Sunday, August 30, 2009

We are what we ate

Scanning the Daily Mail, I saw a picture of redheaded lovely Lily Cole (you are invited to look her up, but caution is advisable), under this headline:

White Europeans 'only evolved 5,500 years ago after food habits changed'

which means, in part:

People in England may have only developed pale skin within the last 5,500 years, according to new research.

Scientists believe that a sudden change in the diet around that time from hunter-gathering to farming may have led to a dramatic change in skin tone to make up for a lack of vitamin D.

Farmed food is lacking in vitamin D and while humans can produce it when exposed to the ultraviolet light in sunlight darker skin is far less efficient at it.

and also

And the particularly pale skins of people in Scandinavia may have evolved to maximise the amount of Vitamin D that could be produced, the research suggests.

So thank farming for blondes!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Now I get it, Mark

When the news about Mark Sanford's pampas affair of the heart broke, there weren't many pictures about his Argentinian paramour (Maria Belen Chapur); what did surface was a vidcap of a woman doing an on-site news report, and a bunch of pictures of a (sorry to say it this way) smiling, slightly dowdy woman dressed in black.

Turns out that the vidcap was Mark's Maria; the woman in black wasn't. The woman in black sure didn't look like someone a governor with a future would throw it all (or at least most, to this point) away for.

Turns out I missed a paparazzi moment with the real Maria getting groceries

She looks a bit tired and worn-out, understandably, but it also appears that this woman could be a woman who possesses, as described by a beach bar owner, "un cuerpazo", the stuff that dreams are made of.

You've got to be impressed with the technology

Scientists use data from satellites to observe conditions on the BOTTOM of the ocean:

New Look At Gravity Data Sheds Light On Ocean And Climate

"A discovery about the moon made in the 1960s is helping researchers unlock secrets about Earth's ocean today. By applying a method of calculating gravity that was first developed for the moon to data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, known as Grace, JPL researchers have found a way to measure the pressure at the bottom of the ocean.

Just as knowing atmospheric pressure allows meteorologists to predict winds and weather patterns, measurements of ocean bottom pressure provide oceanographers with fundamental information about currents and global ocean circulation. They also hold clues to questions about sea level and climate."

GRACE is an incredibly interesting mission; and it keeps discovering new things about what humans are doing to the planet:

India's Groundwater Disappearing at Alarming Rate

And some of the things that GRACE is discovering are things that we don't want to admit are happening -- but we need to, and own up to what's going to happen to us (collectively) if we keep doing them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why is it easy not to believe in global warming?

But first, an important question:

What is the real southern border of Canada?

Answer: There are two Tim Horton's shoppes in Ashland, Kentucky.

Now for today's real feature:

Despite overWHELMING amounts of scientific evidence, there is still a strong core of people that don't believe that global warming is happening, that it's caused by humans, and that it's going to be a significant problem in the near future. (I'm working on an essay about that.) I've even made some suggestions 'round the blogosphere about how those people could be addressed. Arguing from the certitudinal base of fact and reason does not sway those with an emotional and socio-political bond to the alternative viewpoint, particularly those for whom cognition has been diverted into this particular sidetrack.

Which causes me to wonder: why, why, WHY?

The following article addresses this in part:

Psycho Analysis of a Climate Skeptic


It’s truly amazing how far people will go to continue to believe that climate science is all wrong. I regularly hear from people who have convinced themselves that a giant conspiracy exists to prevent anyone who disagrees with the mainstream opinion, from being published in the front line science journals. They will readily believe two or three outlier science papers over the hundreds that clearly show the opposite is true. They will ignore the fact that nearly every major scientific body on the planet has endorsed the IPCC reports. (NASA, NOAA, The Royal Society, The Nat. Academies of Science in America, the AAAS, AGU, AMS, GSA, and dozens of others)

Instead they will choose to believe one or two cherry picked papers in a journal, or avidly follow web sites of those who peddle nothing but political propaganda and junk science like, Watts or Morano. Neither of whom have even a modest background in climate physics.

That is SO true. But he does not address the importance of political adherence to climate skepticism. The central core of conservatism today still believes that Ronnie Reagan was the best President EVER (omg!). They believe that cutting taxes is the answer to everything, which is why the Obama administration is pointing fingers repeatedly in the Bush direction indicating that they cut taxes when the economy was good, cut taxes when the economy was bad, cut taxes to finance a massive prescription drug benefit plan, cut taxes to finance the recovery from 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even cut taxes to underwrite all the necessary infrastructure maintenance needs that have been piling up for the last 40 years, as illustrated by interstate bridges occasionally collapsing: I hope it's fairly obvious that just as you can say "a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money", you can also say "cut taxes here, cut taxes there, cut taxes each and everywhere, and eventually you're going to find out you don't have freaking dime to pay for anything".

Those who believe that Ronnie was the BEST and Rush Limbaugh is his divinely begotten son and the vocal saviour of the Republican Party (with Sean Hannity playing the part of John the Baptist) thus must reject ANYthing that smacks of liberal doctrine. Therefore it was unfortunate that Nobel prize-winning and rightful POTUS Al Gore was the guiding light of "An Incovenient Truth". This made it immediately politically rejectable on the basis of the man being the message, and the message therefore being inconsequential. Oh, it had been building up before; the acolytes Spencer and Christy kept showing there was no global warming until there was, and now they're showing global cooling when there isn't -- and Doc Spencer is even disputing sea surface temperature data when there's an El Nino in the Pacific! (And the Southern Ocean is warming up as well.) So if the socio-political mindthink indicates that something will infringe upon the right of free market rampantism, and Rush Limbaugh said it so I believe it (or is it God said it, Rush repeated it, therefore I believe it?), there is no possibility of driving a wedge of reason between the eyes of someone who puts his hand on the Bible and then quotes the divine utterances of Senator Inhofe.

What would it take to change the minds of such people?

Some of them will never, could never, shall never change their minds. But if there is a capability to create an acknowledgeable cognitive dissonance, it should be exploited. There are great examples from the literature of the War on Creationism that show when someone who was nearly utterly convinced of the total validity of Scientific Creationism was confronted with a irrefutable counter-evidential example (like the lava dams in the Grand Canyon, or fish with fingers), they reversed on their previous set of beliefs with a level of vengeance known only to those who realize with fury how totally they had been duped, and how totally they had ALLOWED themselves to be duped -- and how powerless they were to resist it until they were liberated. It has all the characteristics of cult indoctrination and the inability to think outside the allowable "box" that is the core of the cult's beliefs.

