Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fishy story

Well, there is photographic evidence. It's hard to believe that a pike was frozen in ice mid-swallow with a bass in its mouth, but that's what this article shows. If it is really authentic, it's a new take on the phrase "Bit off more than it could chew". Of course, fish don't chew. But still, this is a qualifier for Weird News of the Year, even if it still is only January.

Pike with bass in its mouth found frozen in a block of lake ice

Stunning trade by Washington Mystics

While the Washington Wizards have turned around their early-season misfortunes and are starting to look like a decent basketball team, the Washington Mystics made a blockbuster trade to get Elena Delle Donne from Chicago. They gave up some good players to get her, but this is a bona-fide superstar that plays like one. If they can establish the supporting cast, the then they might have a chance to get good this year. The Mystics have been one of the league's underachievers, making the playoffs with some regularity, but never (I don't think) advancing past the first round. Have to check on that. (I did - they advanced once.) They've never played for the WNBA championship, and are in fact the only team in the WNBA that hasn't -- which is of course a familiar tune to Washington DC sports fans, but hey, it'd be nice if they made a deep playoff run with Delle Donne.

Of course, we say that about most of the teams around here. Even about the other Washington teams with bona-fide superstars: Harper and Scherzer on the Nationals, Wall on the Wizards, Ovechkin and Backstrom on the Capitals. You'd think... well, we'll see.

And she's kinda cute, too... though her dating game is with other girls

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beach made of glass

Sometimes (and rarely), mankind's besmirching of nature gets the tables turned on it and something wonderful happens.

Yes, it's rare.  And it's beautiful, too.  Glass Beach in Russia.

Pretty amazing what junked glass can turn into, isn't it?

Lighthouse of the Week, Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2017: Savudrija, Croatia

This Lighthouse of the Week, Savudrija, is the oldest lighthouse in Croatia.  It's also available for rent!

According to The Lighthouse Directory:
"Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 29 m (95 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and double gallery, rising from a 1- and 2-story keeper's complex. Fog siren (two blasts every 42 s). The lighthouse is unpainted cream-colored stone; the lantern is white with a gray metallic roof."
and also:
"The light marks the southern entrance to the Gulf of Trieste. The 2-story principal keeper's house has two large apartments available for vacation rental."

Well, would you like to vacation there? You'll have to judge from the pictures.

By the way, it's also apparently called "The Lighthouse of Love". More research required to see how romantically connected the place really is.

(If you want to see where it actually is, click here and zoom out).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Another (concurring) opinion on McConnell's SCOTUS scam

I grabbed a line from the following Washington Post editorial:

Trump can't break the Supreme Court

Here's the line, regarding Mitch's play to not let the Senate consider President Obama's pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy that occurred when Antonin Scalia died.   Even though the Senate followed the scummy lead of Mitch the Bitch, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland.

McConnell’s gambit was a raw power play — to put it charitably — with scanty precedent at best.

I certainly agree with that assessment.

Cloudy with a chance of hotness

Usually, when weather forecasters provide a forecast that calls for extreme heat, they are talking about the temperature.

In the case of Mexican meteorologist/weathergirl Yanet GarcĂ­a, they may instead be talking about her latest swimwear or lingerie choice.

'World's sexiest' weather girl delights fans in a new video which sees her pose half naked in racy lingerie

If you like this kind of thing (beautiful women in skimpy garments), "Yanet Garcia" is worth the image search time. Examples below.

A psych test for POTUS?

According to this Ruth Marcus op-ed in the Washington Post, Rep. Jason Chaffetz verbally floated the idea of a mental fitness test for the President of the United States:

"What is to be done? In a meeting last week with The Post editorial board, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he was weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including for mental health. Chaffetz cautioned that he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump. Still, he said, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.” "

I find that quite interesting.  Because if Trump really pushes the wrong policy buttons (according to what Republicans want), there are several ways that they could come after him:  threaten to impeach him, threaten to find him incompetent or incapacitated to be in office (the 25th Amendment maneuver), or the Chaffetz legislation.  Presumably the legislation would have some kind of provision for temporary/permanent replacement in office if the POTUS is found to be mentally ill.

Simply the best

Serena Williams is the best woman tennis player in the Open era.

She's won more, lasted longer, and overcome a lot to make that claim.  And she claimed the Australian Open, over her big sister Venus.  I predicted Serena would win when she beat Johanna Konta, and I also hoped she wouldn't have to play Venus to do it.  But she did.  And she won gracefully and Venus lost gracefully, after a strong 6-4, 6-4 effort.

This Washington Post article is pretty good about what it means.

