Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Dancing with the Stars" pre-season picks

My pre-season picks for the Final 3: Brandy, Jennifer Grey, and Rick Fox. I reserve the right to change these after watching the premiere show.

Dancing With The Stars: Oddball line-up revealed with David Hasselhoff, Jennifer Grey and 'The Situation' leading the pack

German nuclear power plant extension talked

Because Germany wants to keep headed down the road toward carbon emissions reductions, AND because there is not any feasible way to do that if they shut down their nuclear plants by 2020 (the current schedule), talks are underway to extend the plants by 2-12 years. This is necessary, no matter what the protesting Greenies think. I don't know how much electricity Deutschland can expect from that Sahara solar plant, but I seriously doubt it would be enough.

Germany mulls longer life for nuclear power plants

ICESAT reentry ends orbital mission

As I mentioned in this post, ICESAT was being prepped for a fiery demise in Earth's atmosphere. Well, it came down Monday (August 30) over the Barents Sea, and apparently nothing hit anybody. This was a mission well-done, from start to finish, and it taught us a lot.

Too bad the global warming skeptics still don't get it.

ICESat takes a plunge to conclude successful mission

Monday, August 30, 2010

Let's all go to an asteroid!

While the successful ICESAT mission shuts down and gets prepped for fiery re-entry (where's that balloon when you NEED it?), plans are being formulated to send astro-guys and astro-girls to an asteroid. I tend to think this will be one fun ride.

'Plymouth Rock" Deep Space Asteroid Mission Idea Gains Ground

It'd be cool if they went to an asteroid that looked like this (but this is Hyperion, a bit too far away orbiting Saturn):

(And here's a New Scientist article about the balloon de-orbiting space junk idea.)

A good case of bad timing

Michelle Wie won her 2nd LPGA tournament, the Canadian Open, by 3 shots, two of which could be rightly attributed to her Day One hole-in-one. Now, in the autumn, game coming 'round, the LPGA's greatest hope for respectability, press coverage, and increased sponsorships is going back to college.

I don't know how many LPGA tournaments are left this year, but it would be real good for the LPGA if Michelle came hard-charging out of the gate next spring and started knocking down championships. When/if she combines her star potential and natural good looks with a few trophies, she'll get more attention from the sports press and the all-important male sector of the sporting world.

Wie wins CN Canadian Open for second LPGA tour victory

Emmy femme dresses; quick evaluation

Based on:

Emmy awards arrival gallery

Lea Michele - impressive dress
Jennifer Westfeldt (Jon Hamm's wife) is quite cute
Claire Danes - wow!
Heidi Klum - unfair to womankind, kind to mankind (not pregnant this time, though!)
Brooke Burke - wowZA!
Nina Dobrev - elegant
Maria Menounos -- wins the bare back award; maybe I should rephrase that
Eva LaRue - nice dress, but a severe hair pullback
Julia Ormond - totally does not look like Julia Ormond anymore
who was with Al Pacino? Lucila Sola, who deserves her own post later
Julie Benz -- does the white sheath right
Sarah Hyland - pretty

Cooch the Gooch gets squished

So much for trying to suppress the flow of information from the scientific side of the argument, AG Cuccinelli. Feel free to continue supplying your own personally-misguided opinion, heavily influenced by the Repablumican propaganda machine that keeps on churning out articles to maintain the misleading material that they've been propagating for the last 15 years. But I hope you learned not to use your office for grandstand plays to appease your right-wing butt-kissers.

Somehow I doubt it, though.

Judge quashes Cuccinelli subpoena of U-Va. [Michael Mann] records

Part of the article says:

But the judge seemed skeptical of Cuccinelli's underlying claim about Mann, noting that Cuccinelli's deputy maintained in a court hearing that the nature of Mann's fraud was described in subsequent court papers in the case.

"The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann's work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia," Peatross wrote.

I really, really, really like this comment:

Everything this moron does is an embarrassment. Politically motivated prosecutions are the worst abuse of office an Attorney General can commit.

This one is good too:

This right wingnut idiot shouldn't hold ANY office at ANY level. He's wasting our hard-earned tax dollars on his witch hunt. He's too stupid to realize global warming is a given - we're living it today.

Anyone voting for this jerk deserves him - the rest of us don't.

Then of course there's this bullsh*t:

Mann is widely recognized for his dishonesty in conseling a colleague by e-mail on the ways to cook the data. Despite this, UVa. did nothing to scrutinize him through their internal processes. That left taxpayers with only one other alternative.

Uh, no, Mann didn't even write the erroneously-interpreted email that this jerk is referring to. Idiot2.

As they say, go ahead and keep wasting the Virginia taxpayers' money, Gooch.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why nuke power needs climate change legislation

OK, take another look at this one (if you missed it, and many of you probably DID). This great article on Climate Progress explains succinctly why the nuclear power industry needs a carbon tax legislation to pass.

Now, I know two things; one, climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases is happening, and it's going to get worse. Two, nuclear power, despite the naysayers, offers one of the only viable generating capacity alternatives that can cover all three sectors (home, industry, and transportation), and which offers substantial reduction in greenhouse gases, AND which maintains the trajectory of increased standard-of-living for all mankind (whether or not that's a good thing, which is debatable). Therefore, climate change "skeptics" -- actually, they should be called Preservers of the Big Carbon Status Quo -- are standing in the way of addressing the climate change problem and my own industry, which makes me doubly peevish with them.

So I'll continue as I have been doing.

Climate change is bad for nuclear power, industry needs a shrinking cap on carbon to survive

In case anyone needs the bottom line reality:

Currently, coal-fired generation is less expensive than nuclear power, which adds to the risk of investing in new nuclear reactors. Putting a cap on carbon, however, would make coal-fired power more expensive than nuclear power, making it much more likely that an investment in a nuclear reactor will make money.