Thus, it should be clear that it's really, really difficult to change the minds of politically-affiliated climate skeptics. If they retreated one inch; if they allowed a single chink in their logical armor to be penetrated; their set of life beliefs would begin to collapse. Rather than risk the psychological trauma that such a realization would entail, they don't allow it. They will defend, deflect, and divert any direct assault upon their cognitive fortress.

Therefore, the way to change their minds is not from without, it is from within. Skeptics must be allowed to formulate a question to which they think the answer is foreordained, and then to follow a logical pathway that leads them to an unexpected conclusion at odds with their own belief structure. Only if they follow that path themselves; only if it is under their own power that they allow the refuting argument to enter into their logic and to then let it virally infect itself, slowly altering their total structural cognition, will they be able to admit to actuality.

So the way to do it, as I've said, is not to let them ask the question and then tell them the answer that they will not hear. The way to do it is to let them ask the question and then guide them to the formulation of the answer themselves, such that they cannot deny the result which they determine on their own.

There's a simple name for this type of strategy.

Trojan Horse.

Who shall be the climate Odysseus?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How do 90,000 swine flu deaths compare?

OK, this doesn't sound very good:

Swine flu could cause as many as 90,000 US deaths: White House

"The epidemic, it said, "could cause between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths in the United States, concentrated among children and young adults," it said.

That compares with 30,000 to 40,000 deaths from seasonal flu each year, mainly among people over age 65."

Now, if you make it 65, then while you don't want to die earlier than necessary, at least you made it to 65. But these other statistics for "children and young adults", which you read elsewhere can range up to people born after 1957 -- see below -- that could be disruptive. And tragic. Imagine if a child catches swine flu at school, brings it home, has a 1 or 2 day bout -- and then one of his parents dies from it? There will probably be tragic and disruptive stories like this, even if the death toll is on the low end.

See Below: (excerpted from another news story) The H1N1 strain is genetically related to the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed an estimated 50 million people. Variations of the Spanish Flu circulated widely until about 1957, when they were pushed aside by other flu strains. People whose first exposure to a flu virus was one of those Spanish Flu relatives may have greater immunity to the current pandemic, Shaw said.

I wanted to know how this 30,000-90,000 range compared to other causes of death. Turns out it's right up there with car accidents (40-45,000 a year) and we all know how terrifyingly tragic that can be if an otherwise young, healthy, hearty person dies suddenly in a car accident. (And since it's happened to a family friend, I know whereof I speak.)

Deaths and mortality


Top Ten Causes of Death - Top 10 Causes of Death (2009 Almanac)

"Car Accidents in 2006 were 42,642 plus 2,575, 000 injuries."

(No, I don't know why this is on the "Get Fit through Gardening" Web site.)

As I was saying about China

I talked about how bad China's environmental/pollution situation is getting, and how I think that this will eventually (but not inevitably) lead to social unrest and perhaps make the government shaky. We'll see. But there was this today:

Lead scares highlight China's environmental dilemma

The government appears to know what I'm thinking about:

"Beginning last year, China also started requiring local governments to regularly disclose key environmental information to the public. "That is good news. Affected people have the right to know what it going on," said Ma Jun, who runs the independent Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. But he acknowledged that fulfilling that right would entail a sea change in how China's secretive Communist Party-dominated governance system actually operates.

For example, a 2007 World Bank report said 750,000 Chinese die prematurely each year due to air and water pollution -- a figure edited out of final versions of the report, reportedly after China warned it could cause social unrest.

Meanwhile, environmental campaigners face continued harassment and even arrest."

See what I mean? It only takes one spark to start a fire if all the other conditions are fire-friendly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's hope

Just in case you haven't heard, if this is really a breakthrough, then there would be much gratefulness around the world, as well as Nobels in the offing:

Scientists 'close to breast cancer cure' after British researchers find a way to stop tumours growing

Part of this:

Scientists have previously focused on how to prevent tumours from forming, but the new research has found key molecules called microRNAs which the cancer manipulates to spread around the body.

Breast cancer cells 'switch off' these molecules, allowing the cancer to spread unchecked to other parts of the body.

This spread is responsible for 90 per cent of deaths from breast cancer and the team which made the breakthrough is working on a drug to stop this fatal process.

One of the scientists, Dr Justin Stebbing, senior lecturer and consultant medical oncologist at Imperial College, London, said: 'This is a potential cure for breast cancer. There are no drugs as yet but they should be available in a couple of years.

'This is a step on the way to it. It helps us understand the way breast cancer cells grow and divide. If we understand this, we understand how to stop it.'

This would be wonderful news for everyone. I guess it's obvious I enjoy the loveliness of women, and this would be good for all women -- and their families. There is no joking about it, breast cancer is a heartbreaking scourge. Stopping it would truly be a spectacular, wonderful advance.

Let's hope.

Farewell to frivolity, for now

But first, an acronym: EEFA -- East of England Faiths Agency

If you're wondering how I use "esoterica", it's the simplest (and third) of the Webster's common definitions, to whit, "of special, rare, or unusual interest". Actually, that's esoteric; esoterica is thusly items, things, images, collectibles, thoughts... that are special, rare, or unusual. So far the past couple of days I've indulged a bit on the esoteric side.

Enough of that. For now at least. Maybe 'til Friday again.

Today's topic is water worries. The question is: are weather patterns changing? The reason that's important is that if there is a consistent shift in weather patterns in a certain area over a long-enough period of time, that qualifies as regional climate change; if that same pattern seems to be consistent in similar-type regions around the world, that might, might, MIGHT quality as global climate change.

So the topic today is drought. First up: Tejas (i.e., southern Texas). Michael Tobis informates us:

Texas drought on the ground

No doubt it's bad. So was the drought in Georgia, northwestern South Carolina and southwestern North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee, but that's abated a bit, but I don't think the reservoirs are anywhere close to being full again. But is it persistent? I.e., how long has this been going on?

Only since 2007, according to the august Wall Street Journal. But it's intense, the article says. But it's not a regional climate shift -- yet. And the notoriously accurate weather forecasters say it will get better in the autumn. It better!

