Friday, July 31, 2009

British Olympian calls for world swimming records to be struck down; German record holder wouldn't mind an asterisk or two

Mark Foster, Brit sprint specialist, is ANOTHER voice calling for FINA to rollback the record book to when the suits didn't matter nearly as much:

Rip up records: Swimming is a shambles right now, says Foster

Mark Foster, whose international swimming career spanned 20 years, has called for the blizzard of world records in hi-tech swimsuits to be struck from the record books.

'The records have to go back to the end of 2007,' he said. 'It used to be big news every time somebody broke a world record, now every time somebody steps into a pool they break one. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that it's detrimental to the sport.'

[As I noted, I think it would be chaotic to go back that far. The end of the Beijing Olympics is a decent benchmark, as I said in an earlier post.]

By the way, many ladies think Foster is yummy. A few guys (I spelled that right, I think) think so too.

The most notable record-breaker so far, Paul Biedermann, wouldn't mind a special "mark" by his records:

Germany's Paul Biedermann, who beat Phelps in that race, is one of the swimmers who has come under the most scrutiny here, having made massive improvements to his times and taken not only Phelps's world record in the 200m freestyle but that of Ian Thorpe in the 400m freestyle.

Biedermann has accepted it would be a good thing if the governing body, FINA, put some sort of indicator in the record books. 'I don't have a problem with having my world records being marked,' he said. For Foster, though, that would not be enough and he is fiercely critical of the governing body for letting things get out of hand.
Roll back the record book. It's nearly as meaningless right now as it was for the women when the East German steroid-amplified uberFrauen were competing.

Warm the Arctic, warm the planet

Warming up the Arctic invokes a number of positive feedbacks that will cause further warming. The reduction in sea ice reduces the polar albedo and instead of the ice reflecting sunlight back into space, the dark waters of the exposed ocean absorb it, warming the waters further, melting more ice and making it harder for it to refreeze. 1st-year ice rebounds in the winter won't make up the difference in this cycle.

Next up: warming the permafrost. This releases more CO2 to the atmosphere, as shown in an about-to-be-published study:

Arctic CO2 Fueling Fierce Global Warming Cycle

The European researchers, led by Ellen Dorrepaal of the University of Amsterdam, artificially warmed plots of natural peatlands in Abisko, in northern Sweden, by 1.0 C over an eight year time period. They found the plots released an extra 60 percent of CO2 in Spring and 52 percent in Summer over the entire period.

"Climate warming therefore accelerates respiration of the extensive, subsurface carbon reservoir in peatlands to a much larger extent than previously thought," the AFP news agency quoted the researchers as saying.

The study’s findings underscore the intense sensitivity of northern peatland carbon reservoirs to climate change, and the peril of a "positive feedback" cycle in which the CO2 released into the atmosphere fuels additional global warming.

OH Great.

The Kid in the Pacific

Does it have staying power? Don't know, but here's a view of El Niño in the Pacific in late July:

Can Monaco make a bluefin tuna fishing ban stick?

But first: an acronym. LAPOA -- Lake Arrowhead Property Owner's Association.

Moving on...

Monaco seeks global bluefin tuna trade ban

"Monaco has tabled a proposal to place Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna on the list of the world's most endangered species in a move that could ban international trade of the fish." Why? "Now, according to a draft proposal put forward by Monaco with CITES, the UN agency against illegal wildlife trade, stocks are so fragile that the species should be classified as being at threat of extinction. "At this stage we believe that the time for CITES to intervene is long overdue," Monaco said in its submission.
"This measure wouldn't imply a ban on fisheries but it will eliminate the main cause of overfishing: high sushi and sashimi market demand of countries such as Japan or United States," said Maria Jose Cornax, a marine scientist at Oceana, an environmental group specialising on marine life."

Remember: turkey sushi tastes good.

This move would set a dramatic precedent, but the vote isn't until March. If you three people reading my blog care, write letters of support for the U.S. to vote for this proposal. Start with the Commerce Secretary and head of NOAA, Jane Lubchenco.

It can work: World's fisheries at risk of collapse, but recovery is possible: study

"Several regions in the United States, Iceland and New Zealand have made significant progress in rebuilding stocks devastated by decades of overfishing through careful management strategies.

But the study, published in the journal Science, found that 63 percent of assessed fish stocks worldwide require rebuilding to reverse the collapse of vulnerable species.

"Across all regions, we are still seeing a troubling trend of increasing stock collapse," said lead author Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhousie University.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nuclear news for Jordan

Jordan seeks to join nuclear club of energy exporters

"If everything goes well, the reactor will be built in 2013 with a capacity of 1,000 megawatt, which will cover 25 percent of electricity generated. The exploitation of nuclear power generation is expected in 2017 or 2018," he said."

Well, if things don't work out here, I could move there...

A quick silverback update

Flavio Briatore, Italian owner of the Renault Formula One team, businessman with a lot of interests and a lot of money; also the father of Heidi Klum's first child. He moved on rather quickly from Heidi (maybe it was a language thing) and got married to one-and-some Elisabetta Gregoraci. Judge from the titles of the articles how that's going.

Flavio Briatore's wife shows off her bikini body on honeymoon...

Flavio Briatore enjoys ANOTHER holiday with model wife... but who can blame him?

Flavio Briatore's wife gets back to the day job; sunning herself in stunning bikinis on the beach

Thanks to the Daily Mail for keeping up with this important news.

Next up: ultimate silverback George Clooney.

Calls for swimming record rescindment

Yesterday I suggested FINA rollback the world records to end of the Beijing Olympics and start over. Some real sports writers had the same idea:

Super outfits show fairness is not swimming's strong suit

"It's not Biedermann's fault that FINA, swimming's international governing body, made a serious mistake by not banning all "wardrobe doping" last year, well before the Beijing Games, before the sport's record book became little more than a science fiction novel.

FINA says it will ban ultra-fast bodysuits next year. No polyurethane will be allowed. Only "textiles," a word that is yet to be defined by FINA.

But it's too late.

The sport already is in turmoil, its record book dominated by outrageously fast times that almost certainly will be untouchable for years to come after the ban takes effect. Unless the sport sets aside all records starting with the LZR, which would include all those times you cheered from the Beijing Olympics, great young swimmers coming up now might go an entire career without approaching a world record.