This dynamic is at play in Maryland, where Constellation Energy has applied for a loan guarantee for a new reactor from the Department of Energy. According to the Baltimore Sun, Constellation’s project is now at risk, whether or not they get a loan guarantee. Project chairman Michael J. Wallace told the Sun, “When we get the DOE loan guarantee, that certainly is a major step forward for us. We then need to go through calculations on all the other variables to see whether this project can go forward on an economically sound basis. And we have to continue to do that over the next several months.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recap of England v. Pakistan, Day 2, Test 4

Just read it (referred to in my latest tweet):

Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad plunder centuries and salvage England after early collapse - day two at Lord's as it happened

The supersuit theory (swimming)

Watching the Pan-Pacs times and comparing them to the host of world records set when the supersuits took over for a brief and thankfully bygone era, I formulated a theory about why some swims came closer to WRs than others. The theory is pretty simple and probably not that earth-shakking, but to this point I haven't seen anyone else espouse it.

The theory is: the faster a swimmer was moving through the water, the more the suits helped them go faster. I.e., more speed would normally produce more drag, and thus the effects of the suits were more pronounced at higher in-water speed.

Thus, I'd expect that the harder WRs to break will be in the freestyle, then the stroke sprints. The longer and slower the race, the better chance that swimmers will have to come close to or break the record. Even the 100 splits in a 1500 or 800 are faster than the top speed in a 100 or especially a 200 breaststroke, and the IMs include the slower breaststroke and backstroke legs. So that is why I think Ryan Lochte and Rebecca Soni were able to get close to WRs at the Pan-Pacs, and that's why the freestyles are still off. The 50 freestyles, more than a second off (which is a long, long way in a 50) were particularly indicative as support for my theory, I think.

Here's a bit about drag reduction in water:

Imaginative solutions by marine organisms for drag reduction (by Frank E. Fish; no kidding)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"and the river ran red"

That's a quote from a translation of the Iliad (Achilles was mowing his way through the Trojan army); I'm going to write a post about Odysseus in a day or two, because archaeologists think they found his palace.

But this is about a unique natural phenomenon in Canada when heavy rains washed sediments into Cameron Creek, in Alberta, and the rain-swollen creek turned red, as did the Cameron Falls, for a short time. Not brown or ruddy beige -- really red. Pinkish-red, actually, but red enough for me.

River that runs red: Photographer captures rare phenomenon in the Rockies

Frank Cho selection

In honor of the upcoming Washington Post magazine cover story on cartoonist extraordinaire Frank Cho, I'm providing two "moderate" selections from his repertoire. I also cited Cho in my Dejah Thoris post.

First, Cho's famous Brandy from Liberty Meadows:

Second, Ultron, showing his comic-book art flair:

Here's the article. He's a Marylander too.

Personal liberties: Comic book artist Frank Cho has made a career of being bawdy and bold

As the article notes and as these examples show, Cho knows how to draw women. And he can also draw them exquisitely au naturel. You can find examples of that yourself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are wind and solar really the world's energy future?

That's what this guy, Walter Kohn, Nobel winner in Chemistry, thinks. I have trouble figuring out how both of these sources, which are a) dependent on region, and b) dependent on atmospheric conditions, and in the case of solar c) dependent on what time of the day it is -- could be considered a reliable main energy source. He's thinking on the level of individual units; but that means he's not covering the industrial and transportation sectors.

Kohn says: "The global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90 and wind energy by a factor of about 10 over the last decade. He expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue during the next decade and beyond, thereby leading to a new era, the SOL/WIND era, in human history, in which solar and wind energy have become the earth's dominant energy sources."

I don't think this is realistic. In fact, I think that it's wishful thinking by an old guy (albeit a smart guy) that won't be around to watch the generations of this century face the really hard choices.

Pan Pacific Championships Day 4 analysis

Men's 800 Freestyle: Ryan Cochrane goes 7:48 in this little-swum event, 4 seconds off the Pan-Pac record set by the great Grant Hackett in 2002. Much slower than the WR (but I still have to espouse on my suit theory). La Tourette 2nd, VanderKaay 5th, Houchin 6th from USA.

Women's 200 IM: Australia's top female performer, Emily Seebohm, takes this one; sets a Pan-Pac record beating the world-record holder Kukors. Was Kukors affected by the suit change, or is this just not a world championships?

Men's 200 IM: Gee, I wonder who'll win this: Lochte does what I think is the swim of the meet, only 0.33 off his WR -- and that was with an American supersuit. He wanted to be the first to set a WR in the back-to-normal suits, and came close. In a totally unsurprising finish, Tyler Clary plays Joan Pennington to Lochte's Tracy Caulkins, finishing 2nd again. This final takes the prize for most unusual names; Pereira, Takakuwa, Rodrigues, Brodie (Leith), Hagino, and D'Orsogna (who's Australian, go figure). Ancient mariner Robert Margalis is 2nd in the B-Final.

Women's 50 Freestyle: Jessica Hardy knocks off Amanda Weir by 0.07. Great meet for the reinstated Hardy.

Men's 50 Freestyle: Nathan Adrian by a scant 0.02 over Brazilian flash Cesar Cielo.

The times in this event really bear out my speed theory on suit effects. More later.

Women's 200 Breaststroke: Rebecca Soni best Leisel Jones again, by a lot, and this one is close to a WR too, by about 0.6 second. Yummy (and still fast) mummy Amanda Beard is 5th.

Men's 200 Breaststroke: Godzilla, I mean, Kitajima, is just too much; gets a Pan-Pac record. Shanteau is 3rd.

Women's 1500 Freestyle: A 1.7 second difference is not much in a 1500; that's how much Aussie Melissa Gorman wins over comebacker Kate Ziegler. Ziegler's times don't match her bests, but that's a lot to ask still; it gets harder and harder to be a distance swimmer with age, I think mainly due to the brain drain. We'll see if Ziegler can still bring her times down -- but this was a pretty good milestone for her. A Chilean, Kristel Kobrich, is 3rd. I can use one finger to count all the prominent swimmers from Chile I've ever heard of.

