Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I gotta feeling

I have to admit, I haven't paid much attention to Fergie, the female quarter of The Black-Eyed Peas quartet. Maybe I should have. Despite being a bit unusual in the looks department, she's got a spectacular figure. I happened to catch the video for "I Gotta Feeling [Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night]", which has become somewhat ubiquitous recently. It is one of the few pop (hip-hop? rap? dance track?) music hits that I find ear-catching and easy to remember.

Well, back to the video. It's a party. Early on in the video, Fergie puts on a rather spectacular outfit that shows off quite a bit of the aforementioned spectacular figure.

Here's the front view

and here's the rear view

She also kisses a girl, who is pretty obviously a girl, later on. I'll let you find that.

Fergie's got unusual abs on a long torso; not bad to contemplate. These aren't from the video.

Abs part 1 (Maxim)

Abs part 2 (Blender cover)

She looks pretty good here and also here, in black and white) in Allure magazine.

And this is just appealing (from Maxim again)

I hope Josh Duhamel sticks with this.

Declining bee populations -- when do we declare the crisis?

Water woes are one problem, and the persistent decline in honeybees is another. The United States had a cold winter during a warm year (globally), and this hurt honeybees, who don't need the hurting right now.

Scientists stumped as bee populations decline further

"Data from the US Department of Agriculture show a 29 percent drop in beehives in 2009, following a 36 percent decline in 2008 and a 32 percent fall in 2007."

This last part sums up the vicious cycle we're in:

The best thing to help bees, he said its "to try to limit habitat destruction," leaving more natural areas in agriculture and in cities such so honey bees can have "a diverse natural environment."

Ironically, he said the problem stems from expansion of agriculture to feed the world. But in destroying bee populations, that can hurt crop production.

"The world population growth is in a sense the reason for pollinators' decline," he said.

"Because we need to produce more and more food to feed the world and we grow crops in larger fields. A growing world means growing more food and to do that we need pollinators. And the fact that the world is continuing to grow is the driving force behind the habitat destruction."

There's that P-word again.

Another perspective:

Helping Honeybees: Pesticides make it a tough time for pollinators

And Washington Post detailed a dangerous cycle that has started as commercial bee hive numbers have dropped---the remaining beekeepers are trying to pick up the slack with fewer bees. And the results aren’t pretty. Nationally, commercial beekeepers are reporting 30-50% bee losses over the winter. And in some cases, CCD has struck and taken out over 80% of some beekeepers’ bees. And that means fewer bees to pollinate crops this year.
I hope this gets figured out, and we do somethng to save the bees. I like almonds!

Water crises a hemisphere apart

Strange weather, or strange climate? Not for me to say, but in Trinidad and China, there are water crises pending. The one in Trinidad might be partly poor public planning, but the one in China is a genuine nasty drought. On that side of the Pacific, given what's been happening in the Murray-Darling river system in Australia, one has to start wondering if this is an anomaly or a new pattern -- i.e., the "new normal". If that's the case -- and it certainly might not be -- but if it is, then it's a preview of that climate change societal disruption that the "alarmists" have been talking about.

So Trinidad does have a problem, but it also has some desalination plants coming online. Now, desalination uses lots of power, but they are near Venezuela, so maybe that's not a problem. But here's the perspective:

Water crisis takes turn for the worst (WASA is Trinidad's Water and Sewage Authority)

"Ellen Lewis, during a media conference at WASA’s head office in St Joseph. Lewis said the situation “had taken a turn for the worst,” with the water reserves dropping substantially to approximately one-third of what they should be. She said Arena dam had fallen to 40 per cent, Navet dam to 48, and both Hollis and Hillsborough to 50 per cent."

They're going to try conservation. "[Allan] Poon-King and Lewis commended the public’s support of WASA’s water conservation programme, but said more efforts were needed to preserve reserves. Lewis could not say how long the reserves would last, but added that it was up to the public to determine, and urged consumers to practise all conservation guidelines."

Here's the desalination news:

"A desalination plant would be commissioned in April at Point Fortin, which would have the capacity to produce 1.2 million gallons of water. She said the plant would then be expanded by August to have the capacity to produce 4.6 million gallons.
Another long-term plan being implemented by WASA in the next 18 months would be the establishment of two other desalination plants, one in La Brea and the other in Cove, Tobago. She said the La Brea plant would be able to produce 20 million gallons and the Cove plant five million."

My question: what's that going to do to their balance of payments when they have to power up all these desalination plants?


And now for China:

Drought to get more serious (this is from China Daily, so they probably mean it)

The drought, the worst in a century, has had a serious impact on the life of the locals and on economic development, leaving 24.25 million people and 15.84 million farm animals short of water, he said.

Liu attributed the drought in Southwest China to inadequate water storage facilities, inefficient use of water and declining river flows, besides the more obvious factors of less rainfall and higher temperatures than normal.

Recent rainfall, brought by cloud seeding in the southwestern regions, possibly provided some relief to farm production, but drinking water remains a problem, he said.
(for 24+ million people, that could be a problem)

They're going to try and build their way out of it:

A total of 60 million cubic meters of water has been sent to drought-hit areas by constructing more than 20,000 km of pipelines and 4,307 new water projects, allocating 7,615 water tankers to help with the relief and dig 180,000 wells, he said.

You've got to be impressed with the effort. Higher temperatures than normal, hmmm?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recycling would work if we'd do more of it

Scientific American has a good article about a topic that I keep constantly thinking about: trash, wastefulness, and recycling.

Policymakers take aim at new recycling frontier: Solid waste, retailers and packaging

OK, this doesn't surprise me, but it does bother me:

"New York City generates six million tons of food waste annually, she said. Paper coffee cups are one of the major components of that, with 58 billion being used yearly in the U.S. If they were recycled, some $27 million could be saved in disposal costs, she said."
("She" is Annie White, from GlobalGreen).

I know I had an article earlier about actually recyling food, as is being tried in Britain; food is fuel, if it could be converted.

More on recycling: "Currently, solid waste is recycled at a rate of 20 percent. Implementing the state's Solid Waste Management Plan [this is for New York] "could reduce nearly 23 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually, save more than 250 trillion BTUs of energy each year—as much energy as is consumed by more than 2.5 million homes—and create 74,000 jobs," according to a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation projection included in the plan's executive summary."

That's my idea of a no-brainer for the environment. Recycling does work -- let's remember that.

Charlotte Church's healthy weight loss... but

Remember Charlotte Church? She made a splash stateside as a young girl singing with an angelic voice. She did classical, later on she did a little pop music, too. Big star in the UK. And now she's really only 24 ... she has two kids ... and a hunky boyfriend, too. Well, getting on with her life, she's got a new TV gig, and in order to look good for the camera, she lost a lot of the baby weight and now looks like this:

And apparently she lost the weight with not much exercise, just portion control, and oh yeah, one more thing -- cigarettes.

She smokes. Don't know how that does for the voice, but cigarettes are a decent appetite suppressant, as every ex-smoker who has gained 20 pounds when they tried to quit can tell you.

There's more about that in this article:

Hello boyos!
Smokin’ hot and 3st lighter, Charlotte Church on her diet secrets (chips allowed) and those cheating rumours...