Swimming is sounding a lot like Major League Baseball these days, which is not necessarily a good development. Asterisks, anyone?"

More perspectives:

Does DeScenza gain or lose by her world record? Suit yourself

"The backlash against the suits has forced FINA to go back to the future, and it seems likely that few of the records set in 2008 and 2009 by swimmers in Speedo, Jaked or Arena suits will be broken for years to come by swimmers in all-textile suits. Even Phelps, who set plenty of world records without the LZR, will be hard pressed to lower the times he has clocked with it.

FINA now can choose to return to the records as of Jan. 1, 2008; put asterisks next to any records set after that; or simply leave the current records as is. All those choices make FINA look stupid -- which is an accurate reflection of the only quality the international federation has displayed unequivocally regarding the swimsuit issue."

A Mere Mortal in these Advanced Times

"A new FINA rule will say that from now on suits must be made from "textiles." But that hardly remedies the situation in Rome, where swimmers are screaming with outrage over the bizarre times, such as Biedermann's 1 minute 42 seconds flat in the 200, a record that may never be equaled. Swimming great Dawn Fraser has labeled the meet a "laughingstock." Biedermann himself admitted after rocketing past Thorpe's mark in the 400: "I expected someone to break the world record. I didn't expect it to be me," and estimated the suit was worth two full seconds."

Swimming at the moment is just a matter of what you're wearing. We all want to see records, but if they're broken in every heat, and anyone can swim alongside a Phelps, then what is the value of a race?
I hope a drumbeat arises for this. No one is calling for the winners to give up their medals. But make a record mean something again, FINA.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A suggestion for FINA

Swimming's World Championships 2009 are a joke, a mockery, a sideshow. The same thing has been done this year to the sport through "technology" (otherwise known as just adding buoyancy to swimsuits) as was done to the sport by the East German and then Chinese women through steroids -- made it sad to watch. World Records are meaningless. Sadly, Dara Torres has to live through this twice (actually, more like three times, her career stretches back to the last of the East German sham and through the Chinese rise and fall).

But the athletes who win and set records now are only doing what good athletes should do -- trying to win. A few like Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps have taken a stand and aren't wearing the newest cheating suits, and hoping FINA will get it's act together quickly. I hope so too.

But here's where FINA has a problem. The records were set under the existing rules. And they are ridiculous records.

In track-and-field, legitimate WRs are only set when the wind is lower than a certain speed. If the wind is higher, the time gets recorded, but is labeled "wind-aided". Everybody is on the same page, weather-wise.

Post-Worlds, FINA should immediately label any record set by an athlete wearing the Jaked or the X-glide or any suit younger than the Speedo LZR as "suit-aided", and rewrite the record books back to Beijing. Now, I'd actually be tempted to tell them to disqualify the LZR too, but so many athletes were wearing it in Beijing, and the records being broken seemed still reasonable, that the sport at the time of the 2008 Olympics should set the baseline.

Baseball suffered when steroid-pumped sluggers launched moon shots nightly. Track suffered when Ben Johnson and FloJo (yes, I'm sure she did) and Marion Jones lapped the field in the 100-meter dash. The Tour de France is still recovering from the doping scandals of the last several years (and I still want to know if Floyd Landis was using testosterone???). We suffered when an Irish pretender on PEDs named Michelle Smith beat the incredible Janet Evans. And both Jenny Thompson and Shirley Babashoff deserve individual gold medals that were stolen by cheaters.

FINA, you've been here before. Get it right this time. At least this time you don't have to take away the medals. Of course, that's what you should have done to the drug cheats. This time, set a reasonable standard for suits, label the recent WRs for what they are -- ludicrous -- and put the sport back where it belongs; one of the cleanest, purest, and most challenging in the sporting world.

Sometimes you just say "Wow!"

No, this is not a post about Miranda Kerr. (slight caution advised)

It's about a newly discovered feature in space monikered the "Soap Bubble Nebula".

It's a planetary nebula.

It's diaphanous, fragile, vulnerable, angelic, ethereal, transcendent, mostly transparent, special, unique, untouchably lovely, exquisite, gentle, soft, perfectly curved, delicate, delightful, illusional, a vision beyond our wildest dreams of the possible (and again, this isn't about Miranda).

See what I mean here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just for reference

Below is Swimming World's International News page. Check back about every 15 minutes to read about another swimsuit-aided world record.

I'll be glad when this meet is over and they can try to get back to actual swimming rather than flotation-aided swimming.

International Swimming News

McLean, de Freitas, Carter paper update

This particular news article on the McLean, de Freitas, and Carter Journal of Geophysical Research paper was fairly well-written:

Global warming view under attack

"New Zealand climate change scientists are already criticising the paper, questioning the data and the conclusions.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) principal climate scientist James Renwick said the international science community would be working on responses.

"This one's not going to go away in a hurry," he said.

"Regardless of what is actually said, one thing that bugs me is this is going to be held up by the standard climate change sceptics saying, `Oh, this has been published and demonstrates global warming is rubbish', and it doesn't demonstrate that at all."

New Zealand climate change scientist Jim Salinger said there was little new in the conclusions on the impact of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which would not change the way most people thought about climate change.

"Others have done work showing that after increases in greenhouse gases the ENSO is the next most important factor in variability. So their result doesn't surprise me."

Salinger got that right.

Lots of good discussion at the RealClimate Friday Round-up

Grab bags are lazy posts

OK, as I said, grab bags are lazy posts. And so I'm doing a grab bag.

Girl of the day (international birdwatching):

1. Myleene Klass

Had a long a varied career (for a young woman) -- most famous for being on I'm a Celebrity -- Get Me Out of Here, where she was frequently seen in a bikini; got so pent-up for male companionship of an intimate kind for three weeks (oK, like that's a hardship), once she came home she immediately got with her boyfriend and got pregnant.

A couple of image highlights:

Cleavage and diamonds

One of numerous bikini pictures

2. World-record kayak drop

I don't condone this kind of thing because it very often would lead to getting killed, but the pictures are impressive (and someday I'd like to visit this place and the region around it).