Serena Williams stands alone atop modern tennis after winning Australian Open

"Venus Williams would hug her for a long time and then get to tell the audience, “That’s my little sister, guys.” Serena Williams would amass her 23rd Grand Slam title, beyond all the teeming horde of players who have tried the sport since it shed its amateurs-only status in 1968. She exceeded Steffi Graf’s 22, just as she had exceeded the 18 of both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and the nine of Monica Seles. Only Margaret Court’s 24, gathered mainly in the years before the Open era, remains ahead of Williams, who has seven Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, six U.S. Open titles, three French Open titles and a fresh, new stay at the No. 1 ranking she lost in September to Angelique Kerber."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Serena moves on

Well, I predicted that the winner of the Johanna Konta - Serena Williams match would win the Australian Open.  The winner turned out to be ... Serena Williams.

The women's semifinals thus consist of Coco Vandeweghe v. the truly remarkable (and becoming more so every day) Venus Williams, with Serena Williams set to face Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.  Three Americans in the semis, two of them being the ongoingly impressive Williamses.  And three of them are also in their thirties (Vandeweghe is the twenty-something of the group).

Lucic-Baroni beat Karolina Pliskova (I still don't know who that is). It was a good three-set match, judging from the score (6-4, 3-6, 6-4).

Well, we'll see how this prediction does. Hope she doesn't have to play Venus in the final.

Distraction attraction

Demi Rose Mawby posted this fetching picture (taken by a friend) of her getting a cup of tea or coffee.

Do you mean to tell me that the two guys in the background did not notice her sitting there?  If they didn't, I feel sorry for them.  If they actually did notice -- good job.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A really quick Australian Open prediction

The Australian Open -- crazy on both sides, with top seeds falling regularly.  Djokovic AND Murray out?  Unthinkable.  But that's what happened.  Smart money would be on Wawrinka now, but with Federer and Nadal still in it, anything can happen.  And is it Grigor Dmitrov's time?  Probably not, but it seems like it's still slightly possible.

On the women's side, Kerber was eliminated, Halep (sob) was eliminated, and so was Radwanska.  (Those latter two need to win a major.)  Wozniacki was eliminated right after feeling good about where her game was.

The unexpected player playing great is Johanna Konta, who is going to be playing Serena Williams quite soon.   So here's my quick prediction:  whoever wins that match will win the tournament.

Well, I mean, who is Karolina Pliskova, anyway?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, January 22-28, 2017: Patos Island, Washington

Patos Island lighthouse is a restored lighthouse, and happens to be the northernmost lighthouse in Washington's San Juan Islands.   And it's one of those rare lighthouses with a striking volcanic peak behind it, from some angles.  In this case, the peak is Mount Baker.

Here are some links with more information about it:

Keepers of the Patos Light

Patos Island Lighthouse (from Lighthouse Friends)

"The lighthouse is now part of Patos Island State Park. The fourth-order Fresnel lens used in the lighthouse was saved by maritime author Jim Gibbs."

And the pictures.  There are many, and many are very good.

Great panoramic view

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Scott Pruitt - willing to endanger unborn children?

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is willing to accept the release of toxic mercury into the environment;  the kind of mercury that can get into the developing brains of unborn children and damage them.

So Scott Pruitt does not value the lives of unborn children.

Scott Pruitt vs. Science

"On other issues, Pruitt appeared to contradict his record as Oklahoma attorney general. Asked about the impact of mercury pollution, Pruitt said mercury is "very dangerous" and that he's "concerned." In 2012, however, he signed onto a lawsuit challenging the EPA's mercury regulations, arguing that "the record does not support EPA's findings that mercury…pose[s] public health hazards."
So what's it going to be, Scotty boy?  Are you going to work to prevent more mercury from getting into our environment, or not?  We'd really like to know.

Here's more, from Time.

Donald Trump’s EPA Pick Imperils Science—And Earth

"Mercury is a deadly neurotoxin that damages the brains of “the developing fetus and young children,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is spewed into the air from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources before settling into lakes and waterways and contaminating the fish we eat. But Pruitt’s challenges against the EPA’s mercury standards include a tidy piece of scientific denial, claiming “the record does not support the EPA’s findings that mercury… pose[s] public health hazards.” After that legal challenge failed, Pruitt sued a second time to block the mercury rules—even though virtually all power plants had already complied with them at a fraction of the expected cost."
We'd all like to know.  And I fear we're going to find out.

Same ol' story from Republicans: pollute the water, pollute the air

Well, guess what.  The Republicans in Congress want to cut regulations.  Regulations that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

We've seen this before.  They get into power, they overshoot.  They're overshooting again.  Amazingly enough, even a good percentage of Republicans think this is wrong.