And here's what it says about the smokes:

Her body may never have looked more toned and trim, but as the aforementioned fags and fizzy drinks prove, an entirely virtuous lifestyle isn't standard for Charlotte just yet. She gave up smoking during both pregnancies, but now she's back on the ciggies, much to Gavin's dismay. "It was when I started going out," she grimaces. "I'm definitely going to give up again."

Gavin is Gavin Henson, the rugby-playing father of her two kids. Rugby players are doing OK with the babes, I think (thinking Danny Cipriani with Kelly Brook here).

So anyway, yes, she's not heavy and she looks pretty amazing compared to the cherubic (you know what that means) young lady with the superb voice. But if cigarettes helped her lose it -- it wasn't exactly the healthiest way to lose the weight.

Now, on a slightly better note, Gavin appears to like his girl, whatever shape she's in, as these mildly hot, somewhat romantic shots show; I like the untying sequence.




Sunday, March 28, 2010

You don't see this very often

It's very rare to see one player score two goals in one high-level soccer game, never mind four; so when Frank Lampard of Chelsea scored four in one game against Aston Villa, it was pretty remarkable. And Chelsea's ability to generate news with wives and girlfriends also seems pretty amazing.

Lampard has a celebrity girlfriend, Christine Bleakley, what the Brits call a "television presenter"; not much controversy there, except he did move on from a hot Latin lingerie model, Elen Rives, that he had two kids with, who I might have featured earlier her in this blog in a unique brassiere;

Chelsea's Ashley Cole is still rehabbing a broken ankle and apparently (according to reports) trying to rehab his broken marriage to the radiant Cheryl Cole;

Chelsea's John Terry: well, he got kicked off the captain's chair of the English World Cup team after it came out that he had an affair with the fiance/girlfriend/mother of another English soccer star, Wayne Bridge's kid -- Vanessa Perroncel, who just nailed a doubling of child support payments to around seven thousand pounds a month, which doesn't sound shabby;

and Chelsea's Joe Cole, who some reports say is "off form", might be "off form" because his rather amazingly attractive wife Carly Zucker just had a baby.

Plus, their top scorer, Didier Drogba, is nursing a knee injury and didn't play in the game where Lampard scored four.

Frank Lampard's four goal (and one assist) game: video

Chelsea is up against Man U next. Chelsea is behind by one point (3 points for a win, one point for a tie). So they need to win.

And I admire them just for being able to concentrate on the game, given their off-field activities and distractions. But what do they talk about in the locker room?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kelly Brook takes on the Ultimo challenge

Ultimo makes lingerie. Kelly Brook is their new face. (I think probably they should have mentioned her body, too.)

The results look pretty good so far, but much more needs to be said. And done.

The Daily Mail is so on top of this:

Kelly Brook goes back to her pin-up roots as she becomes the new face of Ultimo

Ever since "Die Another Day"

"Die Another Day", the last Pierce Brosnan James Bond outing, famously featured Halle Berry. But I was most impressed with the satiny luminosity of Rosamund Pike, who played the fencing phenom/agent Miranda Frost. So it is with considerable anticipation that I read Ms. Pike will be starring in a remake of the erotic classic "Women in Love". That should provide ample opportunities to peruse more of Ms. Pike's satiny luminosity, from all perspectives.

Rosamund Pike is a woman in love

(warning, there's some serious cleavage ahead)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Very impressive high quality video of Icelandic eruption

Requires Windows Media Player, though:

Obligatory NCAA March Madness comment 2010 (a little late)

I do like watching March Madness -- being fond of upsets in sports, I like what I'm seeing in this year's tournament thus far. Living in Maryland, I wish the Terrapins had beaten Michigan State, especially considering one of Michigan State's star players got hurt, meaning that they're unlikely to win it all (a healthy Maryland team, i.e., might have had a better chance against Kansas -- scratch that, Northern Iowa!)

Well, anyway, I'd like one of the teams I've listed below to win it all.

Butler (still in it with a stunning defeat of 'Cuse!)

Xavier (out, which is why I'm posting this late, but a heck of a battle)

Cornell (lost to powerful Kentucky, but they gave them a bit of a scare, didn't they?)

St. Mary's


(St. Mary's and Baylor play each other, so one will get at least to the Elite 8)

Northern Iowa

I estimate the chances of this happening at around 1000/1.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gates and Toshiba teaming up to build small, 100-year nuke plant?

According to the following, Bill Gates is working to make small nuclear plants, and he certainly had an effect on the world by getting small computers to work, didn't he?

Bill Gates, Toshiba in Early Talks on Nuclear Reactor

"The Nikkei business daily reported that the two sides would team up to develop a compact next-generation reactor that can operate for up to 100 years without refueling to provide emission-free energy."

The reactor technology is the Traveling-Wave Reactor, which uses depleted uranium.

There will be inevitable jokes about "blue screens of death", but this could be one of those technological advances that makes a real change in the world. This is the way to do it, and also to power six PC's in every home. Let's get cracking.

Britain launches new space agency

Despite not having a big space infrastructure, Britain does have many space-related projects, so they also now have a space agency:

UK space agency ready for take-off

The article says that the British space and satellite industry is worth about 6.8
billion pounds a year.

They even have a snazzy logo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Racquel's still got it

You'll see what I mean (and these are totally clean):

Advertisement 1 (YouTube)

Advertisement 2 (YouTube)

Who's that behind the comment?

Awhile back, I commented on one of the great debunkings; when Bob Carter of "the globe has been cooling off for 10 years" fame teamed up with John McLean and Chris DeFreitas (editor at the heart of the Van Storch editorial controversy) to write a paper that got widely touted as yet another "nail in the coffin" of global warming, when it was nothing of the sort.

McLean, DeFreitas, Carter paper update

Well, a team put together a response, and rebutted it well. It's written up here:

McLean debunked at last

which has a link to the actual paper (preprint PDF).

What really got me (and many others) about this paper was what Bob Carter said about it:

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century.”

and he also said this:

“The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

Comments like that got wide play on the erroneous side of the discussion (that's the side that claims global warming is a hoax/isn't happening/is a global conspiracy/ et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.)

Is anyone on that side going to note that what was said at the time was a) erroneous, b) misleading, and c) dangerous to our collective human future?

I doubt it strongly.

What good is CITES, anyway?

The Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) might be better known now as (for example):

Committee to Insure Tuna is Eliminated Summarily

Cooperation Indicates Total Environmental Surcease

Catastrophic Insiders Triumph: Eat Sushi

Consumer Ingestion = Tragically Empty Seas

They've proven to be pretty much useless to prevent anything. Yes, another reason (one of the best) for world government; laws from a world governmental body might actually get passed and have enforcement capability. As I know I've said before, the much-reviled (by conservatives who want to pave their land and sell it too) Endangered Species Act really puts limits on what people can do to endangered species when a species is really endangered -- even though getting a species classed as endangered is hard, and when the species is really in that category the situation isn't looking too good.

Most recently, CITES let Japan push them around again, and they were unable to put any protections on rare corals, and pretty much nothing on sharks, either:

CITES chooses 'commerce' over sharks, leaving endangered species vulnerable

"Once again, Japan led the opposition to regulating the trade in white-tipped sharks and scalloped hammerheads, including two look-alike species: the great hammerhead and the smooth hammerhead. Japan has dominated the CITES meeting, successfully leading resistance to banning the trade in the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna and against monitoring the coral trade."

