Monday, February 12, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, February 11-17, 2018: Hilbre Island, England

This particular lighthouse is small, and it might even seem boring.  It's where it is located that's interesting.

This is the Hilbre Island Lighthouse/Beacon, now a solar-powered red light.  It's been where it is since 1927. 

So where is it?

It's on Hilbre Island, of course.  Hilbre Island is one of three small islands in the estuary of the River Dee, which flows by Liverpool on the way to the sea.   The neat thing about the island is that it's a popular place to walk to, during low tide.  Because the sea makes it impossible to walk to when it's high tide.  So plan your hike carefully.

Web site about the light:  Hilbre Island Lighthouse

And below, pictures of both the lighthouse and the island (when it can be accessed on foot).

Walking to Hilbre Island at low tide

A sonnet with intent: "repeating prehistory"

Well, I hope it's kind of clear what my meaning is here.

repeating prehistory

To think we owe our lives to barest fate
might seem a throw to far to make attempt,
and yet we now near-certain know a date
exists when well beyond a nightmare dreamt,
a cataclysm broke upon the Earth
and made a blazing sky ignite the rain.
Dominion fell as waves from fiery birth
cascaded on most distant shores, each chain
of massive ancient lives destroyed; but still
they have not gone, but changed into our birds,
reminders of a kingdom whipped to will
of intersecting orbits. Now just words
describe the dangers we ourselves have made,
creating futures we might not evade.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I thought so. This is HUGE climate news

I brought this up recently on Twitter, but finally found the time to mention it here on my blog.

In my piece on why scientists know that CO2 is causing the warming of the Earth -- which is undoubtedly happening -- I mention the following:
"Skeptics like to point out that the warming at the Earth's surface hasn't been uniform, there have been cooling periods and flat periods (maybe), none of which I will give a name to, ever since the effects of increasing CO2 began to kick in. So, they ask, how can that happen if there is evermore heat being trapped.

The simple answer to that is: most of the heat is going into the ocean. It's been measured, documented, and quantified. Yet still, the ocean's uptake of the heat can vary, depending on a few factors, and just a slight variation can have a big effect on the atmospheric temperature. That might be part of the explanation for what happened in the early years of the 21st century (if in fact it happened). But more heat kept going into the oceans -- until it came back out decisively, in a massive El Niño event that drove atmospheric temperatures to all time highs, and also lower tropospheric temperatures measured by satellites."
That last part is based on the observation of the warming of the 20th century, that every time there was a big El Niño there was a jump up in global temperature, and it didn't come back down all the way, leading to a steplike appearance of the temperature vs. time plot.  And several readings indicated that this was a likely mechanism by which the oceans vented the excess GHG heat that they store.

But I didn't really know for sure that this last El Niño released a lot of that stored heat. I was pretty sure it had, but that isn't my field of expertise.  So that last sentence was an informed extrapolation of previous climate behaviors.

Not any more.  It's been confirmed.

Stored heat released from ocean largely responsible for recent streak of record hot years
"By analyzing records of global temperature, sea level rise, ocean heat content and other climate data, the study authors find the 2015-2016 El Niño released excess heat from the Pacific Ocean that had accumulated over the past two decades because of global warming.

They conclude this heat transfer from the ocean is largely responsible for the sharp spike in temperatures."
It feels so good to read that.  Because it's true and it's what I thought was true.

And this part too:
“The result indicates the fundamental cause of the large record-breaking events of global temperature was greenhouse-gas forcing rather than internal climate variability alone,” Yin said.

Of course it was.  Lest I sound gleeful to be right about it, I'm not.  It means that the Earth is getting warmer, and the Earth is getting warmer faster.

And that's not good.  We need to do something about it.  And I  have an idea about what to do, and pretty soon you'll read about it right here.

This is what deep tax cuts can do in Oklahoma

Oklahoma.  Home of Senator James Inhofe.

That should tell you something right away.

It appears that OK is not OK.  Because of something it shares with adjacent Kansas -- deep tax cuts.

Deep tax cuts cause problems, as they are doing in Oklahoma.

What's the matter with Oklahoma?