Women's 400 medley relay: Coughlin, Soni, Vollmer, Hardy over the Australians, though they were behind after the breaststroke. Vollmer and Hardy were nearly a second faster than the Aussie counterparts.

Men's 400 medley relay: Despite his off-peak performance, Phelps buries the Japanese swimmer in the butterfly, giving the victory to the team of Peirsol, Gangloff, Phelps, and Adrian.

Quite a meet. There might be some thinking that USA Swimming is in a great place after this meet; it's good, but now the real work begins.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Confusing messages regarding drinking for older folks

OK, first there's a study that says drinking wine can increase the risk of some forms of breast cancer for women:

Alcohol May Raise Risk for Certain Breast Cancers:
Study found drinking associated with increase in hormone receptor-positive cancers

Then there comes a study that indicates a couple of drinks a day is actually a good life-extension practice for older people:

Moderate drinking: health benefits or not?

The second one says: "In other words, the association of moderate drinking and reduced mortality among older adults is reduced but still present when taking into consideration factors that affect both alcohol consumption and mortality," said Moore. "For example, socioeconomic status has been a consistent factor in the link between alcohol consumption and mortality. That is, those with higher income and/or education are less likely to be abstainers and to die."

This IS confusing. I think I'll have a few beers while I think about it.

Not hot air: the helium crisis

There are a few articles out quite recently on the same subject; the coming helium crunch. Helium is a Really, Really Important resource; and we're blowing it up in balloons. Now, it sounds silly to call for government action to preserve kid's party balloons, but if we don't do something now, the era of cryogenic research could end in thirty years, and that puts a lot of research (including medical technology) at risk. The articles go into more detail. At least I don't waste helium so that I can talk like Donald Duck!

Scientist: world's helium being squandered

The world is running out of helium: Nobel prize winner

Is it useful? I figger:

"Liquid helium is vital for its use in cooling the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. There is no substitute because no other substance has a lower boiling point. Helium is also vital in the manufacture of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and fiber optics."

Self-cleaning solar panels

One would wish that this technology had been put on the Mars Rovers; seems pretty simple to me. Run an electric charge through the panel to electrostatically discharge the clingy dust.

Clearly this will be on the next missions to Mars. (It better be.) Also works for terrestrial solar installations, eliminating the need for barrels of Windex and armies of panel polishers.

Self-Cleaning Technology From Mars Can Keep Terrestrial Solar Panels Dust Free

Pan Pacific Championships Day 3 analysis

I'm working on Day 4 for tomorrow.

Women's 400 Free: chloe Sutton wins, about 6 seconds off WR. I'm thinking freestyles, due to higher in-water speed, are more affected by suit drag (or lack thereof) than other events. Ziegler didn't make the A-Final, but her B-Final time would have been 2nd in the A-Final.

Men's 400 Free: Tae Hwan Park 1st, Ryan Cochrane 2nd, Lin Zhang 3rd; winning time about 4 seconds off Biedermann's suit-aided swim (and about the same off Thorpe's incredible non-suit aided swim).

Women's 100 Butterfly: Reliable Dana Vollmer 1st and Christine Magnuson 2nd, credible 57s.

Men's 100 Butterfly: Probably Phelps' best swim, about a second off his WR, in a slower suit. He might not have wind, but he's got power.

Women's 200 Backstroke: A double Lizzie, Beisel 1st and Pelton 2nd. Pelton set Pan-Pac record in the prelims, Beisel just missed it in the final.

Men's 200 Backstroke: Lochte and Clary again (we've seen that before) but Lochte not close to Peirsol's record.

Women's 50 Breaststroke: Jess of the D'Ubervilles (apologies to Thomas Hardy) because Jessica Hardy returns VERY fast -- only 0.23 off a WR!!!

Men's 50 Breaststroke: Another fast Brazilian, Felipe Silva wins, with Mark Gangloff 2nd. Kitajima not suited for this splash-and-dash, he's fifth.

Women's 400 freestyle relay: Coughlin, Weir, Hardy, and Vollmer set a new Pan Pac record.

Men's 400 freestyle relay: Phelps, Lochte, Lezak, and Adrian set a new Pan Pac record, beat Aussies by around 3 seconds; Phelps leads off with a 48.13. Three seconds off the miraculous Olympic win, which was adrenaline-fueled.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I beg to differ

Daily Mail has an article about Adriana Lima on the beach. Presumably her young tyke is with a babysitter while she kicks back.

Adriana on the beach

One of the article comments indicates that Adriana doesn't have curves. Ahem: I have a photo gallery that amply demonstrates otherwise (all Adriana in a swimsuit, mostly bikini-type)

Adriana Lima gallery

This extract (with suit adjustment) indicates she has curves everywhere they count.

Jupiter takes another hit

Some Japanese Jupe-watchers spotted another atmospheric fireball on Jupiter, on August 20. It didn't leave a mark, but video caught the flash.

New Fireball on Jupiter Spotted By Skywatchers

They're out there; another reason for NEO detection and asteroid last-chance warning systems. A whack like that on Earth would cause a commotion. And worse.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

That explains the rush

Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom were busy a few months ago -- conceiving. That explains the fairly rapidly announced engagement and the minimal time between engagement and marriage.

Yes, I'm pregnant! Miranda Kerr expecting her first child with Orlando Bloom

Since this is Miranda Kerr... that means something has to be added to this post.

Wow; with Heidi Klum (of course), Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bundchen, Doutzen Kroes, and now MK all having been recently pregnant or currently pregnant, I wonder if Victoria's Secret will offer a maternity line?

Somehow I doubt it...