Further down in the article:

"Governments at CITES have in the past had a good track record of protecting rare species, but can they rise to the challenge of protecting species which are now seriously depleted, and simultaneously worth a lot of money? Sadly, the signs from this meeting are not good. It’s clear that more and more governments attending CITES are not trying to protect species, but safeguard what they see as 'commodities' that they can continue trading," concluded Knowles, adding that "proposal after proposal designed to protect massively overfished marine species have failed to pass at CITES. It’s an appalling result, the impacts of which will effect our marine environment for generations to come."

Coming soon to an aquarium near you: the only place you can see what coral reefs used to look like, actual swimming bluefin tunas, and a couple of benign sharks.

Is it really worth it?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Is the real problem people, or what they use?

Arguments about overpopulation have gone on for decades, starting with regional concerns back even in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then going global in the 20th century. A provocative article argues that the real problem is not the number of people, it's what people use (that's called "consumption") -- and thus the problem is not the total number of people, it's the total number of wealthy people in wealthy nations using too much stuff and eating too much and driving too much and wasting too much, etc. (And when bluefin tuna is off the sushi menu in Japan because none can be found, then the rich Japanese nation will know who to point their collective finger at -- themselves.)

So here's the article:

The overpopulation myth

"Here are the numbers. Forty years ago, the average woman had between five and six kids. Now she has 2.6. This is getting close to the replacement level which, allowing for girls who don’t make it to adulthood, is around 2.3. As I show in my new book, Peoplequake, half the world already has a fertility rate below the long-term replacement level."

The reason?

"Women are doing this because, for the first time in history, they can. Better healthcare and sanitation mean that most babies now live to grow up. It is no longer necessary to have five or six children to ensure the next generation—so they don’t."

So the real problem is...

"... because the second myth about population growth is that it is the driving force behind our wrecking of the planet.

In fact, rising consumption today far outstrips the rising headcount as a threat to the planet. And most of the extra consumption has been in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population, while most of the remaining population growth is in countries with a very small impact on the planet. By almost any measure you choose, a small proportion of the world’s people take the majority of the world’s resources and produce the majority of its pollution."
And this message is strong:

"But let’s be clear about the scale of the difference involved. The carbon emissions
of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians,
30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians or 250 Ethiopians."

If you care (and I try to), the first tactic is to consume less and conserve more.

STEREO sun movies

One of my favorite Web sites is the STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) site. It has some great movies of solar activity, which is now -- thankfully for everyone who thought they understood how the Sun worked -- picking up. The STEREO movies show flares, prominences, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), self-immolating comets, even what they called a "solar tsunami" shock wave -- all amazing things to see for something that is normally too bright for us to look at.

Here are three good ones.

Solar tsunami

"Valentine" Flare (February 12, 2010)

Curling, Twirling Prominence

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fire and Iceland

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland has commenced an eruption. According to reports, it's a fissure eruption rather than a summit eruption, and thus is not under the summit glacier. Thus, there is little chance of witnessing a jokulhlaup.


Good video in the article here:

Volcano Erupts In Iceland Near Eyjafjallajokull Glacier, Hundreds Evacuated

Nice high-quality topo map of the volcano and glacier; it'd be nice to have the location of the eruption located on this.

Eruptions Blog also covers it. And via that route, here's a location map. I think that the green star is the eruption site.

After looking at the seismicity map below, I'm pretty sure of that.

Friday, March 19, 2010

China becoming strong nuclear power advocate

China says (whether or not I believe them) that they are going to work to clean up their energy act. They probably have to, to remain economically competitive and to keep the peasants from revolting.

Part of their plan is increased nuclear power, which is obviously the right thing to do. Here's what they say:

"Premier Wen is now putting a line under laissez-faire development and the focus is increasingly on nuclear power and renewable energy. About 16 percent of China's electricity came from renewable sources in 2006, led by the world's largest number of hydroelectric generators. Further, China has the largest wind resources in the world with three-quarters of them offshore."

in conjunction with

"Zhang Guobao, director of China's National Energy Administration, spoke earlier this month of China's development of nuclear power projects, 21 of which are under construction in the country. Currently, China has 11 nuclear power projects in operation."

So they are continuing to implement nuclear power, which is better than coal both for climate and for simple breathing.

Full Article

An amazing iceberg picture from the Southern Ocean

More here

Could the loss of the bluefin tuna be good for Earth and mankind?

OK, it's official now: bluefin tuna will now be fished to near-extinction. The decisive thumbs-down vote on a trade ban on bluefin tuna, not considering it to be an endangered species, shows that the unenlightened nations of the world (and I definitely include Japan in this category) will put their appetites before their reason, and ignore the strong advice and knowledge of scientists, and fish until the ability to make money catching particular fish disappears. The remnant populations will struggle to maintain viability.

Within a year or two, as the bluefin tuna catch dwindles, the price for the remaining ones will skyrocket - instead of blanching when reading about a bluefin that sold for about $175K U.S., soon we will read about a bluefin going for $250K, $300K, even $500K -- as much as the market will bear. And that increases the incentive to fish them into oblivion.

But what has been needed by the environmental movement, stymied by denialists on climate change and by economic selfish-interest in terms of animal trade, as well as simply the pressures of population, is a highly visible disaster. Losing the Yangtze freshwater dolphin -- hardly anyone had heard of that. Tigers might do it, but due to conservation efforts and despite poaching, tigers will hang on in the wild yet.

But bluefin tuna could be viably erased in the Atlantic and Mediterranean within a matter of years. When the catch plummets below the set limits -- when the longlines come back empty -- this will make news. When Tsukuji closes because there are no fish to sell, this will make news. When Nobu has no bluefin otoro on the menu, celebrities will notice. This will have impact. This will open collective eyes that there are many other species facing a similar path to demise.

Joseph Hennon, a spokesman for the European Commission, said the new focus on bluefin had shifted the attitudes of some European Union members, which have started thinking about the long-term economic implications of overfishing. "If there's no fish for them, there's no fishery," he said.

And from this: Japan's lobbying sinks bluefin tuna curbs

we hear:
"Top Japanese negotiator Masanori Miyahara described the proposed ban as unworkable and unfair.

"We are very serious about bluefin tuna," he said in an interview with Agence France-Presse. "If they are really concerned about the future of the bluefin tuna, let's stop the fishing --that's the best way."
[Take him up on it!]

And he also said:

In Doha, Mr. Miyahara said Japan could do without the bluefin, given that the species accounts for just 3% of the "high quality tuna" consumed there.

"If bluefin doesn't come to the Japanese market, no problem, we can give it up," he said.

[So give it up already!]

So maybe the loss of the bluefin could be a bellwether and alarm signal that we humans really can destroy the ecosystem of the oceans. I thought for years that the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery would do it, but it didn't. I thought there would be attention when studies showed the plummeting size of big predatory fish, and reported that stocks were down 90%, that would create attention to this issue.

I was wrong. It will take the utter disappearance of what is expected to be there to cause changes.

By then it will be too late for the bluefin tuna. But maybe other fish will benefit from its sacrifice on the altar of commerce.

In related news, the wild sturgeon of the Caspian rivers is nearly extinct, too.