Some pithy excerpts:
"The roots of the fiasco are not hard to determine. As in Oklahoma’s northern neighbour, Kansas, deep tax cuts have wrecked the state’s finances.

Mary Fallin, the Republican governor, came to office pledging to eliminate the income tax altogether. Since 2008 general state funds for K-12 education in Oklahoma have been slashed by 28.2%—the biggest cut in the country. Property taxes, which might have made up the difference, are constitutionally limited.

No fact embarrasses Oklahomans more, or repels prospective businesses more, than the number of cash-strapped [school] districts that have gone to four-day weeks.

A recently hired special-education teacher worries that she will not be able to afford a flat for herself and her two children without a housing voucher and food stamps, says Julie Phillips, a speech pathologist with Tulsa Public Schools. After a school drive to raise food for poor families unexpectedly had some left over, needy teachers divided the remaining bags of apples and potatoes among themselves."

Republicans.  What did you expect, miracles?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

This isn't fair

The f*cking House Republican shenanigans with the budget and continuing resolutions and tax cuts and military spending and domestic spending are maddening -- and disgusting.

House Republicans eye defense spending boost, complicating plan to avoid second shutdown
"House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pitched the plan to his GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting Monday. The bill, set for a vote on Tuesday, would increase Pentagon funding by about $30 billion, to $584 billion, breaking existing spending caps as well as making funding available through September. The rest of the government would continue to be funded at 2017 levels through March 23."
So that's what they want - and have wanted for a couple of years now - to slip out of the binds of sequestration that they CAUSED to be imposed in the first place, increasing funding for the military*, but avoiding raising spending on domestic programs.

* We do need to increase funding for the military.  But trying to avoid sequestration for military spending yet keep it in place for domestic spending is not fair.  At all.   Hence the title of this post.

Of course this is what they want to do.  They're Republicans -- this is what they do.  Put very simply, they lie, cheat, and steal.  Just like the POTUS.

Think I'm wrong?  They don't even want to provide money for disaster aid!!  (And may I say, AGAIN!)

This is ridiculous.  But for Republicans, ridiculous is normal.

House passes another spending patch as top party leaders finalize two-year budget deal

Sounds good, right?  Not so fast.  Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows (who we can refer to as Lil' JJ and M&M) have this to say:
“This is a bad, bad, bad, bad — you could say ‘bad’ a hundred times — deal,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. “When you put it all together, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar increase in discretionary spending — not what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Hey, Lil' JJ - maybe that $1.5. trillion dollar unnecessary tax cut wasn't such a great idea, eh?

So what does M&M have to say?
"Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said a broad deal encompassing a debt-limit increase and a huge disaster package would be “considered a lead balloon” among hard-line conservatives. “It’d get zero support” from the caucus, he said, aside from a member or two representing states affected by the disasters."
These numb-nuts simply make me SICK.  Maybe they think it's possible to repeal Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, and devastating deadly wildfires in California and the Pacific Northwest, followed by mudslides closing down major highways.

They'd be wrong. They're idiots.

But they're Republicans.  So that's what we should expect.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, February 4-10, 2018: Queensport, Nova Scotia, Canada

Last week, the Lighthouse of the Week was a cute little replica lighthouse in Arisaig, Nova Scotia. I return to Nova Scotia this week to look at the lighthouse at Queensport, located on Rook Island.

First of all, as is customary, let's locate Queensport. Queensport is in Guysborough County. Unless you're familiar with Nova Scotia, that probably doesn't help, so click here to get there on Google Maps. Queensport is on the northern end of Nova Scotia, same as Arisaig, but it's on the Atlantic Ocean coast, specifically in Chedabucto Bay.

Rook Island is out in the water, so the Queensport lighthouse looks a bit isolated. That also lends itself to photographs of an isolated lighthouse, of course.

This Web site has all the necessary particulars.

I borrowed the short history:
  • 1883 - 6th order light, listed at entrance to Crow Harbour, fixed white, 12m 
  • 1922 - 7th order dioptric lens, hand fog horn 
  • 1955 - 1962 - replaced by present tower 
The building is 40 feet high.

And, importantly, it was recently named a Designated Heritage Lighthouse of Canada.

