Thursday, July 12, 2018

Tasty click bait


There are numerous "best of 'something' in every state" Web features that provide the opportunity for 51 clicks. (Sometimes they also do the "worst of" or variations of that theme.)

Sometimes they lure me in.  They did in this case.

The Most Famous Dish in Every State, According to Locals


A half-dozen highlights (including my home state of Maryland):

Kentucky:  Hot Browns

Maryland:  Blue Crabs (of course)

Minnesota:  Jucy Lucy

North Carolina:  Shrimp and Grits

Rhode Island:  Coffee Milk   (I've had it, it's good, and not caffeinated)

Vermont:  Fiddleheads (I've only read about these)

To make coffee milk, you need coffee syrup. 




Lighthouse of the Week, July 8-14, 2018: Drepano, Crete, Greece


The first Lighthouse of the Week from Crete I'm featuring is either named Drepano or Drepan.  It's small but cute.  The Crete Lighthouses R' Us Web site provides this information:

latitude 35° 28' 23.6" N longitude 24° 14' 28.6" E

The original lighthouse was destroyed by German troops during World War II, but the present lighthouse is a copy. Ákra Drépano is on the south side of the entrance to Soúda Bay, an important NATO naval base.

And it even has it's own Web site, with both pictures and map!

Lighthouse Drepano

Here's three pictures.  Note the Greek flag in the fourth one.  It has a small but fancy stone tower.








Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cycling race yields climate change insight


Intriguing article from National Geographic, regarding an unusual phenological data record:

36-Year Climate Change Record Found in Cycle Racing Footage

Informative selections from the article:

"De Frenne, who studies the way plants respond to climate change, was idly watching old video clips of that epic race one day. Not only was the weather atrocious, he noticed, but the trees along the roadside were bare. But in the past few years when he’d watched the [Liège-Bastogne-Liège] race—a national Belgian obsession—he’d seen lush trees behind the riders."

"So de Frenne and his colleagues could scan through the old video footage and find the exact same tree that the peloton pedaled past in 1980, 1990, 2000, up through today."

"They found that back in the 1980’s, branches were almost always bare on the race date—but now, the same trees almost always had leaves. In fact, over the ~40 year period, leaf emergence jumped up almost two weeks."

Below, the finish of the 2015 race, won by Alejandro Valverde.




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pictures that make one go 'woof'


Her name is Emma Hernan.

























Hey, down here!  I'm trying to get your attention again!

Here's more about her:

Blonde Beauty Emma Hernan is Hollywood’s Golden Girl

If you want a lot more pictures (556 when I just checked), here's her Instagram page.

And a Google Search with just her name will find several features about her (mostly photographic) -- she even landed the Sports Illustrated Lovely Lady of the Day.

She definitely qualifies as 'amazing'.  Woof.




Clever ploy


Because Trumpophiles fear that their conquering hero/dolt will be impeached by a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats -- which is a good possibility - current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that it won't happen.

Unless, of course, they have enough to impeach him for.

See, that's a good play.  Pelosi undoubtedly knows that there's enough out there to impeach Trump four or five times, but she doesn't want to come out and say it, because that would stoke the methane fires of the Trumpophiles.  So she maintains that as of now, she wouldn't do it, because she hasn't seen enough to do it with.   And she probably hasn't seen enough as yet.  So it's basically a true statement, to be modified when more information becomes available.

As I expect, and as I assume she expects, will happen.

Very clever, Nancy. 

Let's hope it works.

'I’m not going after it': Nancy Pelosi says impeaching Trump is 'off the table' if Democrats retake the House in November



Monday, July 9, 2018

Alyssa comes clean again


A short time ago, I suggested that a shower at a luxury hotel in Positano, Italy, might be the World's Greatest Shower.  The reason I discovered it was that a lovely Playboy Playmate named Alyssa Arce was photographed in it.  After I tweeted with a link to the article, Alyssa was nice enough to retweet, and many of her fans read the article.

Thank you, Alyssa.

Well, based on her Instagram pictures, Alyssa is back in Positano, and she took a picture of herself, this time getting ready for a relaxing bath, complete with a glass of wine or champagne. It would be remiss of me to not provide a review of such a nice gesture on her part.



































I really like this girl and her lifestyle. (Her lack of clothing is also somewhat appealing.)


Actually, on further review, she has been to Positano already, but this is the Jiva Hill Resort near Geneva, according to the label on the picture.  It's a nice place too.


May have missed an opportunity


Prior to England's World Cup game with Sweden, Russian authorities asked the residents of the city of Samara to save water.  They did this because all the visitors to the city for the game were using lots of water in the hotels, and the area is having a moderate drought.

So they suggested showering with a partner to save water.

Seriously.

So the citizens of Samara could ask a 'friend' to take a shower with them both as a patriotic duty and in the service of the international sporting community.