Hill Republicans move full speed ahead to slash Obama era rules
"Among the regulations on the Republican chopping block are new Interior Department rules aimed at protecting waterways near coal mines and preventing the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells, as well as a Labor Department rule that expands overtime eligibility."

Of course.  Nothing they do surprises me.  I just don't know what level of appalled I'm going to achieve.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why not earlier than this? But it's cool

I'm confused by this.  NASA apparently just released footage from the Huygens probe that was released from the Cassini satellite, entered the mega-moon Titan's atmosphere and descended to the surface, taking measurements and snapping images on the descent.   It even got images of when it landed, including the passing shadow of its parachute, as that fluttered by, on the organic carbon winds of Titan.

But what I want to know is:  why did it take so long to release this descent video?  Huygens landed on Titan in 2005.  It took 12 years to process this data?  I don't think so.

But they don't explain why it took so long, so we can just contemplate what it saw.  (From what I can gather reading various articles about it, they put together a new video, with some computer magic, to commemorate the landing as the Cassini mission nears its finale.  Or to put it another way, they didn't stitch together the images taken by the camera into a video until now.  I guess.)

First glimpse of an alien world: Nasa finally shares stunning footage of its 2005 landing on Saturn's moon, Titan

Baby news, a bit late

Luminous actress Katherine Heigl had her baby with husband Josh Kelley -- back in December.  The news just made it into the public media.

Katherine Heigl welcomes baby boy with husband Josh Kelley

Now, here's the thing.  In late February 2016, Heigl instagrammed that she and the hubby had a secret project underway.  I wrote up a short mention of this.  And in a subsequent post, when she announced they were pregnant, I suggested that the "secret project" was this procreative effort.

But was it?

Well, if it was, then they either knew they were pregnant really early in the process (not that likely), or they were making the attempt with much vigor (much more likely).  But if she went for a complete gestational span a little longer than the norm, not uncommon for first children, then they might have known with an EPT.    Either way, I'm pretty sure now that the "secret project" was indeed the newborn tyke.   Congrats to them all.

Lighthouse of the Week, January 15-21, 2017: Hirtshals, Denmark

I have a pretty unrefined process for choosing the Lighthouse of the Week.  I'll think of a place -- a body of water, a country, a state, a province, etc. -- and then check to see if there are lighthouses there.   I usually choose locations on the coasts of bodies of water, as there are many more lighthouses there than at inland locations far from the water.


But it is a random process.  I'll choose the location, then search for images, and then decide if one of them is interesting or picturesque, and go from there.

In the case of this one, I decided to travel back to Denmark.  I've had a couple of lighthouses before from there, but not "classics" -- one choice was an orange and green pair of lighthouses at the entrance to a harbor, and the other was an abandoned lighthouse in the process of being engulfed by sand dunes.

This one is a classic;  a white tower, situated on a bluff, overlooking Denmark's famed Skaggerak, passage to the Baltic Sea from the North Sea.

This was the picture that caught my eye, a picture of the Hirtshals lighthouse, near the domicile of Hirtshals.  So I decided to feature it this week.

Here's more about it, from a Danish site:

Hirtshals Fyr (Lighthouse)

Gleanings from this site:  the tower is 35 meters high, the bluff is 22 meters above the sea, so the light can be seen 46 km or so out at sea.  Well-situated.

When I looked at the map, I realized that this lighthouse was not far from the lighthouse that's being engulfed by the sand dunes (Rubjerg Knude).   I mapped it, and indeed, they are only 25 km apart.  That would be a nice scenery and lighthouse-photographing trip.

So, by serendipitical choosing, I ended up with this one, which isn't far from one of my previous choices for Lighthouse of the Week from Denmark.

Two more pictures (this one has been photographed numerous times), and a short video.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Winner of the "in bed" game

Apparently it's a fairly common fortune to find inside a fortune cookie, but I had never received it myself before.   This is how it read:

"Accept the next proposition you hear"

Now, if you don't know, there's a game where you put the words "in bed" after the fortune cookie message, and then read it out loud.   Well, I think that this fortune wins that game, hands down.

Or hands up.  Or no hands at all.  Depends on what you're into.

(If you want to read other fortune cookie fortunes without eating lots of fortune cookies, go here.)

Activity at Bogoslof

Alaska's Bogoslof volcano, which is mostly underwater with just a small presence above the surface, has been active since mid-December 2016.   Because it's winter, there aren't a lot of pictures.  The Daily Mail has a really good article on this volcanic activity.

