Sunday, October 20, 2019

The kind of bad news that's good


Saw this in the Washington Post:

More bad news for the survival of the Republican Party

So, is it possible to summarize the bad news for the GOP in this piece?  I'll try:
"Republicans have created a zero-sum game wherein the increasingly racist and radical appeals to white Christians needed to drive high turnout alienates a substantial segment of the growing nonwhite and/or unaffiliated electorate. They are doubling down on a diminishing pool of voters as they crank up fierce opposition among the fastest-growing segments (millennials, nonwhites) of the electorate."
How about current events?

Watch Senate Republicans. They might reach the point of no return.

"      Meanwhile, vulnerable Democratic incumbents are rising in polls. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) are up 1 points and 3 points, respectively. If these sort of numbers persist, or get even worse for Republicans, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will lose his majority.
      McConnell, infamous for his shameless, ice-water-in-his-veins brand of politics, will do whatever he must to save his members. If that means shoving Trump off-stage, he will gladly do it. (Notice his especially tough condemnation of Trump’s Syria debacle.)"

Let's just hope bad news like this just keeps on coming.

Rifle with a past


In case you're into collectibles, a rifle with considerable provenance if for sale.  It's the rifle that fired the first shot of the Battle of Bunker Hill, a conflict that occurred early in the Revolutionary War.

It's not often that a firearm with such a pedigree is for sale. So if you're interested, act fast.


Musket that fired the first shot of the Battle of Bunker Hill is auctioned by family of Revolutionary War soldier who was court martialed for shooting at Redcoats prematurely and whose grandson Ulysses S. Grant became president


Here it is, with what must be its provenance certificate:


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Breakfast in bed with Russian glamour models


Ekaterina Zueva, a Russian model who is now Monaco-based, and Anya Areva, a Russian model who is now California- and Hollywood-based, both provided pictures on Instagram just a couple of days ago showing an outstanding way to have a casual breakfast in bed.

Ekaterina:  (by the way, she's had a child - it's hard to see where it fit)



Anya: (by the way, this is one picture of a set of five)

























I must add, from a heterosexual male perspective, this is truly a fantastic way to have breakfast in bed.

Good, long, in-depth article about climate change and wine


The New York Times featured a long and extensive article about how climate change (yes, it's happening) is affecting the wine industry globally.

How Climate Change Impacts Wine

By the way, the author of this piece is Eric Asimov, the NY Times wine critic.  Now, I'm a rare wine drinker, and definitely not a wine connoisseur.  So I haven't made a habit of reading NY Times columns about wine.  So, I'm sure that many of the people who do already knew if Eric Asimov is related to famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.  I did not know.  So I looked it up, something that's easy to do in these wonderful information-rich days.  And as I suspected, he is related to Isaac, fairly closely -- he's his nephew.  Or was, to be precise, since Isaac sadly left us in 1992, due to complications of AIDS -- which I also just found out.  He got infected by HIV from a blood transfusion during triple bypass surgery.  Isaac also had two kids of his own, who are much lower profile than Eric, as they are noted in the Wikipedia bio, but not linked anywhere to more information.

That was quite a digression.  Sorry about that.  I'm going to extract three sections from the article and make a short comment on each of them.
1. "Producers are now planting vineyards at altitudes once considered inhospitable to growing wine grapes. No hard-and-fast rules limit the altitude at which grapes can be planted. It depends on a region’s climate, the quality of the light, access to water and the nature of the grapes. But clearly, as the earth has warmed, vineyards are moving higher. ... At higher elevations, peak temperatures are not necessarily much cooler, but intense heat lasts for shorter periods, and nighttime temperatures are colder than at lower altitudes. This increased diurnal shift — the temperature swing over the course of a day — helps grapes to ripen at a more even pace, over a longer period of time, than where temperatures remain relatively stable."
Comment:  This isn't exclusive to wine grapes.  Coffee growers are having to do the same thing. And climate change is directly affecting maize and potato cultivation.  Farmers don't really consider the scientific aspects of climate change, particularly whether or not it's happening.  They just do what they have to do in response to conditions that they can clearly tell are changing.

2. "For many producers, particularly small family estates or those in historic appellations, new vineyards in cooler environments are not an option. Instead, they must consider whether to change the essence of what they have been doing, in some cases for centuries. That might mean leaving behind the grapes that have long been associated with their region, and selecting ones more appropriate for the changing climate. It may seem impossible to imagine Bordeaux without cabernet sauvignon and merlot, or Champagne without pinot noir and chardonnay, but the prospect of a much warmer future may require even the most famous wine regions to rethink their methods."
Comment:  People wonder about the economic impact of climate change.  The canard "More CO2 makes plants grow more" doesn't consider all of the other impacts of increasing warmth and changing precipitation patterns.  But as this section shows, it's causing changes in long-established practices, practices which were established when the climate was much more stable and natural climate change rates were much slower.

