern

In the news in The Hill:  Senate Republicans are concerned about the "Trump effect", to whit, that his misbegotten candidacy might drag them down to defeat -- and loss of control of the Senate.

If that happens, I just might write Malignant Mitch McConnell a personal letter expressing my condolences.

As well as my unfettered, climactic joy.

Senate GOP deeply concerned about Trump effect

“I believe that people vote individually, evaluating each race. We have very strong Senate candidates and they will run their own races,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is not up for reelection this year.

In recent elections, however, the macro political environment has had as big an impact on results and candidate quality, experts say.

“They’re whistling past the graveyard,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, when asked about GOP skepticism of a presidential coattail effect in 2016. “To deny there’s coattails is laughable. It’s a very polarized era.”

In a report published last year, UVA’s Center for Politics observed the correlation between presidential and Senate voting exceeded 80 percent in the past two presidential elections.

This is why I'm hoping that the attempts to dump Trump at the convention come to naught.  Because a bad Republican Presidential candidate is good for the country (as long as he doesn't get elected).

Another great magazine cover

This time it's Jenna Dewan Tatum, not looking like she had a baby, and looking darned good.  Not hard to see why hubby Channing has stuck with her.

I got the picture without all the article teasers on the cover of Women's Health.  Less distraction that way.

I want to swim here

I like to swim.  And I have worked out (practiced) in many, many pools around the country (USA) and even a few internationally.

Most of the pools in this article aren't the kind you work out in.   But they're pretty nice.

I want to swim in this one.  It's in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  And it even has lanes for workouts!

Helium crisis averted?

I'm back.  And apparently, so is helium.  This is to the delight of people who need MRI exams and children's birthday parties everywhere.

You can search my blog and see what I've previously written about the potential helium crisis -- which was a real concern, definitely.  But the discovery of lots and lots and lots of helium under Tanzania may make the helium crisis fade, at least for now.

Huge helium field found in Tanzania said to be a game-changer

Well, for the sake of this guy, that's good news.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colistin resistance found again

A couple of posts ago I discussed the specter of Pestilence in the form of drug-resistant bacteria.  Since then, it has been reported in many media outlets that the gene that confers resistance to colistin, mcr-1, was found again, this time in a tissue sample from a pig.

National Geographic has a good article on it.

Long-Dreaded Superbug Found in Human and Animal in U.S.

Advocates who track antibiotic resistance, especially in agriculture, reacted to the news of U.S. colistin resistance by emphasizing the gravity this finding deserves.

“This shows that we are right on the verge of getting into the territory of routine bacterial infections being untreatable,” Steven Roach, the food safety program director at the Food Animal Concerns Trust, said by phone. “It underscores the failure of both the federal government and Congress, and the industry, to get a grasp of the problem. We can’t continue to drag our feet on taking needed action.”
Quite concerning.

Pestilence rides again. Or at least, his horse is being saddled.

An erotic sonnet in June

glorious night

In what outstanding dream would I partake
of a dramatic link with her? How could
I forge my naked sword, with which I'd make
my welcomed thrusts? In fantasies the good
is even better, tastes more vivid, touch
enhanced, each aspect magnified beyond
the norm -- so there we are amazing, much
akin to lustful gods as we respond
in twain, our climaxes like earthquakes, sighs
tornadic and our love surpassing bounds
of reason as our junctured bodies rise
and fall and oceanic rhythm sounds
augment our mating cries. A dream, of course,
unreal -- reality lives at its source.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ichiro approaching historical benchmark

Ichiro Suzuki is getting quite close to the milestone of 3,000 hits -- in Major League Baseball.  If you also count what he hit in the majors in Japan, he's way over that.

When he gets to 3,001, he'll be 29th on the list, one ahead of Roberto Clemente, who fittingly hit exactly 3,000 before he was killed in a tragic plane crash.

And Ichiro also does the exact same thing every time he gets ready to hit a pitched ball, as is illustrated in this article:

Ichiro: 3 singles, but double steals show

Lighthouse of the Week, June 12-18, 2016: Point Montara, California

It's a lighthouse AND a hostel!

Point Montara Lighthouse/Hostel might not be California's best-known lighthouse, but like most of the other lights on the California coast, it's still remarkably scenic.   It's not very tall, but when a lighthouse is high over the ocean, that's not necessary.

Point Montara Lighthouse (from Lighthouse Friends - describes the hostel angle)

And a quick summary from the Lighthouse Directory:

"1881 (lighthouse relocated here in 1928; this station established in 1875). Active; focal plane 70 ft (21 m); white flash every 5 s. 30 ft (9 m) steel tower; FA 251 lens (1970). Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black. The original 4th order Fresnel lens (1912, transferred from earlier tower) is on display at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City. 2-story wood duplex keeper's house (1875) and wood fog signal building (1902)."
And of course, the pictures:

Monday, June 13, 2016

The end of El Niño is nigh

Climate Central announced what a lot of us have already surmised, which is that El Niño has run its course.

