Saturday, July 31, 2010

Secchi disk simulator

I mentioned this on Watts Up with That:

Secchi Disk Simulator

(in case anyone's interested)

Here's Father Secchi, the inventor of the Disk:

He was really an astronomer; he also discovered a comet, and he met Matthew Fontaine Maury.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I wouldn't boo Miss Iowa

Here's the story:

Batista sends Miss Iowa flowers after quote misses the mark

(Update: Katherine Connors did actually throw out the first pitch at Friday's Nationals-Phillies game. [pregame video])

Here's Miss Iowa:

She's quite cute

and can be sultry (which by definition is "hot and humid")

or she can be... smokin' hot

An addition to the nearly-extinct mammal list

I made a list of some of the mammals near-extincting the other day; today I ready about the Kenyan mountain antelope, the Bongo, which only has 103 representatives left in the wild (though there are around 500 in zoological parks and other concerns, such as the one below).

World's 103 mountain antelopes face extinction: Kenya

It's a handsome, unique animal. The picture below is of a baby bongo born at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kelly Preston looking good as she gets further along

Just providing this in passing; good luck with everything, Kelly. She sure looks good for a 47-year old pregnant woman; admittedly (and I do), she was one of the hottest young actresses ever in her 20s.

Pregnant Kelly Preston is blooming in blue as she and husband John Travolta jet in to visit the Spielbergs

French government tries to push nuclear and electricity together

France wants their nuclear biggie plant builder Areva to team up with their humongous electric utility company, Electricite de France SA (EDF), to win contracts for nuclear plants in other countries. Apparently the Sarkozy government thinks they were competing.

Areva, EDF Need to `Get Along' to Foster Nuclear Exports, Lagarde Says

One suggestion:

Areva and EDF should modify the design of the new- generation EPR reactor and add smaller models to win contracts, according to the recommendations of the report. The reactor’s “complexity” is “a handicap” for its development and cost and may explain the difficulties the companies are facing in developing models in Finland and France, the report said.

Access to clean water declared a human right

I've always thought this is a good idea. The major dilemma is how to make a sorry situation better.

UN declares access to clean water a human right

The non-binding text "declares the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life."

It expresses deep concern that 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that more 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation.

It notes that roughly two million people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water and sanitation, most of them small children.

Cheryl Cole is alive (and still sexy-cute)

Cheryl Cole got out of the house for what was probably a staged "recovery" photo-op, but d*mn, she looked good going down to Starbucks for a frappucino (or so it looks like). As many of the commenters noted, recovering from malaria actually seemed to make her look better -- but probably not a recommended way to look better for most of us. And the reduced make-up, rather than the Going-Out-and-Looking-Glamorous make-up, really showed how extraordinarily wondrously cute she is. And the off-the-shoulder sweater didn't hurt either.

Daily Mail article

The best picture, if you're in a hurry

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

China faces problems with flooding, pollution, and language loss

China is truly beset with difficulties these days; the floods continue (though apparently water levels are dropping; see the incredible picture of the Three Gorges Dam at left); air pollution, which had stabilized for a short couple of years, is getting worse again;

China says air pollution worsening

... about half of the water supply is unusable by humans, strictly fit for industry and irrigation; in passing I saw something which said that some of the water (about 25%) isn't even fit for industry (though that report said air pollution is getting better -- who to believe?);

and in their push to become a more homogenously uniform society, the ruling Communist capitalist despots are attempting to slowly end the use of the only other "official" language other than Mandarin Chinese in their country, which is Cantonese, spoken in the southern province of Guangdong, the city of Guangzhou (which used to be called Canton), Hong Kong, and Macau. This is not going over particularly well:

Protesters gather in Guangzhou to protect Cantonese language

Hong Kong plans rally to save Cantonese language

Eventually, all these problems are going to cause something to break, societally, big-time, and I expect somewhat calamitous repercussions when that happens.

Calling the Space Hazard Patrol

Two large-scale problems dominate the space hazard news today.

One is the less-than-miniscule but not-very-likely possibility that an asteroid could hit the Earth in 2182. This isn't something that I or anybody else living today has to worry about witnessing, but in the interests of the great-grandchildren, it's probably prudent to consider getting a better handle on this. Apparently this particular rogue rock is under consideration as a near-Earth-asteroid mission target.

Researchers say asteroid has 1-in-1000 chance of hitting Earth

Two is the problem of Envisat; the biggest environmental satellite in orbit. The problem is that Envisat will eventually go defunct, and it has pieces that can break off, and having something run into this behemoth is unacceptable. So its managers are considering a boost mission (it doesn't have enough maneuvering propellant for any useful higher-orbit-calling). But this would cost a lot of money, and there's some balking going on. I ask: wouldn't you balk more at the prospect of this thing either a) hitting something in space, or b) re-entering and dropping a lot of hot, smoking melted metal all over a populated province? I think the answer is relatively obvious here. The current plan is to grab Hubble and steer it down into the ocean (though that isn't funded yet, and probably won't be until a tighter uncontrolled re-entry range less than 2019-2032 is calculable); Envisat should get treated the same way.


Is Miranda Kerr Blooming with Babyness?

To answer that question:

Not as far as I can tell here (note the unbuttonedness):

but according to reports, the Blooms have completed the fertility course and passed the final exam.

Source: Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr expecting baby

And I should also mention, having a baby is happy news reversal for Christina Applegate, despite the morning sickness and insane preggo craziness she described to Jimmy Kimmel.

Melissa Rycroft (Bachelor dumpette, "Dancing with the Stars" comeback queen, and new bride) is expecting too. I like her quote:

"It was a shock. We weren't even trying," Rycroft told the gossip magazine. "It's the most wonderful surprise in the world."

(Yeah, but I'll bet you and Tye were doin' what comes natcherly -- and nature takes its prescribed course when the hormones are fizzin'.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gotta admire the determination

It took this 56-year old lady, Jackie Cobell, 28 hours to cross the English Channel (swimming, of course, not by the Chunnel train). That takes a lot of willpower; I always wonder how these long-distance swimmers keep their mouths from drying out in salt water. The most I ever lasted in pure seawater was about an hour, and that wasn't fun, taste- or tummy-wise.

One of the most amazing things about it was that she traveled 65 miles. A lot of that was tide pushing and pulling her, but she still had to swim quite a long way.

Slowest-ever English Channel crossing

Insightful, but I'm not paying $2,875

The Nuclear Power Market Outlook for Developing Countries: Market overview, capacity growth, drivers, resistors and future outlook

By the numbers:

Nuclear power contributed about 15% to the total world electricity generation in 2009 with an installed capacity of 373GW. There are currently 436 nuclear reactors in operation in 30 countries worldwide. The US is the largest producer of nuclear power generating 31% of the total global nuclear generation followed by France, Japan and Russia.

Currently there are 53 reactors under construction in 14 countries with a total capacity of 51GW as of 2009 with majority being built in Asian countries.