3. "While weather always surprises, experienced farmers generally knew what to expect. With climate change, that is no longer true. “It hails when it never used to hail, rains in the summer when it used to be dry, is dry in the winter when it used to rain,” Gaia Gaja of the Gaja Winery, which has made wine in Barbaresco and Barolo for generations, told me in April. She said the increased moisture in summer has caused vine pests to reproduce faster, with four cycles a year rather than two. Forest fires, floods, droughts — wine regions will have to learn how to deal regularly with these once-rare devastations."
Comment:  It's related to the second excerpt, but the changing patterns in weather, particularly extreme weather, are changing the economics of agriculture all over the world.  And climate change will not be an economic benefit for farmers that are forced out of farming due to the instability of the weather, causing their marginally profitable operations to become unprofitable.  That will affect all of us, with higher prices and reduced availability. 

So, even if you don't drink wine, the changes and adaptations of the wine industry may be a harbinger of similar things to come for many other consumables.

And I didn't even say anything here about bees.




Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Annable available


An actress that I am quite fond of, Odette Annable, has apparently decided that she and her husband should no longer be that, i.e., husband and wife.

After a suitable waiting period after hearing this news, probably 24-36 hours should be enough, she can probably be asked out on a date.  But don't rush things.


Supergirl's Odette Annable separates from husband David after nearly a decade of marriage

Here's a fine picture of Odette:


Highway 41 trek heads into northern Tennessee


Now we take Highway 41 north of Nashville a bit on the end-to-end StreetView trek.


Brother Z's Wang Shack - if you didn't get enough chicken at Harold's.




Not sure this is a good idea - Rocketship Elementary School is across the street from Jenna's Adult Toy Box. (Who zoned THAT?)  Pan around to see what I mean.




Crossing I-65




Just in time for Halloween - the Beast House!



Old Stone Bridge over Mansker's Creek near Goodlettsville - it has a historical marker. The historical marker says the bridge was on the stage line between Nashville and Louisville, which operated until 1859 (just a year before the Civil War).


We should get close to the Kentucky border next time.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, October 13-19, 2019: Marshall Point, Port Clyde, Maine, USA


I took another lighthouse off the list of scenic lighthouses from the Daily Mail, in a post that I posted a couple of weeks prior to this.

This one is the Marshall Point lighthouse, in Maine, which I expect is not one of the most-visited lighthouses in Maine.  It doesn't look like it's difficult to get to, but because there are picturesque lighthouses closer to the main road, such as the ones in Rockland and Owl's Head, many tourists probably eschew the longer trip.

But the Marshall Point lighthouse might be worth it, because it's somewhat unique, as you'll see in the pictures.

Here's a short page on it from New England Lighthouses:  Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine. 

And a page with history from Lighthouse Friends:  Marshall Point Lighthouse

Here's a map with which to locate it.


Specs:
Active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation.

Station established: 1832
Present lighthouse built: 1857
Automated: 1971
Construction material: Granite, brick
Other buildings still standing: 1895 keeper's house, 1905 oil house
Height of tower: 31 feet
Height of focal plane: 30 feet
Earlier optic: Fifth-order Fresnel lens (1857)

What this doesn't mention is that the lighthouse is at the end of a walkway over the rocks, extending from the keeper's house.  Must have been a ton of fun to get out to the light when a nor'easter was howling in January.


Kinda like this:

And by the way, if it looks familiar, it was in a scene in the movie Forrest Gump.



by William Britten

by Rick Berk



Oktober 2019 SonnetFest - 4


The fourth and final sonnet in the Oktober 2019 SonnetFest series.


desired to give, desired to have


Reception is an affirmation when
we are expected and accepted -- like
a comrade we've not seen for years, but then
we happen on their door where we can strike
the spark of kinship once again, and know
we will be welcome anyplace we find
ourselves rejoined. And so as one will show
delight of expectation when aligned
with destined certainty, we know our plight
of pleasure will be gratefully received
as vibrant acclamation does invite
released repletion and a joy perceived
as physical and dutifully shared --
a fate that no one wishes to be spared.


Oktober 2019 SonnetFest - 3


Here's the third sonnet composed for Oktober 2019 SonnetFest.


recon X shen

Each day I cross a thousand paths my fell-
ow humans tread, and yet I do not say
a word to them, nor do they even tell
a single phrase to me. It is the way
we live, the silence of proximity
as if we stood on Adam's noted peak
like pilgrims to our own infinity
of solitude, as if our souls must seek
aloneness within multitudes, which seems
unnatural unless we meditate
like monks. But if we intersect our streams
to form a coursing river, then our fate
is not to just evaporate, but to
reflect, refresh, replenish, and renew.