El Nino had a good run, but now it's over 

"Even the formation of this El Niño was a weird one, with it sitting in a holding pattern for much of 2014 before finally getting going in March 2"015 and subsequently rocketing into the record books later that year. It’s a good reminder that El Niño is like a snowflake. No two are alike."

Yeah, I remember that pretty well.

Hey Piers, I said this already

Piers Morgan had a great idea about gun control in the Daily Mail today (June 13):

We’ve had a no-fly list for suspected terrorists for years, so why not a no-buy list? It’s time for Trump and the NRA to show whose side they’re on

Here's the best summary of his idea, which comes near the end of the article:
"But how about this for an idea? I want every known ISIS sympathiser in America on FBI files, including every name on the no-fly list, to be banned with immediate effect from buying a gun, so we can try to save American lives."
That sounds really good to me as an idea.  In fact, it sounds downright familiar.

Like to this:

There should be a "no gun" list

And here's what I said:

"If someone is on record as a) making threats, b) attempting or indicating a desire for suicide, c) expressing a desire to harm or injure another person, d) being a professed member of a group or groups that advocate violence toward a different group, e) having a psychological condition or having a family member with a known psychological condition, and f) writing a rambling manifesto expressing threats, endangerment, or hate for other people or groups -- their name should go on a basic "no gun" list. It means they can't buy guns and they can't have guns."

See? Simple. Great minds think alike. Or, great thoughts get thought by great thinkers.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

That was a significant underestimate

Back on the 1st of April, I relayed the news that the "Oppenheimer Blue" diamond was expected to be sold at auction for between 38 and 45 million dollars.

That seems silly now, because the Oppy Blue sold for $57.5 million dollars.

Quite a bauble if one can afford it.  Obviously, most of us can't.

The Oppenheimer Blue

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pestilence is one of the Four Horsemen

Long long ago when I started this blog, I ruminated on the fate of humankind.  And I was then, and am now, concerned about overpopulation of this planet of remarkable variety and finite resources.

For long before history, and during much of the historical period, population was controlled by natural factors.  The amount of available food.   Wars with neighboring tribes.   Weather and climate conditions out of the norm, leading to deprivation and migration.

And number one on the list:  disease.   That's why Pestilence is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Search with the word "pestilence" on my blog and you'll see other things I've written about it.

We humans have done real well at fighting disease, and many other health factors that used to lay waste to wide swaths of the human population.  We have only just recently emerged from the period when the common cold and the common flu were feared as potential killers.  Between vaccination and antibiotics, many of the scourges have been reduced to either minimal threats -- or memories.

But there is always the risk of infection, even from small wounds. And overuse of antibiotics has led to increasing resistance in the adaptable bacterial population.  So much so that in fact, what has long been feared has now been found:

Superbug resistant to ALL drugs reaches the US, experts warn

That's right folks;  you can read the article for the particulars, but here's the dangerous bottom line:

"CDC director, Dr Tom Frieden, said: 'It basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics, that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics'

Now, we aren't going to get laid low as humanity by this anytime soon. But it does prove that nature finds a way.  As we exploit all that our Earth has to offer, the Earth and its denizens may still have ways to restore the balance.  We won't necessarily agree with those ways.

Tina Guo - the world's sexiest cellist

Yo-Yo Ma might be the world's most famous (and most recorded) cellist, but I just discovered Tina Guo.

I think I prefer to watch her play her instrument.

Not sexy enough for you? Try this, then:

This is Tina with her electric cello.  She does "metal cello" too, in addition to classical pieces and movie themes.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Greener Canada for those who deny climate

In many discussions of climate change with climate change deniers, I cite many different kinds of phenological data as indicating primarily one direction of change -- warmer.  The vast majority of these kinds of data is consistent with a warming world.

Add another data set to this compilation:

Warming climate causing extensive greening in Canada, Alaska - study
"Using images from two Landsat satellites, the researchers found that “extensive greening” is occurring in the tundra along Canada’s northern coast, as well as in the tundra of Quebec, Labrador and western Alaska."
They also noted that shrubs are growing in tundra areas, areas previous only covered with tundra ground cover plants, like this:

Now, some may argue that this could actually be a good thing.  Or they might argue that it isn't due to warming, it's due to higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere (not necessarily good, either). Those are discussions for another day.  What this does show is that yet another phenological data trend is in the direction to be expected with warming climate.

Can anybody deny that?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Great places to swim, if you can get there

The Weather Channel had a great feature on natural swimming pools or holes around the world.

Most of them are a long, long way from here.   I seriously doubt (meaning there's just no possibility it will ever happen) that I'll dunk myself in the Devil's Pool at the edge of Victoria Falls.

I guess the most likely one is the Hamilton Pool in Austin, Texas.  I have, however, been to the source of the Comal River in nearby New Braunfels, and dipped my toe in just to say I was there.

Hamilton Pool

Havasu Falls is second in terms of likeliness.  I've also been to the Grand Canyon, but getting to Havasu Falls requires quite a bit more time and effort.