Texas Scorched by Worst Drought in 50 Years

Moving on to China:

Nearly five million short of water in northern China drought: report

So northern China has been dry, and that does affect a few people. (To put it mildly.) Compound that with all the noxious compounds that China allows its rampant industrialists to dump into the water, and the "good stuff" is getting harder and harder to come by. I still think that China is a festering boil waiting to pop when the people en masse rise up against the monolithic government as they realize it really hasn't been operating with their best interests at heart (despite quarantining tourists with a fever in hotels for a week).

But this drought, like Texas, is still short in duration. So it's still "just" a drought, despite the number of people affected and the region that's affected.

And then there's Australia:

Despair as drought cripples Australia's Mississippi

If you haven't heard about this one in Australia (recently written up in Natty Geo), it's bad. Real, real bad. Eight-years-long and counting bad. Running out of enough water to do anything bad. This is a potentially harbinger of actual climate change. And in case anybody thinks it won't be disruptive to lifestyles accustomed to a locale and customs of living -- they're wrong.

(Here's what I'm speculatating: the Southern Ocean has warmed up. That's obvious from what's happening to the Antarctic Peninsula, which sticks out like a thumb that got hit with a hammer on land surface warming maps, and it's losing ice shelves at a rate of roughly one every two years or so. With warmer frigid waters, there's less heat contrast with the Australian land surface, so less cold air sneaking up to Down Under to wring some water out of a slightly humid air mass. It's just an idea.)

Anybody feeling frivolous now? And Australia is also suffering from the loss of the Ashes, too; might seem trivial but it still impinges on the national psyche.

And yet their leaders in Parliament couldn't pass a climate change bill. But there's more to it than that: politics are involved.

From the article:

A majority of Australians (55%) approve of Australia’s
proposed Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme:
A large majority (83%) of Australians believe Carbon Emissions
are a contributor to Global Warming

Gee, I wonder why the global warming skeptics in the U.S. don't publicize THOSE numbers, eh mate?

Monday, August 24, 2009

While we're on the subject of cricket...

... I have to mention Kevin Pieterson's wife (WAG) Jessica Taylor. Pieterson was England's top batsman and was going to be in this just-concluded Ashes until he inflamed an Achilles tendon. Ouch! Pieterson was responsible for England winning the Ashes in 2005 with a last-innings 158 (and he was lucky -- the Aussies dropped two of his early swats). He hit seven sixes, where a six is basically cricket's equivalent of baseball's home run -- the ball leaves the field on the fly.

Jessica Taylor was a singer in a band called Liberty X (sort of like Cheryl Cole), except that Liberty X was made of reality show runner-ups. (The show was called, natch, "Popstars".)

Anyway, now Jessica is fronting (and backing) a lingerie brand called Diamond Boutique.

CAUTION: She looks good in what they sell. REAL good.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One last moment for Flintoff

If you're interested, you can read about 5,000+ articles about the Ashes 2009 ending today (but sure not many in the U.S., though the NY Times had an article).

I was following it off and on Sunday (it's not like it's televised here in the States!); it started to look a little dicey as Ponting and Hussey thwarted England's attempts to make it a short final day. But then -- as happens so much in sports -- a slight mistake was capitalized on by a wily, wounded veteran.

Hard for me to explain this, particularly since I didn't grow up talking cricket. But I'll try. Hussey hit a short ball, essentially, and signaled for a run, where the two batsmen switch positions. It wasn't a great hit, and it was fielded. Captain Ponting reacted slow. It was fielded by Flintoff, who -- there's no better way to describe it, even though it's over-used -- fired a laser at the wicket, and smashed it with Ponting's bat a foot from the line (he has to cross the line to be safe). It was only the third wicket, but it was fully demoralizing, and as I said yesterday:

Will Flintoff come through with a bravura perfomance on the last day of his last Test?

Well, the answer was yes. It reminded me of last spring's Capitals vs. Rangers hockey playoffs, Game 7, a similarly dicey situation with the scored tied late in the third period. Superstar and Hall-of-Fame bound Sergey Federov awakened the echoes with a faster-than-he's-been rush, stopped nearly on a dime, froze the defender, and fired a, ahem, laser into the net to win the game and the series.

It certainly wasn't all Flintoff, though he was certainly a big part of the first match win (taking five wickets). In this match, Broad took five wickets in the first innings, captain Strauss batted great and got the next wicket after Flintoff with a split-second toss on a really short ball to knock the wicket down before the batsman could get back, Trott got his first century in his first Test when England needed runs for confidence...

I can see why people could get fascinated by this game.

Heck of a sports weekend. Eric Bruntlett finished a baseball game with an unassisted triple play, only the second time that's EVER happened -- and Michelle Wie, who's had a few bumps on the road to superstardom, played 3-0-1 in the Solheim Cup (which the U.S. won over Europe) and looked like the best player on the course.

So, though I've never mentioned it -- I hate ESPN because they don't cover enough minor sports. Flintoff's final moment of glory should have been in Sportscenter's Top 10, maybe even #1 -- it was that good, that necessary, and the Ashes are NOT a regular season baseball game.

Ah well. At least I saw it and knew what it meant.

If you want to see it, Cricket Online has it, in the second segment on the 4th day.

Here's a picture of the ball breaking the wicket before Ponting breaks the plane.

Wish that they had a picture of Flintoff making the throw. Can't have everything.

And here's Michelle Wie. If she wins a few majors, she could make more money than Tiger Woods, because she can sell clothes as well as sports equipment.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ashes Cricket 2009 -- tense to the max!

I tell you what -- when I started following cricket, an alternate sport that gets virtually no mention in the United States (and admittedly I probably only know 10% of what an aficionado knows about the game), I had no idea of how exciting and tense it could be. Especially on the biggest stage, the Test, five five-day matches. And one of the best known Test series, if not the best, is the Ashes: England v. Australia. (England currently ranked #4, Australia #1, but South Africa is about to take over the top spot if the Ozzies lose.)

Well this one is turning classic. I discussed this a little before. First match, England pulled out a draw. Second match, triumph for England and gimpy-kneed all-rounder Freddie Flintoff (an all-rounder is a guy who can both bowl and bat pretty good). Third match, Australia manages the draw. Fourth match, a Flintoff-less England collapses and slinks off.