Spain extends nuclear power plant operation

Spain renews permit for 3rd nuclear plant in 2010

The Vandellos II plant license was going to expire next month, but now it's good to 2020; might run until 2027. Spain gets 20% of its electric power from nuclear, and supposedly the ruling parties (be the liberal OR conservative) don't want more nuclear plants; they might need to come up with a feasible plan to generate that important 20%.

Hydroelectric certainly won't do it for them.

Gravitic gores gouged

Another cool picture of the gravity effects of Saturn's mini-moon Prometheus on the dust in the F-ring, courtesy of Cassini-Huygens.

Land slipping and sliding in China

Landslides (probably aided and abetted by erosion, poor land management practices, overuse, overcrowding, etc.) are occurring in China due to the heavy rains, caused by precipitation change. This picture of a landslide is pretty phenomenal, even though it's not a pretty picture:

Moscow steams as it sets a new all-time (yes, all-time) high temperature record

Put a peak on top of a trend and what do you get? A very high peak; otherwise known as a record. When you put El Nino-driven warming on top of the Earth's general warming trend, records get set.

And Moscow set one. Not just the highest temperature in July, or the past decade, or the 21st Century (OK, those are fairly synonymous) -- but the all-time hottest temperature EVER.

I hope you're sweating your a** off in a dacha that's not air-conditioned, Abdusamatov. Knock back a vodka on me. And then go swimming.

All time heat record as drownings rise, bogs burn

Monday, July 26, 2010

Can Three Gorges Dam hold all the water?

In the ongoing topic of increasing precipitation events around the country, China has been receiving massive rains; so massive that the reservoir created by the vaunted Three Gorges Dam is over-capacity, and they're letting out the water as fast as possible. The numbers are astonishing; 670,000 homes have collapsed?

Record water levels test China's giant dam

Kilauea claims another house

A new lobe of the Kilauea lava flows headed into the mostly-covered Kalapana Gardens (which got pahoehoed over in 1990-1991), and took out one of the remaining houses. From what I read, the owner has been planning for this for awhile.

Lava reclaims its real estate

Top most endangered mammal species

The issue of tiger conservation made me wonder what mammals are really in trouble. This probably isn't all of them, but it's definitely some of them.

Polar Bear and Pacific Walrus -- good numbers now, but endangered by loss of sea ice in the Arctic

Tigers -- 3,200? (Siberian tiger -- 450)

Javan Rhinoceros -- 60?

Giant Panda -- 1,600-2,500?

Mountain Gorilla -- 720?

Northern Right Whale -- 300-350

Black Rhino -- 3-4,000

Sumatran Orangutan -- 7,000+

Small cats, such as the Amur Leopard (40), Florida Panther (100), Iberian Lynx (200?)

Black-footed Ferret -- 1000+, numbers increasing

Indus River freshwater dolphin -- 1,200 maximum

(note, when I wrote the linked article on the Indus River dolphin, I didn't realize how well the black-footed ferret was doing

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another sign the world is catching up

The U.S. Women's Under-20 World Cup soccer team, which won the World Cup last time, lost to Nigeria in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.

The penalty kick controversy, with two U.S. saves waved off, shows why soccer needs something besides PKs to finish a match.

USA Falls To Nigeria in Penalty Kicks During Quarterfinal of 2010 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup

In 2006, the U.S. U-20 women lost on PKs in the semis to China, and to Brazil on PKs in the 3rd-place game.

Both of those games were 0-0 in regulation.

Not very entertaining. At least in the game against Nigeria this time, there were 55 shots.

Jake might've made a slight mistake

Grocery stores are so much fun. I spotted Ali Fedotowsky on the cover of OK! -- looking smoothly delish. Jake Pavelka went through all sorts of difficulty with "Vienna" (and a stint on DWTS, too), but if he'd known that Ali was going to end up in THIS place; well, he might have traded it all in.

The thing is: her best pic was in the Table of Contents, and I can't find it online. But she's radiating sweet heat.

I hope OK! won't mind a little advertising.

Another example of precipitation pattern change

Dam failure in Iowa after 10 inches (or so) in 12 hours, draining Lake Delhi, which may be history:

Dam fails in eastern Iowa, causing massive flooding

Friday, July 23, 2010

Missions to Mercury from Japan and Russia

With MESSENGER zeroing in on its orbital rendesvous with the winged planet, Japan and Russia have announced they're sending satellites to Mercury, too.

The Japanese mission sounds kinda like they're going to land on the planet. But I'm not sure.

Japan plans space probe to Mercury

Japan says it is planning a space mission to Mercury with a spacecraft specially equipped with mirrors to combat the planet's intense heat.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency believes the mirrors will help the probe to survive temperatures of up to 842 degrees on the surface of the planet, The Daily Telegraph reported.

So is the mission going to BE on the surface of the planet? Launch is slated for 2014.

Russia is going to attempt it for certain, with an orbiter and a lander:

Russian aerospace company to send mission to Mercury in 4-5 years (that'd mean a launch in 2014 possibly, too)

And the Russkies are launching their sample return mission to Phobos (Martian moon) next year. Hope it works better than Hayabusa (and I'm still hoping there's a grain of asteroid Itokawa in Hayabusa's B sample chamber).

That didn't take long (alternate title: why wait?)

Just a few days after getting officially engaged (though they've been "dating", a wonderful euphemism, for a couple of years), Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr got married, quick as a jiffy.

HA! A picture of Miranda, and she's not nearly naked nor wearing a skimpy bikini!

Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr marry in secret ceremony

Pardon me while I cry me a river.

And post this link (don't click these at work):

Nearly naked Miranda Kerr rolls around in cotton lingerie

and this one (nearly naked in a REALLY intriguing bottom)

and finally this one, which features 17 pictures, 6-7 of which are incandescently hot. And she's nearly naked in most of them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Speaking of Greta Scacchi

Since I mentioned her last post, I checked in on the career compilations for Greta on IMDb and Wikipedia. I did not know that she had a child with her Italian first cousin, Carlo Mantegazza. But I'm thinking about it now.

Greta Scacchi (IMDb)

(Note: Greta was truly at her peak in 1991's "Shattered" -- and it showed.)

Greta Scacchi (Wikipedia)

More on the Mantegazza Connection (that sure sounds like a Mafia movie, or an Italian highway interchange)

Greta Scacchi biography

Greta Scacchi profile, from 1999

Greta Scacchi in "White Mischief" (dressed):

Greta Scacchi in "White Mischief" (not dressed)



Greta Scacchi in "Shattered" (not dressed)


The Client List

9 PM Saturday 7/24, 7 PM Sunday 7/25 (EDT)

JLoH plays a massage parlor hostess. There's a lot of her in lingerie. As they said about the horrendously awful movie "White Mischief" starring a nearing-her-peak (27) Greta Scacchi, who was frequently nude in this flick -- don't miss it.

As noted earlier, JLoH is one of my WILSINs (she's come quite close on a few occasions).

I typed in this


OK, I knew it sounded Hawaiian. First I found this

The Alaloa Lounge

Then I found out that "Ala Loa" means "the Long Trail" in Hawaiian from this:

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

Definitely Hawaiian.

