Monday, May 30, 2011


JJC stands for Jessica Jane Clement, another UK bird.

It also stands for outstanding.

Jessica Jane Clement (Wikipedia's short bio)

NOAA: Atlantic bluefin tuna not endangered

Well, the Mediterranean stock is probably a goner, but according to the geniuses at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (in the fisheries department -- I have a lot of respect for all the good and great things NOAA does), the Atlantic bluefin tuna stock is NOT endangered.

But two years from now, and several thousands tons of prime toro later, they'll revisit the decision, and probably find out that they should have been more conservative.

"NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as “species of concern” under the Endangered Species Act. This places the species on a watchlist for concerns about its status and threats to the species."

Bluefin tuna 'a species of concern' but not endangered, says NOAA

From the Washington Post:

NOAA declines to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna

Quoting "Over the past 50 years, the adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna has declined 74 percent. In the western Atlantic, there has been an 82 percent drop in 40 years."

I guess I'd find that concerning.

And consternating.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Catch up on Esquire "Me in My Place" women

I haven't reviewed the Esquire semi-celeb girls that have been photographed in casual state in their own abodes recently. There are some new ones, so herewith quick reviews.

Samantha Lockwood -- starlet, not a big resume so far. Daughter of the "other guy" on the HAL ship in "2001: A Space Odyssey". Flirty, but not overly seductive. Very fit and flexible, though, by virtue of yoga, and she gets to show several poses. They do lead to some contemplation of the possibilities.

Tika Sumpter: first African-American "Me in My Place" Esquire girl. She's from Gossip Girl. For some reason, I can only find 5 pictures on the "Me in My Place" site. Here's the Esquire site (with 17). Absolutely wonderful tummy, long legs, great eyes, but none of the pictures are real hot.

Paz de la Huerta: Famously from "Boardwalk Empire", famously has pubic hair, and famously a bit strange. Rocks the LBD, looks good in the black bra, and has a nice medium-size Latina tush. Couple of shots register interest.

Caity Lotz: Of "Mad Men". Not a long resume. Dancer; has dancer's tush. Freckled. Gets into some arousing positions for these shots. Example:

And I may not have mentioned 30 Rock's Katrina Bowden, who displays an adora-caressable derriere in her feature. She was Esquire's voting pick for Sexiest Woman of the Year. Now, I wouldn't go that far, especially in a world that Kelly Brook lives in, but she's certainly a very desirable young woman.

Bonus: "Dancing with the Stars" Kym Johnson

Rimes redux

LeAnn might currently hold the title of Best Celebrity Butt with Kate Hudson currently in the later stages of pregnancy.

What a frill! LeAnn Rimes slips into a flirty bikini for a love boat cruise with husband Eddie Cibrian

Suitable for framing:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

EDF plans world energy future, with nuclear

Despite Fukushima Daiichi, the French energy firm EDF -- to whom I owe much -- is still pushing a smart energy plan for the world, which has nuclear energy at the forefront.

"The utility aims to remain the biggest power producer in the world by 2020 with 200 gigawatts of installed capacity, half of which will be atomic and a quarter each from hydroelectric and thermal sources. EDF, which has about 150 gigawatts, plans to boost generation outside France by 50 percent over the period, notably by building U.K. reactors."

and also, Chief Executive Office Henri Proglio said: " “Let’s avoid stop and go and fashion trends,” Proglio said today, calling for long-term investment in nuclear, renewable energies and natural gas supplies. The disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant underlined the need for operators to have full mastery of their technology. It was the operator that “bore all the weight of responsibility,” he said.

Well, the tsunami was a lot of weight to bear. But nuclear, renewables, and natural gas is a winning combination for several decades, I believe.

EDF Keeps Focus on Nuclear After Fukushima Disaster, CEO Says

Lindsay Lohan's most recent movie

You can watch the whole thing in a minute and 38 seconds.

Lindsay Lohan - a Richard Phillips film

ONLY $800 million? for asteroid sample return mission

NASA Asteroid Mission Set for 2016

This is exciting; and hopefully it'll bring back more than the tiny grains of asteroid dust that Hayabusa managed to gather.

Dubbed OSIRIS-REx—for Origins Spectral-Interpretation Resource-Identification Security Regolith Explorer—the robotic craft will conduct the first U.S. mission to collect pieces of an asteroid and bring them back to Earth.

When it launches, OSIRIS-REx will be bound for asteroid 1999 RQ36.

This 1,886-foot-wide (575-meter-wide) space rock orbits between 83 million and 126 million miles (133 million and 203 million kilometers) from the sun. It passes within about 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) of Earth's orbit.

What most excites the science team is that the rocky, carbon-rich asteroid is like a time capsule from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, said Michael Drake, director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and leader of the OSIRIS-Rex mission.

Problem is, I read this article as saying it'll launch in 2016, get to the asteroid in 2019, and but the sample won't get returned until 2023. That's a LONG time to wait. I hope I'm on Earth when this one gets back.

Friday, May 27, 2011

South Africa still including nuclear in its energy portfolio

It might be because they're a uranium producer, but South Africa recently announced that even though they're adding plenty of renewable energy projects (and they've got sunshine), they will be keeping nuclear energy as one of their options -- in part motivated by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GOOD for them.

SA still going nuclear

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters:
"We are still convinced that nuclear power is a necessary part of our strategy that seeks to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through a diversified portfolio, comprising some fossil-based, renewable and energy efficiency technologies."