But now, at the Oval, in London, in the company of centuries of history, England has come back, BIG time. They got to bat first, and in the first innings (each team gets two), they got 332 runs. Decent total, but Australia has better batsmen. Aussie first innings, they get to 73 or so with no wickets -- to get out of an innings, either the other team takes 10 wickets: there are a number of ways to do that, or you "declare", meaning you've got a big enough lead to now try and get the other team's wickets (more on that later). So anyway, suddenly England starts taking wickets (Stuart Broad got 5 of the 10) and no prisoners, including the wicket of Ricky Ponting, currently the best batsman in the WORLD. They took somebody else out with zero runs, a "duck". So they get an unexpected lead on Australia.

Now they have to defend. And they have a rookie call-up, Jonathan Trott, never played at the highest level before (the Test). First innings, not so great, 41 runs. Second innings, gets a century -- over 100 runs, which is basically historical. Hardly anybody does that the first time. So England gets a big lead, over 500 runs (with Trott leading the charge) and "declares".

Now all they have to do is get 10 wickets from the Aussies in two days. Because the Aussies dug in and denied them any in the last session today (Saturday) and got 80+ runs too.

So it all comes down to the bowling on Sunday. Will the wicket-taking hero Stuart Broad get more? Will Flintoff come through with a bravura perfomance on the last day of his last Test? Or will Australia bat boringly for two days, salvage a draw, and keep the Ashes? (Alternatively, they could get a world record number of runs to win. Unlikely, but...)

That's what's up. The pressure is amazing. This is brilliant. I just hope the weather holds (it looks good for Sunday). If most of the last two days get canceled by rain, that would be too anti-climactic.

Even if you have no idea how to play the game.

Play-by-play on

Friday, August 21, 2009

Moms-to-be-in-bikinis, and a silverback update

It's Friday, let's be frivolous. I've been collecting a few of these over the past couple of weeks, so let's review.

Thanks to the Daily Mail for allowing me to keep apprised of these important developments.


First of all, Jude Law, who's a fine actor but who has never been a paragon of virtue in his personal life, apparently had a short stand and ended up getting the young girl into, as they used to call it, "trouble".

Samantha Burke revealed to be mother of Jude Law's child

She's even posted pics of herself with the increasing baby bump:

Samantha Burke, model pregnant by Jude Law, shows baby bump in online diary

Jude has promised to do right by her. Hope it was worth it, because it's certainly going to be worth $omething.

Boris Becker: new wife, new baby (babies with three women; silverback!)

Now I always admired the go-for-it gusto of Boris on the court, and also admired his stand against racism when he married a black woman, Barbara Feltus (who happened to be gorgeous). Sadly, they moved on (he fathered a child during a tryst in a closet with Angela Ermakova in 1999, which probably didn't help the marriage any, considering that's about when it broke up) but now he's been able to find another woman with the requisite gorgeousness requirement.

Feltus (top), Ermakova (bottom left), Kerssenberg (bottom right) -- as has been noted, he definitely has a "type".

Boris Becker weds wife #2 Lilly Kerssenberg

She's definitely with child (and looks good that way, actually)

Boris Becker's pregnant wife parades in strink bikini on romantic beach break

Danielle Bux, on the other hand...

Who's Gary Lineker, and who's he WITH?

Gary Lineker is basically the best soccer player the UK ever produced, including David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. And now he's rich. And now he's showing off his bride-to-be, who I think definitely qualifies as a mom-to-be-in-bikini, even though she might not be pregnant yet. I can't see Gary passing up this opportunity to promulgate, propagate, and procreate with lingerie model Danielle Bux! (Who wouldn't??)

Danielle Bux 1

Danielle Bux 2

Danielle Bux 3

La Senza (nothing wrong with a little free advertising)

Life's a beach: Gary Lineker and Daniell Bux enjoy NINTH holiday in 18 months

Gary Lineker is to marry girlfriend Danielle Bux

Gary Lineker's model fiance stops traffic in new lingerie ad campaign on a pink bus

The saucy secrets of Gary Lineker's beautiful 28-year-old model girlfriend


Going for six: now with a young model mother and money = silverback

Chelsea [prestigious soccer team] owner Roman Abramovich set to be father for SIXTH time with girlfriend Dasha Zhukova

She's kinda cute

and kinda hot, on the Abramovich yacht:

Not much more I need to say there; rich sports owner + young babe = father for the sixth time:

Welcome to Silverback Country! (Or should I say Silverbeard? Or Silverhair?)

She used to date Marat Safin, Grand Slam champion tennis player: I'm not sure what he's holding here, but it sure isn't his serve)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If you can't smell it, it can kill you

That's one of the strangest things about hydrogen sulfide (H2S), "rotten egg" gas, a familiar smell to visitors at hydrothermal basins like Yellowstone and Rotorua (New Zealand). In low atmospheric concentrations, it smells bad and alerts you that something might be rotten (Denmark and anywhere else, for that matter). But in higher concentrations, above 50 ppm if memory serves, it can't be smelt, and then it's toxic, deadly, suffocating.

And apparently, this is happening on French beaches where algae are decompositing!

Lethal algae take over beaches in northern France

"A man has also taken legal action after he was left seriously ill from breathing in fumes from the decomposing algae. Vincent Petit, a 27-year-old vet, had to be dragged unconscious from a patch of rotting algae a metre deep this month after the horse he was riding collapsed and died from fumes given off by the sludge on the beach. The horse died within minutes.

Last year, two dogs died while walking near piles of algae on a beach close by.

Local mayors said more than 70 beaches had been hit by the seaweed that has plagued the coastline for more than a decade, but which this year reached unprecedented levels."

I think it should be made clear that the algae themselves are not to blame here, except for doing what they do best, which is growing in eutrophic proliferation in the presence of sunlight and nutrients (supplied by agro-pollution), and then doing what comes naturally, which is dying, decompositing, and stinking. It's called anaerobic respiration, by the way, and that's what makes hydrogen sulfide. And just like anything taken to excess, too much H2S is a real bad thing.

Note: there are some blue-green algae that can be toxic, especially to pets, if water containing them is drunk, and of course, certain nasty dinoflagellates can get into the flesh of oysters and clams and other indiscriminate filter feeders, and concentrate enough neurotoxin in their flesh to kill anyone who eats the tainted shellfish.

Hey, if you want a neurotoxin buzz, there's always fugu.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shadows of London

As tomorrow (August 20) is the start of the final Ashes Test (England vs. Australia cricket) at The Oval in London, I Google mapped the Kennington Oval (click the link to get there; cricket fields are not small, it's pretty obvious what it is).

