Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deficit? What deficit?

With Republicans prepping to pass a massive, and massively ill-advised, tax cut, perhaps we should consider a voice of reason.  Not that the Republicans will.

Senate approves budget in crucial step forward for Republican tax cuts

A very significant quote from this story:
"At the same time, by agreeing to the massive tax cut, Senate Republicans have officially moved the party far away from its promised goal of ensuring that the tax plan would not add to the deficit. The White House and House Republicans had vowed that the tax cuts would be offset with new revenue from the elimination of certain deductions, but that is no longer the GOP’s goal. Instead, they have abandoned long-standing party orthodoxy of deficit reduction and are seeking a political win after months of frustration on Capitol Hill."

So, as we see, yet again the Congressional Republicans are basically empty-headed empty suits. And that's bad for the citizens of the United States.

A great picture of the great white whale

I wrote one previous article about Migaloo, the all-white humpback whale who hangs out around Australia ("More than one white whale" from 2013).

The picture in the linked article is a great picture of this natural wonder.

You're all-white, mate! Australian photographer wins prestigious international award for incredible shot of white whale Migaloo

It's great partly because most of the time, like most whale-watching, all that is seen of Migaloo is a blurry body, a back, a spout, and a tail.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Intersections on Highway 41

I took a longer break than expected to return to my pictorial trip on U.S. Highway 41, due to Hurricane Irma.  Luckily, Irma didn't do as much damage as it could have, because it went inland instead of dragging a big storm surge up the coast.  Obviously, it did some damage, but even though it was sporting a bull's-eye, the state managed to avoid the worst outcomes.  And learned a lot in the process about what could happen in those worst case scenarios.

So, now that we have returned to Highway 41, I expect to move faster.  We have a long way to go.  So the next two stops are the intersection with State Route 29, which can be taken to Everglades City, and the intersection with State Route 92, which can be taken to Marco Island.   I will note with these articles that both of them were hit pretty hard by Irma, and the water supply in Everglades City was contaminated for a time.

Photos of Everglades City post-Irma

Photos from Marco Island after Hurricane Irma (only 6, most structures seemed to hold up, and helped a lot that the storm surge was minimal)

So, now that I have not ignored the hurricane, here are the two stops.  There isn't much at the intersection with the road to Everglades City:

There isn't a lot more at the intersection with the road to Marco Island (San Marco Road), but this intersection is inside a state park (Collier-Seminole State Park), so it's a bit greener.

Next stop:  Naples. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Quite fetching

Glamour model Ekaterina Zueva (Instagram: zuueva) looks like she's just out of the shower in this picture, about to completely lose her white terrycloth robe, and that appears to be a Very Good Thing.

There are lots and lots, and lots and lots, of nude pictures of Ekaterina on the Internet, and she looks good that way.  But in this case, it's the setting and the suggestion that works together to make a great shot.

Where the mud comes from

In case you haven't heard of Java's mud volcano, let me catch you up.  In May of 2006, hot mud suddenly started bubbling up on the island of Java.  A lot of mud.  You can read about the statistics in the article I'm noting here, but the interesting (and difficult to deal with) aspect of this mud volcano is that the voluminous ejection of mud has continued since then.

So the question facing the scientific community has been -- where is all this mud coming from?  Well, the answer is, the plumbing of some nearby volcanoes.  The heat below the volcanoes, likely combined with hot water, steam, and corrosive gases, keeps making mud, which flows up at the vent (now called Lusi by the locals).  The article describes how they figured it out.

Scientists determine source of world's largest mud eruption
"The researchers discovered that the scorching magma from the Arjuno-Welirang volcano has essentially been “baking” the organic-rich sediments underneath Lusi. This process builds pressure by generating gas that becomes trapped below the surface. In Lusi’s case, the pressure grew until an earthquake triggered it to erupt."
If you want to see where Lusi is, click here.   You can't miss it.

Lighthouse of the Week, October 15-21, 2017: Torre de Hercules, Galicia, Spain

Sometimes you find something completely by accident.  I wasn't even searching for lighthouses in Spain, but a weird combination of search factors led me to this one.  I won't call myself a lighthouse expert in any sense -- I admire the settings that they are found in as much as I do the structure and history of the actual lighthouse -- so I didn't know anything about this one.

I've only slightly edited down the Lighthouse Directory entry, and I will give due credit to that section of this amazing guide:  Lighthouses of Spain, Northern Galicia.  Otherwise, here's the fascinating story of Torre de Hercules, the oldest active lighthouse in the world.