Learning about Helene

Admission time: I never heard of the Saturn moon Helene before. When pictures (such as a couple shown here) showed up, I had to investigate. Helene is a little moon (a moonlet? a moonitesimal? a dwarf moon?) that happens to be in a stable Lagrange point with the larger Dione. So (as many have already noted), Helene is a Saturnian Trojan moon, where the Trojans stand for the asteroids that are clustered around Jupiter's stable Lagrange point. Earth has a few asteroids in the Trojan positions, the stable Lagrange points, too. So with regard to Helene, she's boxed (reference: Boxing Helena, picture) in a Trojan location around Saturn, and is thus Helene of Troy. (And it really was named after the fabulous Helen, who apparently by virtue of being descended from a god, gets to be a goddess, even though she was human.)

[Which brings up the question, who was the more beauteous recent cinematic Helen: Diane Kruger or Sienna Guillory?]

I had heard of stable Lagrange points -- they are points in the orbit that are gravitically balanced between a large orbiting object, the much larger object that is being orbited around, and the location of the points. So stuff tends to accumulate there. Given all the gravitic pulls and tugs in multi-body systems, it seems amazing that there are stable points, but apparently there are.

So anyway, Helene is a little irregularly-shaped moon, which doesn't do much except orbit Saturn, stay out of Dione's way, and get featured on lists of Saturnian moons. Helene was discovered in 1980, by the way.

Another picture of Helene

Helene info from SolarViews

Close-up of Helene

Fly-by report

More on Helene, and Calypso (another Saturn Trojan, in the link) and Lagrange points

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Avatar music recycled

Composer James Horner has got a good thing going with James Cameron -- much like the vaunted collaboration of Steven Spielberg and John Williams. When I went to see "Avatar", I didn't know Horner had scored it, but I was not surprised to see that he had.

While I was watching, there was one point in the movie (during one of the battle scenes) when I heard a discordant theme that sounded very similar to something that I had heard before. Just today it occurred to me: the theme sounded exactly like what I would call "danger/suspense" chords in the movie "Enemy at the Gates" (where Jude Law plays a Russian sniper cat-and-mousing with Ed Harris playing a famous German sniper during the battle for Stalingrad; apparently this was loosely based on a real situation during the war). Jude Law also has a love affair with Rachel Weisz (complete with discrete consummation), which gives me an excuse to put a Rachel Weisz picture at the end of this.

But back to the music. So I checked, and Horner did indeed score "Enemy at the Gates" (which wasn't directed by Cameron). And apparently he employed a little bit of recycled score in "Avatar", which is fine. I just wanted to show how proud I was of myself for recognizing it.

I had another thought: in "Enemy at the Gates", this music is used at times when the well-supplied German army is decimating the woefully-undersupplied Russians; but they just keep on coming. The same type of thing happens in "Avatar"; I wonder if this bit of similar music was an intentional echo. I guess if I ever meet Horner or Cameron (not likely), I'll have to ask.

Or not: similar comments are made in this post on the "Avatar" soundtrack (apparently Horner borrowed from Rachmaninoff), and this one, too. The latter has an aural demonstration.

Whilst searching for pictures of Rachel Weisz, I determined that there are far too few of this wonderful and beautiful actress. There is, of course, the one of her wearing just a snake -- the one below is just her lovely self.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

England takes Bangladesh in first Test match: Swann sets record

England's bowler Graeme Swann knocked down a lot of wickets to give England a pretty easy victory in the first Test match against Bangladesh. That was helped by Kevin Pietersen's 99 earlier in the match. But Bangladesh was doing well in the morning before Swann and Broad took wickets fast in the afternoon.

Swann sets wicket record (first match with 10 wickets by an off-spinner since 1956)

Nuclear-powered vampires

If that doesn't scare you, nothing will; but Romania plans to put a new nuclear plant in Transylvania.

Location of Romania's 2nd nuclear power plant likely to be announced this year

(They already have indicated it'll be in Transylvania. They just haven't determined where in Transylvania yet.)

Up close and personal with Phobos

Shortly back, I noted the super-close flyby of Phobos by the Mars Express. New pictures are out; some of them are 3-D anaglyphs (red-blue), if you've got your 3-D glasses handy. (The Avatar specs you brought home from the theater don't work.)

Here it is:

And here's the others:

Phobos fly-by gallery

Kuwait oil supply study predicts peak oil in ... in ... Ohmigod

If you really want to shake the world's economy in its petroleum-tarred boots, predict that the world's production of oil will peak in 2014.

That's what researchers in Kuwait did with an update of the Hubbert model.

"The scientists from Kuwait University and the Kuwait Oil Company adopted a newer approach by including many Hubbert production cycles, or bell-shaped curves showing the rise and fall of a non-recyclable resource. Earlier models typically assumed just one production cycle, despite the fact that most oil-producing nations have historically experienced more of a roller coaster ride in production."

The reverberations of this could be profound (and of course it will be examined closely). But if true, this means that alternate energy development has got to get on a much faster track -- or a global depression, highlighted by oil wars, could really be in our collective future.

And perhaps mark the beginning of the end of it.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts...

Good news for dreamers

In recent developments, Cheryl Cole and Kate Winslet are getting divorces (the latter a bit of a shocker, the former everybody could see coming) -- and Jennifer Love Hewitt broke up with Jamie Kennedy.

So all of these gals could use dates to the next big music or entertainment awards show. Good luck, guys.

Endangered species update (bad) from CITES meeting

Endangered species perish while governments debate trade rules

Perhaps the tiger should replace the panda as the WWF symbol. The global tiger population is in dire shape, according to statements at the CITES meeting; mainly because there is herbal/magical/ mystical/stupid trade in tiger parts in China for traditional medicinal purposes. Ugh. Perhaps measures like increasing criminal surveillance might help. But the powerful and majestic tiger is decreasing in the wild very rapidly. And two things we do: poaching and destruction of wild habitat -- are the main reasons.

According to other reports, Japan is putting on the full-court press against the bluefin tuna ban. They want a "sustainable" harvest, they recognize the danger of overfishing. MY question: if bluefin tuna means so much to them, why don't they accept a temporary ban, let the stocks recover, come up with a real sustainable harvest plan, and then the threat to sushi will be reduced? These people are short-sighted idiots. (In slightly better news, a company in Japan has apparently been able to get bluefin tuna to hatch from eggs, potentially creating hatchery bluefin. Maybe that has a chance... I first want to know the potential numbers of hatchlings that could realistically result from this effort.)

I see quite a bit of agreement with my position here.

Stupid two-thirds vote requirement; if the ban fails by a couple of votes, then the momentum will be severely hurt. This is truly a watershed meeting for the world's wildlife, on land and sea.

More articles:

Lobbying by Japan on bluefin tuna blasted at CITES talks

Up until 2008, when the catch fell by half, annual hauls were 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes.

"If trade is stopped in Doha, all the scientists agree that bluefin tuna can recover," said Sue Lieberman, policy director for the Pew Environment Group in Washington.

"Another two-to-five years of overfishing, and they won't."

Japanese firm breeds sustainable bluefin tuna from eggs

Burimy has teamed up with Japan's Kinki University, which has succeeded in hatching eggs, nurturing baby fish and breeding them into fat adults in what the company says is the world's first complete cultivation cycle.

Burimy first bought 1,500 artificially hatched baby bluefin tuna
from the university's A-marine Kindai laboratory in December 2007 and over the next two years grew them into 1.2-metre (four-foot) adults.