These places are pretty and special, so enjoy the feature:  Natural swimming pools

Clive Cussler must have loved this

In Clive Cussler's Sahara (which became a decent action flick with Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz), the adventurers discover a derelict Confederate blockade runner buried in the sands of the Sahara Desert that just happens to have lots of Confederate gold bars in its hold.

Far-fetched, obviously.

But maybe not so much now.

Diamond miners find 500-year-old shipwreck loaded with £9million of gold in the Namibian desert

The name of the ship was the Bom Jesus, from Portugal.  Here's the neat part:

"It was found by the miners as they drained a man-made salt water lake along the Skeleton Coast, and while plenty of shipwrecks have been discovered along the stretch, this was the oldest and the first to be loaded down with coin and ivory tusks."

Now, what I'd like to know is why this is news in the Daily Mail and Fox News (and other media sources) in 2016, when the ship was actually discovered in April 2008.  My guess is that they have finally been able to excavate it (but the articles don't say that).  Either that, or they waited until now to announce it, considering that it's on private diamond mine land.  (Beach, actually.)

Still, it is a pretty amazing story -- not just based on a true story, but an actual true story.

Here's the CNN story.

How a diamond rush to an ancient, underwater secret

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This IS important news

Yes, this is important, at least to some sectors of the world population (mostly but likely not all male*, and those who find the Caucasian type of female beauty most attractive):

Maxim magazine has named Stella Maxwell the hottest woman in the world for 2016.

Is she deserving?  Certainly.  Could there have been other choices?  Certainly too.  I want to know where Michelle Keegan will end up.  And she'd better be on the list.  Same goes for Nina Agdal.

But... back to Stella.  It's important to note that to celebrate the selection in the article linked above, she took off most of her clothes.  That's always nice when a hot woman does that.

I won't select a picture from the article, that wouldn't be right.  So here's a different one.

* She and Miley Cyrus were an item for awhile.  May have just been a fling, but if you're flinging, why not with the world's hottest woman?  I certainly would take that option.  Miley's gender preference is certainly fluid, as she's apparently strongly back with Liam Hemsworth now.

Where's Juno?

Lest we forget, the Juno mission is nearing Jupiter.   So let's check in to see where it's located today, June 7, 2016:

Where is Juno?  (Nice of NASA to have a page about that, isn't it?)

Unfortunately, the most recent update is May 6.   It's been a month since then!  C'mon NASA, get it together.

Here's a more recent article about Juno from Scientific American, explaining why this mission is going to Jupiter.  Still doesn't say how far away it is.  Best I could do is find out that on May 27, Juno crossed the boundary where the planet's gravitational pull exceeds that of the now-distant Sun.

Anyway, it arrives at Jupiter on July 4.   How appropriate is that?

Speaking of appropriations, let's just tell the Congresspeople that NASA deserves more.  Especially to study climate change. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

A hit, a palpable hit?

A couple of days ago there was a really bright fireball near Phoenix.  Lots of people saw it and lots of people got pictures and video of it.

Like this:

The question now:  was there a piece of it big enough to hit the ground?

The meteorite hunter in this article thinks so:

Meteorite hunters gear up after early morning fireball

The incoming rock left some impressive dust trails in the sky, too.

Lighthouse of the Week, June 5-11, 2016: Île Rouge, Quebec, Canada

I don't know if I have looked for a lighthouse in Quebec, Canada before;  I probably did, but I haven't had a chance to check back.  So I looked in Quebec again, and I found what is now an abandoned lighthouse in the middle of the lower St. Lawrence River -- Île Rouge (Red Island).

The problem with this lighthouse is that all but one of the pictures I could find of it are on this Web page at Lighthouse Friends about it:

Île Rouge (Red Island), PQ

According to the page, the lighthouse once was a place you could stay overnight and get dinner and breakfast.  But that ended and the lighthouse is now abandoned, but it is part of the Saguenay - St. Lawrence Marine Park.

So here's one picture from the Lighthouse Friends page and the other one I found that isn't.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kate looks great

Search my blog for "Kate Beckinsale".  You'll find I have several commentaries on this beauteous British actress.

And she's currently the leading lady in the movie Love and Friendship, which is getting great critical reviews, and is one I'd like to see in the theaters.

Most recently, she showed up at the Christian Dior Cruise 2016/2017 presentation in a superb white dress that utilized the side curvature of her bosom as a wonderful fashion accessory. (The actual common term for this is in the headline.)

Time to party! Kate Beckinsale flashes an ample amount of sideboob as she goes braless under a very racy white gown for star-studded night out to celebrate the Christian Dior Cruise show

There's a lot of Kate to celebrate here -- her teeth, her amazing hair, the full glamorous look, and of course, the fashion accessories.

Did I mention that Len Wiseman blew it?  (And Michael Sheen before him?)

She is so on my freebie list.

First new olm

This is good news;  the first of the olm eggs in Slovenia has hatched successfully.  (Check back here for my previous post on this.)

Here's the announcement in the Daily Mail (even has a video!)

First Slovenian cave dragon hatches 

I guess it doesn't hurt anything to show the same picture of what the adults look like:

They aren't pretty, but they are unique.