Sunday, December 28, 2008

Speaking of Zunigas: this sounds like a Lifetime movie plot

I couldn't pass this one up: a beauty queen from Mexico (and she is definitely one) was arrested in a truck filled with guns, associated with drug gangs running cocaine. Her boyfriend is the brother of a major player.

Mexican Beauty Queen Arrested in Gun-Filled Truck, Police Say

(If you search "Laura Zuniga" on Google News you'll get over 1,000 hits. Well, that's pretty darned good publicity for a movie, I'd say. Hopefully she can get out and write a book and get a show on Telemundo. She just lost the title of "Miss Hispanoamericana". Sorry. I truly hope she can find other opportunities and get out of Sinaloa or the Mexican prison system.

Oh, Mommy!

Standing in a long grocery checkout line can be entertaining.

Samantha Harris, likely most famous as the "Dancing with the Stars" co-host, is on the cover of "Muscle and Fitness Hers" this December. I thought the picture was Photoshopped -- she has a better six-pack than Michael Phelps in Beijing, and she has a very young child! So I had to check this one out, and I did. And her six-pack is real; she is in stunning physical shape.

Cover Girl Revealed

And heck, she's a looker, too.

BTW, there's another brand of Samantha Harris findable by searching. Sister Prudence advises care.

Part 2:

Learned in another magazine that Kimberly Williams - Paisley is having baby #2 with country singing star Brad Paisley. Kimberly puts the "hot" in cuteness. She was in a movie with Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) called "Safe House" that got her down to her undies -- worth the price of admission.

If you want to see a little bit more of Kimberly:

Kimberly on the red carpet, in a dress that Brad probably liked

BTW, Kimberly's another one with an exact namesake that Sister Prudence would not approve of! Trust me on this.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mercury poisoning hits another celeb:

Mercury poisoning has claimed another celebrity victim. This time it's Jeremy Piven, most recently famous for entourage. And the cause (again) is excessive consumption of fancy, sushi, seafood.

Jeremy Piven and the toxic sushi

And the thing is: it also happened to The Sure Thing, Spaceballs (I saw this again a few weeks ago: I'd forgotten that Bill Pullman played the parallel Luke Skywalker role of Lone Starr), and Melrose Place star (has been seen most recently on guilty pleasure One Tree Hill) Daphne Zuniga. For the same reason: excessive consumption of high-trophic-level seafood like tuna and swordfish.

One article I found mentions them both:

Speed the Exit: Jeremy Piven out of "Speed the Plow"

Daphne Zuniga interview for Oprah

I think that Piven and Zuniga should be recruited as celebrity spokespersons for the World Sealife Foundation "Eat More Turkey" campaign. As soon as I get both of those things rolling, of course.

And it should also be pointed out that the Bush administration released notably weak mercury emissions regulations:

1st Salon article on mercury

2nd Salon article on Mercury (quote below)

"But even if the suits are successful, it will take years for all these legal challenges to have any impact on the air -- years when the health of hundreds of thousands of American newborns will be put in danger. According to scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury pollution puts more than 600,000 American newborns at risk a year for permanent brain damage, which can lead to a lifetime of learning disabilities and developmental problems. "Mercury does not affect everyone equally," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "The E.P.A.'s job is to 'protect human health and the environment' but what it's really doing is putting more women and children at risk of mercury poisoning."

The Bush Administration has argued that mercury pollution is a global problem, and that cleaning up at the polluting sources at home won't have much impact on it. So, the administration has advised American women in their child-bearing years and parents of young children simply to avoid the most contaminated fish. Yet, the administration has simultaneously fought international regulations against mercury pollution, arguing in favor of voluntary actions on the part of industry."

Now, for all of those women and celebrity couples (hello, Jenny McCarthy) who have been endangering kids by causing needless worry about the traces of mercury used in important vaccines: THIS is where your concern should be. Fortunately, the winds of environmental change are blowing in Washington.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A really "cool" image

Data analysis reveals the extent of last week's devastating New England ice storm:

New England Ice Storm

I would hazard that winter storms with a heavy ice component do a lot more damage and end up causing the deaths of more people than snowstorms, even blizzards.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

About that water vapor

One commonly misstated misconception by global warming skeptics is that "water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas, and scientists ignore it". Or something to that mistaken effect. So how's a skeptic to explain:

Water Vapor Confirmed as Major Player in Climate Change

From this summary article: "Andrew Dessler and colleagues from Texas A and M University in College Station confirmed that the heat-amplifying effect of water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

With new observations, the scientists confirmed experimentally what existing climate models had anticipated theoretically. The research team used novel data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite to measure precisely the humidity throughout the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere."

And further down:

"AIRS is the first instrument to distinguish differences in the amount of water vapor at all altitudes within the troposphere. Using data from AIRS, the team observed how atmospheric water vapor reacted to shifts in surface temperatures between 2003 and 2008. By determining how humidity changed with surface temperature, the team could compute the average global strength of the water vapor feedback.