Oktober 2019 SonnetFest - 2


Second of the Oktober 2019 SonnetFest series.


what can be done or not done

Connect me to the boundaries my eyes
can see -- for hopes exceed capacities
which I possess to undermine the guise
of normalcy that means I cannot seize
what opportunities I could indeed
create. For I am quite creative -- just
as rivers carve deep canyons at a speed
that's imperceptible, I know I must
be patient with my time -- but I have not
the length I need to reach the frozen plain
before it melts. So if I am too hot
I am quite far away, yet if the pain
is cold, I am too close; I cannot change
trajectories, so I must thus be strange.


Oktober 2019 SonnetFest - 1


First of four sonnets in my Oktober 2019 SonnetFest.


beware the dark water


Transgressions make their mark when seen or not,
for they are ne'er invisible -- although
if waters only ripple o'er the spot
where one occurs, the roil of undertow
can snatch the unsuspecting unaware
and turn the placid into danger. For
if we believe there is no wake or pair
of spins when there's a causal bore
astride uncertain shores, we are in cert
deluded; we must always know our acts
have pathways marked with color; so revert
your knowledge to the tested basic facts
which mean a scant existence can be known
if its originations can be shown.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Oh Mi Oh My Michelle


Not sure how long it's been since a Michelle Keegan post, but there's never a wrong time.  And this right time is because Michelle is modeling looks for the Christmas Party.

Emphasis on "look".  As in "staring so hard my eyes hurt".

Michelle Keegan shows off her incredible figure in a glittering mini as she models clothes from her new collection

Here's the mini :

























I don't know when she's going to show off the rest of the Christmas edition, but I'm ready.  Just need some eyedrops because my eyeballs are getting a bit dried out due to the not blinking I'm doing.


Gold in them thar wrecks


Treasure hunting operations off the coast of South Carolina, on the wreck of the North Carolina (not kidding), have pulled up some rare gold coins.

"Extremely Valuable" Gold Coins Resurfacing From 19th-Century Shipwreck

According to the article (and others I've read about it), most of the coins were in private hands;  it wasn't carrying a treasure chest or anything like that.

It appears possible that some of the coins are from the U.S. Mint in Dahlonega, Georgia, which only operated for a short period of years, making them more rare than the usual horde of shipwreck gold coins.


Let's hear from George Will


George Will had another op-ed column that was massively critical of Donald Trump (obviously he's not the only one doing that these days):

The spiraling president adds self-impeachment to his repertoire

It included this quote:
"Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility."

That's a little long to put on a baseball cap, but it'd make a great T-shirt slogan.

I recommend reading the rest.  It burns everything related to the GOP and POTUS Trump.


Lighthouse of the Week, October 6-12, 2019: Nauset Light, Massachusetts


I went back to the list of lighthouses from the Daily Mail article for this one, which was in a post last month.  This one is a domestic one, the restored Nauset Light on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  As it seems most restored lighthouses do, it has its own Web site.

Nauset Light Preservation Society

According to this Web site, the light is within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and is the most photographed lighthouse on Cape Cod.  I'll have to figure out how many lighthouses there are on Cape Cod sometime.

It has something in common with the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse - it had to be moved inland due to coastal erosion.

I will quote from the Web site for the stats:
"The present Nauset Lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is made of cast iron with a brick lining and stands 48 feet high. It was built in 1877, and was located in Chatham as a twin to the one that is there today. In 1923, the smaller wooden lighthouse in Eastham was retired, and the north tower in Chatham was dismantled, moved to Eastham, and reconstructed about 200 feet from the edge of the cliff near the relocated keeper's house. In the 1940s, Nauset Lighthouse was painted red and white as a daytime indicator. In 1981, the light's Fresnel lens was replaced by two two rotating aero beacons. The signal was changed from three white flashes to one red and one white flash of 5 second intervals between them."
It was moved away from the threatening sea in 1996.

Drone video:




And four pictures:



This was an Astronomy Photo of the Day (APOD)




Wednesday, October 9, 2019

50 best islands in the world 2019


These lists are all over the place, but I thought I'd bring it to the attention of my very few readers.

The 50 Best Islands in the World, from Big Seven Travel.


My favorites are:

38 - La Digue, Seychelles (haven't been there)

33 - Grand Cayman (been there)

20 - Santorini, Greece (haven't been there, but it is the rim of a volcanic caldera that exploded big-time and messed with the Minoan civilization)











10 - Bora Bora (I mean, c'mon)

8 - Barbados (been there)


You can check the list and see which ones are YOUR favorites.


Still in awe


Cheryl (now just Cheryl, though previously known as Cheryl Cole, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, and Liam Payne's baby (Bear) mama, has been making public appearances again.

Thank the gods for that.  She has gotten fit.

Cheryl leads the glamour at the Attitude Awards as she goes braless in a plunging gold sequin minidress


Just call her Cheryl Gold.

On Highway 41, getting ready to leave Nashville


Now that the Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek has passed the Tennessee capitol and crossed the Cumberland River, we need to get headed north again.