Turning to renewable energy, Peters said: "We have finally arrived at a point where we are ready to procure the first clean energy projects, indicated under the integrated resource plan."

End of the article says:
"The IRP [Integrated Resources Plan] lays the foundation for the country's energy mix up to 2030.

It provides for a diversified energy mix comprising coal (14 percent), nuclear (22.6 percent), open cycle gas turbine (9.2 percent), closed cycle gas turbine (5.6 percent), and renewable energy carriers including hydro (6.1 percent), wind (19.7 percent), concentrated solar power (2.4 percent), and PV (19.7 percent)."

That's how we'll get this globe to the future, people.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Swiss to phase out nuclear by 2034

Switzerland opposes building more nuclear power plants

"The government predicted that a programmed exit from nuclear energy would favour businesses involved in green technology, boost employment and help Switzerland deal with expected rising electricity prices in Europe."

Last I looked, there were a lot of clouds over Switzerland in the winter. They say that they're going to exploit their hydroelectric resources. That's right, put dams where all your picturesque waterfalls are. Great idea!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can we just stay average for awhile?

The World Meteorological Agency, the United Nations weather agency is predicting that the La Nina fade will lead to near-average conditions (i.e., not El Nino or La Nina conditions) in the Pacific for several months.

That'd be welcome news for everyone who's felt the sting (or worse) of El Nino or La Nina effects on their regional weather.

La Nina outlook is easing says UN weather agency

"Looking ahead beyond mid-year 2011, there are currently no clear indications for enhanced risk of El Nino or La Nina in the second half of the year," it said.

"Near-neutral conditions are currently considered the most likely scenario for the second half of 2011," it added.

We now return you to coverage of today's regularly-scheduled Midwestern tornado. (Weather Channel broadcast a tornado live yesterday.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts about Lance Armstrong and the curse of greatness

It seems increasingly clear that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). It's sad, but there is one thing clear to me over the past history cycling in the past decade, and indeed for many other sports: PED use was de rigeur. It will take awhile for the drugs to get purged as much as possible from the sporting world, and they will likely never go away completely.

One of the obvious aspects of competitive sports is that you take any advantage you can get to win -- without cheating, theoretically. But there are numerous areas in sport where that line gets pushed repeatedly. Water polo, for example, prohibits contact with an opposing player if they don't have the ball. That rule is basically ignored, fouls get called all the time. Watch a water polo game underwater -- everybody's cheating. That's the way the game is played.

There's a saying out there: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'." Fortunately it appears that this statement is unattributed, but it underscores a stark truth: in a highly-competitive situation, you do take any advantage possible to try to win, if you have a chance to win. To do less would be obviously not trying hard enough. Unfortunately, in many sports, this has meant breaking the rules.

The problem with this situation is the following: what if everybody is cheating? What if you know by virtue of testing and skill and competitive history that you possess everything it takes to be a champion, provided the playing field is level? I.e., if everybody was playing it by the rules, you'd win. What if your entire life -- including your livelihood, not to mention your public persona and how you support your family -- was dependent on your competitive success? Under those circumstances, if you knew that you would likely win on a level playing field but lose if you didn't break the rules -- and lots of other athletes who did break the rules would unjustifiably win -- wouldn't you try to compete at their level?

I don't condone it. I understand it. I understand that Armstrong was certainly equipped with all the physical tools to be a champion, but if he didn't do what (it seems clear now) virtually every other top-flight cyclist was doing, he wouldn't win. And he succumbed to that pressure to succeed instead of trying to blow the whistle on what was happening. Until the tests became so good that they started detecting blood doping and EPO, if he'd tried to be noble and said everybody else was cheating, he would likely have been branded a prima donna, sore loser, or malcontent. Or all three.

The only solution is utterly perfect testing and totally honest athletes. The temptation to cheat is predicated on the financial and acclamatory rewards that are accrued by winning. The theoretical ideal of the amateur athlete does indeed do one thing -- it removes many (but not all) of the incentives that lead to cheating.

If the main reason to compete was the joy of competition, and may the best man (or woman) win based on skill and strength alone, unaided, then no athletes would cheat. But our modern society puts too much pressure on the sporting elite to win, and provides them with too many reasons to win at all costs. And that's why Lance Armstrong was saddled with the curse of greatness -- to fulfill his potential in the environment in which he existed and contended, he either cheated and won or stayed clean and lost. If we chastise and condemn him, then we must also chastise and condemn all of us (myself included) who adulate the champions of sport. I did enjoy the competitions I took part in, because I never had a chance to be a champion, and I would have been duly upset if I had known a fellow competitor was cheating -- I enjoyed the competitive experience partly because winning wasn't in the equation. But I know that had I had a chance to win, and lost, and then found out that I lost because a fellow competitor had cheated and not been found out -- I'd feel that temptation to win, to achieve that glory by whatever means

So I'm sorry that Lance's athletic legacy will probably be tarnished by the eventual expected truth, just as it has been for so many other athletes. But I'm also sorry that we couldn't see what should have been if everyone had been competing according to the rules. We'll never truly know if the best man won or not. I do know that despite the likelihood of PED use, Armstrong's effort to train and compete in all those Tour de France campaigns was still difficult, taxing, dangerous, and at times, even heroic. I wish I could also still think of it as athletically pure.