3. Great shot of the Jupiter impact site from the refurbished Hubble

4. Dust devils on Mars

I hadn't seen this animation before. (Find the link in the article.)

5. This was totally not a surprise:

Dean Sheremet and LeAnn Rimes marriage split

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cricket and swimming

Minor sports news (at least minor sports in the U.S. of A.)

Cricket: England beat Australia in a Test Match at Lord's last week. This is the first time that England has beaten Australia in a Test match at Lords in 75 years. This is the "Ashes" series; the winner gets to keep an urn with ashes in it. Nobody's exactly sure what the Ashes were before they were burned to become Ashes. Great pitching, er, hurling, er, bowling from Freddie Flintoff. Freddie behaved himself after the match with his wife (WAG) Rachael. (But she says she's not a typical WAG.) England is hoping to take the Ashes series; Australia has dominated it.

England leads 1-0; the first match (I think that's the right word) was an exciting draw.

Next match is Thursday, July 30, at Edgbaston (I don't know how that's pronounced). Flintoff has a knee injury and is day-to-day (as they say here in the States) and one of their best batsman is out with an Achilles tendon injury. Aside from the fact that it's cricket, injuries to stars are still critical to a team's success.

More of Rachael (totally safe).


Swimming: World records dropping everywhere at the World Championships, including Thorpedo's "untouchable" 400-meter freestyle. Thankfully, FINA finally woke up and is going to ban a lot of these suits -- which I think should leave these records in Limbo.

U.S. 4x100 meter freestyle (with Phelps) won; big upset. How'd they do that?

Day 1 summary from Swimming World

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Watershed: the McLean, de Freitas, and Carter paper

I've been thinking quite a bit about the very recently published McLean, de Freitas, and Carter paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. (Put those three names in a Google search and watch the search results explode.) Both the underlying and visible animosity between the climate change obfuscatori (the skeptics) and climate change cognoscenti is on full display on the blogs. The speed at which this paper has gotten out, gotten word, and gotten thoroughly lambasted is astonishing, even in this era of the Internet.

And it's just getting started. I expect the paper to be exhibit 1 (or at least 1A) when the Senate takes up Waxman-Markey. There's a reason I think that. The Inhofe drumbeat has been that "growing numbers of scientists" are "dissenting" or "debunking" or other such malarkey the scientific underpinnings of climate change. (See here, which has "Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists.") This paper takes that as far as it can in attempting to cast doubt on the climate influence of anthropogenic CO2; mainly through subtle comments in the Conclusions that are apparenty unmerited (I could also say groundless) by what's actually done in the paper. Over on Tamino's "Open Mind" blog, where the first critical lambasting of the paper was performed, it appears that 1st author John McLean attempted to defend the paper, leading to this final comment in reply from Tamino:

Let's "duke it out" in the peer-reviewed literature, shall we? Expect a comment on your paper to appear soon in JGR. I can hardly wait to see how you'll respond there. [Yeah, neither can I, but...]

... the problem is, what if the paper isn't wrong? I mean, what's wrong about it is not the methodology or the results, but actually those subtle comments in the Conclusions, which Carter amplified in the press releases about the paper -- the press releases which have been gobbled up by the skeptical blogosphere, as well as media sympathetic to the skeptical snake-oil. Can a refutation article be written about subtle comments in the Conclusions when the paper's results (which show a lagging influence on global temperature from the ENSO state of the Pacific Ocean) are probably reasonably accurate? I get a sense from some of what Tamino says:

The fact that the method used in McLean et al. removes all effect of trend from the result isn't the *only* problem with this paper. The methodology greatly inflates the correlation between SOI and global temperature, so much so that it gives a ludicrous estimate of the degree of influence of SOI on global temperature.

that there's enough wrong with the paper to justify the rebuttal article and get it published. But I'm not sure. And if JGR somehow disallows rebuttal articles to the paper, then the paper will end up being a triumph for the skeptics.

On the other hand, if it goes down in flames, it will be a fairly good example of the kind of biased-science-leading-to-biased- (and heavily-hyped) conclusions that is being practiced by a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very small number of actual practicing scientists who are somewhat qualified to publish in the field of climate science.

All I can say right now is: Fascinating. Pass me the popcorn.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Good news for nuke power in Japan

Good news for the nuclear power industry in Japan; the news hadn't been so good for awhile. Japan is one example that shows an industrialized nation can get a significant amount of energy from non-fossil fuel sources and still be competitive; alert Sarah Palin, willya?

Japan reactor gets go-ahead

Two years after it shut down following an earthquake, the world's largest nuclear station has won approval from the Japanese government to commercially operate one of its seven reactors.

Other short excerpts from this article:

Tokyo Electric has posted losses since the plant's closure two years ago, forcing it to switch to more expensive fossil fuels. In the first quarter of this year, Tokyo Electric's power sales to industrial users dropped 5.8 percent.

and this important point, which seems fairly astonishing to the burn-as-you-go crowd:

Japan currently depends on 55 nuclear reactors for 30 percent of its electricity.

Getting the Kashiwazaki Kariwa station back online completely is a very important step to maintain the vitality of nuclear power as a fossil fuel (which I also like to call the "dead-end fuel") alternative.

It's a very clean and lovely site, if you're into things like this (one has to get used to my aesthetic sensibilities of an energetic kind):

Endangered or not? A power of 10 makes a difference

Prefacing this: there's no doubt that the clouded leopard is an endangered species. But reading the following article makes it seem less so, despite what the article says:

Bangladesh rare leopard renews hopes for species survival

Bangladeshi conservationists said Thursday the discovery of a rare leopard captured by villagers in the southeast of the country renewed hopes for the survival of the critically endangered species. Professor Anwarul Islam, chief executive of Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh, said the three-month-old clouded leopard cub had been released back into the wild.

(I hate to say it, but they probably should have given the cub to a zoo. How good are the chances of survival of a three-month old cub in the jungle?)

There are two statements in this article. One is a caption, the other is from the text. They both read like this, verbatim:

The clouded leopard is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with 100,000 of the species believed to still be living worldwide.

Now, 100,000 doesn't seem so bad; actually, that seems like a LOT of clouded leopards. It didn't take long to determine that the actual estimated number is 10,000, noting that the secretive nature of the clouded leopard makes it hard to make an accurate estimate.