Here it gets interesting. To stay on Highway 41 requires first turning onto Spring Street, staying on Spring Street as it heads north and then northwest, then getting onto Dickerson Pike. A block from the Spring Street intersection is a historical marker at the site of the surrender of Nashville during the Civil War.

Turn left here and do not proceed onto Main Street. That would head you in the direction of the Grand Ole Opry, but we're going to skip that. There are surprisingly few places to cross the Cumberland River if you want to get there, so plan your route well.  To stay on Spring Street, keep to the left of the building with the red front.



Follow Spring Street around until you get to Dickerson Pike, then head north. When you pass Buffalo Park, you know you're still on the right road. And it's not hard to see why it's called Buffalo Park.  It has buffalo in it (well, statues of buffalo, actually).



After all that sightseeing, stop at Harold's Chicken for good hot Nashville-style chicken. That darned FedEx truck was parked right in front when the StreetView car went by!



Next on the road - north from Nashville.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

When the gales of September come early


The famous wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald took place in November in Lake Superior, as Gordon Lightfoot's ballad attests.

But there are other wrecks in the Big Gitchee-Gumee, and shipwreck hunters just found one of them a couple of weeks ago, the freighter Hudson, lost in a Lake Superior September gale in 1901.  (Actually it wasn't early, it was mid-September, but I had to come up with a catchy title.)

Here's the somewhat interesting, somewhat tragic part:  the Hudson sank fast, so fast that it rammed hard into the Superior sediments bow first, so that the stern is still sticking about 20 feet up above the bottom.

Here's an article that shows this, in the sonar discovery image.

118 years after ship sank in Lake Superior gale, searchers locate wreck 825 feet beneath the surface

The shipwreck  hunters found the ship with the sonar, and then sent a camera down to confirm.  Here's a shot of the portholes.




A couple of potent thoughts from Fareed Zakaria


Fareed Zakaria wrote this in the Washington Post.

Trump's misbehavior fits a global pattern


Thought Number One:
"So people are open to supporting populist leaders who play on their fears, seize on scapegoats and promise to take decisive action on their behalf.

Add to this the rising reality of tribal politics — the sense that each of us is on a team and that our team is always in the right. Tribalism is the enemy of institutions, norms and the rule of law. After all, the whole point of the rule of law is that it applies to everyone, friend and foe."

Thought Number Two:
"It [American populism, led by the Republican Party] is further enabled today by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was willing to violate norms on something as important as a Supreme Court nomination simply to serve the Republican agenda."

Those are thoughts to ponder -- and in so pondering, become angry.  Angry enough to rise up and turn back to a lawful country and society.



Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek: One more time in Nashville


OK, we've passed the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville on Highway 41, but there's a couple more things to see in Nashville on the highway, which will be done in two posts.  We won't see the Grand Ole Opry, which is well off the road.  But let's see what we can see, including a bridge over the Cumberland River.



Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum




Another view - it's also the Historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium (it says so right on the building).




Crossing the Cumberland River - view of Nissan Stadium and downtown Nashville panning around.



Monday, September 30, 2019

A scientific paper about where the apple came from



Science is everywhere, even in figuring out where the apple came from.  Since it's October, this seems quite appropriate.

Origins of the Apple: The Role of Megafaunal Mutualism in the Domestication of Malus and Rosaceous Trees


If that's too deep, consider the fate of Britain's Bramley apple (illustrated below), which is somewhat legendary.



Bramleys



Lighthouse of the Week, September 29 - October 5, 2019: Eldred Rock, Alaska


So, I'm following up on the last week and the last post with this post about the Eldred Rock Lighthouse.   The lighthouse is located in the Lynn Canal of Alaska, north of Juneau and south of Skagway.  (Here's a map.)

It's very historical.  So there's quite a bit about it online, and many pictures.

"1905. Active; focal plane 91 ft (28 m); white flash every 6 s. 56 ft (17 m) octagonal cylindrical wood tower with lantern and gallery, centered on the roof of 2-story octagonal wood keeper's house; solar-powered 250 mm lens. The original 4th order clamshell Fresnel lens was cleaned in 2001 and is on display at the Sheldon Museum in Haines. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black; the keeper's house roof is a conspicuous red."
One of the most famous events around the area was the wreck of the Clara Nevada, during the gold rush, which is described on this page.

Here are four pictures of the Eldred Rock Lighthouse, which is located in an extraordinarily beautiful wild location.

There are some videos, but not of great quality (apparently getting a drone out there is a challenge for some reason).   This one shows the current state of the lighthouse -- the preservation effort needs donations, if you're looking for a charity to donate to.











Lighthouse of the Week, September 22-28, 2019: A lighthouse article


Well, I missed (by a couple of days), the lighthouse of the week for the designated weekly period.  So instead of a featured lighthouse, I'll feature an article about lighthouses from the Daily Mail.