Japan's famous Tsukiji fish market braces for tuna trade ban

Monday, March 15, 2010

El Niño may impact West Coast fishing industry

Might mean less squid!

"Researchers with the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) at Scripps and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center are observing a stronger than normal northward movement of warm water up the Southern California coast, a high sea-level event in January and low amounts of plankton and pelagic fish. Sea surface temperatures along the entire West Coast are 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius warmer than normal.

“Based on our previous experience of El Niño in California, it is likely to reduce ocean production below normal, with possible effects extending to breeding failure of seabirds, and much lower catches in the market squid fishery,” said Sam McClatchie, a fisheries oceanographer at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries.

Satellite remote sensing and field measurements together give scientists a broader view of the evolution of this El Niño that was not available during previous ones. NOAA Southwest Fisheries oceanographer Frank Schwing said scientists’ analytical tools better assess the strength of anomalies such as warming associated with the system."

I wish injuries weren't part of the game

While I'd sure like the United States to do well at the World Cup, I feel sorry for the England team. Now, John Terry got himself into trouble with the ladies, and that I don't worry about; but the Brits have had a real run of bad luck with injuries. Ashley Cole (despite his problems at home) broke an ankle and is trying to rehab, and just this weekend David Beckham tore an Achilles tendon and is out of the World Cup. He was trying to be the first (?) player to play in four World Cups.

Injuries are part of the game, any sport where there is contact and danger. But I wish that they were less a part of the game. I really feel for the fans of a team
that has high hopes when a star player goes down and out for an extended period of time with an injury. Baseball pitching is one of those things that can come and go in a very short period of time due to injuries. Football (American), obviously; several players have had to retire early due to concussions, and I still wish Bo Jackson hadn't had a hip injury that knocked him out of both baseball and football, where he could have had a legitimate chance to be in the Hall of Fame for both sports. Hockey is now trying to deal with head injuries and head-hunting, and this might have resulted in an over-reaction to an Alex Ovechkin push on Sunday.

Tennis has had its share of problems, too: the marketing mavens pushing the women's game probably sure hope that Maria Sharapova can get over her shoulder woes and win a couple more Grand Slams, and pose in more bikinis and sell more cameras. Tennis, compared to golf, takes a lot more effort to make considerably less money (though obviously top players make a decent living). On the men's side, go-for-broke Rafael Nadal is going to have to figure out how to play so he doesn't pound his knees so much, or his career will end up being classed as cometary.

Basketball is in the same boat; Cleveland is crossing its fingers that Shaquille O'Neal's finger heals by the playoffs. In college, Purdue is in the big dance but may go out early because their center is out with a knee injury.

There's an ongoing issue in sports like basketball and soccer and volleyball with girls who seem to have a propensity for tearing their ACLs when making a simple jumping move that they've done hundreds of times before. This one really bothers me (sports trainers, too), partly because it's hard to figure out why it happens.

Yes, injuries are part of the game, but that doesn't mean I have to like them. No one does -- except for the teams and fans of the teams that benefit when a star player on an opposing team gets hurt. Of such stuff are upsets made; but those aren't the kind of upsets I like. I like teams to perform at their best, and when an upset is the result of one team (or player) playing above the level that was thought to be their best -- that's good competition.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vickers and Tisdale

Well, after watching the "Once" video, Diana Vickers is never shown on a couch wearing just a white shirt.

Ah well, here's a link to the video anyway:


On the same subject of maturation, Ashley Tisdale's ("The Suite Life of Zach and Cody", "High School Musical") new video single gives her a mature, edgy side.

It's Alright, It's OK

Particularly between 1:57 and 2:30.

Another example in the just-a-shirt genre

Awhile back, I commented on my enjoyment of the look when a woman is wearing a "boyfriend" shirt -- i.e., wearing a man's shirt and not much else.

We all have our own likes

Well, Diana Vickers, a young rising singing star in Britain (Wikipedia) has provided a nice entry in this category to coincide with a new video:

On the couch, in a shirt

From this article, which includes the video link:

Diana Vickers shows she's got the legs factor in new video for debut single

As the article notes, she's "maturing" her image.

Here's an example of the younger look.

I guess girls have to grow up. Not a bad thing, in many cases.

South Korea and Turkey sign nuclear plant deal

The South Koreans are moving aggressively in the building-new-nuclear-plants sector:

S. Korea, Turkey sign deal on nuclear power plant

The Turks have also got another deal with Russia for another plant. So Turkey is going in strong for nuke power. I just hope they site the sites well; Turkey has had some notable earthquakes.

China says climate change is a fact; and they've got a problem

China says climate change is a fact; and they've got a problem

Climate change is a fact, says China

Xie Zhenhua, a deputy director at China's powerful economic ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, answered that he believed that made-made climate change denial is, at best, a very marginal view.

"Climate change is a fact based on long-time observations by countries around the world," he said.

"There are two different views regarding the causes for global warming.

"The mainstream view is that climate change is caused by burning of fossil fuel in the course of industrialisation.

"There's a more extreme view which holds that human activity has only an imperceptible impact on the natural system."

He should have added: that extreme view is basically WRONG.

Official: China's environment still deteriorating

China environment worsening, may miss energy goals

I coulda told them that.

He talks about the atmosphere, but they've also got problems with water pollution and water quality, too much use of fertilizer, degradation of the coastal zone, overfishing, desertification and dust storms, urban air quality: it's a long list. And if it keeps getting worse, the people are going to start getting restive.

Kevin Pietersen gets on track

I haven't been writing about cricket much lately, but I have been following the British team's colonial swing (i.e., Bangladesh -- used to be part of the colony of India, remember?). Anyway, the biggest news on the one-days was that ace batsman Kevin Pietersen was decidedly not an ace, having trouble scoring more than twenty runs.

Well, the good news (for Britain, bad for Bangladesh) is that Pietersen showed much better form on the first day of the first Test against Bangladesh, coming one run short of a century i.e., 100 runs). While missing the mark appeared to have bothered him, he later said that his 99 was a whole lot better than 20s (or less).

Gotta keep him in the news partly because he has such a nice WAG, Jessica Taylor (one, two, three, ai yi yi!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Thermal image of the lava pond deep in a pit at the side of Halemaumau crater in the caldera of Kilauea volcano. That certainly looks like the way in...

Bluefin tuna ban at CITES now has a chance

With the EU and the USA now backing it, a ban on trade in bluefin tuna -- likely to be declared an endangered species -- has pretty good prospects for passage. The problem is, as would be expected, Japan. They expect to take a "reservation" -- meaning they're going to opt out of the ban and trade with any other countries that also opt out.

The good thing appears to be that most other European countries are going to opt in, and that's the main group that's overfishing the Mediterranean and Atlantic bluefin.

Whaling has been kind of a sidelight, and Japan hasn't done its whaling on endangered species. But if they become a pariah state on bluefin tuna, then they will show their true colors and their environmental disdain -- and boycotts and trade restrictions will be acceptable counter-stratagems. They need to realize (much like China's "medicinal" trade, which is also causing species endangerment, like tigers) that we are all in this sinking boat together.

The problem is ... they aren't pressing for immediate implementation. They're giving it another year to push the bluefin tuna toward extinction.

If you're going to do something bold, BE BOLD.