Looks chilly

Curiosity Rover panoramic five-year review video

If you haven't seen it, watch it now. It's a great video of a remarkable panoramic image taken by the Curiosity rover, and it looks back at where it's been.

Also, you can see the mountain it has been climbing in this image.

Curiosity selfie on Mount Sharp

The Keegan world domination plan continues

So, now we see the outlines of the plan. Mark Wright casually infiltrates Hollywood while Michelle Keegan finishes up her obligations in the UK.

With Mark in place, Michelle can now move to the States and establish her base of operations.

 In short order, she will start guest-starring, likely as a "hot English girl" in a couple of shows. The next step will be a co-starring role on a TV show or perhaps a movie. At the same time, she will start making more red carpet appearances and photographic features in magazines and online.

She will become familiar to the American audience, and then launch her assault on the heights of superstardom.

I predicted this would happen years ago. The wheels are in motion. She's a force that cannot be denied.

Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan 'are house hunting in Hollywood Hills ... as the couple start planning their new life together in Los Angeles'

" 'She's been auditioning for roles including a big new drama on American network ABC and a guest role in the show This Is Us, as well as meeting agents, talent managers and top casting directors.' "

See? I told you.  It's only a matter of time.

A sonnet in February: "a private test"

Here's a new sonnet for early in February 2018.

a private test

It's still a vivid moment to recall,
the when I saw her first -- a vision clad
in loveliness and grace which did enthrall
my sighted urgency. For I was glad
to find her then and there, where I required
a view to be desired, so I would feel
the certainty of verve, my blood inspired
by her exquisity of nude appeal;
and so I could provide my gratitude,
the cells of male affection and the source
of line and life's continuance. This interlude
established my extravagant resource
and set her in my memory, the place
I always see her body and her face.

The art of the nude

The nude human body has been a subject of artistic expression pretty much since artistic expression first happened.

And much of the nude human body in art is a depiction of the female nude body.  This is strongly and primarily due to the male visual fascination with the nude female body.

That is not something I need to apologize for.

This post is about a picture in which there is a nude woman.  I'm posting to make a distinction about artistic nude and the stimulating, ahem, pornographic nude.  In the case of the former, the purpose of the art is to express something about the nudity of the woman.   In many cases, the artist is expressing admiration of the beauty of the nude woman.  That is not always the case, and there is a wide variety of depictions of nude women and what their appearance in art is intended to express.  It could express vulnerability, courage, aloneness, sisterhood, fertility, motherhood, life, beauty, abstraction... I couldn't hope to cover all the possibilities.

In the picture below, from an Instagram account in which the woman has no qualms about her appearance in the nude, the picture captures the curvaceous grace of a nude woman in motion, captured in a natural setting.  The black-and-white tonality of the picture emphasizes that this is a figure study and not a picture that is primarily intended to get men excited (which is the purpose of pornographic nudity).

Don't be surprised when I tell you that the lady is a model and a dancer.

Yes climate always changes - when it changes fast, that's not good

Good article from The Guardian:

Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces

The article discusses this paper:   The Anthropocene Equation, authored by Owen Gaffney and Will Steffen.

Here are a couple of snippets from the article:
"The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.

But over the past six decades human forces “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene."
This is something that I frequently tell the denierati in our discussions, now primarily taking place on Twitter.   Which is, yes, Earth's climate is always changing, but except under very unusual natural conditions (like the end of the Younger Dryas), those changes are slow and gradual, and caused by factors that can be identified.  Now, the dominant change factor that can be identified is humanity, and we are causing climate to change much faster than any natural factors.

Which is pretty much what this paper says, too.   Here's another snippet.
"According to Steffen these [astronomical and geophysical] forces have driven a rate of change of 0.01 degrees Celsius per century.  
Greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans over the past 45 years, on the other hand, “have increased the rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century, dwarfing the natural background rate,” he said.  
This represented a change to the climate that was 170 times faster than natural forces."

So, as might be expected for the vastly dominant lifeform on the planet, we humans are changing the climate too fast for nature to adapt to it.  It would behoove us to figure out a way to slow this down as much as possible.