From California to New Zealand via England, the world's most Instagrammable lighthouses in all their windswept beauty and grandeur

So I thought what I would do is check to see which lighthouses in the article I haven't featured yet, and feature one of those next week -- basically today as I write this.

So below I will list the lighthouses in the article I haven't featured as a Lighthouse of the Week to this point:


  • Heceta Head, Oregon (hard to believe that I haven't featured it, but it's so iconic that I've apparently avoided it)
  • Eldred Rock, Alaska
  • Nauset Light, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Loggerhead Key, Florida
  • Cape Reinga, New Zealand
  • Point Loma, California
  • Point Pinos, California
  • Dyna Fyr, Sweden
  • Cape Otway, Australia
  • Burnham-on-Sea Low Lighthouse
  • Enoshima Sea Candle
  • Marshall Point, Port Clyde, Maine
  • Kjeungskjaer, Norway
  • Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
  • Ploumanac'h, Brittany, France
  • Faro de Sergipe, Brazil
  • Lindau Harbor, Lake Constance, Germany 
  • Bell Rock, Scotland 
  • Saaremaa, Estonia  
  • Porthcawl, South Wales

That surprised me, I thought I would have found a few more of these.  So I'll feature a few in coming weeks.

Here's one picture of the Enoshima Sea Candle.















Saturday, September 28, 2019

Tuppence is single again


Tuppence is single.  Now, two-pence is still two pennies in Brit lingo, but scintillatious British actress Tuppence Middleton has newly split and is newly single.

Kinda makes me with I could take a run at her.


Downton Abbey star Tuppence Middleton, 32, splits with her long-term boyfriend and artist Robert Fry

But she probably likes the artistic types.


This was an easy call


Not long ago there were some pictures taken of actress Jenna Dewan and her new boyfriend at the beach, with Jenna in a bikini.  These pictures made commentators speculate about the state of her uterus.

Specifically, whether it was occupied or not.  Most commentators opined toward the "occupied" option.  (Oh, that was good.)

Turns out she is, and they were right.

Jenna Dewan, 38, confirms she's expecting her first child with boyfriend Steve Kazee, 43... a year after splitting from Channing Tatum


Monday, September 23, 2019

Highway 41 in Nashville, at the State Capitol


Believe it or not, and I found this a bit astounding, Highway 41 goes right by the state capitol building in the state's capital city.  As we're about to see.


Traffic Circle, connection to the Korean Veterans Boulevard, next to the Music City Center.




Highway 41 is called Rosa Parks Boulevard here; this is the intersection with Broadway.




Tennessee State Capital (and a guy mowing the lawn) looking one way, the Bicentennial Capital Mall looking the other way.




Off-road, up the hill, a much better view (you know you'd do this if you were there)




Andrew Jackson statue. There's also a statue of President Andrew Johnson on the grounds. He's not quite as distinguished.



Also on the grounds is the Alvin C. York ("Sergeant York") statue. (Not available in StreetView)

Still a few more things to see in Nashville, including the Cumberland River.



Parachutes should come with every room above the 15th floor


The Daily Mail reported that Central Park Tower topped out.  It's top deck will be higher than the top deck of One World Trade Center, but OWTC's top mast will give it the higher point.

Central Park Tower will have 112 floors, and the top penthouse list price is $63 million dollars.

Nice digs.  But I worried about one thing.  What if there's a fire, or another kind of accident that prevents the people living near the top from getting down the elevator or the stairs?

Do they get parachutes for emergency evac?  I'm actually serious about this.

I could not confirm that they do, but I can confirm other people have asked a similar  question.

Literally, it seems to me that they would have to at least offer the option to high-floor buyers.  After all, they are for sale.

And furthermore, they work. The 15th floor requirement?  That's the minimum height that it would work for, i.e., open in time.  That's not a problem on the 101st floor, but one would hope that the ride down doesn't cause a heart attack when the parachute is trying to save their life.   (But where would you practice using it?)





Friday, September 20, 2019

So at least we know it's not massless


The neutrino has a mass.

Back when they were first discovered, even that wasn't certain.  But now the scientists are sure it doesn't weight nearly 2 electron volts (eV);  they're sure it can't weigh more than 1.1 eV.

I'm not a physicist, but I know that isn't very much. By comparison, the mass of a proton (in energy equivalence) is a little over 938 MeV, where "MeV" stands for megaelectronvolt, aka 1 million eV.  So a proton is about 938 million times heavier than a neutrino.

And a proton is not very big.

A new experiment slashes the maximum possible mass of tiny neutrinos
"To make matters more complicated, neutrinos typically don’t have a well-defined mass. Due to the intricacies of quantum mechanics, the particles are made up of three different mass states at once. What KATRIN measures is an “effective mass,” a combination of those three masses."
Oh, what's KATRIN?  It's the device that helped measure the neutrino mass.

And it's very big.  (Read about how it was shipped from where it was built to where it was installed.)