Early 2nd century AD (extensively reconstructed in the late 1700s). Active; focal plane 106 m (348 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 49 m (161 ft) square cylindrical stone tower, incorporating keeper's quarters, surmounted by an octagonal stone watchroom, lantern and gallery. The tower is unpainted dark gray stone; lantern is black. This is the world's oldest active lighthouse, and also one of its most famous and most historic. The original construction date of the lighthouse is not known, but an inscription found near the original foundation mentions an architect known to have been active in Spain during the rule of the Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). At that time, A Coruña was the Roman city of Brigantium. The lighthouse was abandoned during the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome, but it was put back in service by the 13th century, when A Coruña became an important port. By the 17th century, however, the lighthouse was a quaint ruin, and efforts were made to shore it up. Complete restoration had to wait until 1785, when Carlos III ordered a reconstruction. What was left of the Roman structure was patched up and encased in new granite masonry, and the tower was extended in height with an octagonal second stage and the octagonal watch room. Today the lighthouse is the symbol of A Coruña and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Galicia. It is called the Tower of Hercules because of an old legend that Hercules himself built it. In June 2009, the tower was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Parque de la Torre at the northern end of the peninsula on whch A Coruña is built, nearly surrounded by water and with a sweeping view of the open Atlantic.
Click on this line to see a map of where it is located.  To describe it in words, it's the part of Spain on the coast that is north of Portugal.  The nearest large towns are Vigo, Santiago de Compostela, and Oviedo.

Here are the pictures, and there are a LOT of pictures of this one.  I've chosen four.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eruption of Shinmoedake in Japan

The technology we have these days to see things we've never seen before, and that can go places that haven't been gone to before, and which can get much closer to things than we as humans could ever dare to approach -- well, it's pretty incredible.

I found the drone video below of the Shinmoedake cone eruption of Kirishima volcano in Japan in this article (the article has a good discussion of this event):

Kirishima in Japan Erupts for the First Time Since 2011

It's almost like being there -- "there" being a place you really wouldn't want to be.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Washington Post reports on the banana crisis

Since the helium crisis may have been alleviated by the discovery of immense helium reserves in Tanzania (I wrote about the concern in past years), we now return to the banana crisis, which I have mentioned previously.

The Washington Post just had an article about it:

Bananapocalypse: The race to save the world’s most popular fruit

"No other variety of banana combines the sweetness and suitability for packing and export of the Cavendish. If the Humpty Doo experiment [read the article] — or simultaneous efforts with conventional breeding techniques — don’t bring positive results, scientists say we could be looking at a future where bananas all but disappear from store shelves."

That would truly be a different world.

A ring around Haumea

It's amazing what can be learned from a quick occultation.  Using one of these momentary occasions when a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt passes in front of a star, astronomers have determined that this dwarf planet the size of Greenland has a ring of debris around it.

Amazing to me is that the gravity of this little planetoid is strong enough to keep the ring around it, but after all, the stuff in the ring is probably dust and pebbles.  Not much gravity is neeed to keep them in orbit.

Astronomers spot first ring around a distant dwarf planet

The actual article, written by astronomers:

The size, shape, density and ring of the dwarf planet Haumea from a stellar occultation

The Lava Beds from space

Extraordinary shot from NASA of the Lava Beds National Monument.  (I don't know if the Trump administration plans to drill for oil at this one or not;  I doubt they'd find any.)  It's actually a combination image with a Landsat 8 image combined with terrain data from ASTER (an instrument on another satellite).

Article (with a link to a bigger, unlabeled version of the image above):

Lava Beds National Monument

This is not a place I've been;  so I took a look for pictures on the ground.

This one is somewhat amazing.  Though I'd see Crater Lake first, I'd like to get here, too. They're only two hours apart by automobile travel.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Devastation hits Santa Rosa

All weekend I was reading articles and watching TV shows about the destruction and devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which is both difficult to truly grasp in its entirety, and heartbreaking. It will take years to recover and rebuild, and the island wasn't in the greatest shape to start with. If the Trump administration would take the disaster seriously, things might get better sooner, but the problem is, the Trump administration does not appear to be taking the disaster nearly as seriously as is warranted.

On the West Coast, a fire (the "Tubbs Fire") rampaged through parts of Santa Rosa, California, destroying entire neighborhoods. Once again, the scope of this disaster is nearly impossible to comprehend. There will be lot of insurance claims, and here too, it will likely take years to recover and rebuild.

On the ground, drive-through video:

Furthermore, the fire season and the hurricane season are long from over.

You can design lingerie, too!

I saw this on Basically a sash down the front, a sash across the tetas, and a collar.

I could have done that!

(Mom, is that you?)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, October 8-14, 2017: Kallbådan, Finland

This is kind of humorous -- as I was searching for this week's lighthouse, I decided to see what other lighthouses were in Finland.  It turns out that I have done one lighthouse from Finland per year  (even though the first two years were the same lighthouse, named Bengtskär).

So I'm due for a lighthouse from Finland again, and this one is posted almost exactly a year after last year's Finnish lighthouse.

So let me introduce Kallbådan lighthouse. Apparently it's also called Porkkala Light.  It's not far from Helsinki, and it's directly across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, Estonia.

Here's a locator map (but you'll have to zoom out to figure out where it is).  Because it is so hard to find, here are its decimal latitude and longitude coordinates:  59.868958, 24.303068.

From the Lighthouse Directory:
"1928 (lightship station established 1858). Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); three quick flashes every 20 s, white, red or green depending on direction. 21 m (69 ft) square stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from one end of a 2-story stone keeper's house, all mounted on a large square stone pier."
Now, the last thing that the Lighthouse Directory says is that the lighthouse wasn't operated during the Soviet occupation of Finland, and when it was restarted, the light was automated.  So  I don't know if the picture of the lighthouse's Fresnel lens is recent or not.