Seriously.

Why haven't I thought of that one?

Samara residents asked to shower in pairs to save water for World Cup fans

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Seeing the salts



If you didn't know, NASA's Dawn mission satellite sailed in close to Ceres -- real close -- and the initial photographic results are fantastic. And they did capture one dead-on bullseye of the bright salt deposits in the Occator Crater. So now, with all this high resolution data, scientists will finally be able to figure out why these salts are there, why there are so bright, and exactly what they're made out of.  They already have a pretty good idea on the last one (sodium carbonate).

At least that's what they're hoping to do.

Here's the salty shot:



You can see all the Dawn pictures here - most recent are at the top.

Dawn Mission/Multimedia/Images


The winner by a tail



The Daily Mail has the winners of this year's National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest, and the winning picture is of a whale tail.

See them here:
A whaly great shot! Striking close-up of a humpback calf's tail and stunning shot of Dubai are among the winners of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest
Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2018 (the National Geographic site)


One of the prize winners is a drone shot by Enrico Pescantini of the big pyramid at Teotihuacan in Mexico, directly overhead. It's a great shot, and it also has the optical illusory effect of sometimes looking like a big hole in the ground rather than a structure rising up from the ground.  See below.  Full-size is quite amazing.  If you click on the image below you can see it bigger, of course.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Lighthouses of the Week, July 1-7, 2018: Three from Crete


Rather than have one lighthouse for the Lighthouse of the Week during this holiday week, I'm going to show three that I will feature in the next three weeks, all from the island of Crete.  I'm having fun bouncing around the Mediterranean Sea islands finding lighthouses.

So here they are.

Cape Sidero




















Chania














Drepan














See you next week!  Which one will be my first choice?



Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Did anyone think that there was?


This is a Public Service Announcement, and I am reproducing the title of the article exactly as written.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A ‘NORMAL VULVA’, STUDY CLAIMS AMID RISE IN LABIAPLASTIES

Well, that sounds like the definitive word on the subject. But still, this is a subject requiring considerable in-depth investigation.

Right?

You will note that I resisted the temptation to illustrate this posting.

But I have to provide at least one quote.

"Moreover, the average length of the clitoris was seven millimetres, with the diverse measurements ranging from 0.5 millimetres to 34 millimetres."

So now I know, and you lucky readers now know what I know.

It had to happen (snif)


Fabulous, gorgeous, entrancing, lovely, exotic, erotic, spectacular model Julia Lescova just got married.

Congratulations to her, and of course, to the magnificently extraordinarily fortunate husband.























Now I'm sad.  (But happy for them.)

If you need more of Lescova, just search in the bar at left top.  You'll get enough.


Sonnet for July: "enshrined in mind"


A sonnet about ... well, you'll figure it out.  I've provided one clue below.

























enshrined in mind


They aren't so much remarkable -- each pair
belongs exclusively to half of us,
although the other half does seem to share
as many as thought possible. We thus
have elevated them to artistry
(despite their functional simplicity)
and so they now possess a mystery
beyond their simple physiology
that captivates the eyes of those who hope
to first admire what they desire, and then
to hold what they've beheld, to glide their slope
and round their curve and know that they are men
because these lovely glands incite each thought
to make from dreams the touch that they have sought.




The crater rim


One of the few places on Earth where you can see a meteor impact crater (perhaps the object that hit was large enough to be considered a tiny asteroid) is Meteor Crater (aka Barringer Crater) in Arizona.

I used Google Streetview to show what it looks like while on approach to the crater (and I've seen this in person).



The interesting thing about this is, the terrain is flat enough and desert-enough to be very similar to Mars.  And a crater rim on Mars looks very similar to a crater rim on Earth.  Below is the rim of Endeavour Crater, as the Mars Opportunity Rover (which we hope to hear from again soon) first approached it, which is now several years ago.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

Where Route 66 ends (or starts, depending on which way you're facing)


I'm going to get back on Highway 41 and start making some serious progress up the road, probably starting this weekend.

Meanwhile, I discovered where the sign is that indicates the end of the road for the famous, historic Route 66, in Chicago.

I saw pictures of it, so I figured it would be visible in StreetView.  I was right, it is.  However, the USPS truck picked a bad place to stop when the StreetView car drove by.






Aww, Mr. Jordan is having a hissy fit



You see, the Republicans in Congress are getting freaked out about what Robert Mueller's investigation is finding out about how the Trump election campaign and the Russians worked to get Trump elected illegitimately.  We know the Russians hacked the DNC, sprinkled tons of fake news in social media, collaborated to Wikileak out campaign documents, and talked to Trump advisers.  We also know that Trump advisers went after "dirt" on Hillary Clinton campaign more avidly than hungry trout going after mayflies.  We also know that President Trump helped draft a letter to cover up a meeting about getting some dirt.  We also know that President Trump fired FBI chief James Comey over "the Russian thing" even though he denies it now.  Trump denials are so trite and useless now because we know he lies about everything.