Where beer is drunk, and who drunks the mostest

A new map shows that the world's biggest beer-swilling country (in terms of volume, not perhaps per capita) is ............ China.

Just eyeballing the map, I'd say Germany would win the per-capita title; that does not take me by surprise.

Maps can be deceiving. The per capita champ is ........ the Czech Republic! Ireland is 2nd, Germany is 3rd, according to this Web article.

Top 20 Beer Drinking Countries

Still, for some reason I prefer German biergartens.

For some reason... can't put my finger on it...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wil Nieves and Yormarie have their Barcelona baby

If you look up my previous post on this subject, Wil Nieves of the Washington Nationals was waiting for the call to attend his first child's birth with his wife Yormarie; the child was conceived romantically and oenologically in or near Barcelona, Spain.

Well, the call came: Wednesday refers to August 18.

Catcher Wil Nieves and his wife Yormarie welcomed their first daughter into the world on Wednesday. Marie Isabel Nieves, born at 5:28 p.m., measured 20.5 inches and weighed 7.06 pounds. Both mother and child are doing well, according to the Nationals' PR staff. Nieves could rejoin the team sometime this weekend in Philadelphia, though it wouldn't surprise me if the team gave him until it gets back home on Monday.

Pan Pacific Championships Day 2 analysis

OK, the big story was that Phelps didn't make the A Final in the 400 IM, because Lochte and Clary swam way too fast to give him a chance to get there. He's obviously not in shape for the 400 IM, a rough race. I disagree with plans to get him to swim it in London. I figure he swims the 100 and 200 fly, 200 free, and 200 IM; with three relays (400 and 800 free, and 400 medley where he swims the fly leg), he'd still have a chance for seven more medals. That's prodigious! Why burden him with a tough event that he's already proven himself in?

OK, so here's my day 2 recap. I already see that day 3 has some expected relay wins by the U.S.

Women's 100 Free: as I tweeted, Natalie Coughlin turns the tables on Emily Seebohm, who won the 100 back. Dana Vollmer 3rd.

Men's 100 Free: Big win from Nathan Adrian. Cesar Cielo 3rd, Olympic hero Jason Lezak 4th (on not much training and a new kid to boot).

Women's 100 Breaststroke: Rebecca Soni takes down Lethal Leisel (Jones) of Australia, with a blistering nearly-the-first-new WR in a non-buoyant suit. Amanda Beard 5th, (on not much training and a new kid to boot, which is really impressive considering she gave BIRTH to the kid).

Men's 100 Breaststroke: Japanese samurai warrior Kitajima wins another title. The 200 should be interesting, because Shanteau looked very strong at the U.S. Championships.

Women's 400 IM: Lizzy Beisel takes it. Stephanie Rice isn't here. I wonder how she's doing these days?

Men's 400 IM: as I said in the beginning, the press treats it like a big story that Phelps didn't make the A final, when it's obvious that this would be his toughest event. The A Final goes as expected, Lochte and Clary 1-2.

Women's 50 Back: Sophie Edington of Australia gets to the wall first.

Men's 50 Back: A winner from Japan not named Kitajima! In this case, it's Junya Koga.

Women's 800 free relay: U.S., as I figured was likely, wins by over a second over the Aussie women. The time is nowhere close to the WR: the accumulative effect of the suits at higher speeds shows clearly here.

Men's 800 free relay: Phelps makes up for the 400 IM with a 1:45.62 leadoff leg. (Lochte won the actual event in 1:45.30.) The U.S. men (Vanderkaay, Berens, and Lochte following) win by a swimming country mile, 8 seconds over Japan. Wow. 6 seconds off the suit-aided WR from the Worlds. More interestingly, Phelps' time is 2 seconds off his suit-aided best, and 3 seconds off Biedermann's WR. What's Biedermann done this summer? 1:46.06 last week, and 1:45.84 at the German championships.

I'd say that the playing field is pretty level now.

Shakira: never mind the stretch marks

The Daily Mail has an article pointing out that Shakira has stretch marks on her hips. It took me a long time to find them, as I was distracted.

Hips don't lie! Singer Shakira unwittingly reveals stretch marks on her snake-hips

After I found them, I immediately and powerfully thought:

We need a lot more data. Photographic data. Full-coverage. Those pants are just not quite low enough.

OK, seriously. This is Shakira. Who CARES?

Our last chance if an asteroid impact looms?

Asteroid early warning system proposed

An asteroid early warning system (where "early" means weeks to centuries, not tomorrow, which would be way too late) has been proposed. Rusty Schweickart likes the idea.

"Schweickart is founder and past president of the Association of Space Explorers, the international professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts. Of late, he's been busily working on implementation issues regarding a near-Earth object Information, Analysis, and Warning Network for consideration by the United Nations.

"ATLAS is the first specific telescopic system designed to provide a last-minute warning for asteroids in final approach to an Earth impact," Schweickart told SPACE.com.

As the first NEO discovered immediately pre-impact -- for which an impact time and location were forecast, and from which fragments were collected immediately afterward for analysis – that event [asteroid impact in Sudan] highlighted the potential for systematic last-minute warning, Schweickart said.

"It appears that for roughly 60 percent of impactors roughly 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters) in size, days of warning can be provided. For objects to some 450 feet (140 meters) and above size, weeks of warning are possible," he added.

I think we need all the warning we can get.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ice geyser trench on Enceladus (from Cassini)

The Damascus Sulcus on Enceladus. (It's all about "-us".)

Pan Pacs Day 1

Lochte: GREAT race in the 200

Women's 50 Free: Aussies everywhere; Marieke Guehrer and Emily Seebohm 1-2 in the A Final, and Yolane Kukla (also AUS) goes as fast as Guehrer to win the B-Final! That relay is
going to SCORCH!