Alaska's Bogoslof volcano blows an island to smithereens and sends ash 35,000 feet into the air in repeated eruptions

The third picture, with a volcanic ash plume behind the mountains, must have been taken from Dutch Harbor or Unalaska on Unalaska Island (the largest Aleutian island near Bogoslof).  [I confirmed this with a quick image search.]

Here's a satellite image showing the whitish ash plume, and indicating the volcano's position relative to Unalaska Island.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, January 8-14, 2017: Grays Harbor, Washington

Grays Harbor is near Point Chehalis (click there to see where), though it is much further away from the ocean than it used to be, due to a lot of sediments getting deposited in front of it.  It's actualy in "Westport Light State Park", so search around the map for it.

Here's some history:

Grays Harbor (Westport) Lighthouse

There are many pictures of it, but they all look about the same, so I have a little variety this time.

The unique third-order clamshell Fresnel lens dates back to 1895.

It was famous enough to be on a stamp.

Petra looking great

Petra Nemcova was at a post-Golden Globes award party, and she looked tremendous.

Red hot! Petra Nemcova gives a saucy flash of side boob as she arrives at the Weinstein Company Golden Globes after-party in slinky scarlet gown

Miranda Kerr (whom I amazingly have not mentioned for awhile) looked pretty great, too.

Miranda Kerr stuns in strapless ivory gown complete with thigh-high split as she attends Golden Globes after party

Making his point for him

Senator Chuck Schumer's slight editing of a letter from Mitch McConnell to Harry Reid was classic.  And it made a very good point.  McConnell has been a rules stickler when he was fighting stuff he didn't like, but now that he's riding the Chump Train, rules are inconvenient barriers and he gets snippy when the Democrats call him on it.

Of course, he's a hypocrite, so it's not unexpected for him to act like this.

Chuck Schumer trolls Mitch McConnell with letter McConnell wrote 8 years ago

Friday, January 6, 2017

Starlet now, child actress all grown up

Danielle Panabaker, now on The Flash, started out as a Disney child actress.  She's grown up into a fine-looking woman.  On the show, she hides her overt femaleness under conservative dress befitting a physician (which is what her character is).  However, her wardrobe as metahuman Killer Frost is a bit racier.  She's got the type of looks that could be the classic "sexy librarian".  She got engaged this year, so she might get to role-play (lucky guy).

Only occasionally has she shown off her sexier side.  But I found a few examples.  And while searching, I also found a nearly topless scene from Mad Men.  Look around if you want to see that.

This last one is interesting. There are many pictures of her on the red carpet, but this mini-dress one is by far the sexiest. Apparently it was for promotions of the film Piranha 3D. Nice dress, awful movie.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The bad news from Congress keeps coming

Congress revived a rule that allows individual Congresspersons to target selected government agency staff or even individuals to get them out of the government service.

There's no way that the fire-breathing hard-right wingers in the House of Reprehensibles will abuse this new toy, er, privilege, is there?


House Republicans revive obscure rule that could allow them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1

"In light of recent inquiries by the Trump transition team for a list of Energy Department scientists who have worked on climate change, advocates for federal workers say they worry that bureaucrats could be targeted for political reasons.

Jeffrey Neal, former personnel chief at the Department of Homeland Security and now a senior vice president for ICF International, said the rule “creates a lot of opportunity for mischief” because lawmakers could act to reduce the salary or eliminate the job of government officials they don’t like.
The revival of the Holman Rule was the brainchild of Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who is intent on increasing the powers of individual members of Congress to reassign workers as policy demands.

Known as the unofficial parliamentarian in the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus, the four-term congressman sought the rule change out of frustration with an $80 million federal program that pays for the care of wild horses on federal land in the West, which he considers wasteful."
With great power comes great responsibility. And this is irresponsible. But just about what you'd expect from ideologues.

Two videos from Nina warm up winter

I'm going to make you click on the links, if you're interested.  That means being interested in the humongously gorgeous Nina Agdal, dancing in swimwear and then naked in a bathtub.

I was obviously interested.

Nina Agdal's LOVE Advent calendar video

Nina Agdal takes a bath

Lighthouse(s) of the Week, January 1-7, 2017: Cape Henry, VA, old and new

There are two lighthouses at Cape Henry, Virginia.  One was built in 1792, the "old" one, and one was built in 1881, the "new" one.

The old:
Cape Henry Lighthouse

The first federally-funded lighthouse, completed in 1792.

The new:
Cape Henry Lighthouses

The second Cape Henry Lighthouse was completed in 1881 and sits approximately 350 feet from the first lighthouse. This lighthouse, painted black and white, is maintained and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, has been automated and remains in service today.