"This new data set shows that as surface temperature increases, so does atmospheric humidity," Dessler said. "Dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere makes the atmosphere more humid. And since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, the increase in humidity amplifies the warming from carbon dioxide."

OK, so skeptics, you can drop this particular claim. Water vapor amplifies greenhouse gas-induced warming. For sure. No doubt about it. Most important greenhouse gas, indeed.

Some supplemental linkages:

How not to discuss the water vapor feedback

Anthropogenic greenhouse forcing and strong water
vapor feedback is rapidly warming Europe

The Dust Settles on Water Vapor Feedback

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Turkeys are the meat (and sushi) of the future

Production of turkey/poultry uses about 1/4 of the greenhouse gases required to produce an equivalent of meat from ruminants (beef, venison, etc.)

Reducing your red meat footprint

Where's the Beef?:
Roni Neff explains how the media miss the story on food's connection to climate change

Humble chicken, the meat-eaters saviour

Earth to PETA

Meat is not the No. 1 cause of global warming. Yet our diet is cooking the planet, and one surprising staple turns down the heat.

Plus, it's better for you than beef. (But maybe not better for you than buffalo.)


Kate Beckinsale was on the Tonight Show last night. She is positively one of the plain 'ol prettiest Caucasian women on the planet, and she's in her mature prime right now. And thank you to the paparazzi for the contribution in the orange bikini; I always think celebs are justified in seeing paparazzi as scummy, but when they use a telephoto lens relatively discreetly, well, sometimes the results are hard to pass up. And as for the last one in the boudoir: that'd be hard to pass up, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A bit more on bluefin tuna

Andy Revkin's DotEarth had a post about bluefin tuna:

Tuna tragedy of the commons

A few pithy comments struck me, both in the article and in the comments. Herewith:

"At the latest meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, created under a treaty 42 years ago to manage shared fisheries in that ocean, European governments ignored a strong recommendation from the group’s own scientific advisers for deep cuts in some harvests of the Atlantic bluefin tuna."

Great. But wait, there's more, quoted from Carl Safina:

"I.C.C.A.T. has always been broken, and the tradition of ignoring the science and insisting on higher quotas was set 25 years ago by Western fishing interests. That tradition remains alive on BOTH sides of the ocean, and the indignant rhetoric by the Western fishing interests masks their own hypocrisy."

and, echoing the late Ransom Myers:

"The big runs of autumn, the “tuna fever,” the great herds of fish thundering across the blue prairies as they rounded Montauk, that’s all gone."

Think about it. We're happy that there are still bison in the West. But are the herds now anything like they were before they were nearly hunted to extinction? OBVIOUSLY not. Will bluefin tuna go the way of the bison; a few remnant schools? I doubt it; the oceans don't belong to anyone, so everyone exploits them. "Tragedy of the commons", indeed. The bluefin tuna should be the symbol of a new World Sealife Foundation -- if indeed it's not too late. If it isn't, it's damn close.

Quotes from the commenters:

"As this is a global (or at least trans-Atlantic) tragedy of the commons, regional institutions will not solve the problem. USA and EU must sit together and negotiate tough limits (=0 catch) on tuna. This probably can only come top-down from the very highest levels as intermediate agencies have too much vested interests. It may be part of a bigger deal of the even more relevant global tragedy of the commons, speak climate change."


"Why is it that no one is willing to go on record to discuss the real problem with our planet? Overpopulation is the root of every environmental issue we face, yet the focus of the dialog remains stuck on tuna catch, carbon credits, etc." (When I get a real chance to write something, I'm going to comment on this.)


"As we approach the top of the population logistic growth curve, where the number of births equal the number of deaths in an ever more brutal economy limited by scarcity and depletion of resources, we can’t continue speak casually about “sustainability” without also addressing human population growth, for without a stable steady-state population a “sustainable” harvest of any natural resource is a moving target."


"The problem, inevitably, whether it be the fisheries the atmosphere, or the rain forests is that there are too many humans consuming too few resources. As long as the human population continues to increase, the world, its wildlife and its environment will be at risk. The human population of the planet in 1750 was 1/10th what it is now - 700 million."

(Do you sense a theme developing?) A couple more:

"The problem of overfishing is a very good illustration to the whole host of other problems that we are either already having or are going to have soon enough. It's simple: too many people, too few resources (in this case tuna)."


"You would think, at some point, that the lesson would be learned. We've been dealing with these depletion issues for decades, and yet the next generation makes the same mistake."

Exactly right. And that will get me to my main point, eventually, which I'll preview here: economic growth is a recipe for environmental disaster.

I'll leave it at that for now. Still gotta get to that Dessler paper, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Meteor falls, meteorite found

I did see a daylight fireball once; the one in Canada at night was extraordinarily bright. Watching the video, it seemed pretty clear that some of it had to have reached the ground. Check your definitions, everyone!

Here's the video of the meteor:

Meteor in Canada

And here's the news item about finding the fragments:

Space Rock Found