Forgot about this altitudinal-difference couple

Eliza Dushku and Rick Fox -- which I'm STILL in shock about.

Eliza and Rick

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Abbey Clancy redux

I haven't posted much about Abbey Clancy for awhile; since the World Cup ended (I think her fiancee Peter Crouch played once), they've been on a holiday -- still seem to be doing quite well, romance-wise;

she showed up on the beach and in the pool in a variety of swimwear, which is a good thing, in her case;

and she made a fashion appearance on a TV show in a little black dress, which ain't bad either.

Clancy and Crouch have a large couple height differential; I recently found a picture that indicated clearly that superpopstar Kylie Minogue and her model boyfriend also don't see eye-to-eye by a foot or so. They join Candice Alley/Grant Hackett, Eva Longoria/Tony Parker, and Hayden Panettiere/Wladimir Klitschko as current celebrity couples with similar altitudinal discrepancies.

Visual metaphor

The oil spill in China near Dalian isn't nearly as bad as the Gulf oil spill, but it's still pretty bad:

Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water

China oil spill after pipe blast 'worse than thought'

This picture of the rescue of a firefighter who got caught in the oil during pump repairs is pretty dramatic:

This acronym probably won't catch on

MILF entered the popular lexicon from the movies; I came up with a new acronym describing my unfulfilled longings:

Women I'd Like [to] See In [the] Nude

I guess I have to make a movie now. With more time, I'll write a long missive about this whole nudity thing and the happiness quotient.

Megan Wallace Cunningham (Ferguson's wife) jumps onto my WILSIN list.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WISEing up to the asteroid threat

Part one: the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has found lots (and lots and lots) of asteroids in its first survey session. WISE has to work fast, because its supply of cryogenic coolant will run out pretty rapidly.

NASA telescope spots 25,000 new asteroids in just six months... and 95 are close to Earth

WISE Discovers 95 New Near-Earth Asteroids

Basic summary: WISE found a somewhat astonishing 25,000 new asteroids, 95 or so of which come within 30 million miles of Earth (those are the newly discovered NEOs)

Part two: So... it is heartening that Congress recognizes that we should have the wherewithal to address a planet-smasher, if one is found:

Congress proposes commission to study asteroid impact threat

"We need to take the next step," [Congressman Dana] Rohrabacher told "Our NEO search and tracking program continues to move forward, but nobody is taking responsibility for protection. I am more confident than ever in our ability to identify potential threats from asteroids and comets, but it is critical to the future of humanity that we develop the capabilities to protect ourselves from those threats."

Rohrabacher said that the Commission on Planetary Defense that he is proposing will review our planetary readiness for an impact event and make recommendations on how to develop an adequate response system to those threats.

Good! Because we'd rather not contemplate something like this:

Followup on the Ferguson family baby-to-be

As I noted in my previous post, Craig Ferguson and lovely wife Megan Wallace Cunningham are expecting a baby. Reading around on this, there was speculation on her age -- and no definitive statements. One source guessed 35; I doubted that, because in some pictures she looks VERY youthful.

So I did a little more searching and got something definitive: the article in PEOPLE about their wedding.

White Wedding: Craig Ferguson - Megan Wallace Cunningham

At the time (December 21, 2008), he was 46, she was 26. Which makes her 28 now; approaching the peak of her ripeness and desirability. As if that wasn't pretty obvious.

And that's the full scoop.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Craig Ferguson has a happiness announcement

Late night TV talk show host on CBS Craig Ferguson recently announced that he and his wife, the well-bred and fine-figured art dealer Megan Wallace Cunningham, are expecting their first child together.

The other pictures linked below indicate that their marriage has a high happiness quotient (I have to write that post!)

At the Grammy Awards


On the red carpet

This site has a nice short video of the lucky guy, I mean, couple, from the same appearance as the last picture

How does John Daly keep getting babes?

Professional golfer John Daly has won two majors, and had a bunch of flame-outs, too. He's also had a number of wives (at least one of which got in serious trouble with the law, drugs or something); he's an alcoholic; he's been way overweight, which led him finally to have stomach stapling surgery, which brought his weight down drastically; he still smokes heavily.

But he still attracts comely female companionship. His current girlfriend is a former Hooters waitress (well, that part of the profile makes sense) and is named Anna Cladakis. He seems to be fond of her and hopefully she can tame his wilder impulses. He did OK at the just-concluded British Open. (He got about $21,000 for the work.)

They share the same source for golf clothes

Dual interview

I guess we can see who has a checkered past... I meant checkered pants.


On the course

Nuclear plant plans: U.S. and Kazakhstan team up; Egypt wants four

The Middle East is turning nuclear in a BIG way. Now Egypt wants to build 4 (count 'em, four) nuclear plants by 2025. That's four in 15 years. Go Egypt!

Egypt to Construct Four Nuclear Plants by 2025

And eventually they'll want more, as the Energy Minister says they're already considering how many more they'll want after 2025, since the next four are set.

U.S. and Kazakhstan Team on Nuclear Power

I don't know if this actually means they'll be building another plant, but it sounds like it:

In the area of nuclear energy, the United States and Kazakhstan intend to share expertise between national laboratories and scientific organizations that will facilitate the safe and secure development of Kazakhstan’s commercial nuclear industry.

See, Kazakhstan is the world's leading producer of uranium. They've therefore got lots of nuclear plant interest (even though they only had one plant for awhile). But Toshiba (remember, Bill Gates is working with Toshiba on neighborhood nuke plants) established a nuclear energy institute in Kazakhstan. They've got working agreements with Japan, China, South Korea, India, and Canada. So it makes sense for the U.S. to get on board the Kazakhstan nuclear train, and it doesn't hurt that we'll help on nuclear fuel security, either.

Immoderate Motl

I had a short conversation with Luboš Motl (23rd-ranked sane climate skeptical scientist in the WORLD!) on his blog.

Moderated blogs suck.

He didn't allow me to finish my reply.

So herewith is how it stands.

This started because I saw a link on the Chief Moron's aggregator, Climate DeepThroat or somesuch. Linked over to this: Global sea ice anomaly is positive

Here's what the Motl-ey Fool wrote:

It's very warm in Central Europe - high temperatures in Pilsen reach 35 °C - and the global mean temperatures are close to the July 2009 values which were pretty warm.

But the sea ice tells us a different story.

For several months, The Cryosphere Today has been showing the decline of the Arctic sea ice. Several months ago, the anomaly grew and almost reached zero but it stayed slightly negative throughout 2010 and has been dropping, reaching -1.5 million squared kilometers a week ago or so.

However, the figure has been rising since that time and the newest reading is -1.333. At any rate, the Arctic has returned to a "shortage of ice" while the Antarctic sea ice boasts the good old tendency to grow. It's currently at +1.337 - so the total global sea ice anomaly is actually positive again, despite the warm global mean temperatures.

Imagine that. Several decades of news reports about armageddon and melting ice and after 30 years, we're exactly where we were in 1980. ;-)

So I wrote, innocently, as a comment:

Hey Lubos:

What about the two papers cited in the article below (which have been around awhile) indicating that sea ice increase around Antarctica is attributable to climatic warming?