Union to press for bluefin tuna ban

[Meanwhile, in Japan]

EU backing for bluefin tuna trade ban sparks Japan protests

Here's the #1 idiot quote:

"This is like telling the US to stop eating beef," said Kimio Amano, a 36-year-old broker at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo who joined about 100 other dealers – many clad in work boots and shiny waterproof overalls – to chant slogans calling for better use of the ocean's resources.

Uhh, sorry, beef cattle in the world are not critically endangered. Learn to eat turkey, jerk.

Check out this last stat:

"It is estimated that some 1m bluefins were caught last year, while the total population is thought to be about 3.75m. The WWF says stocks of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic have dropped by 80% since 1978."

That's why this is needed -- NOW.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chanelle Hayes is pregnant; hope that works out for her

Chanelle Hayes, a really cute British glamour model, is pregnant, but she broke up with the sporting star (soccer/football) that got her that way. She's had somewhat of a difficult time, including a suicide attempt when she had an argument with aforementioned boyfriend, so I am sincerely hoping that single motherhood will be a good lifestyle choice for her.

Meanwhile, a couple of examples of why I think she's really cute:

Example A
(rated provocative)

Example B (rated risque)

Example C (rated pretty risky)

Without difficulty, one can find a duo session with endowed British glamour model Lucy Pinder. Worth the effort if that's of interest.

France pushes for more nuclear power globally

Not that anyone should be surprised, but I'm all in favor of the French push for more nuclear power usage. That means building more plants, retiring/retooling/refitting old plants, coming up with better ways to handle and secure nuclear waste, and changing other aspects of the global energy infrastructure to deal with nuclear (such as longer transmission capability and smart grids).

So when I hear Sarkozy making his pitch, I applaud heartily, and hope the world listens.

France urges the world to turn to nuclear power

"Welcoming delegates from 60 energy-hungry nations to a conference in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy said civil nuclear power had been unfairly passed over for World Bank development loans.

He called on world and regional financial bodies to finance new nuclear projects in developing countries, and announced that France would set up an international institute to promote atomic technology.

"I can't understand why nuclear power is ostracised by international finance, it's the stuff of scandal," he said, urging the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others to do more."


"[France] has also made the export of nuclear technology an economic priority.

French engineering giants Areva and EDF are promoting the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), a third-generation reactor design that France considers the most advanced in the world."

The black penguin

Now there's an oddity for ya.

Pictures of a black penguin (South Georgia Island; happens to be a black king penguin -- no chess jokes)

Yes, speed cameras can collect revenue

Awhile back on this blog I commented on how highway speed cameras could be used for two things: a) acting as a deterrent to high speeds on the highway and reckless high-speed drivers on the highway, and b) collecting revenue when there are forces afoot -- such as high gas mileage hybrid vehicles -- that are affecting the traditional way of funding highway and road construction and maintenance via gas taxes.

As it becomes less and less attractive to use too much gas, and as they are less and less and less gas-guzzlers on the road, the latter problem will acuten. So I think that the former solution has a lot of merit, especially in these lean revenue times.

Hardly anyone argues that reckless high-speed drivers aren't a problem. But there are too few cops on the road to catch them. Now, one way that has been hit upon to reduce smoking and to raise taxes is to increase cigarette taxes. It prices more and more smokers out of the market (one desired outcome) and is a revenue source (another desired outcome).

So use speed cameras the same way. Stop pretending they aren't a revenue source and use them to slow down speeders and get the worst ones off the road (or hit them hard in the wallet to make them slow down), and make some money off them to boot. If people want to keep speeding above a reasonable speed above the speed limit -- my suggestion is 12 miles an hour over the speed limit, using English units -- then make them pay for the privilege of going too fast, endangering their lives and the lives of other drivers, and burning too much gas.

The Brits are up in arms that a speed camera collected a lot of money. Weirdly, I see this is a good thing.

The speed camera trap on the M6

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Indonesia says it might be possible to cut a deal on forests

Indonesia: deforestation deal in sight

"At December's Copenhagen climate summit, six nations pledged a total of 3.5 billion dollars to help developing countries fight the loss of forests, seen as a leading cause of global warming along with industrial pollution.

Basah Hernowo, a senior official in Indonesia's forestry ministry, said he hoped that a system would be finalized by the next climate summit at the end of this year in Mexico.

"I think everybody sees a convergence compared with other sectors. So we are optimistic. Hopefully in Mexico we can complete it," Hernowo told AFP on a visit to Washington."

I hope so. If a bluefin (and perhaps shark) trade ban passes this month, and a deforestation deal that works gets done this year, there might still be some hope for this planet and humanity. There's still a long, long way to go, but maybe we're turning a corner.

Is tupelo honey endangered?

Ever hear of tupelo honey? Well, you might have heard of the song by Van Morrison; but you might not have ever indulged in the details. Tupelo honey is a unique gourmet honey harvested in southern Georgia and northern Florida, from the white Ogeechee tupelo gum tree. You can read more about it in the links, but the quick story is that to make pure tupelo honey, the beekeepers have to clear out the hives of any other honey, and then let the bees go when the tupelo trees are blooming, for about three weeks every summer. The result is a uniquely-flavored honey that won't granulate (high fructose content).

The question is: is tupelo honey endangered? Between the problems with bees, the difficulty of making it, and drought and land-use change, the conditions and skills for making it are rare. A couple of changes, and it may be very, very difficult to get. So get yours now!

Ark of Taste: Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey Tower Jar

Tupelo Honey Facts

Armadillo Pepper - Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Forests and Beekeepers in Gulf County, Florida:
Livelihood Preservation and Forest Conservation in a
Changing Rural Landscape

I found the Olympic female sculpture model

A couple of posts ago, regarding the nude snowwoman, I also included two images of a smaller study of the 1984 Olympic female nude sculpted by Robert Graham, which stands side-by-side with the male nude in front of the Los Angeles Coliseum. 

(Note: if you happen to be reading this, you should also read this: The Real Jennifer Inniss

In that post, I noted that the male model was U.S. water polo star Terry Schroeder, and the female model was Guyanese sprinter and long jumper Jennifer Innis. While it isn't difficult to find pictures of Schroeder, it's not easy to find pictures of Jennifer Innis. Particularly because that's not how her name is spelled. It is spelled wrong on a lot of Web sites. Exclusive to "Weights, Measures, and Esoterica", I set the record straight; the correct spelling of the model for the sculpture is Jennifer INNISS (double S). 

Here's how I did it. I noticed on one of the listings for a meet record or something that she was down (as Jennifer Innis) as attending Cal State -- Los Angeles. So I went to the Cal State - Los Angeles Web site, found the Track and Field section in the Athletics section, and found that they had a Hall of Fame induction listing. I figured she'd be there (she still holds the Guyana national record in the long jump, set in 1982 -- this was a top-flight athlete, after all). So I looked at each Hall of Fame "class" -- and found Jennifer Inniss. 

Then I did a Google image search with that name, and found the Friends of Guyana Athletics Web site. It had a picture of Jennifer Inniss, and this is where I discovered that she still holds the national record in the long jump (as Jennifer Innis!) She also holds the national record in the 100 meters, set in 1984. Judging by the date, probably set in a warm-up meet for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she is immortalized headless in bronze. And she is briefly discussed here:

And here's her picture (update:  this is not Jennifer Inniss, see link at the top), with both head and feet: Clearly she wasn't a swimsuit model; but the anatomically-accurate sculpture shows that she had a marvelous athletic body. I have been meaning for a long time to write a post that is a tribute to the athletic female body, and now that I've found Jennifer INNISS, I'll get working on that. I also found a Sports Illustrated article that mentions her, and that she finished second in the Pan-American games when Jackie-Joyner Kersee tied the world record in the long jump.