Friday, October 6, 2017

With Trump, 'hard to imagine' is the norm

From the Washington Post article,

Trump’s decision on Iran nuclear deal could cause major breach with allies in Europe

A pithy paragraph, to which I added emphasis:
"Negotiators had envisioned a U.S. president who would justify staying in the arrangement as long as Iran lived up to its obligations, not a die-hard opponent who has branded the agreement an “embarrassment.” The 60-day, expedited “snapback” provision in U.S. law was designed to punish Iran quickly in the event it violated the deal and did not envision that the United States would breach it."
See, there are two cases in that paragraph in which the negotiators did not envision (i.e., they didn't think it was possible) that a President of the United States would do what Donald Trump is doing.

Indeed, there are numerous instances of Trump doing what hardly anyone would think a President would do.  Letting the EPA collapse, basically not doing what it was intended to do, which is protect the environment.  Letting the Department of the Interior give back national monuments to extractive (oil, gas, coal) interests.  Letting endangered species stay endangered, without protection.  Cutting taxes without a plan to keep the deficit under control, and emulating the Kansas disaster in the process.  Abandoning nearly the entire territory and most of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to the Hurrricane Maria disaster.  Playing a game of nuclear chicken with North Korea.  Calling racist marchers "good people".  And not really worrying about the myriad ways that Russia influenced the last election, many of those ways likely to have helped get him elected.

I could go on and on and on.  But the basic truth remains:  Trump is the Unimaginable President.

As Denzel Washington says, "God help us all."

Keegan-Wright update

The Daily Mail just had an article about Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan, the married British acting couple who are currently living separate lives due to work commitments.

Mark is apparently missing being with Michelle.  This I can understand, greatly.

Michelle is apparently enjoying the break.  This is also likely understandable, given how I might behave if I was Mark Wright and I was married to Michelle Keegan and it was the first year of being married. 

They'll be back together relatively soon.  That makes me feel good for Mark Wright, because of how I feel about Michelle Keegan.  Which is to say, worshipful.

'I can't get to her right now': Lonely Mark Wright admits desperately needing to be reunited with wife Michelle Keegan AGAIN as he works in America... after she admits 'it's nice being apart'

Quote from the article:
"The striking actress spoke to Closer magazine about their set-up, as she admitted after spending 'day and night' together last year, their distance is 'nice', in comments made shortly before she jetted away to a remote island."
Regarding spending day and night together, especially the night part -- this I can understand, greatly. 

It'll get better soon, Mark.

Break up the Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA championship ... again.

Lynx capture 4th title with 85-76 win over Sparks in Game 5

It was a close series, going to five games, the maximum.  But still, the best team (and the team that everyone recognized as the best team) won.

That's not good.  Even if upsetting a repeating champion is big news and big excitement (as when Connecticut was defeated in the NCAA tournament this past season), having so much talent on one team in a game where top talent usually wins (not enough elements of chance) -- well, it's just nigh to boring.

No argument that they're good, and the town with the dominant team is usually pretty happy about it.  But part of sports fandom is being able to hope your team has a chance -- maybe a small one, but a chance nonetheless.  In this era of dominant basketball teams, too many towns with teams know the season is probably over, championship-wise, before the first game is played.

Now, the English Premier League (soccer) has a few repeatedly dominant teams, as we well know -- but they do seem to mix up who actually wins each year, and there is a small chance, as Leicester City proved, that the element of uncertainty in soccer can play a part and let a long-shot win.

So, back to the WNBA -- it was a surprise that Elena Delle Donne actually moved from Chicago to Washington, giving the Mystics a chance to advance in the playoffs.  But the series against the Lynx showed that they really didn't have a chance to win the playoffs.

Perhaps if Tayler Hill hadn't torn her ACL in July, then the Mystics might have been able to make the series more interesting.  But in reality, a team like Minnesota has to lose talent to let the rest of the league catch up.  Who knows?  Maybe one of the Lynx will get pregnant.  That's one aspect of the women's pro sports that isn't quite the same as for men.  And of course, somebody vital to the team could get seriously hurt, which is always possible.

But unless something like that happens, we can expect the Lynx to be favored to win it all again, next year.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Might be like a painting

A lovely Russian lass, Nika Kolosova, now with an Americanized name (Nicole Ross), has an Instagram account.   She very recently posted a picture.  I commented on the picture, basically saying that it could easily be converted to a classical nude painting.

So I did.  (You've got to be impressed with the technology -- I used ConvertImage).

And while I was at it, I also tried out the 3D anaglyph generator.  For the latter, you'll need red-blue 3D glasses.  Go find some.

The two versions are below.

There's stupid, and there's STUPID

While horrible tragedies and natural disasters occupy the collective national mind, the Trumpsters are behind the scenes in Washington, wreaking havoc with common sensity.

Especially climate and environment common sensity.

(Yeah, I know there's no such word as sensity.  It just seemed to fit, like strategery.)