That's inconvenient. Inform Morano that he linked to support for the climatic warming scenario on your blog.

Motl wrote back:

I see, so "global warming" means changes that differ by sign according to the hemisphere. It wouldn't be terribly global.

Very "wise". It's not only "inconvenient" but I would say it is also ill-considered.

Sorry but I won't be sending any mail of the kind that "everything we see is explained by global warming" to Marc Morano because I guess that even without my help, he is getting lots of e-mail from unhinged nutcases such as yourself.

Best wishes

And here's what I wrote back to him, which he didn't post.

Dear Lubos:

One of the characteristic signs of unhingedness (not to mention pseudoscience) is the adherence to a simplistic explanation when it is clear that a complex explanation is required.

I noted to Stephen Goddard shortly ago on WUWT that he was erroneous regarding the warming of the Southern Ocean -- which is clearly warming from observable data. This would seem at odds with increasing Southern Ocean sea ice extent. Other observations indicate increased wind speeds over the Southern Ocean. Have you factored these observations into your simple "warming should result in lower sea ice extent" concept? I expect you haven't. Sea ice formation is a process including the effects of wind and temperature, density, brine exclusion, even ice morphodynamics -- does Arctic Sea ice form frazil and then pancake ice in the winter, or does it freeze in a different fashion? Do the areas in which the formation mechanism have any influence on the total sea ice extent? Are these factors considered in your analysis?

A comprehensive explanation provides a framework encompassing all data and observations.
A deficient explanation does not. Warming and its accompanying regional meteorological and marine phenomena explain the increasing Antarctic sea ice extent comprehensively. Cooling does not.

Perhaps a simpler example is required. In much of upstate New York, snowfall amounts are increasing, despite observation of warmer and shorter winters. This seems counterintuitive. The comprehensive explanation is that warmer weather in the autumn allows the water in Lakes Erie and Ontario to stay warmer longer, increasing the incidence and severity of "lake effect" snowfall when cold air masses from Canada encounter the Great Lakes. A simplistic "warmer winters should mean less snow" is a deficient explanation. However, note that despite the increasing snowfall, the number of days with snow on the ground is decreasing -- also

consistent with a warming regime.

Oh yes -- another characteristic of unhingedness is deriding those who oppose you in factual discussions merely because they have raised a point of disagreement with a cherished element of the simplistic explanatory framework.

Your turn, Lube.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Denmark loses, but Bendtner scores

Awhile back I wrote about the relationship between the lovely and loaded Baroness Caroline Luel-Brockdorff and the much-younger Danish soccer star, Nicklas Bendtner.

What do you get the woman that has everything?

Well, it appears now that in lieu of a World Cup for the Danes, the answer to that question is ... a baby!

Nicklas Bendtner to become a father for the first time with fiancée 13 years his senior

OK, now while it's kind of interesting that the stunning Baroness is 35 and Nicklas is 22, I don't think the Daily Mail has to keep pointing that out IN THE HEADLINE. It's in the article, for gosh sake.

Bendtner's been bothered by a groin injury, which The Sun partly blamed on ... well ... the conceptional conjugal efforts of Bendtner and the Baroness. Some of the British tabloids have a noted penchant for cheekiness and smarminess, but c'mon, is that fair? (Even if he did get the injury that way... which I HIGHLY doubt.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting infected with malaria is NOT funny

I had to say that up front; getting sick with malaria is not funny. Malaria is a killer disease, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent children in third-world countries (and a few in the first- and second-world, too). More effective programs, like WIDESPREAD deployment of insecticide-treated bed nets, would do a lot toward reducing this tragic toll.

Furthermore, Cheryl Cole's bout with malaria doesn't have a lot of humor attached to it either, especially considering this rising star and world-class beauty may have been hours from death; she was certainly very, very sick, and is still just in the first stages of recovery.

But still... the way that the news media treated the news that Cheryl could go home with a few strings attached was pretty funny. The strings attached were: no sex, and no drinking (both of which could raise her blood pressure, which apparently is still elevated due to the malaria and probably will be for awhile).

I'm sure Derek Hough can see the long-term benefits of waiting. Based on how hot-and-heavy he was with Shannon Elizabeth, I tend to doubt that he's honoring the same wait-until-marriage pledge that his sister Julianne made (despite likely appeals from Ryan Seacrest). But Derek's smart enough to know that good things -- in this case, a VERY good thing -- come to those who wait.

Anyway, I can't decide which of the two headlines I collected for this post was funnier.

Cheryl Cole is banned from Rumpy-Pumpy


More bad news for Cheryl, she can't get pissed and laid this weekend

However, the latter definitely had the best lead:

And there she was, lying on her death bed, sweating, hallucinating, but nevertheless dreaming of a rampant rut after downing a keg of ale, like the sex-crazed alchy she is.

In news we’re not sure we believe, doctors have apparently told Chezza she can’t shag or drink anything that might make her want to, while she recovers from the deadly form of malaria that put her into intensive care.

Some trivia: Cheryl is occasionally referred to as a "Geordie". I looked this up: Geordie refers to people (and the dialect they speak) from Tyneside, particularly the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, in the northeast part of England. Cheryl was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the low rent district and her parents were never married, and split up when she was 11. Maybe not a rags-to-riches story, but not far from it.

Ilegal logging in decline

There aren't many pieces of good news environmentally lately, and despite the nice sound of this one, it too is a mixed bag. But it's better than nothing but bad news.

Illegal logging in decline

Here's the reason that it's a mixed message:

But the problem is by no means solved, the report says. Illegal logging is the first step in a larger process that often ends in complete deforestation, and it remains rife in many places. Many countries have sustainable forestry laws, but illegal logging thrives wherever corruption, chaos and political apathy are found regardless of what laws are on the books. Illegal loggers range from small, 'artisanal' groups with one truck and a couple of employees to multimillion-dollar companies who build roads and sawmills.
But... here's the good part of it.

Nonetheless, illegal logging has declined sharply in the three countries studied in detail in the report. The authors found a 50% reduction in Cameroon, a 50%–75% reduction in Brazil and a 75% drop in Indonesia. Such decreases may have cost as little as $2.50 per tonne of carbon, as compared to a cost of $18 per tonne in the European Union carbon trading scheme.
So let's celebrate a little.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Road Hole at St. Andrews

Reading about The Open Championship at St. Andrews, they said that the Road Hole requires a tee shot over the sign for the Old Course Hotel. Quote: "That changed sometime in the mid-1880s. Now with a billboard for the Old Course Hotel on the building’s facing wall, both pros and duffers alike are advised by caddies to aim over the second “O” with their tee shots."

That I had to see. A picture of the hole is shown above.

Here's the view from the tee. You can see the billboard on the hotel.

OK, that's just crazy. I've got to watch this tournament more closely this weekend.