Indy Lights Up: The Pan Am Games drew a huge field and provided sparkling moments

Monday, March 8, 2010

What does Bar Rafaeli look like in a fancy dress?

Most of the time we've seen Bar Rafaeli, she's wearing very little.

Which is a good thing.

So what does she look like glammed up in an Oscar night dress?

Pretty good.

This is just plain stupid

Katrina victims seek to sue greenhouse gas emitters

"The plaintiffs allege that defendants' operation of energy, fossil fuels, and chemical industries in the United States caused the emission of greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming," say the documents seen by AFP.

The increase in global surface air and water temperatures "in turn caused a rise in sea levels and added to the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina, which combined to destroy the plaintiffs' private property, as well as public property useful to them."

They are never going to be able to prove a global warming/hurricane relationship. This is frivolous waste of money and time -- even if there is a connection.

United States will support bluefin tuna trade ban; Japan (unsurprisingly) won't

Japan loves its sushi. No matter how unsustainable, they still want their gourmet items. Sharkfin and bluefin tuna.

Makes me sick.

Fortunately the U.S. will support the CITES ban.

U.S. backs international trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna

"In a week and a half [from March 4th], representatives from 175 countries will convene in Doha, Qatar, to determine whether to restrict the trade of bluefin tuna -- valued for its rich, buttery taste -- and an array of other imperiled species under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora."

"The CITES secretariat has determined a total trade ban on bluefin tuna is warranted, based on current scientific data."

Japan says it won't comply with bluefin tuna ban

"But Japan's taste for bluefin tuna has gone global, ratcheting up prices and demand, while raiding the supply in many of the world's oceans. Many marine scientists say that a complete ban is justified by scientific data.

Monaco proposed the bluefin ban late last year, but the U.S. government did not immediately support it. The European Commission has asked that member governments go along with the ban. So far, France has signaled it would support delayed implementation, while Greece, Spain and Italy -- where fishing interests are powerful -- have opposed it. The ban needs a two-thirds majority to pass."

"In the market, fish wholesalers agreed that global restrictions in the bluefin catch make sense, when they are based on academic data. But they said there is no way Japan can go along with a bluefin ban.

"There is no choice for the Japanese government," said Saito. "We Japanese eat tuna."

The comments on the second Washington Post article are priceless. And generally uniform in the opinion that it's going to be very, very hard to eat tuna WHEN THERE ISN'T ANY LEFT TO EAT.

Below the organic clouds

The actual surface of Saturn's moon Titan is hidden beneath a haze of cold organic carbon molecules, but the radar on Cassini is what pierces the carbon fog and shows us what the surface looks like. And here's a swath of what the surface looks like:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snow babe has to get dressed

I thought this was pretty funny:

Family forced to dress snow sculpture of naked woman in bikini after complaints to police

Now, I think that such a controversy should be evaluated on purely artistic grounds. The nude is a recognized artistic form. So did they do a good job?

Here's the snow sculpture:

Here's a smaller study by Robert Graham of the female torso he created for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, still standing outside the LA Coliseum: the model was long jumper Jennifer Innis from Guyana.

I think the snow sculptors did great. Thus, I think this qualifies as art and isn't obscene (and furthermore, being in a medium that will melt, it is ephemeral, and therefore not something that would somehow offend the community for a long time). It's a very good nude -- even if she is a bit frigid.

As an aside, I've never been able to find a single picture of Jennifer Innis the person; though it's easy to find pictures of the model for the male torso, U.S. water polo player Terry Schroeder. For historical purposes, it would be a heck of a scoop to find the full Jennifer.

Closing an old and leaky nuke plant

It may seem shocking, but the Vermont senate voted to shut the Vermont Yankee nuclear station, and they want to emblazon their trail into the future with solar and wind power:

Vermont senate votes to close Yankee power plant

It's 38 years old.

It leaks (tritium -- which is a bit radioactive) -- not a big deal to the outside world, though.

The plant's owners lied about it.

A cooling tower fell down.

A few fuel rods have gone missing at the plant.

Surprisingly, given this track record, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn't have a problem with giving the plant another 20 years. I do -- if something went wrong with this dinosaur, then that would be a bad mark for an industry trying to regain some forward momentum.

Still, the alternatives are on the far horizon. Here's what Greenpeace says:

"When Americans have the choice about the kind of energy they want in their communities, they don't want nuclear. Vermont has shut down the myth of the so-called nuclear renaissance. Greenpeace is calling on Vermonter legislators to vote against relicensing in the house as well so that the message to America registers loud and clear."

"From farmers and schoolteachers to businesspeople and students, the people of Vermont are overwhelmingly in support of a energy future that relies on clean and safe renewables like wind and solar.

I think the 'peacers are overplaying their hand here. This plant didn't have a future, but getting to a low-carbon economy on just wind and solar, without nukes? Good luck with that; hope you can read by candlelight.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Foam on California beaches caused by tsunami?

I saw this article in the Daily Mail, and the accompanying pictures are pretty interesting:

Tsunami caused by massive Chilean earthquake causes surge in sea foam on California beaches

So I read the article: and I doubt the tsunami connection. One wave does not such amounts of foam make. What does make it are phytoplankton slicks -- the article cites Phaeocystis. So I think the Daily Mail tabloid writers were milking (ahem) the tsunami for the foam connection. More likely is an El Nino connection, with an anomalous phytoplankton bloom in warmer-than-normal waters.

IN a different vein, seeing the picture above kinda makes me think of something like this:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mind your Qi's and Q's

I'd been meaning to do this for a while; Qi Shu is the appealing Asian actress that appeared in the original "Transporter: movie. So I checked to see if there are appealing images of this appealing actress.

Turns out that there are. Some of them are very appealing, in a be-careful kind of way. And more revealing images than I link here can be found too, if one desires such.

Qi Shu A

Qi Shu B

Qi Shu C

Qi Shu D

While I'm at it, I'll check in with Maggie Q (Quigley), most noted for "Mission Impossible 3", who has one of the best backs in the business:

Maggie Q A

Maggie Q B

Maggie Q C

Maggie Q D

She's a Q T. (Had to.)

A few of the reasons on why masculine men cheat on gorgeous women

We keep learning more and more about why men who are in the enviable position of having spectacularly gorgeous women (or in the least, really good-looking women) as wives, fiancees, or girlfriends -- all implying the benefits of conjugality and connubiality (you know, doing it) -- somehow manage to massively undermine their outrageously good fortune by sleeping around. If not sleeping around exactly, doing something lewdly inappropriate that gets them in trouble, and usually (yet surprisingly not always) kicked out of the conjugal bed and the shared domicile by the spectacularly gorgeous wronged woman.