Men's 50 Free: Cesar Cielo. Dominant! Takes down Schoeman and Cullen Jones (and another
Brasilian, Nicholas Santos, took second. And another BRA, Glauber Silva, won the B-Final. The Brasilians might have a relay, too.

Women's 200 Free: Looking good for the U.S. (I thought Dagny Knutson made the team here,
but I was wrong. So much for THAT prediction.) Allison Schmitt and Morgan Scroggy go 1-2 in the A-Final, and Dana Vollmer wins the B-Final in a time faster than Scroggy, only 0.3 second behind Schmitt. The USA vs. Aussie 800 relay should be good; U.S. should win.

Men's 200 Free: All Lochte, fastest time in the world this year. With Lochte, Vanderkaay, and Ricky Berens (won the B, would have been sixth by 0.02 in the A) that 800 free relay looks sound; is Phelps the fourth?

Women's 100 Back: Emily Seebohm 1st, Aya Terakawa 2nd, Natalie Coughlin 3rd. Close race. Natalie not quite in top form.

Men's 100 Back: As I tweeted, Peirsol makes the most of the opportunity Lochte gave him, wins with a comeback. Top six in the 53.31 to 54.06 range. WOW!

Women's 200 Butterfly: Schipper sneaks in. I thought Teresa Crippen would take it, but she could barely get her head out of the water in the last 15 meters. Still, she only missed out by 0.03.

Men's 200 Butterfly: Phelps manages to win his best event. He's not in great shape, but he's Michael Phelps. Real doubtful he'll win either IM, probably (but not certain) he'll win 100 fly.

Women's 800 Free: Kate Ziegler Returns. This one is interesting. The record, in faster suits, is 8:14. Kate went 8:21. I think her best time is 8:18.52 from the 2007 Worlds. If it is, that's really good for her. REALLY good.

Men's 1500 Free: Not much to write about here: 1st Canadian medal from winner Ryan Cochrane, 14:49. 2nd place Chad La Tourette, U.S., nice swim, nothing great, 14:54 (though I do remember when breaking 15:00 was a Big Deal).

Good start to the meet!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Levitus reference (for those checking this place out)

Warming of the world ocean, 1955–2003 S. Levitus, J. Antonov, and T. Boyer

Free link
to a landmark paper.

"In the Southern Hemisphere there is a positive linear trend extending to 1100 m depth centered at 40 S."

This is a man who knows what he's talking about.

We should all listen.

OK, fine, Kelly Brook takes off all her clothes again for pictures

(which is rather fine)

Is there a chance I could pass up passing along this link?

I've seen the Playboy set featuring her set, and will have a comment soon, vis-a-vis reality vs. plastic. (Preview: Reality wins. So does good hair.)

Howsomever, I would NOT recommend examining the following article if fellow co-workers (or fellow supervisors) can see what you're examining, because if the lead picture in the article was a billboard, there would definitely be some accidents caused by distracted male drivers (or by male drivers getting a lecture from female passengers).

Daily Mail article about Kelly Brook posing nude for Love magazine

Wil Nieves is almost a father

Washington Nationals backup catcher is almost a father, and therein lies a romantic and sensuous tale. If you haven't read it, you might cry.

Wil Nieves' big night is nothing compared to the week ahead

Or you might just think that combining Barcelona and wine is a good idea.

For Nationals Wil Nieves and wife, family begins in Barcelona

Congratulations to Wil and Yormari (and even more congrats when the tyke arrives).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler article pre-Pan Pacs

The Washington Post had an article today about the comebacks of Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler prior to the Pan Pacific championships (which start on Wednesday, August 18, in Irvine, California):

Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler begin comebacks at Pan Pacific Swimming Championships

OK, I wouldn't say they're beginning their comebacks at the Pan-Pacs. Getting there, for both of them, marks a comeback for each of them. (I tried to watch the results of the U.S. Championships, but I missed that Ziegler finished 2nd in the 800, getting her into the Pan-Pacs).

The article says that Ziegler is also in the 400, and the 1500. I'm not sure how the 400 works, considering she finished 5th. I'll have to look at the heats. Because it's not the Olympics, maybe they get more qualifiers (or have qualifying times)?

I will post each day's final results. (Whether or not anyone else cares.) Small prediction: Ryan Lochte is swimming so good that I think he'll get 3 golds. I also hope, but don't predict, that Dagny Knutson gets at least one.

Checked on Swimming World: a French lad came within whiskers of the world records in the 50 and 100 backstroke. We'll see who's where after the Pan-Pacs are done.

Pan-Pacific Swimming

Monday, August 16, 2010

Charisma Carpenter is 40, not expendable

Love those grocery store magazine racks; this week's had one with Charisma Carpenter, formerly of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", showing her fine just-turned-40 rack and supporting superstructure.

See here. (She's got great hair, too.)

She's in the over-the-hill-gang action flick "The Expendables".

I've always been fond of this picture of CC, showing a fine upper intergluteal cleft.

Of course, her forward contributions deserve respect, too.

(It isn't hard to find the full set, if that's necessary.)

I tend to think it's off, for good

That would be the ring and the wedding.

Abbey Clancy ditches the engagement ring after Peter Crouch's misbehaviour with blondes in French nightclub... while on holiday with HER

Start searching for Abbey Clancy's Twitter feed and phone number guys, because I'm pretty sure that Peter Crouch is getting the boot.

I will remain astounded at the ability of English soccer (football) players to screw up their relationships with gorgeous women. Still, they somehow tend to get pretty-good looking babes on the sly (except for Ashley Cole's hairdresser fling).

If you need more information on the main reason for Crouch's big (young and enhanced) error of judgment, click here. Take-home message: don't shag drunk.

Naked vacations?

Heard on the radio and seen in print; there's an increase in American travelers accepting travel to nude (and hopefully topless) beaches.