The streak continues

NOAA: June 2010 Global State of the Climate – Supplemental Figures and Information

"June was the fourth consecutive month that was the warmest on record for the combined global land and surface temperatures (March, April, and May were also the warmest). This was the 304th consecutive month with a combined global land and surface temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below average temperatures was February 1985."

That sure must mean SOMETHING.

So also must this:

Where were you on June 21st?

On June 21st, if you were standing in the vicinity of NASA's SWIFT satellite (or anywhere else in the vacuum of space near Earth), this is what you might have looked like, briefly:

That's because SWIFT observed a super-blast of gamma-rays.

Although the Swift satellite was designed specifically to study gamma-ray bursts, the instrument was not designed to handle an X-ray blast this bright. "The intensity of these X-rays was unexpected and unprecedented" said Neil Gehrels, Swift's principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He said the burst, named GRB 100621A, is the brightest X-ray source that Swift has detected since the observatory began X-ray observation in early 2005. "Just when we were beginning to think that we had seen everything that gamma-ray bursts could throw at us, this burst came along to challenge our assumptions about how powerful their X-ray emissions can be," Gehrels said.

Record-Breaking X-Ray Blast Briefly Blinds Space Observatory

So what caused it? Collision of black holes? I guess the prevailing theory is black hole merging with a neutron star.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Danielle Lloyd has a baby

Because she's REALLY cute (see example below), and because she's a WAG (naturally) I've been paying attention to Danielle Lloyd's pregnancy, covered almost from conception (well, OK, not really) to delivery (and after, and after again) by the Daily Mail.

Cute example 1 (from this article, which has more extensive uncoverage)

Cute example 2

'He is absolutely perfect': Delighted Danielle Lloyd gives birth to baby boy Archie

And it's a bit of a comeback for her. She was hurt really badly in a nightclub brawl, instigated by friends of her fiance's (and baby's father) ex-girlfriend. And she was also assaulted by a previous boyfriend. She ought to just take her quiet domesticity with the new baby and enjoy it.

I am the very model of a modern major silverback

Two articles about Flavio Briatore -- and his wife, and his kid. Remember as you read these that he's also the father of Heidi Klum's firstborn. Or as the article finishes, "Flavio previously dated Naomi Campbell, Adriana Volpe and Heidi Klum, with whom he fathered a daughter Leni, now six."


Flavio Briatore's wife Elisabetta regains her Wonderbra model figure four months after giving birth

Doting father Flavio Briatore can't take his eyes off baby son Falco as the tot gets his water wings

I guess he's over those little problems with Formula One racing.

Space junk threatens world peace

THAT might catch some attention.

Orbital Debris Threatens Peaceful Use of Space, Group Tells U.N.

In an address to the U.N.'s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Secure World Foundation – a non-profit organization committed to space sustainability – emphasized the importance of developing a legal framework and protocol for cooperating to address this problem.

Yet tensions between countries about the best way to deal with space junk could make a solution difficult, experts say.

"In order to keep the ability to work in space, we need to reduce as much as possible the amount of debris that we put in orbit," Secure World Foundation Executive Director Ray Williamson told "The reason for that is that as we go to much higher-than-Earth altitudes, the debris tends to stay in space for many years. And if you go to 1,000 km [600 miles], when you get to those altitudes, debris in space stays for centuries."

Consider: if there's a collision involving a military satellite, accusations -- and attacks -- could fly.

This is all about Emmanuelle Chriqui

HBO's little feature on Emmanuelle Chriqui inspired this.

It's not my fault. I'm helpless in the face of Chriqui's effortless glamourousness.

Entourage's Emanuelle Chriqui sizzles in photoshoot

HBO: Eight good reasons to marry Sloan (DON'T miss the video, embedded below: "Uncovering Sloan)

More video uncoverage:

Video: Chriqui flash

Chriqui in GQ

Proposal on Entourage

The Sorkin Notes: Sloan style

Continuation of above: wow

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Short followup 3: Power plays in soccer?

I did a little searching around and found a couple of things related to the idea of power plays in soccer.

Why Americans don't like soccer (from the Huffington Post, by Richard Greene)

Take the best of The World Cup teams, the Group winners -- Uruguay, Argentina, United States, Germany, Netherlands, Paraguay, Brazil and Spain. These eight elite "sides" had, according to Match Analysis, an average of 656 touches per-game for each team. How many of these 656 touches per-game do you think turned into a shot on goal, an actual chance to score? An anemic 6.3 in a 90 minute contest. Argentina has been -- by far -- the most aggressive offensive team, taking an average of 9.7 shots on goal per game. Argentina averages 753 touches per-game. So, that means the most aggressive scoring threat in World Cup soccer attempts a shot on goal 1.28% of the time it touches the ball.

I don't know about you, but for me that's not must-see TV. And these are the best teams in the World Cup tournament that shoot at the goal 1% of the time. The least successful teams in the competition -- usually referred to as the worst teams -- Honduras and New Zealand, averaged 469 and 453 touches per-game respectively with a whopping production of only 1 shot on goal per game. Yes, one shot!

Argentina and Portugal lead the 32 World Cup teams in scoring. Each has averaged 2.3 goals per game. Slightly more than a third of the teams -- 11 of 32 -- averaged less than one goal per game. One team, Honduras, played their entire schedule of games without making a single goal. They never got even one ball in the net! Exactly half the teams -- 16 of 32 - allowed less than one goal per game to be scored against them. The "sides" of Portugal and Uruguay are yet to be scored on. They have allowed opposing "sides" an average of 629 touches per-game, but zero goals.

American sports fans just don't want to see a team have possession of the ball 629 times in a game and only get off one or two shots on goal. And not score at all. Boring.

And this analysis of man-advantage situations in soccer:

Soccer: just how damaging is it to get a man sent off?

There's statistics attached in the accompanying tables, which I haven't quite figured out yet. They are derived from four years of English Premier League play. So I'll take these two statements as a good summary:

"As you can see, when a team is down a man, a team's shot rate drops somewhat (32% for home teams, 13% for visitors) while shots allowed go way up (42% at home, 73% on the road)"


"Interestingly, the home team always has a higher shooting percentage, regardless of the game state. When the home team is a man up, they were almost twice as likely to score as at 11-a-side."

(If I read the table correctly, at 11-11 the home team scores 1.4 goals, and 11-10 it scores 2.63 goals. For visitors, it's 0.99 goals at 11-11, and 1.84 goals at 10-11, also a substantial increase. And it's also interesting how significant the home-field advantage is. There should be less of a home field advantage in a World Cup tournament, played at neutral sites, except for the host.)

This little article makes my point. Two-minute power plays in soccer would slightly increase scoring chances. But soccer needs that; even the commentators who played and loved the game didn't like "artless" soccer, which means emphasis on defense, one-dimensional offense, and low scoring.

The thing is, this idea won't happen. I know that. But you know what? I actually will suggest this to the MLS. Why not be innovative -- attract more crowds -- and maybe start a change to the game for the better?

Short followup 2: Desalination for Australia's water woes

More on Australia's implementation of desalination, very well done by the NY Times:

Arid Australia turns to desalination, at a cost

I noted the controversy about Sydney's desalination plant back in February.