Leann Rimes - golly

I used to think of Leann Rimes as this cute young country singer with a fabulous voice. She's grown up, and anybody reading the rags will know, she dabbled in acting, which put her in a flick with Eddie Cibrian. And as that went, the two stars got "involved" as they say, complete with assignations in hotels that were dutifully captured by the camera-is-everywhere public. First came the denials, then the divorces, and then subsequently the marriage. Well, some people have mundane
lives, and others don't.

As she approached and got married to Eddie (who'll be in "The Playboy Club" this fall -- more on that later), she got noted and sometimes criticized by getting thinner. She certainly did. Maybe it's a little too thin, but currently, she is sporting a body that a fitness model would envy. And she put it on show on the beach with Eddie. Her abdominals are marvelous.

Now, I don't know what's next for them, but golly gee, her personal trainer is sure earning whatever Leann is paying.

Worth every penny.

Julianne Hough provides a backside view

Watching Julianne Hough on "Dancing with the Stars" indicated to any interested observer that she possessed a dancer's derriere, and that is usually a highly good thing for connoisseurs of the archetype. However, considering that her talented backfield was usually in a pleasing state of dancing motion, one rarely had the chance to see it at rest. At length. And her glamor and promotional pictures haven't primarily featured her fundament, either.

Thus it is my visual pleasure to report that in the filming of a few scenes from her movie "Rock of Ages", Julianne was on the shore in that wonderful garment called a "bikini", and in a couple of the paparazzi shots her gluteal greatness is well-captured. And it's worth the looks.

Nice work if you can get it.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Let's see if there are some changes in attitude, changes in latitude after the outbreaks of tornadoes that have killed hundreds in the past few weeks. By changes in attitude, I mean the GOP. By changes in latitude, I mean that climate change will move the collision zone of cold and warm air masses seasonally. Thus, the zone in which tornadoes could hit will broaden northward.

The GOP-sponsored 2011 spending bill slashed the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, slashing $700 million targeted for an overhaul of the nation’s aging environmental satellite system. NOAA scientists have stated unequivocally the existing satellites will fail and if they aren’t replaced, the agency’s ability to provide life-saving information to the American people will be compromised.

As someone pointed out in the comments, Tornado Alley is mostly made up of Red States. Are they reaping what the Tea Party and the hard-core GOP conservative wing is sowing? Unfortunately, you get the fate that you don't pay for.

Germany makes a nuclear move in the wrong direction

Germany's chancellor Merkel, being hounded by aggressive Greens on nuclear power, has decided to get Germany out of the nuclear-power-generating club by 2022. Even if that's a demonstrably bad idea:

According to a report in Monday's Süddeutsche Zeitung, four firms which operate Germany's network of high-voltage power cables and pylons - 50Hertz, Tennet, EnBW Transportnetze and Amprion – believe Germany cannot currently cope without nuclear power. The companies say that the grid is already "largely exhausted" during winter months when solar power is at a minimum and when wind cannot be relied on to keep turbines in motion.

The firms warned in a statement that calm winter days with no wind could result in "large-scale supply disruptions", particularly in Germany's affluent and industry-heavy south, which guzzles much of the country's electricity. "A safe supply to customers in these cases could be severely compromised," they said.
and also
"A quick and rash exit from German nuclear power would raise costs for the whole economy, make us miss climate goals**, raise our reliance on fossil fuels and make our power supply less secure, meaning more power imports and problems with network stability," said president Ralf Gueldner. "It would also spark intense debate in the European Union," he added.
** which I thought Greens were concerned about!

Well, if Germany wants to be the test-case for an industrialized Western nation going it alone on renewables, then more power to them. I guess that would be obvious, wouldn't it?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pictures of Grimsvotn eruption

If you're into the world's volcanic events like I am, then you've probably already seen these pictures of the subglacial volcano Grimsvotn erupting in Iceland. But if you haven't, you should.

Not again! Hellfire in Iceland as new volcano erupts... hurling ash plume 12 miles into the sky

There should be a joklhlaup soon, I reckon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nobble is a word

Nabble isn't; nebble isn't; but nibble, nobble, and nubble are actual English words (well, nibble is, obviously).

nubble: n: a small lump [diminutive of nub]
nubbly adj

Nubble is probably most familiar to those who have heard of the Nubble Light in Maine:

"Nobble" is more interesting and fun.

nob·ble (nbl) tr.v: nob·bled, nob·bling, nob·bles Chiefly British
1. To disable (a racehorse), especially by drugging.
2. To win (a person) over.
3. To outdo or get the better of by devious means.
4. To filch or steal.
5. To kidnap.

Funny how adding a "b" changes "noble" to "nobble" and goes in a whole different direction.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Leo might have Plan B (as in Blake, not Bar)

Well, yesterday I chided Leonardo DiCaprio for bailing out of his relationship with Bar Refaeli, on the basis of the proposition that he should have had at least the equivalent lined up before ending that relationship. Well, it turns out that maybe, possibly, he does. And what's remarkable is that in a world with very few equivalents to Bar Refaeli, Blake Lively is at least competitive. Whether or not they share more interests than Leo and Bar remains to be seen. And anyway, contemplating the hypothetical that she and Leo casually engage in coitus, one has to marvel at the quality of the notches on Leo's bedpost. I'd almost be resentful of him were it not for his philanthropic efforts and his expressed level of concern with climate change.

