Friday, April 30, 2010

A blizzard on Saturn?

Amateur astronomers and Cassini are watching a storm on Saturn. For some reason they call it a blizzard.

Here's the full article at

Giant Blizzard Raging on Saturn

Let's see why they call it a blizzard:

The Cassini spectrometer obtained data on March 25 and 26 that showed larger than expected amounts of phosphine, a gas typically found in Saturn's deep atmosphere, and an indicator that powerful currents were lifting material upward into the upper troposphere.

The spectrometer data also showed that the tropopause, which is the dividing line between the serene stratosphere and the lower churning troposphere, was about 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 17.2 degrees Celsius) colder in the storm cell than in neighboring areas.

"A balloonist floating about 100 kilometers (62 miles) down from the bottom of Saturn's calm stratosphere would experience an ammonia-ice blizzard with the intensity of Snowmageddon," said Brigette Hesman, a composite infrared spectrometer team member and assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland.

Snowmaggedon? I remember that! We got around 20 inches. Places to the north near Baltimore got over 30 inches. Luckily it was a couple of days before I had to drive up there again; I was worried about reduced visibility at intersections but I never ran into (hah) any problems.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two different kinds of PDA

I never realized there were two different kinds of PDA.

This is the more familiar one:

And this is the other kind:

This PDA is a "potentially dangerous asteroid", known as 2005 YU55. On April 19, it swung by us about 2.4 million km out.

According to

"On Nov. 8, 2011, the asteroid will complete another trip around the sun and swing by Earth again just inside the moon's orbit. It should fly by at a distance of 191,120 miles (307,577 km), about eight-tenths the distance between Earth and the moon. The distance from Earth to the moon is on average about 238,900 miles (384,472 km)."

How big is this PDA? About 400 meters or so. The image is from Arecibo, which helped determine that it was a bit bigger than previously thought.

While it doesn't appear that this one has Earth in the cross-hairs, if one this size smacked us, it'd leave a mark.

Patrick Stewart knighted in UK, Peter Jackson in NZ

Call them Sir Pat and Sir Pete now.

Patrick Stewart, Peter Jackson knighted

I noticed in another picture that the formerly tubby Peter has lost quite a bit of weight; others have noticed too. He's fine, he just got in shape!

And now he's working on The Hobbit. That's good news. I wonder where the Misty Mountains are going to be? Though there's some dark spots, The Hobbit was lighter in tone than LOTR. Casting Bilbo to get that tone right will be a challenge, I think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Animals being eaten to the brink of extinction -- and beyond?

The Huffington Post has a list of seven animals that are now being regularly eaten by humans; a list of animals that may end up being a list of animals going extinct in the wild this century. Below is the list; the linked article has pictures of each of them.

Sea turtles
African monkeys and great apes
Elephants !!
Bluefin tuna, of course
Chinese giant salamander -- eeww

Seven animals being eaten to extinction

How's that offshore drilling working out?

I've previously noted that I wasn't fond of new Virginia Governor Bob "Caveman" McDonnell's plan to open up Virginia offshore waters to oil drilling; and it's a plan pushed by the Obama Administration to raise cash. Whether or not they actually intend to let companies drill is another matter entirely.

Based on some recent news, they may wish to rethink this plan, and go with a mixed-alternative source plan (solar, nuclear, a bit of wind) combined with aggressive conservation. It sure beats a gushing oil well on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, I think.

Oil spill burned in Gulf of Mexico, in hopes of saving coast

"The unusual strategy has been used for damaged tankers in World War II, in an oil spill off Britain and in rare cases on inland waters in Louisiana and Texas. But a burn off U.S. shores and the prospect of oil landing on the gulf coastline could become powerful symbols of the perils of offshore drilling, just as President Obama and Congress appear set to open new areas to offshore oil and gas exploration."

This is certainly not good PR for that idea.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mars Rovers on verge of longevity record


On Thursday, NASA's beleaguered Spirit rover could become the longest-running mission on the surface of Mars, surpassing the Viking 1 lander's record of six years and 116 days of operation on the Martian surface — if it's still alive, that is.

Spirit fell silent on Mars on March 31, when it skipped a planned communications session with Earth. It may be hibernating through the harsh Martian winter. But even if Spirit doesn't survive, its robotic twin Opportunity is poised to break the Mars mission record in early May.


Mars Rovers Set to Break Red Planet Record

Pacific tuna ban extended

Even if we lose the bluefin, the nations of Micronesia are serious about their tuna ban (bigeye and yellowfin, mainly).

Group of Pacific nations agree to close high seas access to purse seine fishers

Maybe Japan will start getting the message. We can hope.

Girl survives encounter with box jellyfish

I read once that if you get stung by a box jellyfish, the shock of the pain will kill you before the venom does.

So this is a pretty remarkable survival story. Tough kid.

Girl, 10, is 'first person' to survive sting from the world's most venomous creature... the lethal box jellyfish

Now, I'm not sure it's the MOST venomous: fugu and the taipan have to be right up there -- but it's certainly very venomous. To say she's lucky is kind of an understatement.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Living in the Anthropocene

National Geographic, which is somewhat famous for covering ongoing discoveries of Australopithecines, has an article (which I missed when it came out, but found when I read a different article on the subject) about the new era we're living in, the human-dominated climate-influencing Antropocene. Now it's not all about global warming; we're changing landscapes, cutting down forests for agricultures, overfishing the oceans, cutting off the tops of mountains for coal, redirecting rivers, creating new lakes, depleting stratospheric ozone, and even talking about "hacking the climate" with dubious schemes to forestall the worst effects of climate change.

However the situation is sliced, diced, and defrosted, we collectively are causing rapid and massive changes. Even the climate-change denying cabal in love with the Urban Heat Island effect must consider that just the existence of the UHI is evidence of a great human influence on regional conditions on a rather large scale.