Now the Republicans in Congress are trying to run interference for Trump by attempting to get everything the Justice Department might have, and thus planning a) how to delegitimize it, b) how to lie about what Justice has to the American people to make it seem less important than it is, and c) how to potentially get Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller out of a job.   And they're getting very upset that Justice is not rolling over and letting them have their way to f*ck up their investigation.

In fact, it looked like Rep. Jim Jordan, who is a true high-level conservative creep and who's been talked about as the next Speaker of the House (another step toward apocalypse), was having a hissy fit.  Wittle Mr. Jordan was so MAD that the Justice guys would not give him what he wanted, right away, even if he stomped his feet and pointed his finger and gritted his teeth at them!

"Enough is enough. Give us the documents we are entitled to have"


Don't mess with my Trumpy friend!



I'm just so MAD that they are actually doing their jobs!











































Congress orders FBI and DoJ to hand over Russia probe documents by July 6 or face contempt or impeachment proceedings

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

And now a few words from Mark Sanford


You remember Mark Sanford, right?  He nearly threw away a political career to go hiking, which actually meant he was visiting South America in the interests of true love, which unfortunately didn't end up where he hoped it was going. (I probably wrote a couple of blog posts about that.) Then he came back, still in love, and got into the House of Representatives. 

Well, you can't blame a guy for trying.














But because he would not kiss the butt, er, ring of his UnderEstimacy Donald Trump, Trump got another candidate to act more loyal, and this ended up resulting in Sanford losing the primary.  (Unfortunately, this candidate, Katie Arrington, was seriously injured in a car crash soon after the election.  She is recovering.)

But back to Sanford.  After he lost the primary, he wrote this opinion piece.

I lost because I wasn't Trump enough. All Republicans should worry.

There was this part, which struck me as something that should be emphasized:
"Finally, I am struck by how little we now care for truth. The president’s attacks on me were certainly not true, and my opponent took license with the truth in ways I have never seen in an opponent, but does this pattern deserve alarm? I believe so. Trust is foundational to a reason-based republic. It’s why I feel the need to speak up for my values, as I did before the election — though there proved to be an electoral consequence."
Coming from a guy who deceived everyone for awhile, maybe we should listen to him. Trump is not going to stop lying, so we need to elect a Congress that can find the truth.

Lighthouse of the Week, June 24-30, 2018: Castello di Ischia, Italy


After enjoying a lighthouse on an island (Ibiza) last week, I decided to feature a lighthouse on a different island (Ischia) this week.  Ischia lies just off the west coast of central Italy, to the west of Naples.

This is a pretty unique lighthouse, because it's really just a light.  The key to this one is the setting.  It's set on a rampart of the Castello Aragonese (which you might have been able to guess already).  Unfortunately, there aren't very many views of the lighthouse from the ocean, because the impressive part of the Castello is visible from land, and visitors get there by walking across a causeway.

I'm going to help out here with the picture below and show where the lighthouse is.















You can see where the causeway is.  Here's a picture (they are numerous) of the Castello from the causeway side.












So what does the lighthouse look like?  Well, as I said, it's just a light.

 

At left is the light, at right is what you can see looking up from a lower level on the island.

I'll let this text from The Lighthouse Directory provide the rest of the necessary information.
"1913. Active; focal plane 82 m (269 ft); white light, 2 s on, 4 s off. Gray metallic lantern mounted on the seaward rampart of a 15th century Aragonese castle. Alfonso of Aragon built the castle around 1441 atop the foundations of earlier Roman and Greek fortifications. Built atop a conical island just off the easternmost tip of Ischia, the castle is connected to the mainland of the Ischia by a causeway. Tours of the historic castle are available, but the upper section with the lighthouse is closed."
Because Ischia is volcanic (and not far from some more infamous volcanoes), it has hot springs, as well as beaches, seafood, and boats, but it isn't nearly as famous or visited as often as Capri.

Don't miss the castle tour.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Forget about Space Force - we've got Spaceguard!


In his novel Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke envisioned Spaceguard, a system (including men in spacecraft) designed to prevent catastrophic asteroid impacts.  This was a global initiative after an asteroid plants Venice under the waves of the Adriatic Sea.

Now, recently, the idiot in the White House proposed a Space Force, for fighting war in space.  That's all I'm going to bother to say about that.

But, NASA put together its plans to protect the Earth (not just the USA, the whole Earth!) from asteroid impacts.  They didn't call it Spaceguard, but they could have. It's actually the "National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan" (NNEOPSAP). 

I like Spaceguard better.