Leo DiCaprio floats Blake Lively's boat

Space shuttle flipping

We won't be seeing much of this for awhile. Pardon me while I go and turn on the "Blue Danube" waltz for background music.

unbelievably great editorial on politicians and global warming

Thoughts on stupid things politicians say about climate change

The video will make you laugh, cry, or both. Rohrabacher digs out the "ice cap changes on Mars" argument. And the sad fact is, he's SERIOUS. Behind his affable demeanor, Alley must be thinking to himself, how does such a buffoonish dunderhead actually have the capability of chewing and swallowing in the right sequence?

Excerpts from the editorial:

"There is a principle in science called "Occam's Razor." I'll spare you the details on how it got its name, but it means that the simplest explanation for a problem is often the right explanation. Therefore, all scientists, when undertaking a problem, look at the simplest solution first.

That means, in the case of global warming, one would look at natural cycles. So, that's what Dr. Alley and hundreds of other scientists did. No natural cycle can explain what's happening to our climate today. Not the sun. Not volcanoes. Not the eccentricities of Earth's orbit.

In effect, Rohrabacher was asking the homicide detective whether he ever considered the killer might have been the victim's spouse. The detective would have said, "Yes we did, and the spouse was in another country." What the detective was thinking was: "Look you numbskull, the spouse is the first person we always look at!"

followed soon after by

"A Minnesota state senator told me that he would give global warming serious attention when the science gets to 50-50. Several separate studies now show more than 97 percent of all published scientists working on global warming agree that increased CO2 from fossil fuels is the primary cause. I told him that the U.S. Department of Defense believes the science, the CIA believes it, and both are already gaming the next set of world conflicts based on the effects of global warming.

I asked the senator if 100 mechanics inspected the airplane he and his family intended to fly to New York and 97 of them said the plane would crash, would he put his family on the plane? His answer was silence. Last check, he still thinks global warming is a farce. Ready for takeoff."

This is FABULOUS opinionating. Thinking that my opinion must be unanimous, I then proceeded to check the comments.


2nd commenter brings up the "70's Ice Age scare" and accuses scientists of manufacturing global warming data in quest of research funds.

But it gets BETTER.

Because commenter 5 brings up the 0.3 millimeter Glacial Isostatic Adjustment that James Taylor called "fictitious" in his Op-Ed in Forbes, where I have commented extensively, and have shown that for a true picture of sea level rise, the GIA is entirely and referentially justified by science. But this demonstrates the echo chamber of the skeptics, and the ability of them to drag out the most recent "damning" impugnment of climate change science. I'm sure commenter 5 hasn't bother to read the arguments I made at -- he probably read about it elsewhere, anyway.

Commenter #15 invokes Paul Ehrlich, ignoring the level at which the oceans, a major source of protein for much of the world's growing populace, are currently overfished. Next.

In 17, the same commenter as 5, comments on snow melt. He ought to look northward to Lake Superior, warming due to the persistent reduction in ice cover, winter after winter after winter.

Commenter 23 brings out the "Climate scientists don't include water vapor" ridiculousness, which also came up on the thread.

And commenter 28 notes that CO2 is a trace gas. Well, really.

Sadly predictable, but the quality of denier smackdowns in this comment thread is actually pretty darn good.

Copped out

Gorgeous Stana Katic, aka Detective Kate Beckett, was in a great swimsuit in a poolside scene in "Castle" a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately there are no stills of that event.

But there are videos.

Stana Katic - pool scene, part 1

Laetitia Casta sighting

I mentioned Laetitia Casta while comparing Bar Refaeli to her yesterday; thought to myself that I haven't seen her for awhile; and then she shows up at Cannes looking very yummy-mummy:

Laetitia Casta at the "La Conquete" premiere (Cannes)

Pretty nice for three kids!

"La Conquete" is a movie about the divorce of current French President Nicholas Sarkozy from his second wife while he was campaigning for the Presidency.

Coburn overrides Boehner

From Senator's Coburn's pen (actually keyboard, I suspect):

"The public rightly prefers spending cuts over revenue increases, but numerous polls indicate the vast majority of Americans would support the only type of plan that would ever make it out of Congress and be signed into law: one that favors spending cuts over revenue increases but includes both."

So I guess new taxes are on the table, eh Mr. Speaker?

Why is the Senate stalling on the debt debate?

Rhetorical answer -- maybe because the GOP has demagogued the issue for so long, the Democrats aren't going to walk the plank for them now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unless you've got the equivalent lined up, Leo

Word came out recently that Leonardo DiCaprio and Bar Refaeli broke up. Now Leo has never had a problem attracting babes, and anyone that can move on (and arguably up) from Gisele Bundchen really doesn't need anybody's advice, but losing the uber-luscious Bar while she is still in the tip-top prime of lusciousness; well, Leo, I hope you know what you're doing. Or who.

But here are some of the reasons that it seems a bit premature to move on. The thing about Bar is, she has the same attractiveness factors that made Laetitia Casta so special when she was in her prime. Unbelievable curves combined with adorable facial features combined with satiny skin. OK, I know they have help from airbrush and Photoshop, but she still projects a truly remarkable dermal smoothness.

Bar Refaeli shows Leonardo DiCaprio what he's missing in impossibly short dress

Red hot! Model Bar Refaeli unwraps for new lingerie campaign

If you want more Bar, go to The video (top right after you click 'International' is captivating.)

Free advertising:

No rain on the French plain

The rain in Spain may fall mainly on the plain, but in France right now, it's not falling anywhere.