So anyway, a few scientists have proposed that the Holocene is over and the Anthropocene has commenced:

New Earth Epoch has begun, scientists say

Is it geologically viable as a boundary? They say it is:

"Recent human impacts—including habitat destruction, environmental pollution, and animal and plant extinctions—have been so great that they'll result in an obvious boundary in Earth's rock layers, the authors say."

It seems to me that the time has been a little short for that -- an obvious boundary in the rock layers -- but I have no doubt that numerous geochemical tracers will indicate the transition. Depends how conspicuous "obvious" has to be, I think.

The article goes into the importance of markers:

"The key thing is thinking about how—thousands or hundreds of thousands of years in the future—geologists might come back and actually recognize in the sediment record the beginning of the Anthropocene," explained paleoclimatologist Alan Haywood of the University of Leeds in the U.K.

"It's not as straightforward as you might think, because the marker has to be very precise, and it has to be recognized in many different parts of the world," said Haywood, who wasn't involved in the new study.

But I suspected just reading the headlines of the various articles that there might be a different reason for this move than just geological accuracy, and the NG article gets into this facetry:

"The move, the scientists write in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, "might be used as encouragement to slow carbon emissions and biodiversity loss" or "as evidence in legislation on conservation measures."

The University of Leeds's Haywood said that, by underscoring how much we're changing the environment, the formalization would be "a very powerful statement."

But while "there are good scientific justifications for saying we have moved into the Anthropocene," he said, "we mustn't base that on a politically expedient decision."

Not that there's a need for breath retention; they'll work on the issue for 3-5 years, and any formal declaration won't be before a decade is out. So this announcement is unlikely to put a lot of pressure on those who need to be pressured (or perhaps pressurized; see the algae biofuel article below this one).

Opportunity views crater on the horizon

Though this crater is not the crater that Opportunity is headed for (named Endeavour), it's neat to see it on the Martian horizon, proving that there's more in Opportunity's current vicinity than just sand dunes. The name of the crater seen in profile is Bopolu.

Compare that to this view of Meteor Crater in Arizona:

Algae can be turned into biofuel -- but what's it cost?

Not very surprisingly, if you cook algae in a pressure cooker, you can turn the gook into something that burns in engines:

Pressure-cooked algae ‘make better biofuel’

If the process is energy-intensive (and it sure seems like it would be), then it's going to need a reliable and powerful energy source to make it work: sounds like nuclear to me. Otherwise, what's the point?

Speaking of fringe sports

Deep sea free-diving is way out there in terms of sporting activities. I'm fascinated by it because it pushes the limits of human capability; how long can you hold your breath and how deep can you go? But the thing is: it's dangerous. Probably right up there with ice climbing, high-end rock climbing, and cave diving (well, maybe not cave diving...) I don't know what the casualty statistics are for the sport, and I'm sure they take precautions, but any sport in which one of the judges' criteria is how conscious the athlete at the end of the competition -- well, I guess that applies to boxing and extreme cage fighting, as well -- just seems to be a little too gladiator-esque for my liking.

Diver sets new world record

Of course, I like hockey:

Eric Belanger loses eight teeth

and pulls one out himself

Another conservation idea for April

Buses. Oh, I know, that's not such a new idea. But I think that our transportation needs for efficiency would be much better served by high-speed dedicated bus lines (Bus Rapid Transit, BRT) using electric or hybrid-solar buses than light rail.

Light rail costs a lot and is hard to expand. Bus lines just require new pavement and station infrastructure. No tunnels, no bridges, less digging, less electric lines. Saves money and accomplishes the more important task: get people out of their single-passenger commuter cars. For areas where projected light rail is years in the future, it ought to be possible to use the right of way to make bus lines, I think.

And the other neat thing about BRT is that when the line ends, the buses can keep driving on the street.

Here are examples:

SWIFT rapid transit, Everett, Washington

VIA San Antonio, TX (planned)

Bogota, Colombia. TransMilenio -- the prime success story

Ottawa, Canada, OC Transpo Transitway

Fun with Zip Codes (remember what they are)?

Out of curiousity, I wondered if there were any five-digit repeated Zip codes in the United States. Turns out there are.

There's no 11111.

22222 is in Arlington, Virginia.

There's no 33333.

44444 is Newton Falls, Ohio.

55555 is Young America, Minnesota. (NOT kidding.)

There's no 66666 (the zip code of the Beast), but there is a 66667; Topeka, Kansas.

There's no 77777, which would be the luckiest zip code in America. Ditto for
88888 and 99999.

Next up; simple palindromic triples (10101, 20202, etc.)

This is fun; given the rise of email and text and chat, I can envision a future without Zip Codes. But then how would we be able to find ourselves on the Weather Channel map?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vidalia onion harvest comes after the festival

Normally the world's most famous sweet onion ships before the Vidalia Onion Festival, which is ending today. But rain and very cold weather delayed the harvest, and the golden globes will ship on April 27th.

Vidalia onion season late

This year’s crop was delayed by heavy rains during planting season followed by freezing temperatures. Wendy Brannen is with the Vidalia Onion Committee. She says there are not as many jumbo onions this year.

Vidalia onions are coming

Pull out your list of ways to eat them. They're coming! The official "Shipping Date" for the 2010 Vidalia® Onion Marketing Season is April 27, says Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin.

The shipping date is based on the recommendation of the Vidalia® Onion Advisory Panel under the authority of the law, rules and regulations applicable to Vidalia® Onions.

"The harvest this season is delayed by 10 to 12 days due to the heavy rains during December planting followed by an extreme cold snap," Irvin said about the panel's recommendation.