Turn off the labels!

I noticed that the clear satellite picture was taken when shadows were long; if you slide over to the river, and then go north along the river, and you'll find the London Eye ferris wheel (the Millenium Wheel). The bridge just below crosses over to Parliament, and you can find the shadow of Big Ben (but due to the angle, it's hard to actually see Big Ben -- it's there, though. Keep going upriver as it turns east and you'll suddenly see the distinct shadow of the Tower Bridge. On the shore is the Tower of London.

Here's a ground-level picture from "London for Idiots" to put that into perspective. That's where the Crown Jewels and the ravens are.

Tower of London

I have to get here instead of just visiting it by satellite image. But there's a month worth of things to see!

Picture of pterodactyl "landing strip"

Well, we all knew that pterodactyls flew; so they'd have to land, right? It's amazing to me how scientists can keep making discoveries of things that you'd think could never be preserved. So now there's an article about a discovery of where a pterodactyl landed, telling scientists exactly HOW they landed.

Pterodactyl's power revealed by landing path

Here's a picture of landing site, with a diagram of the steps it took on landing.

Pterodactyl preserved landing strip


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Technology to the rescue??

Solar power might be a great source of alternate energy -- if it wasn't for something we call NIGHT. But now there's news about a battery breakthrough that might possibly make a lot of people power producers, with no need of Mr. Fusion; a battery with sufficient storage power to save all the power generated by a household daily to get them through half the night; and then they recharge.

At least that's how I read it. We'll have to see if the stories bear out. If so -- I might even call it a career and swear off nukes. (But there's a big IF factor.) That recharging thing -- still an important role for nukes, I think: but maybe less plants necessary.

New battery could change world, one house at a time

Here are some parts of this article that sound very high-hopin' :

It promises to nudge the world to a paradigm shift as big as the switch from centralized mainframe computers in the 1980s to personal laptops. But this time the mainframe is America's antiquated electrical grid; and the switch is to personal power stations in millions of individual homes.

"These batteries switch the whole dialogue to renewables," said Daniel Nocera, a noted chemist and professor of energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who sits on Ceramatec's science advisory board. "They will turn us away from dumb technology, circa 1900 -- a 110-year-old approach -- and turn us forward."

"If you look at the president, he inherited some really difficult things," Cannon said. "But he hired a guy to be the secretary of energy who is a scientist. And we are on the verge of so many scientific breakthroughs that no matter what the president's ideology is, if we do the right thing scientifically, America is going to do well. Many of the innovations that are coming out of Utah that I'm involved with are likely to be really important, regardless of the leadership."

Ceramatec: Bringing distributed power storage to your home

And this adds:

The Ceramatec battery separates the sulfur and sodium from each other with a thin ceramic membrane which allows electricity to be stored while operating at a much lower temperature. Ceramatec envisions a refrigerator-sized unit that would remain below 98 degrees C (208 degrees F), the melting point of sodium. Keeping the sodium solid makes for a much safer battery. The battery could store 20 kWh worth of energy, either from local, sustainable sources such as wind or solar, or from off-peak recharging from the grid, much like a plug-in hybrid car recharges when the grid demand is low.
This technology is of potential interest to everyone, not just to homeowners with their own power generation systems. Many parts of the country offer off-peak rates for electricity that are lower than daytime costs. This is because demand is lower during evening and overnight hours. Along with overnight recharge of plug-in hybrid automobiles, houses with their own battery storage could store electricity overnight for use the following day. This would provide cheaper electricity for the homeowner, while also reducing the daytime demand on the grid. This, in turn, would be a more efficient use of existing grid infrastructure, and could help reduce demand for new generating plants.

Well, it sounds promising... I think it's going to have an impact.

Top Perseids

The Perseids are the year's most reliable meteor shower -- so lots of people take pictures of 'em. The ones here are selected from the site The Perseids: July-August 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is this human? Well, it may not be natural

Thanks to the Daily Mail, I learnt of a young starlet on a Britizh TV drama called "Coronation Street" (nicknamed Corrie) named Michelle Keegan. She was on a beach holiday. As you'll see if you click the link -- it's a girl in a pink bikini, if you're wondering, and yes, she's a babe. I just don't think her pelvic skeletal configuration is normal:

Michelle Keegan

Here's what she has to say for herself:

"Be realistic - massive boobs and a teeny waist is not natural. If you were to see Victoria Beckham or Katie Price in the flesh, you'd freak out at how small they are - they're the size of 11-year-old girls."

OK, well, it may not be natural, but ... well, read the post below this one for more on that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A new meaning for "easy on the eyes"

Ever since noting the somewhat remarkable difference between Rachel McAdams in normal day-mode and Rachel McAdams in glamorous Hollywood knockout mode, I've been thinking a bit about the nature of beauty. Years ago I read a magazine article about the average pretty face (probably Discover magazine), and what I remember the researchers doing was computer-blending a lot of faces to come up with an average -- which happened to be pretty good-looking. Wish I could find that article again; the average face was a lot like the face I fell in love with (and which never quite let go) back in the early '80s.

But why was it attractive? The theory now is that the attractive/pretty face is easy to process in the brain because it's average:

Beauty is in the processing time of the beholder

"A paper published in the September issue of the journal Psychological Science proposes a new explanation for this phenomenon: Prototypical faces are pleasing because they’re easy for the brain to process. ... The authors challenge the popular idea from evolutionary psychology that people find prototypical faces attractive because average features indicate good health."

I have a problem with that -- beautiful faces are memorable, not average, and I think because of particular characteristics. Rachel McAdams has a square chin and big, luminous eyes. Reese Witherspoon has a very narrow chin (and I also remember reading that is a very attractive trait for women). In my own opinion, a beautiful face is an average face with a couple of quirks; like Cindy Crawford's mole, or the gap in Lauren Hutton's teeth.

Here's another take on that:

Hot or not composite images (just faces!)

and this (the "finalists" composite is really outstanding)

Miss Universe 2005 Composite Images

One thing I notice in the latter is that in the finalists image, the eyes "pop" more -- which means they're bigger, had better makeup, or both.

This makes sense -- here's why:

Barbie: Manufactured by Mattel, designed by evolution VIII

"There are at least two separate reasons why large eyes are part of ideal female beauty. First, as briefly mentioned in a previous post, large eyes (along with fuller lips, large foreheads, and smaller chins) are indicators of high levels of estrogen. And women who have higher levels of estrogen have easier time conceiving than women who have lower levels of estrogen. Women with larger eyes therefore on average make better mates than women with smaller eyes."