French Farmers Face Worsening Drought; Northern Soil Is Driest in 50 Years

"Soils in the country’s northern half, where grains, grapes and rapeseed are grown, were the driest in 50 years at the end of April, the Environment Ministry said in a report today. The quantity of water stored as mountain snow was “very inferior” to the average from 1995 to 2005 as of May 1, it said."

Grapes as in --- wine? No doubt, this is REALLY serious now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheryl Cole's good looks and bad looks

Cheryl Cole proves that even a radiant superstar can get fashionable very, very wrong:

But when she's good, she's very, very, VERY good!

This article is about a health problem

Lack of sleep can make you put on weight, claim scientists

'Our findings show that one night of sleep deprivation acutely reduces energy expenditure in healthy men, which suggests sleep contributes to the acute regulation of daytime energy expenditure in humans,' he wrote.

I can see one way to get more men to bed early (illustration provided).

Europe tries to overhaul fisheries, but there aren't enough fish

As if we didn't know, many fisheries are in poor shape. In Europe, where there are countries with a rich tradition of seafood consumption and over-consumption, fishery management is under fire.

"The system is widely regarded as having failed to conserve the fisheries resources of the EU," wrote two researchers in a 2005 analysis. Another 2009 analysis of the system used to determine the 'total allowable catch' under the European systems called it "complicated, inaccurate and ineffective".

The fundamental complaint from scientists is that the present system has resoundingly failed to make fishing sustainable. Last year, Rainer Froese and legal expert Alexander Proelß at the University of Kiel, Germany, reported that "even if fishing were halted in 2010, 22% of the stocks are so depleted that they cannot be rebuilt by 2015".

That date is important as it represents the deadline by which an international agreement says stocks should hit a target to "maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield"

We need to catch less wild fish. Simple. Period. End of Story.

Geithner knows; know-nothings don't

Treasury Sec'y Tim Geithner on the debt ceiling

"A default on Treasury debt could lead to concerns about the solvency of the investment funds and financial institutions that hold Treasury securities in their portfolios, which could cause a run on money market mutual funds and the broader financial system -- similar to what happened in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. As the recent financial crisis demonstrated, a severe and sudden blow to confidence in the financial markets can spark a panic that threatens the health of our entire global economy and the jobs of millions of Americans."

but wait! The GOP is riding to our rescue, because they KNOW NOTHING!

"But lawmakers have downplayed the urgency of this issue. "When you say the drop-dead day is going to be August, I question that," Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said, according to the Wall Street Journal last week."

On what basis of knowledge does Rep. Rooney question this? He's got a debt-ceiling app on his smartphone?

SCREW the Stupid Quote.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mars Curiosity rover sites down to 4

Back at the beginning of 2009, I posted about the next Mars Rover, the incredibly over-budget and expensive Curiosity, and where it might land:

Looks like they can keep looking

Well, they've reduced the number of potential sites to four finalists, and Eberswalde is in this interesting Final Four:

Pictured: The inhospitable terrain where Nasa hopes to land new Mars Rover in hunt for extraterrestrial life

Great pictures, which is why I linked to Daily Mail. Physorg also has a very brief article.

Mars landing sites narrowed down to final 4

I just have a gut feeling it's going to end up being Holden Crater.

Friday, May 13, 2011


One final thing for tonight; while I've heard it many times, because it's another orchestral showpiece that MOVES, I've never seen it performed. While, YouTube being what it is...

here is a performance of the "Bacchanale" from Saint-Saens "Samson and Delilah" opera.

There's a lionfish tournament today in Florida

Go out and slaughter a mess of lionfish!

Divers Hunt Invasive Lionfish and Help Protect Florida Keys Coral Reefs

This one is at the Fiesta Key Resort in Long Key, FL. If you miss this one and want to slaughter the invasives, the next one is on August 20th.

Great activity for a good cause.

Festive Overture

As I noted a couple of days ago, Shostakovich's "Festive Overture" is one of my overture favorites. This piece just MOVES. Here's a video of the performance conducted by Yuri Temirkanov at the 2009 Nobel Prize concert. The woodwinds and brass better be in shape and have their fingers limbered up for this one -- and the strings have to be nimble, too! For me, this is one of the most exciting pieces of classical music ever written.

Haley Reinhart gave me goosebumps

I don't watch "American Idol", and never have, probably never will. I take note of the winners and their eventual impact (or not) on the American music scene. But discovering Wheeling, Illinois product Haley Reinhart in a video this morning may make me change my mind -- not about watching, but at least about being aware of who can really perform on this show. And she can.

Haley Reinhart, 2nd Song, American Idol -- the four finalists compete

Solar shingles might be the real deal

Is this the key to a clean energy, low-carbon future? How much square footage of rooftop is there in the USA?

Solar shingles

More here:
Successful rooftop photovoltaics

"According to US Census data, the rooftops of the United States alone offer over 200 billion square feet of potential surface area for the installation of PV systems. Assuming only 25% of this area is suitable for unobstructed and continuous PV operation, the total energy-generating potential exceeds 50,000 megawatts, or the equivalent of over 10 Grand Coulee Dams."

I think it is. Now why would I, a nuclear power advocate, think that this is a good idea while solar panel farms aren't? Real simple; the space to install rooftop solar shingles is already there; solar panel farms have to get built somewhere else. And you have to transmit that power from where it is generated to where it is needed. By contrast, rooftop solar is right where you need it. Now, let's be clear; in the dark and cold of winter nights, solar either way is not going to help you (this is where storage technlogy is sorely needed) and that is also when the nuclear plant has to step up and provide its no-carbon electricity until the sun shines again.