Case in point;  the fate of the Bureau of Land Management rule on methane capture from drilling operations, which Congress in their infinite dum-dum actually decide not to try and repeal.

So led by Cowboy Ryan "Lone Plane" Zinke, Interior is just going to go ahead and rewrite the rule they don't like.

Which is STUPID.  Like in not-getting-money-you're-entitled-to stupid.

"Environmentalists who support the BLM rule, which addresses new and existing gas wells on public and tribal lands, say fiscal conservatives should take issue with scrapping the rule as well. That’s because states, tribes and the federal government get royalty payments from oil and gas firms drilling on publicly owned lands. The more methane that is captured, the more money flows into government coffers.

“That just underscores how far outside the mainstream this administration is,” said Matt Watson, associate vice president of the climate and energy program at the Environmental Defense Fund."
A synonym for "far outside the mainstream" is stupid.

So that last quote could be rewritten to read like this: "That just underscores how stupid this administration is."  See?  Simple!

Congress decided against repealing this climate rule. So the Trump administration is undoing it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cheryl looks great... except, maybe, umm...

Cheryl (best known formerly as Cheryl Cole), who had a baby six months ago with much-younger-lover Liam Payne, walked the style runway in Paris for L'Oreal.

She looked fabulous.  And walking into the show in skinny jeans showed just how fabulous everything is again.

Except, maybe, for the lipstick.

Now, the Daily Mail writers called it bold.  And the pink on top was fun.  But the purple on the bottom, I'm sorry, it just makes her look cold (or cyanotic).

You decide.

Check her out! Cheryl displays her post-baby body in saucy slip dress and trendy plaid jacket as she struts her stuff on the L'Oreal Paris Fashion Week catwalk... marking her big return to the limelight following birth of son Bear

Monday, October 2, 2017


A couple of posts ago, in my post about Francesca Larrain using the ensuite (which might not actually be an ensuite), I then looked around for other examples.  What Francesca really was employing was a transparent shower, which is apparently a thing right now.  I'd like to stay in one with a suitable companion.  That won't ever happen, but still.

Hunting around, I found two articles about this trend.

The Latest Luxury Travel Trend:  Exhibitionist Showers

10 Sexiest See-Through Hotel Bathrooms

The one below is not in either of the lists above.  It's at the Olive Boutique Hotel, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  While I doubt it is currently taking room bookings, once the island gets working again, it might be a nice play to stay, and their economy will likely need the boost.  (This is one of the only pictures where I could find the shower stall occupied, even if the water isn't on yet.)

Like I said, it's a thing!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hard to believe

It isn't hard to believe that killer whales hunt dolphins.  And clearly, from watching dolphin and killer whale shows (many of which have been ended), it isn't hard to believe that dolphins and killer whales can jump out of the water.

But what is hard to believe is the height out of the water this killer whale hunting a dolphin achieved.

From the article:  Death dive: Extraordinary pictures capture the moment a lucky dolphin escapes by inches after killer launches aerial attack

Lighthouse of the Week, October 1-7, 2017: New Talaimannar, Sri Lanka

After last week's thematic lighthouse + storm pictures, I have returned to Sri Lanka.  The lighthouse featured this week is on the northern part of the island, and is the new version of a pair of lighthouses;  there is also an old Talaimannar lighthouse, too, which is not nearly as classical or as pretty as the New Talaimannar lighthouse.

Here's more on the New Talaimannar lighthouse:

New Talaimannar Lighthouse  (includes a map to locate its location).

And here's what the Lighthouse Directory has to say about it:

"1915. Reactivated (?); focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 5 s authorized. 19 m (62 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white. ... There are several Internet references to the lighthouse as being abandoned or "burnt out" during the insurrection. The Sri Lankan Army cleared mines in the Talaimannar Pier area in 2003-04, reopening the area to visitors."

And here are the pictures!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

An ensuite, in use

Back in August, I discussed a word and concept I hadn't heard before, which is an "ensuite".

Have you ever heard of an "ensuite"? 

In this article, I provided several examples of ensuites (unoccupied), and suggested that it would be somewhat delightful to have a young lady take a shower in one, while sharing the accomodation.

Well, just recently, a busty Venezuelan bombshell named Francesca Larrain (worth a few looks on Instagram) demonstrated exactly why I think an ensuite can be a really good thing.

First of all, here's a nice juicy picture of Francesca:

And here's a picture of Francesca in the ensuite:

See what I mean?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

England announces team for the Ashes

If you don't follow cricket, you don't know what The Ashes is, I expect.  If you do follow cricket, then you probably do know.

For those of you who don't know, but might possibly be interested, here's what it is:
The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. The Ashes are regarded as being held by the team that most recently won the Test series. If the test series is drawn, the team that currently holds the Ashes, retains the trophy.

The Ashes trophy (left) and the genuine Ashes urn (right)

ESPN has a short history of the Ashes (dated 2013).

Wikipedia (from where I got the description above) can supply the rest.

England currently holds The Ashes after the most recent series in 2015.  Has it been that long?