Desalination requires power, and Australia burns coal to generate their power; more coal per capita than any other country. They need NUCLEAR.

From the article:

Many environmentalists and economists oppose any further expansion of desalination because of its price and contribution to global warming. The power needed to remove the salt from seawater accounts for up to 50 percent of the cost of desalination, and Australia relies on coal, a major emitter of greenhouse gases, to generate most of its electricity.

Critics say desalination will add to the very climate change that is aggravating the country’s water shortage. To make desalination politically palatable, Australia’s plants are using power from newly built wind farms or higher-priced energy classified as clean. For households in cities with the new plants, water bills are expected to double over the next four years, according to the Water Services Association.

Short followup 1: Tiger meet

Thirteen countries meeting in Indonesia to refine tiger survival plan:

Tiger countries meet in Indonesia to map rescue

WWF says the global, wild population of tigers of all species has fallen from about 100,000 to an estimated 3,200 over the past century.

Countries invited to attend the St. Petersburg summit are Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The pre-summit talks in Bali from Monday to Wednesday will hear details of each country's tiger protection plans and funding proposals.

I think the tiger should somehow get next to the giant panda in the WWF logo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Asteroid Lutetia flyby

I was thinking to myself a few days ago that we're kind of in a lull in terms of robotic planetary exploration. MESSENGER is on the outswing of its last leg before coming back to Mercury and going into orbit. Reliable Cassini is still flying by the Saturn moons and taking amazing pictures, but since the equinox it's been rather quiet, discovery-wise. New Horizons is on the LONG cruise phase to Pluto. Lots of Mars pictures coming back, while Opportunity keeps crossing the dunes and everybody hopes Spirit eventually wakes up. Dawn is still cruising, with Vesta arrival a little more than a year away. EPOXI (the former Deep Impact mothership) will do a comet flyby on November 4, something to look forward to. Hayabusa returned spectacularly, but odds are against finding any asteroid dust, unfortunately.

And there was just a conference about the Venus Express first results.

But... in terms of public interest, I thought there wasn't much going on. But there was... I forgot, until reminded today, that the Rosetta mission flew past Asteroid Lutetia on the weekend.

Now, the asteroids are starting to look somewhat similar -- I suppose airless rocky bodies in space all will resemble each other quite a bit (notice I did not say "hairless rock-hard bodies" in order to attract search engine hits). This one is a cratered rocky body as well... but thinking about the fact that it is unlikely ever to be viewed this close again within the span of foreseeable human history, that makes such a flyby historical and unique. And they did take one picture (see below) that put it in context quite well.

More heatwaves in store for U.S.

Not surprisingly, global warming will cause more frequent heatwaves like the one we're currently feeling in the Mid-Atlantic. This one has even caused the D.C. local government to ask citizens to water street trees and to get little irrigation devices to keep the street trees

That must drive Senator Inhofe crazy.

I wonder how many street trees he'd volunteer to water?

Heat Waves Could Be Commonplace in the US by 2039

Call to Water Street Trees in Summer Heat:
Residents Urged to Adopt Street Trees and Receive Free Watering Device

Food waste pickup in the city

Up the road in the big capital city, a new enterprise has started a food waste pickup program. They pick up the waste for a modest fee, compost it, and subscribers can either a) get fresh composted soil back, or b) donate the soil to an agricultural cause. It addresses the food waste problem, it is ecologically sound, and it does good things for the city.

I love this idea. Food waste shouldn't end up in landfills; it should either get used for biofuel feedstock (widespread implementation is a few years off) or like this composting plan. I hate all the food waste that our family generates. (I noted that part of this is due to excessive sensitivity to the sell-by date, but still, that doesn't cover fruit peels, coffee grounds, plate scraps, things like that.

Where I live is too far-flung to be called a suburb, but I'd take my food waste to a central collection point in the nearby local commercial hub (Prince Frederick, even La Plata) if there was one. But I think that this idea would catch on very nicely in the suburbs, especially as they may have more space for composting operations, more dedicated food waste collectors -- at least in the liberal-politics suburbs -- and much higher population density. Townhome developments and over-55 condo and villa developments would be PERFECT for this kind of thing.


Making soccer better

Is it necessary to try to improve a sport that is watched and played so much around the world? What is probably the most popular sport in the world?

I say yes.

The recent noteworthy officiating gaffes at the World Cup made me lose some interest. A succession of 1-0 results and elimination matches decided by penalty kicks made me lose more interest. Nonetheless, I watched most of the final, and had I been informed that the winning goal would take place 116 minutes into it, I would have done other things, watched the near-miss highlights on ESPN, and tuned in about the 110-minute mark or so.

I think soccer/football is a sport a lot like swimming or sailing -- much more fun to do than to watch. Swimming is physically tough, so is track-and-field; much of the appreciation of a fan who has done the sport is due to the knowledge of how difficult it is to train for the events. Sailing is tremendously fun, but from the shore, it's just sails moving back and forth.

Soccer aficionados will exclaim blissfully over a great individual move or a sublime sequence of passing that do nothing except keep the ball under control for awhile longer. Spain was great at that. But with so few goals, the excitement level drops -- AND EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT.

Sooo... I think that the final was rescued by a second yellow card to Heitinga. This gave the World Cup final something that I think that soccer should institute:

A power play.

Both hockey and lacrosse, the two sports most similar to soccer, have power plays, where an assessed penalty results in a player going off the field, leaving one team with a man advantage. (As I review this, I thought of another similar game net-and-ball game with power plays: water polo.) In hockey, these are moments of tremendous high tension. The scorers have more room to maneuver, can take more shots, and the defense of the team that is down has to be creative and courageous. A lot of goals are scored on power-plays; and the man-down goal is also frequently a game-changer.

Now, lacrosse has lots of goal-scoring, almost too much for my taste. (Give the goalie an even bigger scoop on his stick, and note that the indoor leagues have padded up the goalie to the size of a sumo wrestler.) But they also have man-down power plays; this can give a team that's down a chance to catch up with a quick goal.

I considered other ways to "improve" soccer, such as widening the net a little, but that would have one effect of making a penalty kick even more of a sure thing. Power plays would do nothing to hurt the "essence of soccer" -- game flow would not be impeded, the penalized player would just get off the field, the penalty clock would start, and the game would continue. I would assess a man-down penalty on any infraction resulting in a direct kick. What this would do is give the "stars of the show" -- the goal-scorers -- a little more chance to practice their specialty. There'd be a few more goals; I see that as a good thing. With more space to operate for the offense, defenses would have to be less man-on-man and more zone. Coaches would be forced to be creative. And it would also force defenders to be a little more scrupulous. The only downside I see is that it might increase the incidence of taking a dive to try and convince the referee that a foul was really bad. Solution: if the referee sees it as a dive, they get an off-the-field penalty and a yellow card. They'd have to decide if taking the dive was worth the risk.

Now, this still doesn't change the substitution policy, or anything else. The player that gets penalized goes off the field, comes back on the field when the penalty time is expired. He could get a yellow card when necessary. Two yellows equal a red, and a permanent man-down situation, just like now.