Here's a short list that comes quickly to mind, not in either temporal order or with any evaluation of the worst lapses of judgment:

Tiger Woods (wife, Elin Nordegren)
John Terry (wife, Toni Poole)
Ashley Cole (wife, Cheryl Cole)
Peter Cook (wife, Christie Brinkley)
Hugh Grant (girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley)
Fisher Stevens (girlfriend, Michelle Pfeiffer)
Kris Benson (wife, Anna Benson)
Steven Seagal (wife, Kelly LeBrock)
Ryan Phillippe (wife, Reese Witherspoon; girlfriend, Abbie Cornish)
Boris Becker (wife, Barbara Feltus)
Jude Law (I think he was on a "break" for his most recent progeny-inducing
fling, but he previously cheated on Sienna Miller)

Now, this list excludes a lot of husbands who cheated on fairly nice looking wives. And I'm sure there are a few more in this ex-tinguished caterogy than I was able to list here. To make this list, the wife or WAG or GF had to truly be an A-lister. So recent famous cheaters like Mel Gibson or Mark Sanford don't qualify. I also don't think that rock/pop stars qualify, because, well, they just get too many opportunities. But I guess I should at least mention Mick
Jagger (Jerry Hall) and Rod Stewart (Rachel Hunter).

So why do they do it? How CAN they do it? Well, there are a lot of reasons that marriages don't work out. But one would think that being blessed with a wife of massive pulchritude would be an incentive not to screw it up by screwing around. And yet they do. So here's my main three reasons that I think they do, with some supporting documentation.

1. They're not smart.
2. They're doing what is evolutionarily and biologically logical.
3. They aren't getting enough.

Point #1: They're not smart.

Well, that point was inspired by this:

Why you'd be stupid to cheat on your wife: Unfaithful men have lower IQs, say scientists

And see, in this particular subset of the cheating genre, it makes sense. Those of us of upper intelligence, normal means, and normal looks would recognize our good fortune, and would cherish and protect our right of congress with women on the level with earthly goddesses with just about any means at our disposal. We would understand that we were very, very lucky, and we wouldn't endanger our chances of continuing to get lucky in such an esteemed and exalted manner. Furthermore, we possess sufficient intelligence to recognize the recklessness of adulterous liaisons, and how it could not only endanger our privileged access to the forms and functionalities of our mates, but also it could endanger our current lifestyle, our endorsement agreements, our public perception, our health, our main means of support,

... and in really severe cases, our actual existence -- whether by means of airborne crockery, misused golf clubs, intentionally aimed gunshots, poisoned chicken soup, or SUVs piloted in anger such as to run cheatin' hubster under the wheels.

Point #2: They're doing what is evolutionarily and biologically logical.

This point was inspired by this article:

Intelligent people have novel preferences

which is to say, summarily, that men having multiple fertilizable partners is the logical evolutionary way to propagate one's male genes through the gene pool, whilst having committed partners is the women's way to insure as well as possible that progeny survive, thus keeping her genes in pool play. So male monagamous behavior is evolutionarily illogical, i.e., it's novel behavior, as the article calls it. We've come up with the idea/ideal of monogamy in human relationships as an ideal; those that actually do it are not being instinctive. As I've noted in earlier articles -- referring to accomplished (older) men with young, attractive (i.e, indicatively fertile) women as their partners and bearers of their offspring as "silverbacks" -- in nature, alpha males get the privilege of distributing their genes reproductively, while the normal males (i.e., guys like me) rarely get a whiff of the female reproductive pheromones -- though females in society and in nature do cheat a little, because it's genetically advantageous not to have ALL one's progeny's chromosomes from the same male. Even if he is protecting you.

So these alpha males -- they're following their instincts when the follow the scent and display of poon, particularly very young, fertile, nubile, curvaceous, avid, poon. And there's significant research that shows females make themselves available, consciously or otherwise, to the advances, penetrations, and emissions of alpha males.

Point #3: They aren't getting enough.

OK, this one was solely inspired by my own lascivious thought processes. But there is a somewhat characteristic pattern to many of the relationships that I listed above: both partners are celebrities (or at least privileged and recognizable members of society). Their abilities, or their looks, or both, made them celebrities. They have commitments. They have a lot of things to do. They are on tour, playing away games, making public appearances, doing location shoots, making business deals, signing contracts, doing guest shots on TV ...

in short, they aren't home a lot. In longer, the dual (dueling) responsibilities of being celebrities may and probably do cause them to have very little domestic down (and getting down) time.

If I was so unbelievably fortunate to be in such a relationship, and I was getting that thing that is a primordial biological act, a passionate, life-affirming, pleasurable, emotionally-bonding, tension-releasing, a common shared experience between wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends, amours and paramours: I'd want more. A lot more. And I'd miss it, I'd miss my RIGHT to have it, if I only got the chance to have it a few times a year. Now, being intelligent, I'd know how lucky I was; but being them -- which is to say, dumb, very masculine, testosterone-laden, young and healthy, accomplished, recognized, lauded, celebrated -- I would want to affirm my role and level in life by making it, as frequently as possible, with my spectacularly gorgeous partner.

And if she's not around, those hormones don't go away. Those instincts don't go away. Those needs don't go away. Those stories from your friends and teammates and business partners who are getting it from WAGs and trophy wives who are home a lot more often don't go away. Those perceptions of superiority and privilege and being special don't go away. There is a sense of entitlement, the spoils of victory, the laurels of a champion. Here's Tiger's own words:

"I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them."

There are two other parts of this. There may be a resentment that the gorgeous partner isn't (or doesn't make herself) more available. So cheating is a way of retaliating against that deprivation. And as I noted in an earlier article here, there is also the life-affirming aspect of the human mating act -- them's who aren't getting it have lower self esteem, are depressed, and in many ways are unhappier than those which are getting it regularly, variously, and goodly. Now, while these men are very accomplished, they also have egos, and what better way is there to assuage a male ego that feels diminished than by acquiring a partner who is more than willing to make you feel important, dominant, powerful, strong, masculine, skilled, and accomplished by giving you full right of entry and enjoyment of her total asset package? Particularly when that can, and does occasionally, result in the actual propagation of your esteemed genes into the next generation?

So, to sum up, this is why accomplished men cheat on gorgeous wives:

They're dumb jocks with a lot of money.

Chicks dig the car.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Avatar alien plants

An article about the alien plants in "Avatar", in particular, the Helicoradians:

Oh heck. I know what he based these things on!

Touch these feather duster worms, and they retract into their tubes in the coral, just like the Avatar plants in the movie.

Anybody who's done any coral reef diving should have recognized the inspiration for these right off the bat.

More reports on the Chilean tsunami

It was brutal.

Chilean tsunami wave video

First views of the wave

Picture of devastation deepens by the day in Chile

A deafening roar, then tsunami swallowed up village

If you ever wonder why the NASA budget is screwed up

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson has decided that she's going to set NASA right and keep the Space Shuttles flying, even though they are dangerous and NASA has set a deadline to stop flying them. Now, here's the problem: NASA has already committed to this course of action. People have been laid off, factories and plants and production lines that make Shuttle parts have stopped running, and this course of action has been set upon. Going back and restarting and rehiring and all of that will cost a LOOT (er, LOT) of money. Now, I am dubious about a private company being able to take men into space; experiments with private space efforts have ended up a) costing the companies involved a lot more money than they originally estimated; b) driven up the cost of the product higher than anyone imagined, or could afford; and c) ended up having the U.S. government take over to fix things, which cost more money. Case in point: LANDSAT.

But you've got to make decisions and go forward. Hutchinson is going backward. NASA needs every dollar it can get right now.

Space Shuttle extension