Anyway, here's the team:

England announce Ashes squad for tour of Australia: Ben Stokes is included despite recent arrest and there are call-ups for James Vince, Mason Crane and Ben Foakes

The most critical players for England are going to be captain Joe Root, Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, and superstar bowler James Anderson.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Actress to watch

Haley Bennett is a young actress who happens to look a lot like Jennifer Lawrence.  She's 29 and has been creating a pretty good list of roles (as listed on IMdB).

She stood out in The Magnificent Seven, and also had important roles in Marley and Me, The Equalizer, Passages, and The Girl on the Train.

I don't think she's had the role that will make a really large section of the moviegoing public notice her and remember, but I have a gut feeling she's going to have that role soon.  She's got a high credits role in Thank You for Your Service, due out in late October.  Miles Teller will be competing against himself, because he's also starring in Only the Brave, which is going to be released one week before that.

Meanwhile, let's finish with a picture of lovely Haley Bennett.  She's chameleonic, and has some sexy young ingenue pictures out there, and it's hard to find the one picture that looks just like her, so I went with two pictures from Elle magazine.

And here's how she looked in The Magnificent Seven (with Chris Pratt).

I've seen that place

The National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest is underway, and I'll be keeping tabs on it.

In the Week 2 collection, one of the photographs is of Kallur Lighthouse in the Faroe Islands, which I featured as a Lighthouse of the Week back in April.

The picture, by Wojciech Kruczynski, is pretty awesome.  Click on it to super-size it.  Or go to the Week 2 gallery and download the wallpaper (like I did).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, September 24-30, 2017: Lighthouses and storms

Because of the recent disastrous hurricanes that have hit the U.S., and which have severely damaged a few Caribbean islands and virtually all of Puerto Rico, I'm going to take a slight departure this week from a featured lighthouse, and just feature a few amazing images of lighthouses and big storm waves.  Consider this a tribute to the people that are managing to go on in the midst of extreme difficulty caused by this spectacular forces of nature.

And if you can, contribute to the relief efforts.

For the first two pictures, I do not have an identity for the lighthouse.  The third picture is Trevose Head in the county of Cornwall, England, taken by Nik Jewell.  There are a few other lighthouses on England's South West Peninsula;  a quick survey indicates six or eight, depending on how loosely the region is defined.  So I think I've got a theme for the upcoming weeks.

Lost and found, Moon version

SMART-1 was a European lunar orbiting satellite that spun around the Moon for three years, and then conducted a controlled crash on the surface in September 2006.  Though they knew where it crashed and even got a picture of it, a picture of the crash location has never been located.

Until now.   A gentleman named Phil Stooke found the crash site in imagery from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a NASA mission still in orbit around the Moon. I don't know when the imagery was captured;  I can guarantee it was after late June 2009, when the LRO went into orbit around the Moon.

So, the article has the picture of the crash site. So that's where the mission ended.  A bit of astronomical closure.

New observations reveal a lunar orbiter’s final resting place 

A mistake made again and again

So it seems that the Republicans in Washington are going to cut taxes.

When we don't need to cut taxes.  As I noted in a previous post, according to esteemed Washington Post's economics writer Robert Samuelson, we need to raise taxes right now.

But good arguments are lost on Republicans.  So I have another argument.

First, let's look at the article.

White House plans for tax cuts moves forward

A quote from the article:
"... there is a growing willingness within the GOP to embrace controversial, optimistic estimates of how much economic growth their tax plan would create."
So, you read that, and then one single name should send shudders through anyone who is both conscious and capable of lucid thought processes:


And if that is not a good enough argument, another name should clinch it.

Sam Brownback.

There, I'm done, and nothing can beat that argument.

Except rank stupidity.

Which the Republicans possess in large quantities.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Senator Smith fakes out Washington

Senator Lamar Smith, from Texas, is against anything that might positively influence the issue of climate change, and in favor of anything that keeps CO2 pumping into the atmosphere.

Thus, he is a climate denier favorite.  And this tactic shows why.

Rep. Lamar Smith cites fake news in fight against climate science

Here are a couple of illuminating excerpts:
"The Mail on Sunday was forced to publish an “adverse adjudication” on Sept. 17 admitting that a story by its reporter, David Rose, had breached the Editors’ Code of Practice of the UK Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). The organization was established and is funded by a group of British newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday and its stablemate, the Daily Mail."

"Most reputable media were skeptical of Rose’s false claims when they were published in February. However, a few outlets, such as The Times in the U.K. and Fox News, were fooled and erroneously reported the story without checking its veracity.

In addition, Science Committee Chairman Smith, was taken in by Rose’s article and cited it in a letter he wrote in February to the Acting Administrator of NOAA, Mr Benjamin Friedman."

The article goes on to suggest that Senator Smith should apologize to Friedman.  Fat chance of that happening, I think.  Smith does not impress me as someone that practices propriety.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Video of the Indianapolis on the ocean floor

After posting about the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, I discovered a video of an ROV tour of the ship a day later.  Not much else to say:  it is both extremely interesting and somber.

Web site: Watch: A Tour of the USS Indianapolis Wreck

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

One of the last great wrecks was found

This is moderately old news by now, but the finding of the USS Indianapolis by an expedition led by Paul Allen marks one of the last great shipwreck finds available.