NASA outlines its plan to protect the Earth from asteroids
"In the short term, some of the emerging technologies NASA wish to develop to combat NEOs include two types of spacecraft: "Kinetic impactors", which would be deliberately flown into an NEO to disrupt its orbit and "gravity tractors" which would be able to more slowly course-correct an NEO's orbit by flying close to the object over an extended period of time. In addition, NASA will investigate the potential to use nuclear devices, as originally outlined in a 2010 report by the National Academy of Science.

It'll be like Armageddon, but without Bruce Willis and Aerosmith."
Ha ha.  Good one.


The matter once thought missing has been found


I've should write a sonnet about this. I've got my first line (see the title).  I'll give it a try soon.

But it appears that a major mystery of missing matter (see what I did there) has been solved.  Researchers say that they've identified tendrils/wisps/strands/ribbons of extremely hot oxygen gas, essentially ionized plasma, in the space between galaxies.  Enough, according to their calculations, to solve the conundrum of the 30% of matter that the Universe needed but which couldn't be found, before now.

The term for it is the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM).  Cute.

Rather than write all the details here, I'll stop now and provide a link to one of the many articles that described the daunting details of this dazzling discovery.   For some reason I am into alliteration tonight.

Researchers find last of universe's missing ordinary matter
"To search for missing atoms in that perverse territory, the international team pointed a series of satellites at a quasar called 1ES 1553—a black hole at the center of a galaxy that is consuming and spitting out huge quantities of gas. “It’s basically a really bright lighthouse out in space,” Shull said."
This really has nothing to do with the story but it's a cool image


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Are you biased?


If you're biased, then it's likely you get your information from sources that have a bias.

With regard to politics, I probably am biased.

With regard to climate change, I avoid the politicization and stick to the facts.

But returning to the subject of bias, this Scientific American article gets at the way that biases get reinforced by information sources.


Biases Make People Vulnerable to Misinformation Spread by Social Media

I could have guessed that this was true, but the researchers have undertaken a quantification of how it works.

Two excerpts, and you can follow the links in the first one if you want to find out more:
"The tendency to evaluate information more favorably if it comes from within their own social circles creates “echo chambers” that are ripe for manipulation, either consciously or unintentionally. This helps explain why so many online conversations devolve into “us versus them” confrontations."
Now for the second:
"The third group of biases arises directly from the algorithms used to determine what people see online. Both social media platforms and search engines employ them. These personalization technologies are designed to select only the most engaging and relevant content for each individual user. But in doing so, it may end up reinforcing the cognitive and social biases of users, thus making them even more vulnerable to manipulation."

So, if you're biased, using social media will probably make your biases stronger.  Which contributes to the polarization of our societal debates.  And it's one of the reasons that there are so many issues that are very hard to resolve right now, because that polarization leads people to think that only their way is the right way, and also think that not only is the opponent's way the wrong way, the opponents themselves are basically wrong about everything - which makes them dangerous.  And not suited to be in power.

Do you hear echoes of modernity?

I do.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, June 17-23, 2018: Punta Moscarter, Ibiza, Spain


Have you ever heard of Ibiza (pronounced Eye-bee-tha)?  If you haven't, then you aren't aware of one of the biggest party and vacation islands in the entire Mediterranean Sea.

Ibiza has nightlife and clubs galore, and resorts, and casinos, and bars.  Lots of bars. So it's a spot that the young and the beautiful go to for dancing, beaches, drinking, food, and sex.  Not necessarily in that order.

Being an island, it also has lighthouses.  And I was a little surprised to find out I'd never looked for lighthouses here before.  It has several.

For this week's featured lighthouse, I picked one that is just a tower and a light.  No lighthouse keeper building, no monument to lost ships, and apparently no souvenir shops.  Just a lighthouse tower on some impressive cliffs.

Lighthouse Directory excerpt:

Punta Moscarter (Moscarté)
1977. Active; focal plane 93 m (305 ft); white flash every 5 s. 52 m (171 ft) round cylindrical concrete lighthouse with lantern and double gallery, painted with black and white spiral bands. The lighthouse is freshly painted in a 2012 closeup photo. Located at the northernmost tip of Ibiza. The lighthouse is within about 1200 m (3/4 mi) of Cala de Portinatx, and apparently it is accessible by hiking from the town along the bluffs. Site and tower closed.

And of course, I have pictures and a video!

In addition to the view, there are some very impressive sedimentary rock layers.
























Not arugula, Ryugu


I had totally forgotten about the Japanese satellite mission to an asteroid, Hayabusa2.  I had to look up when it was launched:  December 2014.  That 3+ year gap contributes to my nearly forgetting about it.

But it's time for Hayabusa2 to do what it was launched for, which is to go into orbit around an asteroid (named Ryugu) and drop four probes onto it (three rovers, which will literally hop around, and a four-instrument lander).  Then it is planning to drop an impactor, get the asteroid stuff released by the impact, examine what the impact excavated, and then Hayabusa2 will bring the samples back.