The silver thing that looks like a grounded zeppelin is KATRIN.



Oh my, Mitch is peeved


It appears that the despicable Mitch McConnell, ostensibly the majority leader of the Senate but in actuality the chief roadblock to any meaningful legislative advances in Congress, has gotten tired of the hashtag #MoscowMitch (which I have been doing my small part to keep trending).

And apparently it's having an effect, because he allowed $250 million dollars more to be spent on improving election security, especially from foreign influences.

In turnaround, McConnell backs $250 million in election security funding
"The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed by bipartisan voice vote Thursday to add the $250 million for election security grants to a spending bill covering financial services and general government operations.

A final figure would have to be negotiated with the House, which has approved $600 million, and the compromise legislation would have to be passed by both chambers.

In August 2018, Senate Republicans voted down an effort to direct an extra $250 million toward election security ahead of the midterms. At the time, only one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), voted for the additional funds.

Senate Republicans, including McConnell, have also blocked numerous Democratic efforts to bring election security legislation to the floor, including measures that would have authorized funding to update voting equipment. Congress did not agree to any election security spending in fiscal 2019."


I think I'll keep using that hashtag for awhile.  Maybe he'll actually do something else that's useful.






Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, September 15-21, 2019: Sea Girt, New Jersey, USA


Surprisingly, I've only featured one lighthouse from New Jersey in the whole time I've been doing the "Lighthouse of the Week", and I featured that one twice.  The one I featured twice was the classic Cape May lighthouse.  In my defense, in one of the two posts about it, I only had pictures of the lighthouse at sunset.

So I decided to go back to New Jersey.  There are several choices, but I went with a historical and unique one, which is no longer in service, but is still open to the public.  The lighthouse is the Sea Girt Lighthouse, and it's owned by the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizen's Committee.

So where is it, exactly?  Here's the locator map I made just for you.  I made it so you can see where it is in relation to New York City.  It's not far away.

It has a lot of history, so if you are so inclined, here are links to three pages about it.

Sea Girt Lighthouse at Lighthouse Friends

Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizen's Committee

Sea Girt Lighthouse - New Jersey Lighthouse Society

One interesting note - in 2002, they purchased a fourth-order Fresnel lens formerly in the Crowdy Head Lighthouse of Australia, and put it in the tower, and based on a couple of pictures I found, it appears that the light still works.

Another:  It was the last "live-in" lighthouse built on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Quick specifications:

Built in 1896, and the light was lit in December 1896.  It operated until 1955.  The tower is 44 feet high.

So, four pictures.  Some day I might want to visit here, if I find myself in the neighborhood.


by Jason Icker


Lighthouse in winter













Monday, September 16, 2019

More black-and-white glamour


Previously on this blog I've featured black and white glamour photography, gleaned from Instagram.

Here's more of that.

Antje Utgaard

The incredible Demi Rose Mawby

Heather Monique

Marissa Everhart

Unknown model (sadly) 

That seems obvious


The Washington Post wrote an article about how the National Football League has a quarterback problem.

Meaning, that they get hurt.  A lot.  And they're also the most important player on the team.

So apparently Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Nick Foles all got hurt, and some of the other quarterbacks have quit (Andrew Luck) or don't look like they used to look, athletically (Cam Newton). All because they get hurt and got hurt.  A lot.

Here's the article about that.

The NFL has a quarterbacks problem; it needs to figure out how to better protect them

Yet seriously, what could they do to better protect them?
"It’s too reactionary to suggest that such quarterback trepidation will become the norm soon, but the position is changing. So is acceptance of that change. It leaves the NFL teeming with intriguing possibilities and greater risk at quarterback. And that’s just the nature of football."

So that's not much.  One thing I thought of was a greater use of backup quarterbacks when a game is locked up, win or loss. That would save some wear and tear.


Highway 41 cruises by Nashville's airport


At the end of the last post on Highway 41, I noted that there wasn't much to see until the trek arrives at the airport.

Well, it has arrived.   I wonder if we'll see any airplanes?


Approaching the tunnel under the taxiway.



Monell's at the Manor restaurant - all-you-can-eat Southern style in a historic mansion!  Right next to the AIRPORT!



Guess what - Interstate 24!



Purity Dairies



Interstate 40 - don't worry, it gets better on the other side.



Next stop - the state capitol !!!


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Norwich City pulls the upset of the season


The basics (which are in many articles about this) are that Norwich City moved up to the Premier League this year, and they've had a lot of injuries.  And Manchester City won the Premier League last year.

Nine fixtures out of 10 (maybe more than that, actually) Manchester City beast Norwich City.

This was their fixture.

Norwich 3-2 Manchester City: Daniel Farke's injury-hit Canaries claim huge scalp as in-form Teemu Pukki stars in famous win over Pep Guardiola's champions

It must have been because Man City was wearing black. That's not their color.  (Seriously, they usually wear light blue.  That's not why they lost - but they probably won't be wearing their black kits for a few games, I bet.)