Oh sure, there are still lots of wrecks.  But there aren't a lot more truly historically significant wrecks that haven't been found.  One of the remaining challenges with historical and human significance isn't even a ship, it's a plane, the wreck of the ill-fated flight Malaysian Airlines 370 (MH 370).  And that's going to be even harder to find than a big battleship.

So, noted briefly, this was a major shipwreck find.  Sometimes I state the obvious.

Wreckage of WWII-Era Warship U.S.S. Indianapolis Found After 72 Years

An image of the wreck, taken by an ROV:

End of the run

In the end, they didn't have enough.

The Minnesota Lynx are loaded -- as the Washington Post called it, they are a super team (and maybe more than that).  And the Washington Mystics aren't.  You need at least three great players, it seems, to have a chance to win a basketball championship, and this year, after Tayler Hill got injured and went out for the season, the Mystics were down to two (Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver), plus a strong supporting role from Emma Meesseman.

Not enough against the Lynx. So even though they made the semi-finals, they were outmatched, and were swept.

But it was enough to give us a little hope, especially those two wins in the one-and-done rounds.

They just need a little more.

On their way up, the Mystics just saw what a genuine super team looks like

Just to put it in context:
"And then they played a team [the Lynx] that had two former league MVPs, four all-stars and an experienced core that has recorded 37 playoff wins since 2011. The Mystics have four. Maybe that sweep wasn’t a super shock."
Final thought:  I think both men's and women's professional basketball has a bit of a problem if at the beginning of the season there's hardly any drama about who'll be in the championship round at the end of the season.  And given super teams like the Golden State Warriors, the Lynx, the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron and the Miami Heat with LeBron before that, the expectation is that they are so good that it would take something significant to stop them from getting that far.  Dynasties are OK, but hey, give the rest of the country at least a chance to dream about getting a ring.

A sonnet: "in modern times"

Yes, we do live in the future we imagined.

in modern times

I find a new one ev'ry day - a shot,
a view, a revelation, and a name
I never knew before. Though I cannot
be sure, I think that they exist, their fame
dependent on the eyes of we behold-
ers, looking, gazing, longing, wishing we
could be upon those slopes and shores, not cold
and lonely in the steeped stark nights, just free
to roam with needful vision, finding them
both posed and casual, unclothed or clad
in silk or lace or string, each frame a gem
of femininity that makes us glad
to know humanity can reach such heights,
and soothe our savage hearts with lissome sights.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Finding the Bay of Kotor

Just learned about this place by happenstance.  I doubt I'll get there, but it seems like a good place to visit if I was in the neighborhood.

Montenegro's Bay of Kotor by Rick Steves

Of course, if I was near Croatia, I'd also want to see the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

So many places to see, so little life to see them.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 17-23, 2017: Oluvil, Sri Lanka

So I asked myself, "Does Sri Lanka (the pendant-shaped island south of India) have lighthouses?"

I suspected that it did, because it is, after all, an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean.

And the answer to this simple question is:  Yes.  In fact, it has quite a few of them.

I'm going to start off this look at Sri Lankan lighthouses with Oluvil, a cute and modern (1999) lighthouse on Sri Lanka's east coast.

Because it was built in 1999, it doesn't have a lot of history.  This Web site has all the info you really need:  Oluvil Lighthouse, Ampara

It also has a map that can show you exactly where it is.

If you're in a hurry, skip the Web site, it's 24 meters (79 feet) high.  Now you can go look at the pictures and the drone video.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Caprice, now and then

Caprice Bourret is a glamour model who went simply by the moniker "Caprice" when she was at the height of her modeling fame and modeling career. And she was pretty famous for being pretty.

Two kids and a brain tumor (successfully treated) later, she still looks very fine, as shown in this casual shot captured during a recent Ibiza vacation:

Age-defying Caprice, 45, looks every inch the blonde bombshell as she displays her sensational figure in a TINY lace-up bikini in Ibiza

And you have to consider that she had twins (the pre-delivery picture here is rather remarkable):

Caprice gets back in model shape after 12 weeks... by breastfeeding her new babies

If you're wondering what she looked like at the aforementioned height of her career, when she was appearing on numerous magazine covers, here's an example:

The ongoing banana crisis

I've said it before, but the agricultural banana crisis is serious business, because bananas are big business.

This article describes the full range of problems:

The world's bananas are under attack

The problems are a fungus attacking the Cavendish banana (which is the one in U.S. supermarkets far and wide)  and a bacterial disease attacking bananas in East Africa, where they are a major staple (but not the Cavendish variety).

Genetic engineering may come to the aid of the banana, particularly for the bacterial disease attacking the cooking bananas in Africa.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fantastic Jupiter by Juno

These most recent pictures from Juno are nothing short of fantastic.

Juno's eighth close approach to Jupiter

And the Daily Mail had an article with numerous Juno image highlights.