Ambitious.  And it's almost crunch time - literally.


Japan's Hayabusa2 Asteroid Probe Snaps Best Pics Yet of Its Target Ryugu

The pictures show that Ryugu really is shaped like this

FINALLY - Eva Longoria gives birth


Happy news for Eva Longoria and her husband, as she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

I'm sure glad that happened - in the most recent pictures, she looked like she was carrying both a full-term baby and a watermelon, and it seems like we've been reading about her being pregnant for longer than the NHL season, and that's a long time.

So that's over, and she's probably more relieved than the rest of us.


Eva Longoria Gives Birth to Baby Boy: Find Out His Name and See the First Pic!




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This does feel good


First off, let me say that I've visited lots of Civil War battlefields.  I know the history, the causes, and that there was valor and heartbreak and tragedy on both sides.

There are lots of monuments (some of the BIG monuments) to the Confederate forces that fought in those battles.  Those monuments should stay there -- even though I know no one has talked about removing them.  Yet.  We can't make history go away just because we don't like parts of it.

But about those monuments that have been removed -- yes, some of them were put up to commemorate past history for a particular reason, that reason being that some people don't like the fact that their side lost.  By putting up those monuments, they were asserting power that they once had but don't anymore (but wanted to make sure some other people knew they once had it).  Those monuments aren't historical for the reasons that monuments on a battlefield ARE historical.

Likewise for the naming of streets and schools for heroes of the Confederacy, politicians and generals.  If they were named purely for the commemoration of history, fine.  But clearly most of them weren't.

So, having said all that, it felt good that an elementary school in Richmond, VA had a name change.  The school board decided to drop the original name, and replace it with a new one.  The original name?  J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School.  The new name?  Barack Obama Elementary School.

This isn't the first time Obama has had a public building or school named after him.  But it just feels good that there is an elementary school in the former capital of the Confederate States of America named after an African - American president.


Richmond renaming school after Obama, scrapping Confederate's name




Monday, June 18, 2018

Bunch of dweebs



The Supreme Court punted a decision on gerrymandering. Even though one of the cases was against the horribly gerrymandered districts in Maryland, which is a situation created by Democrats, and I'm a Democrat in Maryland, I know when things have gone too far. The SC should have taken a stand, but the majority is a bunch of conservative dweebs that can't be expected to do anything that's in the best interest of the country, particularly anything that could make elections more fair and Congress more effective.

We are indeed living in dark days.

Efforts to lift partisan gerrymandering falter at the Supreme Court



Another picture on the boundary between the erotic and the artistic



You make the call. Art gallery? Or just one for the personal collection?




Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sonnet for early June 2018


A sonnet, inspired by a couple of recent events in sports.


never bet on hope

There are such situations where the chance
of their occurrence is quite low; and yet
this rarity is why their happenstance
is notable -- so unwise players bet
upon these odds because unlikeliness
could make them rich (e'en though more commonly
such plays result in losses and distress).
So if these minor chances randomly
result in what was unexpected to
take place, the celebration shall be based
upon the magnitude of odds, and through 
that triumph is perceived what we have faced --
the dangerous belief that we might win
although the likelihood was dim and thin.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, June 10-16, 2018: Fairport Harbor, Ohio, USA



The lighthouse featured this week, in a return to the USA coast of the Great Lakes, isn't the one that's working. The one that's working is the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse (http://www.fairportharborwestlighthouse.com/), on the breakwater, which is still an "active aid to navigation" running automatically. According to a recent article on that Web site, the current owner bought the house under the light at auction, and is attempting to make the former lighthouse keeper's home habitable again, as it wasn't inhabited after 1948 when the light went to electric, and therefore automated, operation.

But enough about that. The lighthouse featured here is the old original Fairport Harbor Lighthouse, which is now a marine museum.

(And I'm sure you're asking yourself, where is Fairport Harbor, Ohio? It's on the Lake Erie shore, naturally, northeast of Cleveland. Click here. )

First of all, here's the link to the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Web site.

http://fairportharborlighthouse.org/

And here's a brief history of this lighthouse, copied from the Web site:
"The original lighthouse was completed in 1825. The tower stood thirty feet high, capped with an octagonal-shaped iron lantern. The lighthouse was accompanied by a two-story keeper's house. Due to deterioration the tower and keeper's house had to be replaced. Rebuilt in 1871, the tower now stands sixty feet high and has a spiral staircase of 69 steps which leads to an observation platform.In 1925 the light in the tower (a third-order Fresnel lens) was discontinued. It was replaced by a combination light and foghorn station which was built on the west breakwater pier head."
The Fresnel lens is in the museum, in case you're wondering, and I grabbed a picture of it. I like Fresnel lenses.




















Let's move on to the pictures:


No, that's not the real lighthouse. That's a collectible.  Pictures of the real (retired) lighthouse follow. 