More from Lighthouse Friends, about the new one

A video (something new):

And pictures:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Seriously, Mitch? Oh, you're serious

Senate Majority Leader and overall back-end-of-horse Mitch McConnell says that the American people won't stand for Democrats blocking a Supreme Court nominee.

This is the SAME GUY that said that the Senate would not consider anybody that President Obama nominated on the DAY that Antonin Scalia died.  That was on February 13, 2016.  And he had the unmitigated GALL to claim that the reason for not doing this was that the country was "in the middle of a Presidential election", invoking the "Biden rule", because Joe Biden said that a Supreme Court nominee shouldn't be confirmed during a Presidential election.

Though pundits went over this many times when it happened, Joe Biden made his speech in late June of an election year -- about four months later than Scalia's death.  McConnell was really stretching it to say that the country was "in the middle" of a Presidential election.  Oh be serious -- we hadn't even heard Donald Trump's dating tips back then.

So, though it is probably futile for them to try, I think the Democrats in the Senate should do everything in their power to block an unsuitable nominee and stall, stall, stall on anybody -- just to roast McConnell's turkey neck.

The "Biden Rule" -- from Politifact

So, Mitch, I say this with the utmost respect for the way you practice politics -- go sit on a broomstick.

An examination of sea ice trends

Statistical whiz Tamino does not suffer fools, gladly or not. He especially doesn't take kindly to those who look upon the data and see trends where there aren't any, or deny trends when they do exist. So his take on the state of sea ice (preview: unhappy), is worth reading.

And it has a great figure of global sea ice anomalies.

Prior to the figure, Tamino says:

"Christopher Booker’s only reference to actual scientific data was part of an anecdote about a trip to the Antarctic, in which the ship ended up frozen in the ice (emphasis mine):
"What made all this particularly absurd was that, despite being led by an Australian scientist, they were so taken in by the make-believe that they seemed quite oblivious to the satellite records showing that Antarctic sea-ice had long been expanding to such record levels that these more than matched any decline in the Arctic ice at the other end of the world.
The problem with his only reference to actual scientific data, is that it’s absurdly wrong."

Cue figure (and pay close attention to what happens at the end to the blue Antarctic circles):

Read the rest. It's real -- and sobering. We may really be living in PoNR (Point of No Return) year.

High bridge in China

China just opened the highest bridge in the world, over the Beipan River, in the province of Guizhou. In case you want to drive on it and wonder where the Beipan River and the province of Guizhou are, I'll help. Guiyang and Qujing are the nearest mid-size cities to it.

Click this link to see where it is (Google Maps)

Article with short video

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hospitals don't like what Obamacare repeal might do

Hospitals gear up for major offensive against Obamacare repeal

Clearly hospitals are in for a rough situation if the Republican threat to fully repeal Obamacare goes through.  So they're going to fight it.
"The 41-page report, which was conducted by the firm Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, showed the hospital industry would lose $165.8 billion d. It’s the most high-profile study yet by a healthcare industry that’s fearful of an abrupt ObamaCare repeal after the surprise victory of President-elect Donald Trump last month."

As the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

The real question going forward would be how many hospitals might have to close because of this. And where the ones that close are located.

Evaluation of the Bachelor premiere

My top 5 first impressions were:


Unfortunately, there was more than one Danielle, which I did not notice. Here's who got eliminated:

Briana (who had a dazzling smile)
Jasmine B.
Ida Marie (who was quite fit)
Angela (darn! - good looks can only go so far, I guess)

So four out of five of my first impressions stayed in, including all the Danielles, which includes the one I picked. Whoever she is. (Actually, my pick was Danielle M., not Danielle L.)

Corinne, from the opener and the preview, appears to be the shark in the water. Also the one that goes topless and later on invites herself into Nick's bedroom for some private exploration activity -- or so she apparently hopes.

The two absolute prettiest in the "last 22" are Liz, with whom Nick has a "history" (they copulated), and Kristina.

Am I going to do this every week?  No way.  I usually get interested when they're down to the final 3, in the Fantasy Suite stage.  However, in the preview, one of the prospectives doffs her top in the pool in front of Nick, and Nick has already shown he knows how to handle a pair.  So that might be an episode worth watching.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mandate? Shamdate

Paul Waldman, writing in the Washington Post, makes some cogent points.

An unpopular president.

An unpopular program.

Republicans call it a ‘mandate.’

"As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%). At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office."

Welcome to 2017

I thought I'd start the year 2017 on a high note with Julia Lescova.

Now that's what I call a fantasy, sweet.