Vidalia Onion Festival 2010

Nuclear news in Bangladesh and Finland

The Bangladeshis really need power; nuclear can fill that need and they've got a plant on order. It won't come a moment too soon:

'Living Hell' in energy-deprived Dhaka [Bangladesh]

This South Asian nation of 144 million people is experiencing what one newspaper called "the world's worst peacetime utilities crisis," with power, gas and water shortages driving even middle-class residents such as Mamota to despair.

"Our life is hell," she said, a sentiment shared by many of Dhaka's 13 million residents, thousands of whom have protested against the chronic utilities shortages in the streets, prompting the government to scramble to respond.

Dhaka has a daily shortfall of 2,000 megawatts of power, which is half of the entire country's average daily production.

The capital needs 2.2 billion litres of water a day, but the city's water authorities can supply just 1.9 billion litres, according to official figures, with many public pumps operating below capacity because of the gas shortage.

With the city's 550 public pumps struggling to meet demand, the army was deployed last week to protect "key installations" including water treatment plants, said Taqsen Khan, chief of Dhaka's water supply authority.

Bangladesh's gas supplies, crucial for cooking, running cars and generating electricity, are also massively overburdened -- with demand of 2,400 million cubic feet of gas per day and supply of 1,900 million cubic feet.

As a stopgap, they're going to try to build some plants quick that are powered by diesel fuel. Great plan.


Finnish government says it wants two new nuclear plants

"We will support the building of two nuclear power plants," Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen told reporters after a cabinet session.

Three utility groups -- Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), Fennovoima and Fortum -- each applied for a permit to build a new reactor, and Vanhanen said TVO and Fennovoima would be given the green light.

Parliament still needs to approve the permits, and the government proposal would be presented for debate on May 6 at earliest, according to Economic Affairs Minister Mauri Pekkarinen, who drafted the plan.

Finland's four existing nuclear reactors were built in the 1970s, and a fifth unit, a 1,600-megawatt third-generation reactor, is being built on TVO's site in southwestern Finland by France's Areva and Germany's Siemens in a project plagued by delays and ballooning costs.

but wait:

"Recent polls, however, indicate that opposition to nuclear power is rising among Finns, with opponents pointing to risks related to accidents and the handling and storage of nuclear waste. Labour Minister Anni Sinnemaeki of the Green League fell into this category, saying the proposal, which she opposed, "was a disappointment", and insisting Finland's energy needs would be best secured through energy efficiency measures and renewables."

Maybe a few Finns opposed to nuke power should visit Dhaka during the summer...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Salinity: another way to spell climate change

Sea salt: it's not just a condiment anymore.

Piling confirmation on top of confirmation (Frank Wentz showed this was happening with MSU/AMSU data), new analyses of ocean salinity using ARGO buoys show that the Earth's water cycle is getting more intense due to climate change --- oh, I'm sorry, skeptics and deniers, what I meant to say was, Earth's water cycle is getting more intense due to GLOBAL WARMING.

What's that mean? Well, salinity can be used as a tracer of the water cycle; if a region of the world's oceans is getting saltier, that means there's more evaporation taking place there. If a region of the world's oceans is getting fresher, that means it's raining more there.

Two article about this:

Ocean Salinities Show an Intensified Water Cycle


Oceans' Saltiness Reaching Extremes

From the latter:

"What they found is that the subtropical, evaporation-dominated waters of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans are getting saltier while the tropical and higher latitude waters are getting fresher -- these later areas being where there is more rainfall than evaporation over the year.

But the matter goes deeper than just the ocean surface water, says Durack. The ARGO buoys don't just float around on the surface, they can sink down to two kilometers below the surface and rise again, gathering data the whole way to create three dimensional ocean profiles. These show that the salinity changes are actually moving, following the paths that ocean water circulates from the surface into the depths.

"While such changes in salinity would be expected at the ocean surface (where about 80 per cent of surface water exchange occurs), sub-surface measurements indicate much broader, warming-driven changes are extending into the deep ocean," said Durack."

Fortunately there's one salinity sensing satellite in orbit now (ESA's SMOS), and the U.S. competitor (Aquarius) is getting nearer to launch. So we'll be able to keep trace of this issue quite well. Hopefully that will help.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The inventor of the modern butterfly (swimming stroke) has died

Swimming World story:

Jiro Nagasawa

I wish I could have had the chance to tell him how hard it is for me to do that stroke! (Doing it well requires back flexibility and hyperextendible knees, neither of which I possess.)

I feel so bad for the sushi bar owners

Oh darn it, the Icelandic volcano eruption is messing with the profits of sushi dealers!

Japan's sushi dealers feel the heat from Iceland volcano

A major importer, Saihoku Fisheries Corp, which buys 2,000 tonnes of Norwegian salmon a year, said it had lost 30 million yen (324,000 dollars), or roughly a third of its monthly revenue, in a matter of days.

The company usually receives boxes of fresh salmon, rather than the more common snap-frozen shipments, via air cargo four times a week, said Mitsunori Ota, who manages the company's overseas operations.

Too bad.

Maybe the seafood loving, bluefin tuna-extincting Japanese should be reminded of what's in the tuna that they so crave:

Tuna sushi in U.S. busts recommended levels for mercury: study

Too bad the Japanese don't remember Minimata Bay.

Maybe they should.

More detailed article here:

Mercury in Tuna Sushi Higher at Restaurants than Groceries

[I should point out that it's mercury poisoning, not mercury positioning, that's the problem. Darn spellcheckers!]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More exposure for Zoe Saldana (not what you're thinking or hoping)

Willowy Zoe Saldana is in shape, and in Shape magazine. There's a video of her cover shoot.

She's certainly riding the Avatar wave.

And Darn it, she's awfully appealing. And she loves sex!

Nicole Scherzinger is also awfully appealing, I must hasten to add. I don't know her attitude about sex, but I can hope she's open to it. (Scherzinger is lighting up the dance floor on this Dancing with the Stars season, and she's a likely finalist.)