Grand Coulee Dam: 6800 MW; by contrast, Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant is 1700 MW.

Here's an example of a more traditional solar PV installation on a school.

Wilmington Friends school to use new campus solar power system

Momb's away

Victoria's Secret asks What is Sexy?

I'll have to think about that. But I can tell that Ambrosio, Kerr, and Lima are (all mothers of tots, too).

Miranda Kerr, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio battle it out for the Sexiest Mother title at Victoria's Secret 'What Is Sexy?' party

(I've got a thing about Erin Heatherton that I wrote and never posted. I'll have to dig that one out of the files.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I wish that this didn't happen (to anybody)

This makes me sad. I hope that their relationship is strong enough to continue despite this, and that they'll have a chance to try again, if that is what they truly want.

Kelly Brook suffers miscarriage

'Kelly needs time to grieve': Boyfriend Thom Evans comforts devastated model after she loses baby girl at nearly five months

Even with all my frequently-expressed admiration for Kelly's remarkable figure, she seemed happy to be having a baby with Thom, and that made me happy for her too.

Why overfishing is bad for... well, fish

Overfishing 101: the importance of rebuilding our fish populations without delay

Turns out that if you catch the bigger, older, sexier, smarter, stronger fish, that the younger and less mature fish do not have the same reproductive capacity, which means that it takes longer to recover any fishery that managers are trying to recover. So the solution is an upper size limit, like they do for the Maine lobster fishery. The sexy (and also large) survivors live to produce lots and lots of offspring.

My top dozen list of classical music overtures

In no particular order of preference:

  • 1812 Overture - Tchaikovsky
  • Egmont Overture - Beethoven
  • William Tell Overture - Rossini
  • Academic Festival Overture - Brahms
  • The Barber of Seville - Rossini
  • Festive Overture - Shostakovich
  • The Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
  • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture - Tchaikovsky
  • Overture to the Bartered Bride - Smetana
  • Overture to Act III of Lohengrin - Wagner
  • Light Calvary Overture - von Suppe
  • Poet and Peasant Overture - von Suppe

Monday, May 9, 2011

On the beach, without makeup = perfect

Did you think I wasn't going to comment on pictures of the stunning as-close-to-perfect-as-it-gets Julianne Hough in a bikini on Miami Beach? Despite a clearly powerful sun and no makeup, she's top 10 all-time material. (I have to check my list.)

If that's what you thought, you were Wrong!

Julianne Hough shows off ultra-toned bikini body

Space junk threat -- the instability point

Rising orbital debris levels

This is a REALLY pessimistic article. It says this:

"Given existing space situational awareness capabilities, over 20,000 objects are now tracked. "We catalog those routinely and keep track of them. That number is projected to triple by 2030, and much of that is improved sensors, but some of that is increased traffic," Shelton said. "Then if you think about it, there are probably 10 times more objects in space than we're able to track with our sensor capability today. Those objects are untrackable … yet they are lethal to our space systems -- to military space systems, civil space systems, commercial -- no one’s immune from the threats that are on orbit today, just due to the traffic in space."

and then this:

"The good news is that no immediate action is necessary in terms of removing debris objects, Kaplan advised, as experts estimate that the situation will not go unstable anytime soon.

"But, when it does, operational satellites will be destroyed at an alarming rate, and they cannot be replaced. We must prepare for this seemingly inevitable event," Kaplan said. While there are many options for debris removal that have been proposed, he feels that none are sensible."

but then almost immediately after it says THIS:

"The proliferation is irreversible. Any cleanup would be too expensive. Given this insight, it is unlikely spacefaring nations are going to do anything significant about cleaning up space," Kaplan said. "The fact is that we really can't do anything. We can't afford it. We don't have the technology. We don't have the cooperation. Nobody wants to pay for it. Space debris cleanup is a 'growth industry,' but there are no customers. In addition, it is politically untenable."

Sounds pretty bleak, doesn't it? I remember when a satellite went out and I couldn't use my debit card at a gas station for a day. We take a lot for granted (communications, entertainment, national security) that relies on satellites in space -- if they start dropping the monetary expenditures to replace them will go $ky-high. And if there's too much debris up there, the operational lifetimes will plummet, making it even more expensive to KEEP replacing them.
This is NOT good.

Lithuania's new nuke plant

Lithuania's new nuke plant expected online by 2020

This particular plant is in a region underserved with regard to energy infrastructure, so it is no surprise that plans are proceeding. As the article notes, one nuclear plant here can serve a number of countries. Solar power here would be pretty iffy, considering weather and LONG & DARK & COLD winter nights.

Recent Mars Opportunity picture collection

Recent Mars Opportunity picture collection

While the Spirit rover is probably lost, Opportunity is on the move, and some commentary I read indicate that it could make the rim of Endeavour Crater (now CLEARLY visible) by late summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Abbey Clancy isn't pregnant anymore (yay!); Kelly Brook is, and she's blaming her boyfriends

I figured Abbey Clancy wouldn't have much trouble getting her bikini bod back, and the pictures indicate that was a decent supposition. Given that Kelly Brook will be temporarily absent from the bikini beach photos she has been muchly famed for, Abbey's return to the strand in swimwear will be welcome news.