This header is going in (it did)



Nature Conservancy 2019 photography contest


Yee-haw, another photography contest.  This one's about nature (from the Nature Conservancy).  The problem is, nature isn't what it used to be. But these photographers still found some great shots of what's left.

A fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge and a magical shot of a sea lion: The jaw-dropping winning images chosen from 120,000 entries to a prestigious nature photo contest

























This image of a waterfall in West Papua was the People's Choice Award winner.

All of the winners are here:  2019 Nature Conservancy Photo Contest Winners



Climate change article of note


Because I can't debunk all of the climate change denier propaganda and misinformation out there.

From The Conversation Web site:

Five climate change science myths debunked

And a bonus:

Why carbon dioxide has such an outsized influence on Earth's climate




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Get away from most of it in Italy - and get paid for it


There's a place in Italy that's uncrowded, underpopulated, and under-monetized.

In other words, it might be an opportunity.

In the Italian region of Molise, which extends from the mountains of central Italy to the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the regional president is offering people about $800 a month to move in and start a business.

(Given that the region is very rural with many natural parks, doesn't have a big population, and there's a good distance between villages, I don't know what kind of business would be viable, but hey, that's not my problem.)

Campobasso, capital of the region, is quite scenic.  And despite being in southern Italy, it looks like it gets some snow.  The structure at the top of the central peak is the Castello Monforte.


Lighthouse of the Week, September 8-14, 2019: Yeosu New Port North, South Korea


Since I mentioned South Korea last week, this week I'm revisiting the southern end of the Korean Peninsula.

Searching for images of lighthouses, I found this bright red one, which is called the Yeosu New Port North lighthouse.  There's also a New Port East lighthouse, more on that later.  The Yeosu region has so many lighthouses that it has it's own page in the vaunted Lighthouse Directory, from where I have derived much information.

So, here are the simple main specifications:
Active; built in 2010.
Height of the tower: 10 meters
Light: Flashing, 4 second cycle, red.

When I looked at it, I figured it was just a modern design, but apparently it's supposed to be emulating a flame.

About the Yeosu New Port East lighthouse - it's the same design, but it's painted white.  According to the Lighthouse Directory: "These two decorative breakwater lighthouses were built as part of the upgrades to the waterfront prior to the 2012 World's Fair in Yeosu."  OK, I didn't even know there was a 2012 World's Fair in Yeosu until I read that.

Below are 3 pictures.  One of them has cute kids in it.'




Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2019 iPhone Photography Contest


Welp, another month, another photography contest.  This one is for iPhone photography.


When smartphone pictures become works of art: The jaw-dropping winning shots from the 2019 iPhone Photography Awards

While the picture of Annapurna (the mountain) is great, the one below was the one I found most eye-grabbing. It's by Deena Berton, taken in the Bahamas.  The fish were in a tank/aquarium, and I hope this one wasn't on Grand Bahama or Great Abaco Island.



























Monday, September 9, 2019

Highway 41 on the approach to Nashville


Back to the Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek.  We've seen the Stones River National Battlefield, so now it's on to Nashville.   Three stops in this post.  (And I just realized that the letters in the word "posts" can be rearranged to spell "stops".  Try it yourself!)


Back on Highway 41 - going under Interstate 840. Interstate 840 goes east of Nashville.



Hotshotz Bar and Grill. I like the name.  If  you want something healthier than pub grub, there's a farm stand on the other side of the highway.



Entering Davidson County (Nashville).  Home of the Grand Ole Opry.


Not a lot to see for awhile after this until the airport.

What's worth more than Tuppence?


"Tuppence" means "two pence" (two pennies), which isn't a lot, but when that Tuppence is the name of Tuppence Middleton, it means a lot more.

Tuppence Middleton (no relation to Kate) is a British actress, perhaps most remembered (at least by me) for an unforgettable bath scene in the otherwise mostly forgettable Jupiter Ascending.  OK, I liked it, not just because of the lovely backside of Miss Middleton, but it was escapist fun and fair space opera fantasy.  Popcorn enjoyment with little deep meaning.

But back to Tuppence.  She is in the movie version of Downton Abbey, due in theaters in 10 days, and that might lure me theaterward.

Here's the article that got me thinking about Tuppence.  Not real fond of the severe hairstyle, though.

Downton Abbey movie: Tuppence Middleton exudes glamour in black ruffled gown as she attends star-studded film premiere

And here's the scene that keeps me thinking about Tuppence.












But let's give her loverly face a chance, too.




Sunday, September 8, 2019

This is going to wreck the triathlon community


The banana crisis continues -- and it really could become a crisis.

The banana as we know it is doomed.

(Stockpiling supplies of this won't help, either.)