I found a database on the final match, but it doesn't distinguish between direct and indirect free kick fouls. Assuming a 3-1 ratio, there were 45 free kicks, so I'd say there were 11 direct kicks. With two-minute penalties, that would be 22 minutes of man-advantage and 68 minutes full-strength. Not bad.

I'll send this idea to FIFA forthwith.

Ha! And one more thing; the championship match should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER... NEVER end on penalty kicks. They should play 10 hours if they have to. Let them see how deep the bench -- seven of which probably didn't play the whole tournament -- is. Stanley Cup three- or four-overtime games are RIVETING. Soccer should end the championship final penalty kick travesty now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

High contrast

January 7, 2010

July 8, 2010

FINALLY! Some sense about the "sell by"

A little insight in the Wolf family dynamics; despite my wife's inherent gorgeousness (which I've got to talk about more in general context, to explain why I'm happy like Orlando Bloom is happy with Miranda Kerr), she has some ideas that are hard to break.

Here's one of them:

Another one is that you have to throw away food that is past it's "sell by" date because that means it has probably gone bad and could cause food poisoning.

Despite my protestations, I end up throwing away perfectly good food with alarming frequency.

So today (via the esteemable Daily Mail), is confirmation that the lovely Mrs. Wolf is WRONG about this one -- and confirms that a lot of perfectly good food gets thrown away because of the "sell by" date confusion.

Sell-by date to go in war on waste: 450,000 tons of good food are dumped every year

Finally, there is a 'use-by' date, which is actually the only definitive safety guide for a shopper and signifies that a product may cause harm if eaten after this date.

The Government and the Food Standards Agency are looking at replacing this system with a simple 'use-before' date - the only piece of information that offers a safety cut-off point.

Alert the FDA! I wonder how many of the foods I currently have in the panty have a "use by" date that I can actually find. Time for research.

They've come up with another good idea -- end the "buy one, get one free" marketing strategy. It's a very stupid way to sell fresh bread, because the second loaf rarely stays fresh long enough!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Amazing what those metal-detectors find sometimes

They may look stupid (or crazy), wandering beaches and fields with what looks like a land-mine detector [and they're descended from them] in their hand, waving it over the ground -- but hobbyist treasure hunters occasionally actually find buried treasure. It's a bonus when it has historical significance.

Chef discovers largest ever hoard of Roman coins in a field

What amazes me is that these people will do this for years, finding loose change, bottle caps, and scrap metal, always dreaming they'll find something like this. And very rarely, they do.

The coins span 40 years from AD253 to AD293 and the great majority are 'radiates' made from debased silver or bronze.

The hoard was the equivalent of four years of pay for a Roman legionary - and could now fetch at least £250,000. Weighing 350lb, the coins may have been buried as an offering for a good harvest or favourable weather.

Want healthier coral? Clean up coastal discharge

Global warming and ocean acidification are very probably going to affect coral reefs adversely. But there are other direct things that affect coral reefs, the main one being water quality. Pump untreated or poorly-treated sewage water out into the coastal zone, and corals get sick and die. Plus, the nutrients increase algal growth, which decreases the clarity of the water -- corals need very clear water for the algal symbionts to photosynthesize. Add to that, with too much nutrients, algae can start growing right on the corals -- which isn't good.

So it's not surprising that research has found that cleaner water will help corals survive in warming waters. What needs to be done now for the corals is to improve efforts to clean up water discharge in countries that have a great wealth of coral reefs, but are otherwise not financially up to the task. Yet another reason that a world government would be a great help to the environment.

Global warming: clean water helps corals

Was Cheryl Tweedy (Cheryl Cole) near death?

This hasn't been substantiated by other news reports (yet), but according to the News of the World, Cheryl Tweedy (formerly or about-to-be-formerly Cheryl Cole) was "near death" from malaria, and is still jaundiced from impairment of liver function.

"Cheryl Cole's so weak we nearly lost her"

So I do hope she's improving. If this incident does anything (and doesn't kill her), it might raise consciousness substantially about the continuing tragedy of malaria and the need for widespread use of insecticide (DDT)-infused bed nets.

Just don't wake up Godzilla!

The ECOMAR program has discovered some amazing creatures in the deep ocean.

I call this one the Applause coral.

And here's a pteropod named Clione. David Shale obviously took this remarkable photo.

More reports and pictures here:


New ECOMAR discoveries

Friday, July 9, 2010

I've been waiting for better news

Cheryl Tweedy (formerly Cole) has been in the hospital for a week battling the malaria she picked up in Tanzania while on her romantic holiday with Derek Hough. The rare readers of this blog will know that Cheryl is one of my favorites. (See below for one reason why.)

Well, there is better news -- she's out of the hospital, and now is going to convalesce at a private clinic. Based on reports, it could be weeks to months before she's fully back to normal.

I'm glad this didn't turn into a startling Brittany Murphy (or thinking back, Jim Henson)-style tragedy. Beyond the horrible spectre of losing a talent like her so young, Hough would have been devastated well beyond how bad he's feeling now that his holiday in African Eden turned out so bad for his spectacularly-desirable paramour.

So, this was news I was waiting for.

Cheryl Cole out of danger as she's discharged from hospital to recuperate in a private clinic

One reason why:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Roy Spencer exploits uncertainty

Roy Spencer is a creationist. And he's apparently learned from "best" (i.e. worst) of them. The creationists were adept at utilizing some of the supposed uncertainties about evolutionary theory to help mislead their gullible flocks into thinking that evolution is not one of the best supported theories in the scientific realm. Things like gaps in the fossil record (explained by punctuated equilibrium), transitional fossils (paleontologists kept finding more and more), the accumulation rate of beneficial mutations (not nearly as much of a dilemma as presented, when it was analyzed properly), the general rate of evolutionary change itself (read "The Beak of the Finch" for more perspection on that), and the apparent sophisticated design of animal anatomical features of many different kinds ("Darwin's Black Box" got thoroughly unmasked in court).

Still, it's an effective tactic -- for a gullible audience. It basically works by finding a quote or a paper by a research scientist that something about the theory is "uncertain" or still "a research problem", and then constructing an entire argument of whole cloth that uses that little expression of uncertainty to create an entire alternate theoretical construct that seems valid -- particularly to the nonscientific audience that needs some seeming scientific backing to strengthen their belief structure. By doing so, the creationist leaders look magnificently intelligent to their followers, and the followers beliefs get bolstered.

Bolstered by lies and fabrications, that is.

Which leads us to Dr. Roy. His "theory" now is that one of the biggest remaining uncertainties in understanding Earth's climate is how low troposheric clouds respond, act, and react as the climate changes. He exploits this uncertainty to state with scientific-sounding authority, "warming doesn't cause changes in cloud cover, changes in cloud cover cause warming."

Listen to the video.

Roy Spencer on the importance of clouds

He says, "The IPCC, the climate modelers, all admit that the behavior of low clouds is their biggest uncertainty in forecasting global warming."