Abbey Clancy had a baby seven weeks ago

Abbey Clancy in a little black dress (but having a baby makes it harder to smile when you're very, very tired)

Meanwhile, pregnant Kelly is sounding a bit miffed about the maturity level of previous paramours. Well, she was the one that invited them in the door, wasn't she? She's also looking forward to losing her bikini body in favor of having a big baby body for the remainder of her pregnancy. In the pictures accompanying the article above, I don't think she was pregnant much.

A dilemma explained, maybe

For some reason, as global sea levels have been rising slowly, due to both melting and thermal expansion of seawater, the U.S. West Coast has not seen a corresponding rise. Now a new study explains why, and also indicates that the grace period may be ending. This is not good news for surfers as a higher sea level will move the wave-breaking zone!

Climate Shift May Accelerate West Coast Sea Level Rise

The reason is the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The strange thing about this article is that it talks about the PDO being in the process of switching from the warm to the cool phase; I thought that had definitively happened a couple of years ago, signaled by the previous La Nina event to this one. Hmmmm...

"Right now, it looks like the patterns in the wind stress over the North Pacific are in the process of going from the prevailing pattern that has occurred since the mid-'70s to the one that was occurring before that," said the new study's lead author, geophysical oceanographer Peter Bromirski of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

It's that change that could affect sea level rise along California and the rest of the United States' Pacific Coast, the new study finds.

Based on their analysis of wind stress patterns and data collected by tide gauges, Bromirski and his colleagues conclude that the PDO's current warm phase has suppressed sea level rise along the West Coast during the past three decades."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Duke Energy shows the way

Not much time to comment, so I will just applaud.

Duke Energy Remains Firmly Committed to Nuclear Power

"But one thing is certain: nuclear energy remains vital to the world's energy future. It's the only technology available today to generate carbon-free, reliable, base-load electricity – 24/7," he said.

[CEO Jim] Rogers called nuclear energy "a key component" of Duke Energy's long-term strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.

"That hasn't changed as a result of the accident in Japan," he said.

Duke Energy currently operates seven nuclear reactors. Upon completion of its pending merger with Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress Energy, the combined company – operating under the Duke Energy name – will operate 12 of America's 104 nuclear reactors.

"Nuclear energy must remain a key part of our existing generation fleet, and we remain firmly committed to building new nuclear reactors, as well," Rogers said.

WHAT he said.

Bears repeating.

Cheryl is in the house

Cheryl Cole will be a judge on the "X Factor"

OK, how long will it be now until Derek and Cheryl slip up and get papparazi'ed kissing hungrily? And when they do, won't that help her Q-Factor considerably? And isn't it kinda likely that when Derek returns to "Dancing with the Stars", he and she will do a guest shot, complete with dancing and singing?

Mark my words, these things WILL happen.

Here's the interview where she doesn't admit that she and Derek are an item, though they're "obviously close". You can get a taste of her Geordie accent that they're trying to tone down for the U.S. audience from this.

France continues to lead on nuclear

France denies nuclear reactor programme halted

Good news to hear that France is not stopping development and implementation of its next-gen nuclear reactor.

"FRANCE'S energy minister on Wednesday denied that a plan to build a second latest generation EPR nuclear power station had been put on hold, as the head of the country's biggest energy firm had claimed.

Energy Minister Eric Besson was reacting after Christophe de Margerie, the boss of oil giant Total, which will own 8.33 per cent of the Penly plant, told a news magazine that the construction calendar had been abandoned.

'Contrary to what Christophe de Margerie suggests, the Penly EPR project has absolutely not been blocked,' Mr Besson told AFP.

(EPR stands for European Pressurized Reactor)

A 'wimpy' comet?

Comet Elenin - Preview of a Coming Attraction

Well, there's a new comet on the way, and there's plenty of time to prepare, but unfortunately NASA's comet expert Yeomans thinks this is going to be a dark target, based on current behavior. Now, we could hope that the little snowball sublimes off a layer of soot and suddenly starts shedding a lot of dust, and gets a lot brighter. That'd be nice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One of the world's most magnificent women, through the years

The incredible Michelle Pfeiffer is the subject of a fashion retrospective. I just like looking at pictures of Michelle Pfeiffer.

Michelle Pfeiffer's evolving style

#10 is the best picture in this set, but she looks good in almost any style.

Three articles about biofuels: chicken fat, sugar cane, and corn

Number one: NASA has determined that fuel derived from chicken fat is nice and clean and low in emissions.

"In late March and early April 2011, a team at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California tested renewable biofuel made from chicken and beef tallow in one of the four engines of a DC-8 airplane."

"The experiment's chief scientist, Bruce Anderson of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, said that in the engine that burned the biofuel, black carbon emissions were 90 percent less at idle and almost 60 percent less at takeoff thrust. Anderson added that the biofuel also produced much lower sulfate, organic aerosol, and hazardous emissions than the standard jet fuel."

Plus, because chickens are making their organic carbon out of feed, that has grown by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, this counts as a near-zero-carbon fuel.

Number two: growing corn is good for both agriculture and biofuel

There's been a debate about whether or not corn is a good biofuel feedstock. I understand that if corn is just grown to be a feedstock, the amount of fuel used to grow it just about balances the amount of fuel produced, so it's not that effective. But if you do both (and that's what this report says to do), then it makes more sense.