Summer concert series on the museum grounds

Lake effect snow?  








































AND Video!



In this second video, about 2/3 of the way through, there are views of both lighthouses from the featured beach.



The trouble with Trump



I don't know if I'll say much about the sorry summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un. The next weeks, months, and years will be necessary to sort out what it really means, if anything.

I'm still stunned (another word for appalled) by what happened at the G7 summit. Trump's nuttiness was in full gear.

European leaders are indignant and defiant over Trump's G7 statement - but they're not surprised

“How is it possible to work this way if once you have agreed to something, two hours later the guy decides he doesn’t agree with what he agreed with?” said François Heisbourg, a former French presidential national security adviser. “Is there any space for a multilateral order under these circumstances?”

Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post, had a great, funny column after the farce was over:

Finally a President with the guts to stand up to Canada

"Trump bravely punished Canada by withdrawing the United States from the communique of the weekend’s Group of Seven meeting, which was hosted by Trudeau. The communique Trump rejected is loaded with objectionable provisions such as “a clean environment,” “a healthy, prosperous, sustainable and fair future for all,” “quality work environments,” “a more peaceful and secure world” and “ending violence against girls and women.” In other words, it was like all the other bad, terrible, crazily made, one-sided, miserable deals that make us the laughingstock of the world — such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, the ­Trans-Pacific Partnership, NATO, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal."

It'd be funnier if it wasn't so terribly sad -- and terribly bad.

Friday, June 8, 2018

If you like hot flowing lava...


... you'll probably like this video.



Public service announcement on caffeine


This is short;  if you want to know how much coffee to drink and when to drink it for maximum zip and bravado, as well as being wide-awake, read this:

New algorithm determines ideal caffeine dosage and timing for alertness
Paragraph to peruse: "The study used a validated mathematical model, which predicts the effects of sleep loss and caffeine on psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) performance and combined it with a computationally efficient optimization algorithm to determine when and how much caffeine to consume to safely maximize alertness during sleep loss. The algorithm takes a user-provided sleep/wake schedule and maximum allowed caffeine as inputs and provides a caffeine-dosing strategy as the output."
If you aren't a bit drowsy now after reading that, I'm surprised.  Pass me the sugar.



Tennis - French Open 2018 Women's Final


As I write this, the French Open women's singles final is only hours away.  Simona Halep, who had a somewhat easier time to get here than I expected (even though her match with Muguruza featured an epic battle at 4 - 4 in the second) will be playing Sloane Stephens.

Last night, the Washington Capitals broke through their years of frustration to win a Stanley Cup (and I'll write a bit more on that later).  Simona now has a great chance for her own breakthrough in a Grand Slam tournament.

I watched the Capitals lift the Stanley Cup; I'd sure like to see Halep lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup (or in its native French, the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen).

This is it:















We'll see how this reads after the match:

Halep "doesn't feel pressure" ahead of Stephens showdown


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Simply HOW?


Do you know who Vito Schnabel is?

Well, if you don't, that might be good.  Vito Schnabel is an art gallery owner.  His father, Julian Schnabel, was a noted American modern artist.

But even though Vito appears to be a successful art gallery owner, that's not why you have likely heard of him.  Because the most likely reason you have heard of him is that for the past couple of years or so, he's been in a pretty hot relationship with uber-model Heidi Klum.  And they have not been shy about it, and Heidi is not shy, because they were paparazzied more than once with Heidi in beach attire, which is to say, not wearing tops.

But that has run its course.  I could almost fell sorry for Vito, because he is no longer with lovely Heidi.

And then I read this - which is that Vito is now dating wondrously beautiful Amber Heard, who has moved on from her disastrous marriage to Johnny Depp and a long-term fling with Elon Musk. And she's also apparently forgotten that she once said she was lesbian/bisexual. She seems to be pretty committed to the heterosexual aspects of her sexuality right now.

But getting back to Vito - simply HOW does one manage to have a relationship with Heidi Klum, and then bounce back with Amber Heard?

By talking about art?

Seriously, Vito, you need to write a book.  And not about how to run an art gallery.

Amber Heard and Vito Schnabel PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: The actress wears see-through top as she confirms romance with Heidi Klum's ex

And he smokes too.  C'mon, that isn't sexy anymore.


No, it's not a waterfall


The images are spectacular (and unfortunately the phenomenon has been destructive, though without loss of life), but the picture that is being featured is NOT a waterfall.  It's a lava-fall.

But still, this is the title:  Lava Waterfall Captured in Stunning Photo

As a bonus, here's a remarkable video from the U.S. Geological Survey:



And to be clear, this is not a river. It's a lava flow.

French Open - Women's Semi-finals are set


As expected, Muguruza made short work of Sharapova, and will now face Simona Halep in one of the two French Open semifinals.  This one should decide the championship, because the other one features Madison Keys against Sloane Stephens.   Both are fine players, but clay is not their best surface.  Plus, they're seeded 13th and 10th, while Halep is seeded first and Muguruza third.