So he's the one that's figured it out? And NONE of the other guys? There's a whiff of Elmer Gantry here.

He's getting louder and louder on his alternate theory of warming, and more visible (aided and abetted by Rush Limbaugh). Which will make him look more foolish when he's ultimately refuted.

He even wrote a book about, "The Great Global Warming Blunder".

Why am I so strongly reminded of "Darwin's Black Box", by Michael Behe?

Spencer addressed roundly:
How to cook a graph in 3 easy lessons

Brilliancy from Tobis

Michael Tobis has brilliantly explained why Kal-El (aka Clark Kent, aka Superman) was one of the few residents of Krypton to escape the planet's destruction. I admit, it bothered me too that Jor-El couldn't at least get his family off-planet. Tobis does seem to miss the loyalty test that was administered by the planetary leaders (if I remember correctly, Jor-El swore he wouldn't try to escape the planet, but that didn't mean he couldn't launch his son intergalactically).

The Krypton Cataclysm: why so few survivors?

It seems to me that there are similarities to some recent events in this narrative, but I can't put my finger on them.

Did you ever wonder...

... what the anatomical term for the separation of the buttocks is?

A couple of days ago, I did. Apparently, the most accepted name is the intergluteal cleft, but gluteal cleft is also used. It can also be called the gutious cleft or the natal cleft.

Here's an illustration:

A rose by any other name...

It's not just us in the U.S.

Reports are circulating that China is having very severe heatwave problems right now, too, while we swelter on the U.S. East Coast.

China Heat Wave Sends Temperatures to Six-Decade High, Kills 2

The June and July global temperature analyses are going to be very interesting. It's a struggle right now between the atmospheric temperatures, now clearly in the grasp of El Nino related warming, and the actual Pacific Ocean, which is cool waters related to a possible developing La Nina. Since the global temperature is a combined land-ocean number, which one will dominate? Check back on July 15th.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Plan to increase world tiger populations under discussion

I wrote about the peril of the tiger a few posts ago; now I read that Indonesia is putting together a tiger recovery plan, and that it will be presented at a meeting in September in Russia which will discuss global tiger recovery.

That's a little bit of good news. The backdrop is wild species reductions just about everywhere, but the charismatic tiger probably still has a chance because of its charisma. If China could be convinced that tiger parts are no better in traditional herbal medicine than bull testicles (which probably have some testosterone anyway), then there'd be less poaching pressure, and the main problem would be habitat loss.

Bali meeting to draw up plan to double endangered tiger population

The meeting, to be held on the Indonesian resort island July 12-14, was expected to produce a draft Global Tiger Recovery Programme, said Darori, the Forestry Ministry's director general of forest protection and nature conservation.That document would then be discussed at a summit of global leaders on tiger conservation in Russia in September, he said.

A fish we can eat without guilt

I was unaware that the striking brown-and-white striped, long-spined lionfish had turned into a bad example of a nasty invasive species. Now, the story goes, it's being fished (it can only be spearfished, unfortunately) as much as possible, and it's a good fish to eat.

How to conquer the invasive lionfish? Saute it.

"This fish is delicious," said seafood distributor Sean Dimin, co-owner of Sea to Table, who visited Beaufort last year and learned that divers were catching it in "lionfish rodeos" and cooking it on the beach. ...

Distributors such as Dimin and David Johnson, president of Traditional Fisheries, are still trying to work out the economics of selling lionfish because catching it remains costly and labor-intensive. Johnson, who is based in Minnesota but whose Mexican brothers-in-law work as spear fishermen, has organized 24 fishermen near Cancun to catch lionfish.

"It's spearing, spearing, spearing," said Johnson, who delivered a shipment of lionfish to Seaver.

The article notes that filleting a fish with venomous spines is a challenge (shouldn't bother the Japanese, who make ornamental fish dishes out of the fugu (pufferfish), and if they included the neurotoxin gland, it would kill the diner; and as noted above, supply is a problem.

So I have a solution:

Tell the Japanese that lionfish sushi tastes better than toro (bluefin tuna). That'll solve this problem in a couple of years!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In case you didn't believe me about abusive email sent to climate scientists

Caution: profanity ahead.

The hate emails sent to climate scientists

I'd call these "unthinking" --- wouldn' t you?

Other good stuff can be found on FreeRepublic:

Climategate was a "game changer" in science reporting, say climatologists


"This is a wholesale whitewash of a criminal debacle. Basically, all liars of the Global Warming Genus are getting free passes. East Anglia, Penn State, the NASA weasels involve ALL got slaps on the wrists when they should have been put up before firing squads."

or how about:

"These “scientists” are the high priests of this pagan earth worship cult. They have been exposed for what they are. They are awash in money lavished on them by socialist governments bent on manipulating the earth worship dogma to justify more government control over the people of the world. They and the popular science press should never be trusted again."

and this gem:

"The "scientists" who perpetrated the global warming fraud approached their science in exactly the opposite manner as the approach described above. They formulated a theory based on political ideology (as well as the path of least resistance to "grant" money) and then did whatever they had to do with their data to "prove" it. What the world has now seen with the expose of the "global warming" scam puts a new spin on the old saying: "Figures can lie and liars can figure." The discipline of science has taken a massive hit over the past few months and it could take years for science - - and scientists - - to regain credibility with the public. A lot of that burden must fall on honest scientists, and the first and most important thing they must do is scream for the heads of Michael Mann, Phil Jones, and the rest of the fraudsters. I guess we'll see if they have the integrity to do it."

Try explaining something to them -- and see if they call you names. They don't listen. They just fling accusations and diatribes in line with their political nuttiness.

Russian drowning epidemic; how bad is it really?

Some things you read you just don't believe. But apparently it's true; when it gets hot in Russian, Russians drink a lot, jump in the nearest body of water, and drown, in numbers much higher than seems likely or reasonable.

Hundreds drown during Russian heatwave

Now, the article says that 285 people drowned in a week, 63 in a day. Poking around, I found statistics for the U.S. that said about nine people drown every day. That'd be 3,285 yearly. The annual Russian rate is estimated (from the article) at over 3,000 annually, too.

Extrapolating unjustifiably, I get 285 x 52 = 14,820 Russian drownings at that weekly rate, or 63 x 365 = 22,995 at that daily rate -- well, these are thankfully heatwave rates, not what happens every week. Still, it sure sounds like a lot.

Another article says that for the U.S., 2/3 of drownings occur in the summer months. So that'd be 2,190 in three months, or 730 in a month, 183 in a week. Thus, the Russian heatwave drowning rate is significantly higher than the U.S. summer drowning rate, but not by as much as I was thinking. It's appalling how many drownings there are in the U.S.; I'd call for more swimming lessons and better-paid lifeguards, but that's a pipe dream. And a lot of these drownings are the classic tragic toddler wanders into the pool area unattended, falls in, and gets found when it's too late. Lessons and lifeguards won't help, but teaching them drownproofing as soon as they can learn to jellyfish float might.

emedicine health: Drowning

Another reason to pay lifeguards better,

they can't seem to afford a shirt that fits.