Get 'em while they're yellow

You could've fooled me on that one


When Anak Krakatau (the little active growing volcanic island in the near-center of the Krakatoa volcano caldera) had a larger-than-normal eruption and an accompanying flank collapse, it caused a tsunami that killed some people on the nearby islands.

Scientists studying the event are trying to figure out why the tsunami waves were so big when the amount of the volcano that fell into the sea was apparently not very much.

That's what science is for -- figuring things out.

Anak Krakatau: Volcano's tsunami trigger was 'relatively small'

During the eruptive phase:


Thursday, September 5, 2019

News about Spaceguard


Actually, Spaceguard is an imaginary international organization created by Arthur C. Clarke in the novel Rendesvous with Rama.  It's job was to protect Earth from potential global existence threats posed by hazardous asteroids.

But there is international discussion going on about how to protect the Earth from potential global existence threats posed by hazardous asteroids.


NASA and ESA will team up to deflect Earth-bound asteroids

That's a short blurb at Yahoo.   Here's the longer article at Engadget.


By the way, there is a Spaceguard Centre in the UK.  It could use a bit more funding.  Because the possibility is real, even though the odds against it happening anytime soon are high.



Mount Rainier from directly above


NASA's Earth Observatory had an Image of the Day a couple of days ago, looking directly down at Washington State's famous volcano Mount Rainier from the International Space Station.

Here's a link directly to the full-size image:  Mount Rainier from above

Here's a link to the article:   Mount Rainier

Below is a picture of Gibraltar Rock, which is shown in the labeled photograph in the article.



Lighthouse of the Week, September 1-7, 2019: West Sister Rock, Ontario, Canada


Last week I featured a lighthouse on a little rock in the Gulf of Bothnia, and this week I'm featuring a lighthouse in the North Channel that connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron that's on an even smaller rock.

This week's lighthouse is the West Sister Rock light.  It truly is a lighthouse on a rock.  But in an important place, where there are rocks that could threaten a ship, and ships do use the channel. 

Here's where it is.  You'll have to look close.  If you switch to the satellite view, there's at least one ship wake visible south of the lighthouse.

Lighthouse Friends has a good page on the history of this one, with additional pictures:  West Sister Rock Lighthouse

So, basically, it was built in 1885 (on North Sister Rock - they moved it to West Sister in 1905) and it's 9 meters tall.  And it's hexagonal.

Here are some pictures I found:



From Marinas.com







Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Either a great idea or a disaster in waiting


The Russians have a floating nuclear reactor.


Russia's 'Chernobyl on ice' floating nuclear reactor begins its 3,000-mile voyage to northern Siberia, despite fears it could become an environmental disaster

TIME magazine had a pretty decent story on this:

After a String of Nuclear Incidents, Russia Just Launched a Floating Nuclear Power Plant. Is It Safe?

Here's what it looks like:

















A quote from the article:
"In fact, putting nuclear reactors on ships is not new. Nuclear reactors have been placed on ships, including to provide propulsion, for more than 50 years. A World War II-era cargo ship, the SS Charles H. Cugle, was converted into a nuclear power plant in the 1960s. It was used to provide the U.S. Army with power. The vessel was stationed at the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1976, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
If it works, it's brilliant.  If it f*cks up, we could have a problem.

I hope it works.


Peter does take care of the kids


A few posts ago I commented on British soccer player Peter Crouch's retirement, which I felt his dutiful, fertile, and outrageously gorgeous wife Abbey Clancy might appreciate since he could stay home and help take care of the kids he fathered with her.

Well, guess what - it appears that he is indeed helping out with the kidwork.


Abbey Clancy shares sweet snap of husband Peter Crouch cuddling baby son Jack as she jokes 'I've got no idea where he gets those legs from'



Just off Highway 41 - Stones River National Battlefield


So, Highway 41 goes past the Stones River National Battlefield outside Murfreesboro, and that's what we'll see next.  The Battle of Stones River was the largest winter battle of the Civil War, and if I'm wrong about that, I'd be surprised. 

Battlefield Map

A short summary of the battle

Let's look around!

First cannon I could find on the battlefield - guarding a "Do Not Enter" sign.




Lone rifleman in a field - I do not know what this represents. (Pan to the right)




More cannons near the Visitor Center.




Artillery Monument - the white obelisk - this is in a separate section from the largest part of the battlefield park.  Spin around the image to find it.




McFadden's Ford.  Here's what happened there:  "4:45 p.m. Jan. 2, 1863. Mendenhall saves the day. Capt. John Mendenhall of Gen. T.L. Crittenden's division is asked to provide artillery support for Union troops under attack on the riverfront. He responds by quickly massing 58 cannons, which open fire on Breckinridge's Confederates as they crest a hill at McFaddens Ford. More than 1,800 Confederate soldiers are killed or wounded in the conflagration."




Bridge over the West Fork of the Stones River.




General Rosecrans Headquarters site - now marked with a pyramid of cannonballs.



On the road again ...