Jupiter 'up close and personal': NASA releases stunning new photos from Juno spacecraft's 8th flyby of the gas giant planet

The image below was from the 7th pass. Click on it to see it larger -- it's phenomenal.  And it's important to note that Juno is doing great science observations of Jupiter while getting these unprecedented images.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The remarkable Ms. Hingis

OK, so Sloane Stephens won her first Grand Slam women's singles title in something of a yawner of over Madison Keys, in a match that was more historical than entertaining, and a dominant Rafael Nadal showed us why he's won so many (3 U.S. Opens now) in a straight-setter over unlikely finalist Kevin Anderson for the men's title.

That's where most of the attention is paid.  Me included.  But I just found out today that Martina Hingis did something quite remarkable -- she won her 25th Grand Slam title (5 in singles, 13 in doubles, and 7 in mixed doubles), and the 24th was also at the 2017 U.S. Open in the mixed doubles with Jamie Murray.

Murray and Hingis in the mixed doubles, U.S. Open 2017

Hingis made her relatively brief ascension to the top of the women's game playing a game like very few others have -- composed of finesse, point building and shot making, and not based as much on power hitting and baseline stalking.  So she was soon eclipsed by the Williamses, even though in a couple of tournaments she had to defeat one Williams in the semis before facing another in the final.  That didn't seem quite fair.

She retired from the singles, had some misadventures, and has unretired twice, and is now -- still -- playing world-class doubles.  At age 37, that's a great achievement.  She knows how to play the game.

This made me wonder -- where does she rank in terms of all Grand Slam titles?  Well, she's fifth in the "modern era", though the woman in first place, Margaret Court, spanned the eras, because the Open era began in 1968, and Court won her titles from 1960-1975.

I hope Hingis wins a couple more before she's done.  No reason to think she can't.

It's time for a sonnet

I haven't posted a sonnet for awhile, so here's one to make up for that.

when we are given what we wish for

It has a certain special welcomeness,
as it occurs the times when it will be
appropriate -- although bright minds could guess
it is not always so! But when I see
her expectation, and I know I can
provide the bare intensity she needs,
then I appreciate the place a man
is welcome and desired, and where my deeds
are awesome in the private rite and realm
that my erectitude creates. Here seeds
could cert be planted, yet the overwhelm-
ing urge is to conjoin, as love concedes
the value of the physical exceeds
the fundamentals of the clan and creeds.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Something had to change

Ever since Crystal Palace made it into the Premier League, I've followed their fortunes.  They've had a couple of good years.  More recently, they've been performing relegation escapes.  Last year was remarkable when they dropped manager Alan Pardew, brought on Sam Allardyce, and managed a couple of fantastic upsets to stay out of relegation.

But being a lower-level Premier League team, they didn't get a lot of help via transfers, and surprisingly, Allardyce politely quite as manager.  So they hired Frank de Boer, who hadn't lasted long at his last posting.

After a no-goal, 0-4 start (even though they really outplayed Burnley last Sunday), something had to change, and what could be changed was the manager.  So de Boer was out, and Roy Hodgson, who has managed a lot of teams successfully, though his recent English national team stint didn't go particularly well, was picked.  Despite that disappointment (no one could have expected what Iceland was going to do, anyway), he's a great coach.  Plus, he's a former player, and even played for the Palace youth team.

Will it make a difference?  Well, if coaching can make a difference, then they couldn't do much better right now than Hodgson.

Not everybody's impressed.

But a player who played for him seems to think it will work:

Roy Hodgson has been written off before... but he will turn it around as Crystal Palace's new manager

Next step - score a goal.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

England defeats the West Indies in 3rd cricket Test

I noted the West Indies side surprisingly upset England in the second test of their three-Test series.  Of course, they had to play the third Test, and they did it at the venerable Lord's cricket ground.

It was a surprising Test, because the bowlers had a decided advantage over the batsmen - meaning that the score was very low as cricket scores go.

It was also notable because Jimmy Anderson, a true cricket superstar bowler, took his 500th Test wicket, first time that's ever been achieved by an Englishman -- and then kept on going.  Anderson was one of the main reasons England won.

The Windies had 123 runs in their first innings and 177 in their second, for a round total of 300.  England had 194 in their first innings, and hit the number of 107, totaling 301, to win the Test.

Stokes was the top England batsman in the first innings, with 60 runs, and didn't even have to bat in the second innings.

The five-Test series Ashes match against Australia (in Australia) is next.

England secure series victory over West Indies at Lord's as Jimmy Anderson takes seven second-innings wickets to set up success

Lighthouse of the Week, September 10-16, 2017: Eshaness, Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

I've definitely got a liking for the striking -- lighthouses located in striking locales, that is.

Eshaness Lighthouse in Scotland's Shetland Islands is one of those.

This nice Web site has a map on the front that shows where it is located -- along with a lighthouse I previously featured, Sumburgh Head.

Shetland Lighthouse Holidays

On this same site, the Eshaness Lighthouse page.

It's a rather humble lighthouse, but the location is inspiring.

Regarding the history, here's what the Lighthouse Directory has:
"1929 (David A. Stevenson). Station established 1915. Active; focal plane 61 m (199 ft); white flash every 12 s. 12 m (40 ft) square masonry tower with lantern and gallery, rising from 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black."
Also according to the Lighthouse Directory, it is a Stevenson-designed lighthouse, with the Stevenson being Robert Stevenson, a civil engineer who designed a lot of lighthouses.

