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.