Wisconsin fireball hits Earth

There was a BIG, BRIGHT fireball a few days ago (April 14) over the Midwest, mainly Wisconsin; even caused an audible sonic boom. Many cameras, of which there seem to be more and more, got pictures and videos of the fireball. The question always is: was it big enough for parts of it to survive fiery destruction and make landfall.

Apparently so; a farmer had a piece of it (probably) hit his barn. (Article includes a picture of the space invader.)

While this one was relatively small, they won't all be; it makes going to an asteroid make a lot of sense (how timely is that???), to see if we can a) get there, and b) change the trajectory of one if necessary.

Nuclear plants on the docket in Bangladesh and SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia studies nuclear power (Nuclear Engineering International)

Saudi Arabia Announces Nuclear Plant, And It Could Have Huge Consequences For U.S.-Iran Relations

Bangladesh approves nuke power deal with Russia

It makes sense to build a nuclear plant in Bangladesh; the country is poverty-stricken and chronically underpowered; nuclear energy can be one step in significantly improving the country's abysmal standard of living. Interesting that Russia won the contest to build the plant. Well, that's probably good for Russian's somewhat struggling industrial economy.

But Saudi Arabia, oil kingdom of the world? This is more interesting (perhaps even troubling). One might sense the the sheikhs are getting the message on peak oil and maybe even climate change, and are looking forward toward a much lower carbon future. Since they are besotten with petrodollars, it makes sense now to invest them into energy that can carry the kingdom forward, rather than holding the dollars now and in the future having to import energy rather than export it. Given what's being done over in the Sahara, I sure think the Saudis should multi-mix it and do both solar and nuclear, which I think is a prime strategy for a lot of places with abundant sun (Ozzies, you listenin' ?) Another trend that the sheikhs might be seeing is the slowly growing chorus for energy/carbon taxes, and because that would encourage decreased consumption, it would eventually lower the money flowing in as the amount of oil flowing out decreased.

I'm offering support

Climate Desk

A great initiative.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Three kinds of cheese news

I've been meaning to get to this for awhile. A collection of news about cheese.

First of all, the world's cheese diversity is under threat:

Endangered French cheese cry out for help

Of the 100-150 available raw milk cheeses available, three disappear each year, meaning around 40 have become extinct in the last decade.

Held ahead of National Cheese Day, feting its 10th edition this weekend, the tasting was organised by a grouping bent on saving ancient cheeses from falling off the food map -- the Association Fromages de Terroirs.

"The paradox," its president Veronique Richez-Lerouge told AFP, "is that we're known as the land of cheese yet we're losing an increasing number."

Long known as a country of avid cheese-eaters, with more than 1,000 varieties in a symphony of creams, pale yellows and subtle shades of orange, overall cheese consumption is on the rise in France, but industrially-made products are outgunning traditional farm-crafted varieties.

Two: Now, while this is certainly a cheese crisis, Chef Daniel Angerer may have a partial solution: cheese made from human breast milk. Some people might recoil at this idea, but it certainly intrigues me -- why should there be a problem with the consumption of a product that is produced for human consumption? It's the intimacy aspect of it, I think (I'm going to write more on this theme soon, hopefully): the idea of consuming human breast milk may conjure up in our minds images of the naked human female breast, which is both a vital organ for human reproduction as well as an object of desire and pleasure.

That mix might make some people uncomfortable. Angerer himself says:

"I came about mother’s milk when our daughter celebrated her 4th week birthday -- my spouse is feeding our baby with breast milk. We are fortunate to have plenty of pumped mommy’s milk on hand and we even freeze a good amount of it – my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold."
(from Mommy's Milk)

So he views it primarily as a foodstuff -- which it IS. Note that to make the cheese regular milk has to be added because human breast milk won't curdle.

Late in the comments thread, someone named Billy England suggests that women sell their milk to make this gourmet item. I actually had the idea for celebrity mothers to market their own brands of cheese; imagine having a slice of Pamela Anderson cheddar, or Angelina Jolie gruyere, or Alessandra Ambrosio brie. Make the bucks for charity. (It might be too late for these moms, but I'm sure there will be more. Joe Cole and his very lovely wife Carly Zucker just had a baby, and soccer fans who are also admirers of beauty (see below) might pay extensively to have some of this soccer star wife's special brand.

Or not.

(The baby's name is Ruby Tatiana.)

Three: here is the results page for the World Championship Cheese Contest, held recently in Madison, Wisconsin:

2010 Results: World Championship Cheese Contest

I've had a couple of these: Tillamook Cheddar, Bel Gioiso Parmesan and Mascarpone, Kraft Mozzarella (!!) -- but I'd like to try more. Interesting to see that the folks from Kaukauna did well.

Here's a page from which some previous champion cheese can be ordered:

World Championship Cheese Contest Winners

Maybe good news for some kinds of tuna

According to reports (which are scant), the Pacific island nations which are in the area where about a quarter of the world's tuna are caught want to get more profits from the fishery -- and also (gasp) conserve it better:

Eight Pacific nations look for a bigger slice of the tuna harvest

Now, that sounds bad as a title. But it says in this short article:

The meeting in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, will discuss plans to tighten conservation controls, reduce annual catch limits and increase revenue to the islands.

The Director of the new headquarters for the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Transform Aqorau, says at present there are far too many days available for fishing and too many boats fishing.

Let's hope they can cut both of them back.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lots of discussion on an Eruptions blog post

I was just checking around before shutting it down for the night, and I noticed that the most recent post on Erik Klemetti's Eruptions blog has 267 comments. There is lots of discussion about changing aspects of the Icelandic eruption.

A quick note on thawing ice caps and volcanism

And here's a nice video of the volcano from a distance

10-minute video of eruption highlights

It's beautiful chaos.