Halep dropped the first set to Kerber in a tie-break, but then romped 6-3, 6-2 for the match.  So both Halep and Muguruza appear to be in top form. This one will be close.

Simona Halep beats Angelique Kerber to reach semi-final


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sharna hits the beach


Sharna Burgess of Dancing With the Stars is a fit, athletic, graceful, creative dancer.  I've been wishing she could win one of the seasons, rather than being second, which she's done three times.

So she needs to break through.  But now, she's got some time off, and she's on the beach with friends.  And her dancer fitness is clear to see.

As you would expect, the Daily Mail had this covered.

Sharna Burgess of Dancing With The Stars looks ready to rumba in skimpy white bikini while on Miami Beach

Sharna Burgess shows off dancer's figure in tiny black bikini in Miami after partying with Nikki Bella

Available below are three photographic excerpts.  (Not experts, mind you.)  Looks like she's enjoying herself. 




Monday, June 4, 2018

Saw this one coming - and going


On Saturday, June 2, a NASA-funded project to spot dangerous asteroids and warn us of imminent destruction (so I guess everybody can go out for one last fancy dinner, or confess undying love to someone you've never talked to, or have sex for an entire last night of revelry) spotted an asteroid that was absolutely definitely on a collision course with Earth.

YIKES.  I've got to make a couple of phone calls.

But wait - not to worry, this asteroid turnedd out not to be a planet-smasher, but rather a boulder destined to be a big bright flash in the sky.  It was only about 2 meters in diameter.  So, expecting that this would not constitute a problem, NASA just said it was going to hit somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, in the vicinity of Africa, the Indian Ocean, and maybe as far over as Australia and New Guinea.

Africa turned out to be the lucky continent, and the incoming rock was spotted blazing out of existence in incandescent glory by a security camera on a farm on Saturday night.  The video of that immolation is in the article linked below, and I screen-grabbed a frame.

Tiny asteroid discovered Saturday disintegrates* over Africa

* I would have preferred "flames out" instead of "disintegrates"

Next time it might be bigger.  And louder.  And brighter.

And more dangerous.

"There it is!  Over the barn!" 





French Open 2018 Women's Quarter-Finals


The French Open Quarter Finals (Women's Singles) Are Looking Pretty Interesting.

Wozniacki fell to 14th-seed Kasatkina, who now will play Sloane Stephens.  That takes out one of Halep's primary remaining obstacles.  Madison Keys had a pretty easy time, and next faces unseeded Putintseva.  I'd give the edge to Keys there, but on clay courts, sometimes what you expect to happen doesn't happen.  Great wisdom there.

As you may have heard, Serena Williams couldn't continue in the tournament because of an injury, so Sharapova moves into the quarters against 3-seed Muguruza.  That will NOT be easy for Sharapova.

And finally, Halep raced past Mertens 6-2, 6-1, setting up the next match with Kerber (12th seed), who had almost as easy a time against 7th-seed Garcia, 6-2, 6-3.  That one could be very competitive.

It's one of those weird things about tennis.  On one side of the draw, there's an unseeded player, and the seeds remaining are 10, 13, and 14.  But on Halep's side of the draw, she's playing Kerber, who's very good even if her ranking has dropped a little, and Muguruza (provided she defeats Sharapova) next. 

Should be fun.




Sunday, June 3, 2018

Helen of Troy is having a baby


It isn't often that an actress who played the most gorgeous woman in ancient history is in the news because she's pregnant.

And that sure must be a feather in the father's cap.

Well, Diane Kruger played Helen (and many other roles - National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Inglorious Basterds, In the Fade (recent), Farewell, My Queen), and now she's pregnant with the child fathered by Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), so that's the news.  Her boyfriend of a decade, Joshua Jackson, may wonder why he never got this chance.

So, as usual, best wishes to the expectant couple.

Diane Kruger, 41, 'is pregnant with her first child' with boyfriend Norman Reedus

Now, briefly thinking back to Diane as Helen, here are two pictures from that movie (Troy).  The second one was just a few seconds prior to a lovely love/sex scene featuring her and Orlando Bloom as Paris, and that was a Very Good Thing. 



Lighthouse of the Week, June 3-9, 2018: Jetée du Dragon and Mole Génois, Corsica


For the first time in a LONG time, I missed a couple of weeks of the Lighthouse of the Week.  So, for this week, to partially make up for the missed weeks, here's a pair of lighthouses, one red and one green.

The location is Corsica, which is the island north of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, and the two lighthouses are the Jetée du Dragon (the red one) and Mole Génois (the green one).  They are on two jetties that guard the entrance to the port of Bastia, Corsica.  And this port gets a lot of ship traffic from both Italy and France.