That's actually a pretty important fact for the article to be newsworthy; somebody should have caught it.

Whale baby needs a spank

Pictured: 'Holy grail' of whale research as mother lifts her newborn out of the water to take its very first breath

The moment a mother humpback whale gently helps her newborn calf to take its very first breath has been captured on camera. The rare event is described as the 'Holy Grail' for whale-watchers. Marine scientists said they watched in astonishment as the mother swam beneath the distressed baby and lifted it above the water, clearing its blowhole to take in air.

Good to see the tyke swimming and breathing at the same time (there's a video at the linked article). Took him a couple of minutes to get it right. Took me about 13 years!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two demonstrations of gravity from the outer planets

Demonstration 1: The Jupiter gravity well has drawn another asteroid or comet to its doom in the striped and swirling clouds of Jupiter's atmosphere:

Credit: Paul Kalas (UCB), Michael Fitzgerald (LLNL/UCB), Franck Marchis (SETI Institute/UCB), James Graham (UCB)

Demonstration 2: Saturn's moon Pan manipulates the F-ring gravitically:

To see this process in action, as captured by the amazing Cassini mission:

Soft Collision

Four examples of 3 by 3 (and a note about Cheryl Cole)

My post on Ulrika Jonsson made me wonder about women who had borne multiple children by multiple fathers. Now, researching this revealed, unsurprisingly, that this happens far too often to non-celebrities under conditions of deprivation/poverty, addiction, or abuse (of several kinds). I'm not attempting to celebrate, neither am I trying to glorify the woman who've done this. In fact, I think it's a little strange; they seem to be trying to obtain something that they repeatedly aren't finding.

Certainly my first other example of Christie Brinkley proves that money -- and more than extraordinary beauty -- and showing the commitment of love by bearing a man's child -- didn't seem to work for her. And one has to wonder about the men, too (particularly Christie's bastard of a third husband) -- is possession nine-tenth's of the moral law, meaning that once you've proven you can get an uber-hottie, now you have to prove something else? Add to that the basic volatility of relationships when the well-known and well-heeled date each other, and there's a unusual pattern.

Anyhow, here are other examples of women/celebrities who have borne three children by three fathers

- Erykah Badu (children with Jay Electronica, D.O.C., and Andre 3000 -- I don't think those are the names on their birth certificates)

- Melanie Griffith (Stephen Bauer, Don Johnson, and Antonio Banderas; note also that Johnson has five kids with 3 women)

- British novelist Mary Wesley

- The final example is rather interesting, and dates from the 19th century:
Sarah Fairbrother

Sarah Fairbrother was a dancer and actress, and according to the one source quoted in the article above, "considered the most lovely woman of her time". (Which could be applied to Christie Brinkley in her prime, too.)

Sarah had two children with two men, and then became the mistress of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, a male line grandson of George III. (Links courtesy of Wikipedia). She had three children with Prince George. She actually married him eventually, even though it wasn't a legal marriage according to the "getting married to blue bloods" rules in effect at the time. By the way, the Prince also had another mistress. I guess it can be said about the ultra-rich, royal, and ultra-famous -- the regular rules don't apply.

Thus endeth my foray into the unusual world of the "3 by 3" celebrity mothers. One hopes that despite the vagaries of love and fertility, that they enjoyed the ride -- and hopefully found some measure of comfort in the lives of their children.

Now, about the scrumpdillyishus (that's Brit-speak for "lusciously, magnetically, adorably lovely) Cheryl Cole:

After she has a child by Ashley and that relationship ends (I just don't see it going the distance), and then she has a child with me, and then she finds true love after our brief but passionate fling, she'll join the 3x3's too. (Right.) Just kidding. Had to make a link to that article about Cheryl somehow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A long happy and fulfilled life

Mike the sea lion dies of heart failure after marathon mating session at German zoo

"The mammal, named Mike who was originally from California [OK, well what do you expect from a surfer seal], was already a father of 12.

He passed away yesterday after an extended session with the females at the park in Nuremberg proved too much for his heart.

Mike - described as 'good-natured' by the zoo - had mated repeatedly with females Farah, Tiffy and Soda. [You can tell those girls are trouble already.]

A bit further down:

'Mating season is a common time for fatalities when bulls often stop eating for days to devote themselves fully to mating.

'For sea lion bulls with a harem this is the most exhausting time.'

Let that be a warning to you, Bryan Ferry. And all you other silverbacks out there.

Another acronym


Asian-Americnan Golf Association [sic] or Asian-Amercian Golf Association [sic] (Google it and see)

African-American Golf Association

Arts Administration Graduate Association (Drexel University, if you need to know)

Attleboro Area Golf Association

Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates

Arizona Auto Glass Association &
American Auto Glass Alliance (at least they aren't an Association)

All-Around Gymnastics Academy (in Ohio)

African-American Graduate Association (Virginia Commonwealth U., and I imagine probably a few other universities)

Apartment Association of Greater Augusta

Asociación Argentina de Galerías de Arte

Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Defining love and luck and lucky

Second in a series on international birdwatching, this article concerns a Swedish woman living (and loving) in the UK with a past, present, and future named Ulrika Jonsson.

Ulrika Jonsson (Wikipedia)

A short summary is in order: Ulrika Jonsson was a cute TV weathergirl, and has gone through a succession of relatively high-profile relationships, which have resulted in four children with four different fathers, three of them from married relationships. (This must make Christmas rather interesting.) She's had a few other relationships that didn't result in children or marriage, but which garnered a few headlines (sex tapes, house-wrecking, the usual stuff). She was even on a TV show in which she analyzed the possibility that she might be a sex addict. (Symptomology indicates a likelihood of that, methinks.) Meanwhile, she also won Celebrity Big Brother in the UK, beating out Latoya Jackson among the other contestants, which allowed her to pocket some cash, which she has very recently put to good use.

Put simply, she's an attractive blonde woman, and she certainly appears to have a modicum of sexual magnetism. Laying the groundwork here, through the course of four pregnancies (and let it be noted that one of her children, daughter Bo, has a serious heart condition), her body has been modified a bit, naturally. To the point that her mammary glands had enlarged to remarkable proportions, i.e., an I cup. After that, in her own words, following post-nursing deflation, she'd be "be left with what can be described only as two ping-pong balls in bin liners."