Some soccer (football) news

Ashley Cole is back for Chelsea (but not likely for Cheryl)

Ashley Cole boost for Chelsea as defender storms back from ankle injury to face Spurs

Let's see how they did against Tottenham:

Oh dear, they lost, 2-1. The Premier League championship is not a done deal yet.

I wonder if this was affected by Didier Drogba's impaired status:

Chelsea's Ivory Coast star needs hernia operation

Ivory Coast made the World Cup?

Yeah, they did. I didn't notice that earlier. But they're in the group with Brazil and Portugal; without Drogba, they're going to be headed home early.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sailing the Plastic Pacific

Short note: Scripps IO has a new article about the expedition that studied the floating plastic in the North Pacific Gyre:

Inside the Plastic Vortex

Quote: "Yes, they found lots and lots of plastic and debris in the gyre, but no, the "patch" isn't an island of trash, as is commonly believed. You can't walk across it. There is indeed a vast amount of large pieces of debris, but by far the overwhelming majority is broken down bits of plastic the size of a thumbnail and smaller. You can't see a defined patch or a swirl of debris from the air or space. The plastic is dispersed across thousands of miles of ocean."

Pitchers and glasses, anyone? (When I was growing up my parents had METAL lemonade glasses. For some reason the lemonade just tasted great when the metal glasses were ice cold. I don't know why.)

Kate Hudson improves on near-perfection

I never thought Kate Hudson had to fix anything. But apparently she wanted to up her cups, and according to this, she did:

Insider: Kate Hudson got a boob job

Well, from what little we can tell, it looks nice.

But it wasn't necessary. Here's two pictures of Kate wearing nothing but a curtain (seriously) to demonstrate what I mean:

Kate in the curtains 1

Kate in the curtains 2

She can do cute, too

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rude awakening

The Arctic sea ice is not like the Antarctic ice sheet, which so far (thankfully) is very stable. Sea ice, on the other hand is constantly moving, cracking, and occasionally opening up leads (open stretches of water, generally narrow) and polynyas (larger areas that can stay open for weeks to years).

Well, anyway, imaging being on a survey of Arctic sea ice to correlate the effects with global warming and having a lead open up directly under your tent in the middle of the night. That would be a problem and a nuisance, to say the least!

Well, here's what a British expedition had to deal with:

Not likely to induce a good night's sleep, is it?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some beautiful and unusual pictures of Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein, Mad King Ludwig's fairy tale castle







Whatever happened to Diana Rigg?

She's still acting, and is obviously an accomplished actress -- she won an Emmy and a Tony, and is still doing stage acting in England. She's Dame Diana Rigg now.

But she was one of the 1960s and 1970s true beauties, from both The Avengers and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where she was memorable as Tracy Bond (Teresa Draco).

Rigg as Emma Peel

Rigg as Tracy Bond (in her wedding dress)

One of the best examples of Tracy

In case you missed DWTS last Monday

This was a highlight, showing one MORE reason that Pam Anderson has had a bevy of boyfriends: (the camera angle shows they knew where she was going with the move):

She finished with a complete cheerleader split.

Pam and Nicole Scherzinger both had sexy drape dresses(?) that moved well in the rumba and accentuated their curves tastefully. It all worked for me.

Despite loss of key players, Chelsea in lead for Premier League title

Despite losing a lot of key players to significant injuries and playing time (Ashley Cole is still out, goalkeeper Petr Cech was out, Frank Lampard was out back in November, and there were more -- and John Terry was a bit distracted when his off-the-field affairs were aired publically), Chelsea, warm off its win over Manchester U-nited, is in line for the Premier League championship after a controversial 1-0 win over Bolton. (Controversial due to some possible handballs that weren't called.)

John Terry sets sights on history books as Chelsea close in on the Premier League title

Video of Peru glacier collapse (mostly aftermath)

Huffington Post has an article about the collapse of the glacier in Peru, which triggered an inland tsunami:

Huge glacier breaks apart in Peru, triggering Andes tsunami

So basically this big block of glacial ice broke off, and slid into nearby lake.

Quick quote: ""This slide into the lake generated a tsunami wave, which breached the lake's levees, which are 23 metres high -- meaning the wave was 23 metres high," said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru's Institute of Mine Engineers.

In my book, that's a pretty big wave in a lake.

This is news: Emmanuelle Chriqui poses for Allure, wearin' nothin'

OK, I'll admit it (easily); I've been overly impressed with Emmanuelle Chriqui ever since I saw her head get axed in half in Wrong Turn (which was really an Eliza Dushku vehicle, har har). Admittedly this wasn't her finest thespian moment. I've previously noted how attractive (say that again: attractive attractive attractive hot luscious... don't get carried away) she is, and how she doesn't always come across great in photos, despite being the aformentionated atrrractive. (There are some great videos of her on YouTube; I've got the list; I'll get to that.)

Anyways, you can imagine my consternation and concupiscence when I read that Ms. Chriqui was posing in the buff for Allure. Now, I knew that Allure doesn't get to 100% totality; they cover the parts which would actually signal that. But nonetheless the women are not wearing anything, and some of the pictures can be pretty ... good. So I wondered how Ms. Chriqui would fare.

On a scale of 1-10, I give the picture a 7 and the body a 9.5. She's draped artistically and it's very easy to tell that she's shaped mighty nicely. One might wonder why I can't give her a 10 -- so do I. I'm just leaving room for perfection in my beholder's eye, and she comes very close to that. They didn't get her face quite right, and that's the problem with her in stills -- she doesn't nail the natural expression often, and one of her non-curvaceous attributes is an absolute KILLER smile (see picture below). But it's a very appealing unpeeled picture, and it's the best of the group by a fair space. Catherine Zeta-Jones comes in second, showing off some amazing motherly curves for a woman that just hit 40. She's in quite NICE shape.