OK, I have been there for the eye candy. I've been topless on a beach, but not bottomless, but some of my comely (they were) female companions were topless. It made us better friends, I think. And I didn't cash any checks in their company.

Survey: more travelers willing to bare all on "nakations"

Brits propose nuclear "renaissance"; Germans want to tax fuel rods (possible shutdown)

Some Brit eggheads from Cambridge are proposing a nuclear "renaissance", with replacement parts (novel concept), mobile power plants, much more efficient reactors, and "single use" sealed plants, the last idea improving security concerns. Their ideas are in response to decommissioning of current plants and environmental projections (i.e., global warming, dontcha know).

I think that the idea of small modular plants is catching on. They can show up in a lot of different ways. Our energy times are a-changin', whether or not the dinosaurs and denialists admit it and adapt to it.

Scientists call for global nuclear renaissance in new study

In other nuke news, the German government wants to tax fuel rods, but the German power producers don't like that power play, and are threatening a shutdown. They want a voluntary contribution system instead.

The Energy Collective has some deep insight on this:

Merkel's nuclear energy tax plan backfires

Interesting segment:

Merkel also wants Germany, and Europe, to do more to cut greenhouse gases. Green groups praise her for that, but want the nation's reactors shut down by 2020 to be replaced by wind and solar energy projects.

Germany's export driven heavy industry is flatly opposed to the phase out of nuclear energy and asserts that pragmatic considerations indicate the reactors could be needed for another 30 years. No one has talked about building new reactors which the nation must start planning for now if it expects to keep their 25% share of the nation's power consumption.

I think Plan B is MUCH more realistic.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Murray beats Federer 7-5, 7-5 for Rogers Cup

Between growing older, having kids, and just basically not being able to maintain the tennis standard he set for several years, Roger Federer is now finally coming back to the pack, just a little. But a tired Federer managed, via rain delays, to hang with Andy Murray in a close two-set final.

Andy Murray soars past Roger Federer to claim Rogers Cup

Murray is DUE. OverDUE, actually.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hawaiian glaciers provide climate info

Surprise! Hawaii had glaciers.

Ancient Hawaiian glaciers reveal clues to global climate impacts

I want to try and read the real paper for this one, so I will reserve further comment for later.

Russian smoke circles the Pole

No, this is not about a cheap Eastern bloc detective movie.

JPL video of Russian wildfire smoke transport

It's about smoke from those big Russian wildfires getting entrained in the polar atmospheric circulation, of course.

Abbey Clancy availability update

For those of you waiting to find out if Abbey Clancy will be amenable to a dinner date soon, here's the latest Daily Mail report:

Abbey Clancy gets back in the saddle with Peter Crouch (and the engagement ring is back on)

The article is decidedly less sanguine than the headline would suggest.

In case you're interested, here's the News of the World article mentioned in the Daily Mail article. Includes a video of the Spanish prostitute that precipitated the problems. Not for the faint-hearted (or weak-willed, apparently). Note: most pros don't look this good. The Spanish girl, not Crouch.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dicey GISS prediction for record-setting 2010 global temperatures

From Accuweather.com's climate change blog:

Observed temperatures from July

July 2010 ranked fifth.

From GISS: What global warming looks like

"Will calendar year 2010 be the warmest in the period of instrumental data? Figure 3 shows that through the first seven months 2010 is warmer than prior warm years. The difference of +0.08°C compared with 2005, the prior warmest year, is large enough that 2010 is likely, but not certain, to be the warmest year in the GISS record. However, because of the cooling effect of La Niña in the remainder of the year, there is a strong possibility that the 2005 and 2010 global temperatures will be sufficiently close that they will be practically indistinguishable."

NOAA, surprisingly, ranked July 2010 second-warmest, only behind 1998.

State of the Climate/Global Analysis/July 2010

Interestingly, the lower troposphere temperatures ranked 2nd-warmest from the generated-by-skeptics Alabama-Huntsville analysis, and Warmest from the Remote Sensing System's less-tainted-by-any-obvious-bias analysis. These are also shown in the NOAA report.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Antibiotic apocalypse

Something else to lose sleep over; the end of the era of antibiotics as we know it. Pneumonia will be "new" again.

Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

A lot of modern medicine would become impossible if we lost our ability to treat infections," he says. He is talking about transplant surgery, for instance, where patients' immune systems have to be suppressed to stop them rejecting a new organ, leaving them prey to infections, and the use of immuno-suppressant cancer drugs.

But it is not just an issue in advanced medicine. Antibiotics are vital to abdominal surgery. "You safeguard the patient from bacteria leaking into the body cavity," he says. "If you lose the ability to treat these infections, far more people would die of peritonitis." Appendix operations would carry the same risk as they did before Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

Yikes. Goes way back to my early blog discussion of pestilence!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NASA thinks about sample return mission to Earth-threatening asteroid

NASA is pondering a sample return mission from an asteroid that has a 1-in-1000 chance of hitting Earth in 2182. It's up against a Venus lander.

OSIRIS-Rex mission concept

They're also thinking about detaching part of the International Space Station around 2020 or so and sending that (manned?) to an asteroid, too. More on this later!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Morano links to nutcase

Not that this is the first time, but I noticed on my blog roll that Marc Morano (check my Twitter feed for my occasional tongue-in-cheek ideas of what I'd like to do to him) linked to an article quoting Piers Corbyn, blaming climate change and the Russian wildfires and heatwave on the phases of the Moon (and solar activity). Is Jupiter aligning with Mars, too?

Climate change 'has nothing to do with Man'

By their company shall ye know them.

Are you KIDDING me?

If I were given a Judgment of Paris chance to choose between Abbey Clancy, Cheryl Cole, and Kelly Brook (gosh I love the way that the Daily Mail has skewed my viewpoint); I'd choose Abbey. I go for the fit types -- but yes, it would hurt to turn down Kelly. Not that this would ever happen.