And now for the pictures:

by David Gifford

by Aaron K. Hall

Third round, baby!

The Washington Mystics, the Women's National Basketball League (WNBA) team in Washington D.C., have just done something that no other Washington professional sports team has done for many years -- I'm too lazy to figure out how many -- but a long time.

They're in the third round of the playoffs.  They are one round away from the championship round.

Seriously.  Unfortunately now they have to play the best team in the league, the Minnesota Lynx (27-7).   But this is not the team that had the regular season record of 18-16, because for much of the season, they didn't have Elena Delle Donne.  And Emma Meesseman missed some time too.

And they also have Kristi Toliver, who got the Mystics into the third round on 9-16 three-point shooting against New York.

So I think they have a chance.  Not a great chance, but you don't have a chance if you lose in the playoffs.  And they made it this far, and beyond that, they're actually good.

Good enough?  We'll see.  But breaking a curse as strong as the Washington D.C. championship sports curse requires something remarkable, even miraculous.

Perhaps Mystical will be what it takes.

Toliver’s shooting lifts Mystics to 82-68 win over Liberty

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A very nice dress on the red carpet

Jennifer Lawrence made several appearances at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, but it was her glamorous dress when she got dressed up that deserved the most attention.  Michelle Pfeiffer, costarring in the upcoming cinematic release Mother!, looked good too.

The article has several good pictures of both actresses (and also of J. Law dressed down, but still stylish, look).

Bellissimo! Busty Jennifer Lawrence steals the show in plunging lace gown as she promotes her movie Mother! with director boyfriend Darren Aronofsky... during another star-studded day at Venice Film Festival

Here's one shot of the nice dress.

The next three stops on Highway 41

Although in the next few days Hurricane Irma might make the next stops on Highway 41 look considerably different than they do in these StreetView scenes, I will carry on. Note that in this stretch of the highway, it's also called the "Tamiami Trail".

If you don't remember the Valujet 592 crash on May 11, 1996, it was notable partly because the plane basically got swallowed up by the Everglades.  (An article is here, and a picture is here.) Until I undertook this Highway 41 project, I was unaware that there was a memorial at the crash site.  But there is, and Highway 41 goes right past it.  Zoom in with the "+" to get a closer look.

 The next stop is the entrance to the Shark Valley Visitor Center (Shark River being the main still existent Everglades "river of grass").  There's an observation tower, not visible from here.  Feel free to drive down the entrance road to find it.

And finally, just east of the Kirby Storter Roadside Park, I found this very Gladesy view.

Next stops: the road to Everglades City, and the road to Marco Island.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Florence has moons

I remember the first time it was discovered that an asteroid had moons, when a review of Galileo data indicated that Ida, which Galileo had flown by, had a little companion moon that was subsequently named Dactyl.  I don't think anyone was really surprised that asteroids had moons, as there are so many little chunks of rock in the belt that it's not a shock a little chunk got gravitationally bound to a much bigger one.

So, when asteroid Florence came close by Earth a few days ago, a relatively routine radar scanning observation program revealed that Florence has not just one, but two little rocky companions.  Which means that there are probably hundreds of asteroids with mini-moons, even if we can't see them.

Read about it here:

Close Encounter by the [Big!] Asteroid Florence

And here's a radar image of the big one and the little ones along for the orbital ride.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sometimes you find something you weren't looking for

Neat story happened last week when construction workers in Denver happened upon a Triceratops skeleton.  They've already extracted some of it and are examining it and taking care of it at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Rather than try to explain it, I'll let the articles do the explaining.

Triceratops skull, skeleton dug up by workers building new Thornton police, fire station

Thornton triceratops to go on display at Denver science museum this weekend

Thornton triceratops fossils draw crowds to Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Here's what they've found so far:
"The collection includes two brow bones, a lower jaw beak, parts of the frill (the shield behind the dinosaur’s head), shoulder bones, vertebrae and ribs. As of Thursday afternoon, arms and legs had not been found, according to Denver Museum of Nature and Science curator of dinosaurs Joe Sertich."


and Video:

Lighthouse of the Week, September 3-9, 2017: San Sebastian Light, Argentina

Last week I noted that while searching for a blue lighthouse, I found one painted with yellow and blue stripes in Argentina, specifically in the far southern reaches of Tierra del Fuego.  I indicated that I'd probably visit that lighthouse for the Lighthouse of the Week, and so here it is.

It turns out there isn't a lot to know about this one, which is the San Sebastian light, on the southern coast of the Bay of San Sebastian, near the town of San Sebastian.  If you want to see where that is on Google Maps, click here.

Here's what the Lighthouse Directory says about its specifications:
"1949. Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); three white flashes, separated by 5 s, every 40 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted with blue and yellow spiral bands; lantern painted black."
There aren't very many pictures of this one, unlike the other Argentinian lighthouse I featured.  Below are three.  The first one is from a ham radio call sign expedition to this lighthouse near the end of the world.