The Chriqui Smile

So, that's my take on EM and CZJ. Now, CZJ has been captured paparazzistically displaying the things you can't quite see all of in the Allure pic (though in low-res long-distance fuzzy focus); feel free to search for that. Below are links to commentary. I agree with the one that says:

"Actually, Emmanuelle, we think you're just fine how you are." (Emmanuelle commented that she wanted a dancer's body in contrast to the curvesome superstructure she's blessed with.)

Celebrities pose nude for Allure

The Allure Nude Issue

Emmanuelle Chriqui Nude in Allure

'Entourage' beauty Emmanuelle Chriqui steamy in naked pose

CZJ: Catherine Zeta-Jones; her Allure photoshoot (Pic 6 has the goods)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jenna Elfman, revisited

I mentioned Jenna Elfman in my "Whatever happened to Bridget Fonda?" posting a few posts ago. Lo and behold, she showed up on the new old Tonight Show, describing the next installments of "Accidentally on Purpose". According to Jenna, she just had her baby five weeks ago. Good for her. Fun stories, including getting Excited (while 8 months preggers) kissing her co-star. And her husband Bodhi leaving the windows and sun roof open such that when torrential rains hit, the new car was totaled.

(Sounds like something I could do.)

Jenna, from her "Dharma and Greg" days, has exuded an exuberant sexuality, and you get the feeling it's partly the real her (one can hope, anyways). She's tall and blonde and lean (and Russell Crowe, also on Leno, said that he was at a beach volleyball game with her in her younger years and she was wearing a pair of cutoff shorts that should have been illegal, or at least advertised. Wish I coulda seen that.

Well, so, anyway, all of this made me wonder if Dharma, errr, Jenna, ever got sexy in promo photos.

Turns out she did. This comes under the category "artistic nudity", meaning that nothing really nude is shown. But it's sufficiently pleasing to be interesting.

Jenna, prone and sans

This one isn't bad either, but she's got clothes on.

This one's funny, from the Dharma and Greg years

And this one is glamorous and pretty.

I found out I can watch "Accidentally on Purpose" free on the CBS Web site. I'll go catch up now. Because she's also really funny!

Maybe the world needs an oil price shock

Yes, I know it would cause economic hardship. In fact, not just economic, but actual human suffering hardship, if there was a major constriction in the oil supply. I read or heard (or both) that Saudi Arabia has arrested more than a hundred suspects in a plot to bomb oil facilities.

Maybe they should get through.

Oh, I wouldn't like it. Getting to work in a week would go from $25 to around $100 or more. Globally, food prices would skyrocket. In many countries, poor people would not be able to afford food, and they would starve. The nascent global economic recovery would get snuffled in a flash, and the result would be a massive global recession, if not depression. Hundreds of thousands of workers would be let go. Travel and commerce would slow drastically. That dream vacation trip to Bali? Forgeddaboudit -- the price just climbed to levels that only the truly rich, and truly insulated, could afford.

Maybe that's the tough love the world needs to get off the addiction to cheap oil; to look toward the future and really ponder the consequences of overconsumption and overburning and grow-go-grow economies. Maybe we need to contemplate the "World Made by Hand" (video) as a realistic future -- even though it is not a future that anyone would want.

I actually doubt serious that a post-auto, post-electricity future is likely, unless there's a major conflict, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But I think a major oil price shock would be cold water on the face of the global economic powers that couldn't come to a climate agreement in Copenhagen. Maybe if they faced the likelihood of peak oil, the linkage between growth and consumption and the propping up of current economies on the dangerous liquid foundation of oil, maybe they'd realize it's in the best interests of all our children to back off, to put up the windmills and fire up the nuke plants and grow the switchgrass and the algae and set up the solar farms in the Sahara -- before it's really too late.

We need that power for desalination; look what's happening to the glaciers.

The Hills are Alive, with the sounds of Mel-ting

Following up yesterday's post about melting glaciers in Peru, this one is about melting glaciers in Austria. The current report is that just about all of them are shrinking (i.e., getting smaller, losing volume, succumbing to warmer temperatures, entering the liquid phase, otherwise known as DMG; Demonstrating Global Warming, even though some of the losses are actually due to ablation and not literally per se melting.

Almost all Austrian glaciers shrank in 2009: report

Wasn't there some kerfuffle recently about the wrong date for the disappearance of glaciers in the Himalayas? Well, whether or not you can set the date, you can set the destination, and it's downriver. F*ck off, AGW deniers. Read the fine print; everything is M E L T I N G.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Six links about the Suess effect

Over on a Wattsy site, Dr. Walt Meier of NSIDC provided a number of good answers to questions posed by a climate skeptic, Willis Eschenbach. I was very interested to read the comments, and the level of CD and D-K was astonishing. One thing in particular stood out; a number of the clueless commenters didn't recognize or understand the Suess effect.

So here are six links about the Suess effect.

1. NOVA Geoblog: The Suess Effect

2. Wikipedia: Suess Effect

3. Natural atmospheric 14C variation and the Suess effect Tans et al. Nature abstract

4. Suess effect II: corals sing an isotopic song

5. The Suess effect (slide with data plot)

6. Hans Suess

And a skeptical bonus:

CO2 Levels

Friday, April 9, 2010

Have to laugh

Saw a link line on the Web that read

"Complete hole-by-hole coverage of the Masters"

next to a picture of Tiger Woods.

Maybe not the best image to go with that description...

Let's hope they come up with an actual plan

In my backyard (which is how I think of Washington D.C., a cross-county drive), they're going to have a meeting of the "Major Economies Forum" on April 18-19 at the Department of State, to discuss Energy and Climate Change.