As you might expect, they are very similar.  Yet they are slightly different (not just by color).  I'm not sure what the difference in focal plane means, but they are dissimilar that way.  The following text is from the fabulous Lighthouse Directory, Lighthouses of France: Corsica page.

The Jetée du Dragon: 1904 (station established 1861). Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); four flashes, white or red depending on direction, every 12 s. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical masonry tower with lantern and gallery.

The Mole Génois: 1904 (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green light, occulting twice every 6 s. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical masonry tower with lantern and gallery.

Now for pictures and a one-minute video.  The red one gets most of the attention in the video.






























Classic Streetview of the Tetons


One of the great drives in the country, scenery-wise, is Teton Park Road in Grand Tetons National Park.

It's easy to see why.  And the StreetView car was there when the weather was really good.





Saturday, June 2, 2018

The end run for Dawn at Ceres


I hadn't been paying much attention to the Dawn mission satellite, which has been quietly circling asteroid Ceres for a couple of years after previously visiting and orbiting Vesta.

Apparently it's been moving a bit closer to Ceres to get higher resolution images.  And now it's going to move in a lot closer.  In fact, it's only been within a little less than 500 km so far.  And now it will attempt to get to 35 km away from the surface and try to get a really good look at the bright deposits in Occator Crater.  It's high risk, but the mission is near its end, so why not?

Plus, Dawn's reaction wheels, which maintain stability, stopped working last year.  So they can make this risky maneuver, see what they get, and then park Dawn in a safe orbit.

Dawn Mission:  New Orbit, New Opportunities

NASA is on a 'daring adventure' to get the closest-ever photos of Ceres — a dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter

Here's a picture acquired by Dawn of two craters on Ceres, Duginavi crater (the big old faded one) and Oxo crater (the small one with the bright spots).


French Open Round of 32 on the women's side


Just checking to see how the women are doing in the French Open 2018.

Serena advanced in straight sets, Garcia is through, Mertens had an easy one, Kerber was through in two but both in tiebreakers, Halep demolished Petkovic in the second set (6-0) after a 7-5 first, and Sharapova also had an easy skate.

Now it should get more interesting.

19th seed Rybáriková did get knocked out, Muguruza easily handled Stosur, Sloane Stephens survived (love the alliteration) 8-6 in the third, and finally, No. 8 seed Kvitová was bounced from the tournament in another straight-set double-tiebreak match, losing to Kontaveit.

Now, you are asking, why don't I pay more attention to the men?

Well, for one thing, I'm always interested in how Halep is doing.  For two, the main news on the men's singles side of the French Open is who will attempt to defeat Rafael Nadal in the final, and we don't know that yet.

Of the guys still in it, I give Del Potro the best chance of being the other finalist.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fantastic plan for Atlantic salmon


Many times on this blog I have decried overfishing, particularly for bluefin tuna, but it's a problem for a lot of commercial fisheries.

Well, Greenland is doing something remarkable - they're essentially stopping all commercial fishing for Atlantic salmon for 12 years, to let the stock rebuild.  Hopefully this will lead to much improved salmon runs in North America.












I applaud this plan, and wish that a lot of other nations, and a lot of other commercial fishing operations, would follow Greenland's lead.

Greenland to halt commercial salmon fishing for 12 years

I have one question about this article, though.  The article says:
"Greenland fishermen will still be able to catch up to 20 metric tonnes each year for personal and family consumption."

OK, so a metric tonne is 1,000 kg, or about 2,205 pounds.  So the annual 'limit' here is about 44,000 pounds of salmon.

A family of Greenlanders eats 44,000 pounds of salmon a year??  Either that, or the extended family is pretty darned big.

They do eat a lot of fish;  this article about fishing and aquaculture of Greenland says per capita fish consumption is 86.9 kg.  That's not all salmon, hopefully.  But still, if it was, a family of four would be eating 764 pounds of fish per year.  That means, if they fish their quota, they'd have 43,236 pounds left over.

Doesn't that seem like a lot to you? 

I wish I could clarify why the family exemption is so high.

(OK, I clarified it. That's the total annual catch allowed for all the fisherpersons in Greenland. Much more sensible.)

French Open tennis 2018, women's third round


Only a couple of surprises in this round.  Simona Halep had little difficulty in the second round against Taylor Townsend of the USA, with a 6-3, 6-1 romp.  Also into the third round are Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, who did drop the first set of her second round match.

There were two upsets;  Maria Sakkari of Greece knocked out Carla Suarez-Navarro (23);  Sakkari is ranked 38th, just outside the seeded players, so not a major upset.   A slightly larger one was Pauline Parmentier, ranked 78th, defeating Alize Cornet, who had the 34th seed.  Parmentier gets 2nd-seed Caroline Wozniacki next.

Sakkari looks strong.  Seriously strong.  This picture was from last year's tournament.