Not a pretty thought. So wanting to be pretty again, and probably wanting to please husband #3 at least a little bit, she used some of that pocket change to the tune of 11,000 pounds (Sterling) for cosmetic surgery (it was only about 10% of what she won by my calculations).

It appears to have worked (fairly safe, unless bikinis are a problem)

Here's more about that, with more candid pictures (still safe):

Ulrika Jonsson's amazing breast reduction

So anyway: she's had a pretty interesting life, and even she admits it. Despite some problems in her life, she's ended up lucky ("gotten lucky" a few times, too) more often than not. Her life makes an interesting saga. Now one does have to wonder what she's got (and what she needs to get) to have four children with four different men. [The only somewhat similar case that I could think of is Christie Brinkley, three children with three fathers, and Christie too, despite unfathomable gorgeousness, also had some downsides.] So that raises the question: how does Ulrika Jonsson define love and luck? Has she been lucky or unlucky, and can she treat those two impostors just the same?

Well, I can think of one person who is currently counting himself lucky -- at least I hope so -- her current husband. Based on this from the second article:

Prof Kirwan [her reconstructive surgeon] is delighted. He'd always quoted the line: "A beautiful girl is like a red 430 Ferrari: sleek and smooth and makes you want to show everybody she belongs to you." When we last saw him, he told my husband he now had a Ferrari.

Brian [her current husband] replied: "Yes.... and I'm just waiting until I'm allowed to drive it."

I agree with Dr Kirwan: I used to be a Volvo, now I am a Ferrari. And I can't wait to hit the road.


Question for my readership (Hah!) -- how many other celebrity women have gone 3 for 3, or 4 for 4, with regards to children and fathers?

I'm starting to worry a little more about swine flu

From initial reports, swine flu appeared to be a problem, but because it didn't seem any worse than the "regular" flu in terms of severity and health impact, the issue seemed to evolve into a lower level of concern. Even though it graduated to pandemic level.

But now it's "unstoppable" -- and people are dying from it. The problem with that is, people die from the regular flu, too. What's hard to judge is if the rate of dying is any worse from swine flu than regular flu. It may be too early to tell.

Swine flu sweeping world at unprecedented speed

From this article:

"On Thursday, England's chief medical officer Liam Donaldson said that in a worst case scenario, around one in three Britons could be infected and 65,000 could die.

The WHO policy shift was partly motivated by the "mildness of symptoms in the overwhelming majority of patients, who usually recover, even without medical treatment, within a week of the onset of symptoms."
Apparently in the worst-case scenario, 65,000 citizens of the UK wouldn't recover. And that would be obviously tragic for them and their families.

Swine flu pandemic now 'unstoppable': WHO official

From this article:

"While most cases have been considered mild, a study released on Monday said the virus causes more lung damage than ordinary seasonal flu strains but still responds to antiviral drugs."
OK, that's not good, but it doesn't seem too bad. But then there's also this:

"The worry about the present strain of A(H1N1) is that it could pick up genes from other flu strains that would enable it to be both highly virulent and contagious, and these warnings are spelt out in the new study.

"Sustained person-to-person transmission might result in the emergence of more pathogenic variants, as observed in the 1918 pandemic virus," it says.

Another concern is that the virus could acquire mutations enabling it to be resistant to Tamiflu."

None of that is good at all. The next thing to remember is that there a lot fewer people living in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere, and there is going to be more widespread transmission during the Northern Hemisphere winter.

So we have to hope that a good, reliable vaccine that doesn't have a lot of side effects (like death) will be available sooner than later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The 2009 British Open: something nobody else said

I've been reading quite a few articles about The Open Championship (golf), otherwise known as the British Open (over in the U.S., anyway). Tons and tons of articles about how Watson lost it on the 18th, how Stewart Cink got into a playoff with his birdie on the 18th, a lot about the anti-climactic playoff...

It isn't true. Watson didn't lose it on the 18th with a lousy putt, he lost it on the 14th with a nearly-perfect putt of almost the same length that grazed the edge of the hole. And Stewart Cink didn't get into the playoff with a dead solid perfect putt on the 18th that he knew was going in when it was still four feet from the hole, he won it on the 13th with a putt that literally circled the hole and looked like it was going to pop out just before it dropped in. (Cink's knees actually nearly buckled on that one.)

The fact is, many sports are "a game of inches", despite the length of the field or course, or the size of the players. IN golf, though, you can see the inches. Or less. For those two putts, I'd estimate that Watson missed on the 14th (after a very careful and deliberate study, by the way) by half the width of the ball. Same thing for Cink making the birdie on the 13th. So how wide is a regulation golf ball? Well, to be metric about it, a golf ball is about 43 millimeters wide. So that's the difference between winning and losing for Watson and Cink, after hundreds of yards of drives and chips and putts -- 43 millimeters. For others that have difficulty relating to metric measurements, less than 2 inches.

To see what I mean: Sports Center Highlight of the Night

By the way, I still hate ESPN. And some day I'll explain why.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Algal goo might be good for us... or not

On the good side (and knock me over with a spoon that Evvil/Mobil, I mean Exxon/Mobil, is doing this):

Algae get Exxon's big biofuel bet

"Exxon estimates that algae could yield 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre each year. In comparison, palm trees yield 650 gallons and sugar cane 450 gallons. Corn, the most common source of biofuel in the United States, enjoying as it does a federal subsidy, generates only 250 gallons per acre per year. It also takes a considerable additional investment of energy to turn it into ethanol, and it competes for land with food-producing agriculture."

(to which should be added, though: Technology is key for biofuel success)

On the other hand, the following article includes a video of an aerial flyover of the goo (likely algal; I'm suprised that some kind of Phaeocystis hasn't been fingered yet) that's been sighted off Alaska:

Big blobs of mystery goo floating off Alaska's coast

In case you haven't seen this...

... and if you like pretty women, you should.

So that's why Orlando Bloom has asked her to marry him... TWICE: Miranda Kerr models new Victoria's Secret undies
(from the Daily Mail)

Be warned... if you read this article, you might fall in love with Miranda too, or at least something akin to love.