The second reason is based on neoteny (childlike features) -- the above to me explains the Rachel & Reese & Miss Universe 2005 effect. So a beautiful woman is not average -- she's got exaggerated features indicative of fertility. Combine that with a killer bod, and hey, I'm a male -- I know what I like.

By the way, if you're curious why a killer bod is something to like, it's a matter of waist girth and cup size. Don't say I didn't tell you (or warn you).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The big ones are out there

Hot on the heels of my "spend the money" post, Wired Science has images of some of the Earth's BIG impact structures, taken from space:

Asteroid Impact Craters on Earth as Seen From Space

Quebec's Manicougan River (partly because it reminds me of Paul Bunyan's Round River Drive ) is a favorite of mine:


Even though Bunyan is an American tall-tale hero and the Manicougan River is in Quebec -- don't you wonder a little if it could have been the inspiration for the story?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What does this image MEAN?

Go look at the image! (it's about climate, and it's not a babe in a bikini -- sorry if you thought so)

It means: the National Climate Data Center says

  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the fifth warmest on record, at 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F).
  • The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F). This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The July ocean surface temperature departure from the long-term average equals June 2009 value, which was also a record.
NASA (GISS) says it's the 2nd-warmest July. And they get a lot of anomalous warmth in Antarctica, which isn't covered as well by NCDC. Either way: globally, July 2009 is hot. Except in a large portion of the United States, helping conservative climate change skeptics to keep thinking there is some kind of global cooling going on.

Rachel McAdams, glam and not

Rachel McAdams is an extraordinary beauty, and she sure knows how to wear a dress:

Rachel McAdams might catch a chill -- hopefully not a strong breeze

Preview for "The Time Traveler's Wife" look promising -- hope the movie turns out well. The RT reviews are decidely mixed; those who liked it, REALLY liked it. Maybe I should just read the book, which is probably superior. (Link is to a review, which has spoilers if you want to see the movie. I skimmed it. I think the way to go is read the book, based on the skim.)

"This book will make you glow as you share the love between Henry and Clare, it will make you laugh, it will leave you on the edge of your seat while Henry time travels, and it will make you cry. Once you're buried within this novel and fully immersed in their lives, you have to suffer their pain as well as celebrate their joys with Henry and Clare. This is a testament to the literary skill of Ms. Niffenegger [the author]."
Not that I'm influencing many readers with my opinion, mind you.

The thing is, when she's "normal" and not Hollywood-glamorized, she's just a pretty girl. It's when those lips and eyes get magnified that she hits the high notes.

Like out in the city with new squeeze Josh Lucas, who it's got to be obvious looks kind of like previous paramour Ryan Gosling

Here's what I mean.

Guilty pleasure: hearing Rachel (as Allie) say "You gotta be kidding me, all these years and that's what I've been missing --- let's do it again!" after surrendering to passion and Noah in The Notebook. (And I always feel so glad for Allie that it went so well the first time!)

While I'm at it: some Bar Rafaeli pictures. Couldn't resist. Lovely dairy air.

If I were in charge, I'd spend the money

OK, a couple of articles here about NASA not being able to finish the job of finding potential Earth-killer (or at least really-bad-day) asteroid/comet impactors. Now, the chances of anything hitting us and causing a major problem are small. I can say that confidently because the only thing that could have done major damage [since 1900], had it hit a populated area, was the Tunguska object. (The Teton bolide wasn't small potatoes, either.) Now, according to reports, there have been several 1-10 meter objects detected by DOD satellites, or an impact on the Greenland ice. And we know that smaller objects have recently hit Park Forest, Illinois; the Sudan; and in Peru.

That Park Forest incident should have been a wake-up call. Estimates put the size of the object at 10-25 tons and the size of a small car. Let's think a bit; what if it had been 25-50 tons and the size of a big bus? That would have made some people take notice.

Now, we're casting about for something to do with a space program. And there are feasibility studies out there indicating it'd probably be easier to land on and sample a near-Earth asteroid than it would be to get to Mars. And Mars is a big place; way too much to figure out; send a fleet of robotic landers instead. Build in more redundancy than the current landers have (like a solar panel cleaner) and set them loose. WAY more bang for the buck, even if a couple get lost, than sending humans and all their comestibles. In contrast, landing on an asteroid would pretty much allow the asteroidnauts to figure out the whole place in one visit -- and might help us in the event that a rogue is found with a very high probability of eventual impact.

Arthur C. Clarke was right; if a big impact did happen, causing major loss of life and art (I'm pretty sure the opening scene of Rendesvous with Rama was an impact on Venice), the whole world would vow "Never again". In my most humble Oakdenish opinion, why not just say "Never if we can help it?"

Here's the articles:

We cannot afford to monitor all killer asteroids, warns NASA

NASA needs more money to hunt killer space rocks, report says

Spending sufficient money to find and study these objects is worth the investment, I think. But I still think back to what someone said, to whit: "The one that is going to nail us is the one we don't see coming." How comforting is that... ?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Climate skeptics call this "scaremongering"

UN chief warns of 'incalculable' suffering without climate deal

The UN secretary general, who began a visit to his homeland Sunday, warned of catastrophes if the world fails to work out a deal.

Ban said unchecked climate change would intensify drought, floods and other natural disasters and bring water shortages and malnutrition -- aggravating tensions and social unrest and even sparking violence.

"The human suffering will be incalculable," Ban said.

He said he was confident the world could avert catastrophe but time was running out. "We have the power to change course but we must do it now."

Now, as many have noted, you can't connect any particular disaster directly to CO2-driven climate change. But you can connect trends. And with more water vapor in the atmosphere, one trend is an increase in coastal storms and coastal flooding. Ask the residents of Taiwan about their experience with Typhoon Morakot last week.

Refer to Nukes in the News... needed, now just below this article.

Nukes in the news... needed, now

Great NY Times article about the pressing need for nuclear power plants to meet the country's energy demands in a realistic battle against CO2-driven climate change.

Technology smorgasbord needed to meet energy goals -- EPRI
(You just don't see the word "smorgasbord" very often anymore, do you? How many people under 30 actually know what it stands for?)