But now there's news that Peter Crouch, the tall English soccer (football) player, cheated on Abbey -- who appeared to be really, Really in love with him -- with a teenage prostitute. This news causes mouth-agape astonishment.

Abbey Clancy takes off her engagement ring?

OK, if this is true, there's a three-word phrase for Crouch:

Unbelievably stupid idiot. (And I'm being nice, leaving out the f-word adjective before "idiot".)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vanessa Marcil remarries, re-Brendas

Vanessa Marcil, who's returning to General Hospital as Brenda, recently got married to a lucky guy who's on CSI:NY, Carmine Giovinazzo. Apparently it was a pretty quiet ceremony.

Actress Vanessa Marcil Weds CSI NY Star!

Like I said, he's lucky.

Very, very lucky. Do I sense a theme here?

Quite lucky.

OK, so she's a little older than when these pictures were taken. She's still one of the best-looking women ever to come out of soaps.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Big breakout on Greenland glacier

I only have time for a short linkover to the University of Delaware's press release (I tweeted to the Washington Post story).

Greenland glacier calves island 4 times the size of Manhattan, UD scientist reports

Oh yeah, I heard it's cold in Bolivia from Marc Morano. Yay.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bialowieza forest under threat?

The Bialowieza (no, I don't know how that's properly pronounced) forest is Europe's last big tract of old-growth forest. According to the article, it's considered under threat from logging; but the locals insist they're just clearing out trees that are diseased. See, listen to the woman from the forestry board:

"Any lumber we get is from trees felled for ecological and protective reasons," Anna Malinowska, spokeswoman for Poland's state forestry board, said adding that without selective logging, infestations had spread on the Belarussian side of the woodland.

Logging a threat to Europe's last primeval forest: activists

Now, this wouldn't be the first time that some environmental activists went a little overboard about some necessary clearing; at the same time, it wouldn't be the first time (by a long shot) that selective clearing was used as a cover story for more extensive commercial logging to raise a little revenue.

Here's another story:

Polish ecologists say too many trees being felled in Poland's primeval forest

Who to believe?

I tried to find a picture that captures a sense of this place: the one below isn't too bad.

Cheryl Cole daily health update, August 6

She went shopping. Looked good doing it, too.

They don't call it retail therapy for nothing! Happy Cheryl Cole can't stop smiling as she goes shopping with Derek Hough

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August 9, 1945

Never again.

Shock and awe

Never again. Extremists need to be de-extremed: whatever it takes.

I have a Twitter account!

Not exactly sure what I'll use it for yet, but anyway:


Cheryl Cole daily health update

She felt well enough to go out to dinner with Derek (and supposedly meet up with Julianne and Ryan) at Nobu.

I don't suppose we'll get the same news coverage when the doctors tell her it's OK for her to have sex again as opposed to when they told her to take a break from all that taxing effort, so that her recovery goes well. But if we did find out they told her it was OK -- then we could all stop worrying about whether or not she's fully recovered. Think she'll tweet the happy news?

Cheryl Cole on a date

There IS life on Mars

The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently captured this picture of a "bulls-eye" crater on Mars:

Surprisingly, no one in the mainstream scientific media caught it, but I immediately recognized this as home of a Sarlacc. So there is life on Mars, obviously.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kelly Brook: track and rack

In order to see a lot more of Kelly Brook, including the "naughty bits" that define the boundary between hiding something and not, we'll have to await her unveiling in Playboy in a couple of months or so. But meanwhile, they've unveiled a Kelly Brook billboard where she's wearing nothing but her Reebok EasyTones training shoes.

The billboard itself

The article: Kelly Brook bares her sole (and everything else) in naked Reebok trainers billboard

She actually looks more impressive just standing around (picture)

And 32 more pictures by the billboard

This is the best one

Another article: Kelly on fitting fashion to her fabulous figure

(And speaking of pretty Brits, unfortunately, Cheryl Cole's malaria recovery appears to have hit a rough patch)

NEEM hits bedrock

The North Greenland Eeemian Drilling Project has gone down as far as it can go, hitting bedrock through 1.5 miles of ice on July 27. We should learn more about Pleistocene climate from this effort.

This is the bottom 2 meters of the core:

Article from EurekAlert!

Ice core drilling effort involving CU-Boulder to help assess abrupt climate change risks

For those of you who haven't heard, the Eemian was the last warm period preceding the final glacial period before the Holocene. It was warmer at its peak than current -- but we're trying to change that, collectively.

TerraSAR-X image of the Gulf oil spill

Excellent news that the well is capped and plugged; also excellent news that much of the oil has either been collected or dispersed. This wasn't the Cuyahoga River moment it could have been; the oppressive heat waves being felt in many parts of the world seem to be having some effect, though (particularly if President Medvedev gets listened to in Russia).

Here's an image from the German TerraSAR-X satellite. SAR is Synthetic Aperture Radar; radar picks up oil on the surface well because the oil damps the wave action. This is a big image so I'm just linking to it.

TerraSAR, Gulf of Mexico, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The scoop on Triceratops vs. Torosaurus

Big Cretaceous Era news out that a couple of paleontological nerds have determined that Triceratops is actually just a juvenile Torosaur, so that Trike "never really existed". But as the Examiner notes, the name that is going to go away is Torosaurus; because the Triceratops name came first (by two years), that's the name that sticks. So all Torosaur fossils will be relabeled Triceratops fossils, even though Trike is just a young Toro. Got that?

To make this clearer, I grabbed two images and arranged them adjacently, Trike on the top, Toro on the bottom. The idea is that as Trike matured, the frill got bigger and developed apertures.

Believable? Well, for one thing, it looks like the horns got worn down, if the Toro really is the adult Trike.

Zoe Saldana wears Calvin Klein

Lingerie, that is. Not "lingere".

(This is a video. Caution advised. Turn down the sound!)