Here's the Official Announcement:

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate

They say:

"The Forum is intended to facilitate a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge, and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions."

We just had a couple of unusually warm April days (nearly 90 around these parts); it'd be nice if we had a reverse-Gore effect and that happened again while the reps were here. Since we already had an El Nino-driven snow catastrophe, it'd be nice if the fading Pacific kid could still give us a bit of early spring heat and humidity.

Can't take your eyes off killer-vs-gray whales video

This video is just amazing:

Gray whales battle orcas during migration

They don't call 'em killer whales for nothing.

Using conservation as a weapon?

Well, it's an idea. I like it. May take awhile though. But nuclear power could most definitely play a part in this plan.

Israel Unveils 'Green' Strategy to Defeat Enemies

We've talked over here about this idea too -- our national security is way too tied up with oil imports, even if we don't receive most of our oil from the Middle East. Our NATO allies do, and most importantly, if there was a price shock -- like a successful terrorist attack on a major oil facility, which is something that the Saudis (who finance Islamic radical groups) don't actually want; we'd be staring down the 'barrel' at $5/gallon gas (or more). So it behooves us for several reasons, many of them unrelated to the ugly specter of global warming, to consider using this plan as a springboard to true war-footing energy conservation. Because I think truly, we are at war.

Gotta love the guy's name, too. UZI Landau.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Britain's nuclear power sector really is expanding

Well, it's been in the works for awhile now, but this is a really positive sign it's happening: France's EDF is going to add jobs for its British nuclear ramp-up at the rate of 2,000 jobs a year for five years.

EDF to hire 10,000 in nuclear power drive

EDF has got plans to power up four new reactors in the UK this decade. I feel like having some fish-'n-chips to celebrate.

Kitty Kowalski

Kitty Kowalski is Lex Luthor's (Kevin Spacey) girlfriend in "Superman Returns". I was trying to figure out who the gorgeous actress was that played her, and finally looked it up and found out it was an almost unrecognizable Parker Posey, who's a chameleon. This picture shows her "look" the best:

Whatever happened to Bridget Fonda?

Bridget Fonda had a lot of movies in the 1990s, notably:

Doc Hollywood
Single White Female
Point of No Return (the American "La Femme Nikita")
It Could Happen to You
City Hall

and then, as happens, her starlet radiance waned. IMdB doesn't have anything listed for her after 2002. So I assumed she got married and had kids? Yep, she married Danny Elfman in 2003 and had a child with him in 2005. (Not to be confused with Bodhi Elfman, his nephew, who's married to Jenna Elfman). Danny is the former member of Oingo-Boingo who writes film music, notably for the Batman series, Desperate Housewives, and THE SIMPSONS. (He's 11 years older than she is.) She also survived flipping her car in 2003. So she's a Hollywood housewife now. Good for her.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's impossible to pass up a Kelly Brook lingerie video

At least it's impossible for me, anyways.

This line will get you to the video.

How quickly can we overfish these?

If you haven't seen it, SciGuy has pictures of the monster isopod that was captured on an ROV expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.

The article says these things are eaten in Taiwan. OK, how long does it take for a deep-sea creature like that to grow that size, and how quickly will they get overfished when word of this delicacy goes global?

I'd sure like to know any estimate of population numbers on these things.

So much for that idea

Well, awhile back I suggested that the Chesapeake Bay could be developed into a fish farm for menhaden, and that water quality improvement results would accrue. Turns out that it would take a lot more menhaden than I thought.

Menhaden appear to have little net [ha ha ha] impact on Bay water quality

OK, I admit that my idea has met the cutting edge of scientific study, and come up short.

Asian oysters, anyone?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sea of Galilee fishing ban previews general overfishing trend

Fishing has been banned in the Biblically-significant Sea of Galilee, because the sea is overfished:

Fishing ban in Sea of Galilee

I guess they need Jesus now to cast their nets and get a large catch of fish, because without his help, there aren't many left:

"Britain's The Daily Telegraph said Saturday that the freshwater lake yielded fairly ample catches until just a few years ago when fish populations took a nosedive. Officials believe anglers using nets with smaller openings than permitted by law have devastated the juvenile fish before they grow to adult size and are able to breed."

Another factor is increased local bird populations that are also apparently effective at fish-catching in the Sea of Galilee.

This is going to happen elsewhere, folks.

Conservation thought #2

Reusable liquid containers

I was showering yesterday and I looked at the variety of bottles of shampoos and conditioners and liquid soaps that we have in the shower, and I was struck by the amount of waste of petrochemicals that they represent. Now, I recycle them, and I like to buy big bottles so they last longer and I don't generate as many recyclables. But I wondered...

Why not make these bottles reusable, and have refill quantities in paper containers? Now, they would have to be waterproof (but milk and orange juice don't have any problem being in paper cartons). That way, you just buy a big paper container, and keep refilling your plastic container for the shower from the refill carton.

Some household cleaners do this; a big refill bottle and a smaller spray bottle for actual use in cleaning (product plug, I know Windex does this). Why not more of this? Particularly for the most generally-used stuff?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Island in high definition

TerraSAR has a nice new image of Easter Island.

Here's some pics of Rano Raraku, where the Moai (big heads) were quarried. In the TerraSAR image, the crater of Rano Raraku is the prominent oval shape at the northeastern end of the island. The dark area in the middle of the crater is the lake inside the crater.


Rano Raraku (shows the crater lake)

Google Maps is kinda strange; you can see the island close-up, because apparently it was targeted by DigitalEarth or GeoEye, but if you zoom out it gets blurry, so looking at it "regionally" it's hard to tell that there's high-resolution imagery of just the island. Zooming in to the highest magnification possible, the shadows of the Moai can be seen. You've got to be impressed with the technology.

I almost missed the NCAA swimming broadcast

ESPN2 is televising the NCAA men's and women's swimming championships this week.