WEW makes another blunderous post on climate change

Walter E. Williams is a fool when it comes to climate change. And his latest article on the subject is further proof:

EPA cover-up

Which says, in part:

"About a week before the House vote on "cap and trade," the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released some EPA e-mails, demonstrating that an internal report by Alan Carlin, a 35-year career EPA analyst, criticizing EPA's position on global warming, had been squelched for political reasons."

and also says:

"The Competitive Enterprise Institute summarizes Dr. Carlin's report saying, "(T)hat EPA, by adopting the United Nations' 2007 'Fourth Assessment' report, is relying on outdated research and is ignoring major new developments. Those developments include a continued decline in global temperatures, a new consensus that future hurricanes will not be more frequent or intense, and new findings that water vapor will moderate, rather than exacerbate, temperature. "New data also indicate that ocean cycles are probably the most important single factor in explaining temperature fluctuations, though solar cycles may play a role as well, and that reliable satellite data undercut the likelihood of endangerment from greenhouse gases."

While WEW is just echoing CEI, partly because he really doesn't know anything about the subject, I should point out a sound refutation of the Carlin "report" online:

and since that came out, there's more here:

More heavy lifting with “suppressed” Alan Carlin

Funny little bit: [Update, July 8: In another astonishing twist, I have just discovered that Marlo Lewis, the National Review columnist whose piece Carlin lifted as discussed below, is - wait for it - a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which just happens to be the right-wing think tank that has been touting the so-called "suppression" of Alan Carlin's report.

Snake biting it's own tail!

“Suppressed” Carlin report based on Patrick Michaels attack on EPA

EPA’s Alan Carlin channels Patrick Michaels and the Friends of Science

The incestuous relationship of pundits, right-wing think-tanks, and pseudoscientific skeptics could not be more obvious than here. WEW is demonstrating abject ignorance of climate by continuing to post second-, third-, and fourth-hand redigested malodorous effluence from other sources.

It's really simple, Walter: ten years of data isn't enough. I could explain that to you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Josie Bissett is still really, really, really cute

I saw Josie Bissett (ex-Jane) on a potboiler movie that was dated 2008, and despite the quality of the overall film (maybe 1.5 stars out of 5), she looked pretty good -- and still wore some nice tight jeans. Found out more on her Web site.

Found out even more from an E! interview from last November. I didn't realize she and Rob Estes had broken up (i.e., divorced). This means I might still have a chance, since Abbey Clancy isn't a possibility right now.

She's also going to appear on the new version of "Melrose Place" (CW).

Smooth skin, devastating smile, perfectly balanced features, great bod, apparently a fine mother I'd like to -- I won't go another further with that, but... maybe she won't mind a little free advertising for her most recent children's book so I can demonstrate what I mean.

Unlikely, but... what would you do?

Several years ago, I was driving home and glimpsed a daytime bolide. If you don't know what it is, it's a fireball in the sky -- a very bright meteor. Several other people saw it too -- it was reported on the evening news.

I was thinking back about that when I remembered that I had posted about the asteroid impact prediction -- the one over the Sudan where recently they were able to recover pieces of the impactor. I mentioned that in this post. (Here's another article about it, with pictures of what was found.)

So I was thinking about that today as I was driving. And I wondered: "What would I do if I suddenly saw a BIG fireball -- maybe even heard it, a sonic boom -- and knew that it was going to be big enough to hit and cause damage?"

Maybe not this much damage:

but sufficiently large enough to be noticed.

I imagine that I would probably slam on the brakes, pull to the side of the road, and first try to figure out where it was going (or if it had hit within a distance where I could see any effects). Then I'd turn on the radio to whatever news station might be saying something. Then I'd try to get home as fast as possible to get on the Internet to see if any reports were coming on, or special reports on TV, etc.

I guess the situation would be similar to the people who saw the 9/11 impacts, or who have been involved in a major earthquake. The difference here is that you wouldn't know for sure what had happened, at least not immediately. Maybe the asteroid just ended up like the one in Forest Park, Illinois -- broke some windows, punched through some ceilings, and ended up getting a couple of people at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum very excited.

Or maybe it was bigger. Living around here, maybe it ended up making a big steaming splash in the Chesapeake Bay.

Now, I regret that I don't have any readers, because I'd like to know -- what would YOU do if it happened?

Because they do happen -- all the time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why Sarah Palin is wrong (along with a lot of other critics of cap-and-trade)

Sarah Palin, supposedly, said this (in part) in the Washington Post:

"There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy."

Meanwhile, in Europe, they are planning for the future:

Sahara to Europe solar power plan gets warm welcome

"The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) is powered by 12 mostly German companies from engineering, energy and finance sectors but has also won support from groups in Algeria and Spain and from officials in Egypt and Jordan.

The project, scheduled for completion in 2050, would see solar power generators span North Africa and the Middle East to Saudi Arabia, with the electricity generated shared by producer countries and European partners."

But what about cars, trucks, buses, transportation in general?

The Fuel of the Future is Grassoline (this is a draft; the final version is on newsstands now)

"Huge amounts of cellulosic biomass can be sustainably harvested to produce fuel. According to an upcoming study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy, the U.S. can produce at least 1.3 billion dry tons of cellulosic biomass every year, and all without decreasing the amount of biomass available for our food, animal feed or exports. This much biomass could produce more than 100 billion gallons per year of grassoline, or about half the current annual consumption of gasoline and diesel in the U.S. Similar projections estimate that the global supply of cellulosic biomass has an energy content equivalent to between 34 billion to 160 billion barrels of oil per year, numbers that exceed the world’s current annual consumption of 30 billion barrels of oil."

That's why Palin is (and a vast majority of all the other critics are) wrong. Cap-and-trade forces energy suppliers to stop thinking about the wasteful and unsustainable methods and sources of the past and to start thinking about converting to the future. The progressive steps force conversion to those sources of energy that are not wasteful, less polluting (yes, excess CO2 is a pollutant just like excess fat in your diet isn't good for you) and which can get us off the disaster-in-the-making path we're on.

Of course I should mention there's probably a place for nuclear energy in the mix, but part of the problem with nuclear is the prohibitive cost of new plants and another part of the problem is the operational lifetime of existing plants, both of which I'm examining. The on-the-horizon goal is a cheaper, simpler-to-build plant with double the lifetime. Nobody said it would be easy.