WWF to Japan: quit eating bluefin tuna

OK, the Japanese are reputably a polite people; if they can't be forced to stop consuming the endangered bluefin tuna, then ask them politely.

Yeah, that'll work. Sure it will.

But still, the World Wildlife Federation is asking nicely.

WWF Wants Japanese Consumers to Join the Fight to Save Bluefin Tuna

"The conservation organization WWF is taking its campaign to save Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna to the source of the threat facing the species: Japanese consumers, who eat 80% or so of the annual catch as sushi and sashimi. WWF is holding a 1-day Symposium on Responsible Consumption of Tuna here tomorrow where it hopes that government officials, seafood industry representatives, and ordinary consumers will listen to talks on how overfishing, capturing juvenile tunas for fish farming, and poor fisheries management has driven bluefin stocks to 15% of historical levels. The organization is urging consumers to avoid eating Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefins until the fisheries recover and are sustainably managed. "If Japanese consumers don't buy the fish, they would force the decision-makers in the end to make the right decision," Susana Sainz-Trápaga, WWF Mediterranean fisheries policy officer, said at a presymposium press briefing here today."

Think it'll work? Surprisingly, I found this, from The Japan Times:

Awareness of bluefin decline urged
Tokyo forum looks at resource management; official defends opposition to ban on trade

"WWF Chairman Tsunenari Tokugawa stressed that a global system is needed to ensure tuna fishing is done legally and stocks are managed properly.

"We would like consumers to understand more about using resources (like tuna) in a sustainable way," Tokugawa said. "We must make sure (tuna are not consumed) to a point where they are unable to reproduce."

The largest consumer of bluefin, Japan went through 43,000 tons in 2008, or some 70 percent to 80 percent of the global total traded. About half of Japan's bluefin comes from the Atlantic Ocean.

As goes Japan, so goes the bluefin. (But they could just rely on Pacific bluefin for a short while; that'd help).

Big balloons to knock down space clunkers

A new idea is being floated (hearty laughter) to bring down defunct satellites:

Attach a big 'ol balloon to 'em.

The idea is that the big balloon will substantially increase atmospheric drag, bringing down the satellites real quick, without using maneuvering fuel. When they're about to re-enter, then the remaining fuel can be used to steer them into the oceans (if they're big enough to survive reentry in some form).

I thought there was a problem -- what about satellites that are completely out of fuel? They thought of that; use the balloon to bring them nearly down; deflate them; calculate the re-entry; re-inflate the balloon to finish the job. Good idea if they don't miss.

This system could be attached to new satellites or a satellite in space could go around sticking it on big pieces of junk and old satellites.

This still leaves the problem of all the little pieces... but it's a start.

Safe and efficient de-orbit of space junk without making the problem worse: Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device (GOLD)

U.S. Swimming Nationals Day 1 results

Women's 100 Butterfly: Chris Magnuson, Dana Vollmer, Kathlee Hersey, Natalie Coughlin

Men's 400 Freestyle: Vanderkaay, Klueh, Houchin, La Tourette

Women's 200 Individual Medley: Ariana Kukors, Caitlin Leverenz, Morgan Scroggy, Melissa Franklin (15 y.o.)
Julia Smit was 8th, ouch

Men's 100 Breastroke: Alexandrov, Shanteau, Gangloff, Titus;
North Baltimore's Scott Spann was 5th

Women's 400 Freestyle: Katie Hoff (is BACK!), Alison Schmitt, Chloe Sutton, Dagny Knutson, Kate Ziegler (not quite back, but at least she was 5th);
4:05 compared to her 4:02 record -- this could be an interesting meet (plus everybody's in normal suits again)

Men's 400 IM: Lochte, Clary, Margalis(!), Patrick

Day 2 Beckons

OK, how do you make something that's virtually irresistible?

Pour liquid chocolate on the nude bodies of young nubile top fashion model wannabes.

And then vote on who did it best.

(Nicola, in my opinion.)

Nude chocolate photoshoot

What WILL they think of next? Milk?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't give up hope so soon

Pessimistic article out about how the Spirit rover might not ever wake up and start communicating with Earth again:

NASA's hibernating Mars Rovers may not call home again

"The earliest date the rover could generate enough power to send a beep to Earth was calculated to be around July 23. However, mission managers don't anticipate the batteries will charge adequately until late September to mid-October. It may be even later if the rover is in a mission-clock fault mode. If Spirit does wake up, mission managers will do a complete health check on the rover's instruments and electronics.

Based on previous Martian winters, the rover team anticipates the increasing haziness in the sky over Spirit will offset longer daylight for the next two months. The amount of solar energy available to Spirit then will increase until the southern Mars summer solstice in March 2011. If we haven't heard from it by March, it is unlikely that we will ever hear from it."

But still, even as they note, it's too soon by a long shot to give up on it yet.

More problems for the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR)

Following close on the reports that the French government wants Areva and EDF to work together more closely to land foreign business for nuclear plants, comes the news that another EPR reactor is behind schedule and over budget:

EDF Said to Raise Flamanville Costs, Delay Reactor

One of the things they need to do is to come up with a different reactor design than the EPR, or as suggested:

Areva and EDF should modify the design of the third generation EPR reactor and develop smaller models to win contracts, according to recommendations in the report on France’s nuclear industry by former EDF Chief Executive Officer Francois Roussely published two days ago.

“The credibility of both the EPR and the ability of the French nuclear industry to successfully build new reactors has been seriously undermined by difficulties” at Finland’s Olkiluoto site and Flamanville, according to the report."

Butter can be converted to biodiesel

OK, first question; why would we want to do that?

I guess that the reason is that there is excess butter produced every year. But would it really make a dent in the need for alternate fuels? What's the numbers on this conversion? And does your car smell like movie-theater popcorn when you drive it?

Making Eco-Friendly Diesel Fuel from Butter