Based on its research, EPRI concludes that capture and sequestration of carbon emissions from coal plants would be technically feasible by 2020, and it assumes that new regulations would be in place to support that strategy. It also assumes that 45 new nuclear power plants could be built by 2030, using existing reactor sites, adding 64 gigawatts of new capacity.

That's what I'm talking 'bout!!

Florida may take the lead: Florida approves first nuclear power plant in 33 years

Four locks...

... might not be enough to bar the door in this case.

OK, on the international birdwatching front, aided and abetted by the Daily Mail's ability to find WAGs (let's review, that stands for "wives and girlfriends", usually of sporting stars, occasionally of corporate bigwigs who may or not be involved in some kind of sports) of interest. Makes the sport of international birdwatching easier. (There's even another tabloid with WAG of the day, which I'm mining.)

Today's WAG is the delectable Michela Quattrociocche. "Ciocche" is locks (of hair, really) -- you do the math. She's the girlfriend of Italian football star Alberto Aquilani, recently signed by Liverpool for 20 million pounds or so.

She's young, dewy, and delectably sweet. Links below are totalmente safe and show what I mean. She's an "actress", but hasn't been in much except notably a Lolitaesque Italian flick about a high-school student having a love affair (not sure how intimate it gets) with a 37-year old man.

Quattrociocche 1

Quattrociocche 2

Quattrociocche 3

Quattrociocche 4

Had to have quattro...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wish this would work for bluefin tuna and whales

According to reports (see below), Greenpeace is dropping big chunks of concrete in the Kattegat, the body of water leading to the Baltic Sea past Denmark, to seriously impair the ability of bottom trawlers to catch cod the old-fashioned way, by ripping the seafloor to shreds and catching every cod that swims until the fishery collapses. (This is how it worked in Canada.) According to what Greenpeace says, it works. After watching the ineffectiveness of the Sea Shepherds against the ruthless Japanese whaling fleet this year (somebody needs to donate a BUNCH of prop foulers to them), and figuring that there's hardly anything that can be done to stop the exploitation of bluefin tuna, it's actually nice to see an environmental activist tactic that works.

This BBC article has an accompanying video (and the narrator is cute to boot)

I kinda wish fish wasn't so good for humans to eat; if someone could engineer a widely-publicized study that would indicate consuming all kinds of fish (but especially really big fish) contributes to penile withering in human males and huge breast warts*** in human females, that would probably cut global consumption considerably.

But that wouldn't be ethical, would it? So tell me how tobacco companies were able to pay scientists to make up studies obscuring the link between smoking and lung cancer for so many years? All that's needed is a couple of unethical (but well-regarded) scientists on the side of the environmentalists.

*** Actually, if you're German, brustwarzen are very nice things, but something gets lost in the translation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jorge Padilla got a hit!

Jorge Padilla was a career (11-year) minor-leaguer who finally got to go to the SHOW with the Washington Nationals last week:

Is this Iowa? No, it's 'Heaven'

Career minor leaguer Padilla gets call

Nice timing; the woeful Nats are on an improbable winning streak. Well, on Sunday in a 9-2 win he finally got his first major-league hit. He didn't score -- he got thrown out on a fielder's choice -- but he did get on base.

I hope he sticks around in the majors for awhile. We need the occasional heartwarming sports story.

Two items that seem to go hand-in-hand

Item 1:

China Says World ‘Cannot Afford’ Failed Climate Talks

“We have to remain optimistic,” Yu Qingtai, the Chinese foreign ministry’s climate-change negotiator, told a briefing in Beijing today. “The Copenhagen conference must succeed for the sake of mankind.”

Item 2:

Report: Oil reserves less than estimated

Birol told The Independent that the public and many governments are ignoring reports that the oil is running out faster than predicted. Birol said global production likely will peak in about a decade, 10 years sooner than most governments have estimated.

Faith Birol is chief economist at the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Now it seems to me... if China thinks the talks have to succeed for the sake of mankind, and we're running out of oil, then realistic, makeable, but tough targets for CO2 emissions reductions would force a move toward alternatives -- and that's good for the long-term global economy (so it's in China's self-interest to make it happen) as well as long-term global climate.

So China needs to get its *ss off square one and start negotiating like it means what it says.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Short 3: Another triple asteroid system

Way, way, waaaay back when I started my underutilized blog, I wrote about the discovery of a triple asteroid system (Kleopatra + moons) in Define Unusual.

Well, they may not be common, but another one's been found on the radar (Goldstone's radar):

Triple asteroid system triples observer's interest

This one doesn't have a very romantic name -- it's just called 1994 CC.

(Lots more to write about if I find the time in the days to come. Darned England getting stomped in the fourth Ashes test by the Aussies. No drama there at all.)

Short 2: People will eat anything

First, you have to jump to this article about a driftwood log that washed up on the British shore covered with goose barnacles. DO NOT read further until you jump, read, and see the pictures:

Monster washes up on Wales beach

Then read what it says later on down:


In Portugal and Spain, the barnacles are a widely consumed and expensive delicacy known as percebes. They have a briny taste and are served steaming hot with their triangular shells still attached.


Short 1: Another MIB

Another Mom in Bikini (and lovin' it):

Cindy Crawford

Genes = genius...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Famous Scientists?

I responded to an article on "The Intersection" a couple of days ago about the inability of a vast segment of the United States' population to name a "living scientist" -- many of them still named the R.I.P. Albert Einstein. I suggested that part of the problem might be that there aren't the same kind of famous scientists now as were in the past. Einstein was partly made famous because of the dramatic nature of his predictions (time alteration, gravity bends light) and the dramatic nature of the confirmations (eclipse timing of occultations, global headlines). Other famous scientists like Stephen Jay Gould have been both prolific writers and in the news because of controversies (like creationism) or became media figures (like Carl Sagan) subsequent to much of their research career. So herewith, here are some somewhat famous scientists I can name, and brief reasons as to why. I consider myself scientifically literate, so I know a few. For scientists to make this list, I had to be able to come up with at least part of their name on my own and also know that they were significant scientists by contributions to the scientific literature and/or public understanding of science. (A couple of 'em have contributed to public misunderstanding, but I won't dwell on that.)