Do I like cap-and-trade because it might force a switch to nuclear energy? NO, I like cap-and-trade because it's the first step in moving away from the way the world currently creates energy for a technological society, which can't continue, both for environmental and basic economic/technical reasons. Ms. Palin and her ilks wants to burn-baby-burn until that cost becomes prohibitively expensive, and then start to look for alternatives. The time to start looking for, looking at, researching, developing, and implementing alternatives is now, not a "then" 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years in the future.

Think I'm wrong? How many typewriter repairmen do you know that still make a living at it?

[This is not to say that Waxman-Markey is a great bill; it's certainly not what will pass the Senate. But it dictates action, and no longer allows us to sucking our collective societal thumbs whilst sitting in a shrinking pool of noxious oil, wondering what to do with ourselves.

This is what they say at the end of the Scientific American article:

"Indeed, if we maintain our current national commitment to move beyond oil, we will see an explosive growth in cellulosic biofuels over the next five to 15 years as biomass conversion technologies move from the laboratory to commercial scale. This move towards grassoline will fundamentally change the world. It is a move that is now long overdue."
Get your pretty ass out of the way before it gets run over by a lawn mower, Sarah.

As if there was ever a chance...

Abigail Clancy is officially (at this point in time) off the market.

Abbey Clancy and England striker Peter Crouch announce their engagement

Well, that just means we'll have to simply think about it:

There's also a photo shoot video on YouTube. Not difficult to find.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is climate-related, too

India's Lake Palace becomes Mud Palace, as drought takes its toll on the romantic resort

I couldn't find a still from "Octopussy" that shows the palace -- you'll have to watch the movie. Instead, here's the opening credit sequence. Listen to the lyrics. Closely.

Agent R Entertainment James Bond Month: Octopussy OT

That might not be climate-related, though.

Resources on the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Due to a new paper on the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) published in Nature Geoscience, I decided to try making a compendium of Web articles about it. The Wikipedia article has quite a few of the published references; this is more about "public consumption" articles.

So I'll start with the Wikipedia article:

Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum at Absolute

Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum at Chemistry Daily

Past global warming suggests massive temperature shift in our future

Massive climate change rocked ecosystems, animals 55 million years ago

Ocean Burps and Climate Change?

Studies of ancient climates suggest Earth is now on a fast track to global warming

Could Human CO2 Emissions Cause Another PETM?

The PETM in Review (link is to a PDF)

PETM at Weather Underground

Ancient Warming Caused Huge Spike in Temps, Study Says

The following article is in Nature Geoscience; I read it at the library. To get them online requires a subscription.

Kick-starting ancient warming

The following has a short summary of the paper, but the link to the press release is wrong. The press release is about the just-published Nature Geoscience paper.

More evidence of PETM Methane Release

As an additional reference, the following FABULOUS PDF of a Powerpoint presentation mostly on ocean acidification mentions the same paper (second slide). It's from the University of Washington -- wish I knew who wrote it so I could give credit.

Ocean Acidification presentation

Is African drought related to La Niña?


Here's the deal. La Niña is basically over, but its effects might be teleconnected to other parts of the planet. Africa has been hit with drought. Is it La Niña related? Well, both the drought locations and precipitation distribution seem to fit the pattern.

Drought in Africa

El Niño and La Niña: Impacts and Predictions

One example of ENSO’s global climate impact is its link to December-February rainfall in Mozambique and south east Africa. During La Niña periods, south east Africa experiences a higher likelihood of excess rainfall, and floods. And this is exactly what happened in this region from 1998-2001.

Compare this predicted pattern (you can click it to see it on a white background):

to the precipitation (top) and drought (bottom) patterns for June. These are from the Earth Observatory article linked above. In the top image, blue is higher-than-normal precip, brown is lower than normal. Southeast Africa is wet, just like in the prediction. In the bottom image, brown is abnormally dry vegetation, green is greener-than-normal. Note the intense brownness to the east of Lake Victoria and the Rift Valley lakes, just about the same as the prediction.

Astute readers, if there are any, will note that the images below are for June and the predictions are for December-January. Well, La Niña conditions weren't really gone until April. So I submit there's some persistence here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's summer; wear your sunscreen

The following is a public service announcement. Sunscreen should be applied to exposed areas of the body when visiting the local water park. Illustrated by:

I'm talking about the gentleman who is second from the left, of course.

Seawater is what's in the ocean, right?

Seawater most of us think is the salty wet stuff that we swim in on ocean beaches (and which fills the ocean basins to the brim). Science defines it by measure of salinity, and apparently they have got to be very precise about it.

Science adopts a new definition of seawater

So what does pure seawater look like?

The Christmas Kid is back; but will it last through winter?

"The Christmas Kid" (aka El Niño) has been identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as now present in the Pacific Ocean. This is interesting; there has been considerable comment that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in a cool phase, during which El Niño conditions and events are less common. Furthermore, this El Niño follows hard on the heels of a pretty strong La Niña, which has exerted a cooling spell on the globe, particularly on parts of North America.

All of which has gotten the global warming skeptics pretty close to orgasmic ecstasy.

Now, if you go to this link to Real Climate (also in the post below), there's a guest post by author Kyle Swanson (of Swanson and Tsonis 2009) in which they try to get a handle on the "pause in warming" [his term] of the past few years. One thing they do in this paper and mentioned in the guest post is to make the bold prediction that there might not be a new planetary temperature record until the year 2020.

Actually, that's not quite what he says. Here's what he really says, with an emphasis on one word added by me:

"If this hypothesis is correct, the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020."
Aha. Consistent. Meaning every few years. Which doesn't mean there won't be a new global mean temperature record before then. And when are new global mean temperature records most likely to happen???

During El Niño years, of course. So the real question right now is if this kid has staying power. To make it happen, the warm conditions in the Pacific have to last through winter and well into 2010. They might make 2009 warm enough to set a record, but there's an atmospheric lag, which is why the planet has stayed a bit cool even as La Niña dissipated. So 2010 has the best chance if the Pacific stays warmer than normal into summer (or even late spring) 2010.