The women's championships will be on April 6 (i.e., tomorrow) at 1:30 PM Eastern.

Women's team results (from Swimming World):

Florida (382), Stanford (379.5) -- a 2.5 point win for the Gators! California (363), Arizona (359.5) and Georgia (342.5) rounded out the top five in one of the most exciting final finishes in NCAA history. Texas A&M (311), Southern California (342.5), Auburn (153), Virginia (151) and Indiana (133) earned the rest of the top 10 team spots.

The men's championships will be on April 7 at 1:30 PM Eastern.

Set your recorders.

Men's team results (from Swimming World):

Texas won the meet with 500 points. California placed second overall with 469.5 points. The next tier of programs completed the top five as Arizona (387), Stanford (369) and Florida (364) finished third, fourth and fifth. Auburn (277.5), Michigan (204), Georgia (143), Ohio State (136.5) and Virginia (123) completed the top 10.

More swimming news:

New high school records in the 200 IM and 200 medley relay by David Nolan

Rooting for the underdog

Being a fan of upsets and underdogs, I (like others who have my same predilections) know that it is partly the rarity of the actual upset by the underdog that we relish them. As I've said many times, to beat a superior opponent, the underdog has to play above their level, and the superior opponent has to crack.

Didn't happen for Andy Roddick at Wimbledon last year.

And it didn't happen for Butler against Duke. My 1000-to-1 shot didn't come in. But it was two rim shots away.

So we fans of the upset can keep hoping for the next one.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Some more Dejah Thoris art uncovered (you can say that again)

This thread on plus4chan has several Dejah Thoris pictures. I wrote about that back in December.

Though they are all art, many of them are of women not wearing very much clothing, and some are quite e x p l i c i t.

Be forewarned.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy women

The real Zoe Saldana

The real Zoe Saldana (not Princess Neytiri) who is really, really cute/hot/attractive/desirable, is on the cover of Essence. Caught my eye, so I read the interview. She comes across as just darned wonderful. And of course, there's this quote, engendered when asked about sex:

"Love it, love it, love it -- can't live without it! I love sex. I love skin. I don't believe the body is something to hide."

My kind of girl!

Now, this particular quote search also discovered the following information about Avatar:

'Avatar' Sex Scene: Deleted Scene Will Be On DVD

Here's what Zoe had to say about that:

"If you sync to your banshee and you're syncing to a tree, why not sync into a person? I almost feel like you'll have the most amazing orgasm, I guess. It was a very funny scene to shoot because there were so many technical things that sometimes you have to keep in mind that paying attention to all those might disrupt the fluidity of how a scene is supposed to take place."

I haven't yet seen the definitive Zoe Zaldana picture; it has to have the smile and the slender, tender body. This will have to do for now:

A short note about "Clash of the Titans"

I've been inundated watching "Clash of the Titans" ads on TV, and if I ever hear Liam Neeson say "Release the kraken!" again, it'll be too soon. But the visuals look pretty good, and I was a Greco/Roman mythology fan from way back to my kid stage. So I checked RottenTomatoes to see how "Clash" was faring.

Not good: 35%. And it's post-production 3D, not filmed in 3D. This one is going to lose a lot of money. And I don't think it'll get any from me.

But it does have Alexa Davalos, who I *really* liked in "The Chronicles of Riddick". Pity.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our homegrown water crisis

I posted in March (a couple of days ago) about the looming water crises in Trinidad and China. Well, the U.S. is certainly not exempt from water shortages. While our eastern sector usually does fairly well, the drought that nearly dried up Lake Lanier (outside Atlanta) hasn't been over very long. And we are water-profligate; only Canada (which has a LOT of water) uses more than us, per capita.

So this is starting to be a concern. (Probably has been for awhile, actually.)

Two perspectives:

Rising water usage worries experts

"Rising U.S. water usage is worrying experts who will gather April 15 at this year's intelligent water summit in Washington. Ironically, water consumption has risen because of the drive toward renewable energy. Solar power generation consumes huge quantities of water, as does production of other forms of energy.

Added to the emerging correlation between solar power generation and water resources is the industry prognosis that solar plants are here to stay, while all traditional projects dependent on hydrocarbon resources eventually will run out of the fuel and shut down, as has happened with coalmines, analysts said."

World Water Day: why business needs to worry

"Most people equate water consumption with what they use in their homes and places of work, but the challenge facing the globe goes much, much further than that. The 2030 Water Resources Group, a collaboration between the private and social sectors to discover solutions to combat water scarcity, estimates that global water requirements will grow by over 50% over the next 20 years. Such levels of usage will be 40% greater than what can currently be sustainably supplied."

Yikes. Desalination won't cover THAT gap.

Speaking of conservation (I knew he was gonna go there):

"Efficiency must also be a focus for industry and those responsible for planning and managing economic development. Companies and governments are often quick to trumpet their energy efficiency achievements, but too few have taken the same approach with water."

The vulnerable English ankle

OK, now Manchester United and Chelsea are even (well, not really). Ashley Cole went down with a broken ankle a few weeks ago (his marriage still appears broken too, but we'll see how that goes), which wasn't good for Chelsea or England. Now, on the verge of an important Premier League match between the two leading teams (Man U. leads Chelsea by a point), superstriker Wayne Rooney sprains his ankle. Two angles on the ankle below:

Sprained ankle rules Rooney out for up to four weeks

England's worst nightmare as Wayne Rooney is injured in defeat (against Bayern Munich in the Champions League)

Fortunately by all reports and slightly good news for the beleaguered England side that will play in the World Cup, Rooney just sprained it and should be back on the field in a month.

If still interested in Man U. vs. Chelsea, according to ESPN, it will be on ESPN2 live at 7:30 AM EDT, Saturday, April 3.