Neil de Grasse Tyson -- writes a magazine column, high-profile job at AMNH Hayden Planetarium
Heidi Hammel -- Hubble Space Telescope astronomer who watched the Shoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter
Stephen Hawking -- famous for physics breakthroughs, black holes, a book
John Mather -- Cosmic Background Explorer Nobel prize-winner
Stephen Squyres -- scientist behind the Mars Rovers

Biology/Paleontology (Medicine)

E.O. Wilson -- famous Harvard evolutionary biologist, even though I admit I don't know much about him
Richard Dawkins -- another evolutionary biologist, famous for confronting creationists
Jack Horner -- dinosaur paleontologist, model for Sam Neill character in "Jurassic Park"
Michael Behe -- famous for writing a widely-publicized book about Intelligent Design
James Lovelock -- Gaia guy; I should note that I was reminded of him while looking up F. Sherwood Rowland (see below)
Anthony Fauci -- NIH head, HIV researcher
Craig Venter -- human genome researcher

Climate Science (general comment; this is obviously currently in the news, so both the fine practitioners and the pretender bozos have made names for themselves)

Stephen Schneider
Ralph Cicerone
James Hansen
Michael Mann
Gavin Schmidt
Roy Spencer
John Christy
Richard Lindzen
Raymond Pierre-Humbert
David Archer
Ken Caldeira
Fred Singer (hurts me to put him on the list, but he was easy to think of)


Haraldur Sigurdsson, volcanologist
Walter and Luis Alvarez, discoverers of the K/T boundary event
Jane Lubchenco -- current head of NOAA
Victoria Fabry -- investigator of ocean acidification effects
Harrison Schmitt -- geologist/astronaut, former Senator, know-nothing about climate change
Sylvia Earle -- deep-sea diver, writer, woman adventurer and explorer
Robert Ballard -- deep-sea researcher, most famously finder of the Titanic wreck


Stephen Chu -- Nobel Laureate (I think), current head of Department of Energy
Peter Higgs -- scientist who the Higgs boson is named after; I had to look up his first name
Note: I thought I couldn't think of a single living chemist. Then I remembered "Sherwood" (actually F. Sherwood Rowland) and Mario Molina, who received a Noble for making the connection between CFCs and stratospheric ozone destruction. Weird thing about names, too: because he's "F. Sherwood Rowland", there are a lot of references to "Sherwood and Molina" (Google it and see!) when it really should be "Rowland and Molina". Furthermore, Paul Crutzen, who also got the Nobel for this was completely off my memory radar until I looked up Sherwood, er, Rowland.

Somewhat-recently deceased, if not mentioned before

Richard Feynman -- string theory, Challenger disaster panel member, writer, joker, self-promoter, brilliant physicist, lock-picker
Gene Shoemaker -- famous for proving that meteorites make craters and for discovering asteroids and comets,
Charles Keeling -- CO2 monitoring, Keeling CO2 curve

That's about it. Funny thing about polls, though; sometimes it takes time to make associations connect in the brain. As I was writing this, names (like Ballard, "Sherwood" and Molina, Feynman, Venter) started popping into my head. In a telephone poll, the brief time for response might make it more difficult to immediately conjure up names. If people had a little more time to think about it, they might start thinking of names, too.

Or maybe not. There really are a lot of people in the United States that don't care about (or don't understand, or don't trust) science. There's not much doubt about that. Unscientific America was right on the mark, and timely, too.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A troubling prediction about Peak Oil

IEA indicates that peak oil may be nearer than we think:

Report: Oil reserves less than estimated

[Faith] Birol told The Independent that the public and many governments are ignoring reports that the oil is running out faster than predicted. Birol said global production likely will peak in about a decade, 10 years sooner than most governments have estimated.

In an assessment of more than 800 oil fields in the world, Birol found most of the biggest fields already have peaked, and the rate of decline in oil production is running at nearly twice the pace calculated just two years ago, the newspaper said.

Paging T. Boone Pickens, paging T. Boone Pickens...

Seriously... with climate change a problem because of rising CO2 in the atmosphere, and with oil reserves bound to get drawn down within a couple of decades, isn't it time to globally get serious about alternatives: nuclear (of course), wind, solar? C'mon, this isn't hard to figure out!

Natural meteorite on Mars; man-made meteor on Earth

One less piece of space junk; that tool satchel that famously went off for a short stint in Earth orbit during a previous Shuttle mission to the ISS has descended to Earth and a re-entry demise:

Tool Bag Lost in Space Meets Fiery End

Meanwhile, on Mars, "Block Island" is looking particularly meteoritic:

Rover Spots Possible Meteorite on Mars

Over the weekend, scientists used the rover's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to get composition measurements and to confirm it was a meteorite.

"It's pretty clear now that it is," [planetary scientist Albert] Yen [of JPL] told

Monday, August 3, 2009

Third Ashes Test is a draw

England couldn't keep it going after taking a lead at Edgbaston, so it's a draw. Next Test starts Friday at Headingley (Leeds). Speculation (in the Daily Mail, at least) is that Flintoff is hurting.

Here's the result from the last day.

I'm actually starting to figure this sport out, as long as I don't try to scrutinize the details of the jargon.

If you use Google Maps and enter "Headingley, England", it is NOT hard to find the cricket ground.

If something from off of Earth is "extraterrestrial", what's something from off of Mars?

Earth is "terra". Mars is, well, Mars. Actually "ares", so something from off Mars is "extraarestrial". Well, searching Google for that found one other reference of somebody thinking the same way. And if you search "extramartial", you get a lot of hits but they aren't about Mars.

So, Opportunity might have found another extraarestrial object -- i.e., another meteorite.

Sure looks like it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

MIB stands for...

Moms in Bikinis

Ulrika Jonsson

Jessica Alba

(Yes, I know there's another acronym in vogue.)

Woods and Phelps

What is it with these guys? Tiger wins a tournament when on the third day he can't find the fairway he's attempting to land on (twice), and on the final day puts one in the water and still makes par (nice course, that one). Heard on ESPN: the "fortnight Grand Slam", i.e., he's one every tournament held two weeks before a major. Wonder why he's so "on" and then off?

Phelps vs. Cavic, Round Two: Pretty amazing swim, a little less close than at the O's. Still wearing the first of the high-tech suits (the LZR, which will also be suita-non-grata at the end of 2009). And also after smashing googles and heads in the warm-up. Yeah, that's impressive.

[One nice thing; even if Thorpe's 400-meter free record didn't survive the polyurethane onslaught, Hackett's 1500-meter free WR did. Daddy of twins-to-be Grant will still be a WR-holder when the kids are born in September.]