So here's a couple of articles about the current state of Pacifical affairs:

El Niño arrives in Pacific for a months-long stay

Climate scientists warn of wild weather in the year ahead as El Niño begins

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

And the current (as of Monday July 13, 2009) sea surface temperature anomalies:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welco-me back

If you were noticing (nobody was), there was a substantial posting gap on this unread blog. Even though no one reads this, I try to maintain a semblance of having readers by continuing to post here. I must be attracting lots of spider hits now, because my hit count keeps climbing even when I'm not posting anything new.

Anyway, had a smallish computer problem and no time to fix it. Meanwhile, after predicting that a Serena-Venus Wimbledon final would be boring (it was) and that a Federer-Roddick final would be mercilessly boring -- it wasn't -- what an amazing effort! Roddick can now sympathize with Andre Agassi; go an entire match in a Grand Slam tournament without losing your serve and lose. Agassi did that with Sampras at the 2001 U.S. Open; I think he won one tiebreaker and lost three [confirmed: 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 7-6(2), 7-6(5) Sampras in the quarters]. And Roddick loses serve ONCE and loses the match? Federer loses serve more than Roddick? It's incomprehensible. Had Roddick done what had been expected, which was lose quickly in straight sets, it wouldn't have been agonizing for fans of the underdog and the big upset like me. I read an article about the match where the author wondered about the psychological damage done to fans during a tense sports event (You Think You're Hurting, Andy R. What About Me?) -- I can emphathize directly with that. Roddick deserved to win, but he didn't. So did Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open (golf) last year. So did Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the 1995 Wimbledon women's final (Perhaps the greatest game of them all) -- but at least Arantxa got a couple of majors from Steffi elsewhere, still Graf denied here on the grass. The great ones become great by virtue of a winning a couple more points or making one more basket or sinking one more putt than the also-rans. [And I hope Roddick has it in him to get one more major, just like I was glad Greg Norman, despite his ability to come up with creative ways to lose, won two British Opens]. There are many other examples. Upsets are notable for what they represent -- the dominant player or team expected to win gets surprised, and so do sports fans. (Think Misty Hyman in the 200 butterfly final at Sydney in 2000, or the "Gross-busters" 1984 800 meter free relay final in Los Angeles in 1984. I had to toss in a minor sport just to keep things fair.)

Now, I have accumulated a whole bunch of stuff that I'm going to try to disgorge over the next several days. So I'll work quickly. Hopefully in the background I can also complete some of my longer projects. Three for today:

1. Leann, Martina, and Julianne in Shape. Julianne Hough is thoroughly and lip-smackingly eye-catching on grocery store newstands, but the surprise is the inside shot of the three singers: Martina McBride looks spectacular with roughly 15 more years and two kids than the youngsters. The three tummies are wonderful to behold. (Country's Angels: Julianne, Martina, and LeeAnn). Though I must say I saw the pics of LeAnn and Eddie Cibrian apparently trysting in a hotel and a restaurant, about which LeAnn says: "I've been in the tabloids recently too, and it's been really hard for me" [they reported she was romantically linked to her married Northern Lights co-star, Eddie Cibrian]. I think there was a little more to it than that: LeAnn Rimes: Caught in an Affair. Do tell.

2. What to do if you're Mark Sanford: How to be a Sex-Crazed Politician and Survive. Excerpt: "People who argue that politicians who screw around on their wives only prove that they don’t have the requisite character to hold public office don’t know what they’re talking about. Lack of character in one area of your life doesn’t create some kind of slippery slope into another. That’s like arguing a bank robber is likely to commit pedophilia. Point this out, if necessary, by saying that whatever private difficulties you’re facing really have nothing to do with your job, and you’d appreciate being left alone to get on with it."

3. Two conservative know-very-little pundits get it wrong belittling climate change:
Example A: The Empirical President Excerpt: "Leave aside for the moment that following a (mere) 30-year warming trend, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001;" That's the wrong way look at it, Mona; refer to RealClimate (and you might have a gander at the Mooney & Kirshenbaum tome on scientific illiteracy and how it's really screwing up our ability to talk sensibly about this issue) - Warming Interrupted: Much Abo About Natural Variabilty, in which our heroes the authors take to task the multiple misrepresentations of their work on award-winning "scientific" blogs, and a lot of other non-award-winning, not-even-close-to-being scientific blogs.

Example B: Meghan McCain Excerpt: "While few people acknowledge it now, John McCain was also a media darling. He, too, embraced trendy liberal causes like global warming and campaign finance reform." Viewing global warming as a "trendy liberal cause" is an example of a ditzy conservative babe pundit with blinders on who wouldn't understand the difference between how CO2 and H20 behave with regards to climate if you had a year to explain it to her. Sorry, honey Herzog, your opinions are fluff, even if you are an Ashley.

I actually managed to get two more links into this than I expected. It's going to be a fun week, spiders. And there's one more amazingly good piece of news for my area and industry, so I'll get one more lick, er, link in here:

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Energy Facility Gets Final Approval

Yay. Adressing climate change will require multiple slices of pie.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Watching Wimbledon

Will Wimbledon be a case of same old, same old? Interesting possibilities are still possible. Can Safina manage her Grand Slam nerves and prevent another boring (sorry, but it is, because the crowd can't figure out who to cheer for) Williams vs. Williams sister act? I hope so. Serena is mercurial; on any given day she can beat anyone, but on any given day her A-game might just not be there.

Men's side: kudos to Tommy Haas for keeping up his "I nearly upset Roger Federer and I'm engaged to a hot girlfriend [Sara Foster*]" pace. I don't expect him to continue, because look who's going to be across the net again in the Wimby semi? Federer is looking like his usual nearly unbeatable self -- which is why I could hope desperately for a Haas pulls an enormous upset scenario, and Murray takes out Roddick, setting up a Murray-Haas final. Probably not going to happen. More likely is a Murray vs. Fed final; if that happens, the British stiff upper lip tradition had better be ready to handle another disappointment in the ultimate round. But Murray is capable, occasionally, of beating the King of Swings, just not often and just not likely at all on grass. But if he does -- they'll shut down Merry Olde England to celebrate.

One can hope.

*Worth searching: ["Sara Foster" Maxim] Tip: she looks good in minimal white.