Grain Farmers of Ontario report

"According to the study by Dr. Terry Daynard and KD Communications, by including an average of just 5% ethanol in regular gasoline, Canadians are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 million tonnes annually while saving money. Five percent ethanol blending has reduced annual family gasoline expenditures by more than $100 per year. Ethanol is also credited with replacing hazardous compounds in gasoline used for octane enhancement and increasing engine efficiency.

There is also good news for the world’s food supply. Food demands around the world are growing by 1.1% per year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fortunately, the Grain Farmers of Ontario study reveals that global grain production has increased by 1.5% per year over the past 20 years. With increasing resources now being directed to agricultural development in some of the world’s hungriest countries, especially in Africa, there is optimism that we will continue to grow the crops and increase production where the need is greatest."

Number three: sugar cane is good for climate in two ways

Sugar cane is an excellent feedstock for biofuel (as the Brazilians attest), and just growing it also has other environmental benefits.

Sugar cane cools climate, study finds

"As [Carnegie Institution scientist Scott]Loarie explained: "We found that shifting from natural vegetation to crops or pasture results in local warming because the plants give off less beneficial water. But the bamboo-like sugarcane is more reflective and gives off more water -- much like the natural vegetation. It's a potential win-win for the climate -- using sugarcane to power vehicles reduces carbon emissions, while growing it lowers the local air temperature."

The scientists found that converting from natural vegetation to crop/pasture on average warmed the cerrado by 2.79 °F (1.55 °C), but that subsequent conversion to sugarcane, on average, cooled the surrounding air by 1.67 °F (0.93°C).

The researchers emphasize that the beneficial effects are contingent on the fact sugarcane is grown on areas previously occupied by crops or pastureland, and not in areas converted from natural vegetation. It is also important that other crops and pastureland do not move to natural vegetation areas, which would contribute to deforestation."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Very interesting results on Titan

New analysis of Titan seems to indicate that it has a subsurface ocean made of liquid water. Given the organic matter that seems all over the moon, it sure seems possible that something living made out of that stuff might be swimming in the ocean. But they certainly can't tell if the subsurface ocean is aerobic or anaerobic.

All signs point to hidden ocean on Saturn's moon Titan

So Baland and her colleagues crunched Cassini's numbers in even greater detail. They found that Titan's orbital behavior indeed makes sense if the moon is assumed to have a solid interior surrounded by a liquid-water ocean, which itself sits beneath an icy "shell."

The sizes of these various layers are tough to pin down at the moment, but the researchers said their modeling work suggests the icy shell might be 93 to 124 miles (150 to 200 kilometers) thick and the ocean 3 to 264 miles (5 to 425 km) deep, with the solid interior making up the rest.

Titan is about 3,200 miles (5,150 km) in diameter.

"One Day" seems awfully familiar

Here's the trailer for a summer movie with Anne Hathaway and some British bloke, entitled "One Day". Seems to me that the idea for this is pretty darned similar to the play and subsequent movie that starred Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, "Same Time Next Year". Obviously it's updated to cover the late 80s, 90s, and now (unlike "Same Time Next Year", which included the turbulent 60's) and supposedly it's also based on a good book. But certainly a lot of critics are going to indulge in some contrast & compare, aren't they?

Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess (the British bloke), trailer for "One Day"

More reviews from the Met Costume Gala

Met Costume Gala 2011, Huffington Post

Huffington Post's top pick was Ashley Greene (me too!), but they also picked Salma high; Melania Knauss Trump had a great sheath dress; gotta say, I like Blake Lively better as a blonde; Miranda Kerr in a what looked like a short-skirted wedding dress, pretty nice; Maggie Gyllenhaal very elegant blue; Leelee Sobieski sighting, very Roman; Leighton Meester -- totally bad; Julianne Hough, didn't nail it, don't like the hair; Taylor Swift, nice top, too much chaos on the carpet; Christina Ricci's dress at full length was REALLY amazing; Christen Teigen -- like the lingerie look; Serena Williams had the guts to wear a hat; who's standing behind her?; Brooklyn Decker, garish pink, nothing celebrating the bod; Rosie Huntington-Whitely, that is a VERY nice nightgown; Freida Pinto, quite unusual.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quick picks for best dressed at the 2011 Met Costume Gala

The dresses really come out to play at each year's Met Costume Institute Gala. So in no particular order, here's the women I thought most eye-catching at the 2011 event (note, obviously this is a gala that's about what the women are wearing, not the tuxedoed men):

Christina Ricci -- Black Widow to the max
Ashley Greene -- Most Prettiest
Blake Lively -- draped to perfection, with tantalizing appliques underneath
Emma Stone -- really different and eye-catching in black-and-white
Zoe Saldana -- simple, classic, arresting yellow

Not so great:
Salma Hayek -- dress too pale
Fergie -- nice cleavage but the dress looked ridiculous
Jennifer Lopez -- do you have red vines growing out of your shoulders?
Beyonce -- let's put a flower in that vase

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Krill and whales have a great autumn

There are reports that krill and whales have been seen in record numbers along the Antarctic Peninsula coast for this late in the Southern Hemisphere autumn. And it could be connected to climate change. (Of course, most everything could.)

Record Number of Whales, Krill Found in the Antarctic Bays

“Such an incredibly dense aggregation of whales and krill has never been seen before in this area at this time of year,” says Douglas P. Nowacek, Repass-Rodgers University Associate Professor of Conservation Technology at Duke. Most studies have focused on whale foraging habitats located in waters farther offshore in austral summer.

Related to climate change?

"Advancing winter sea ice used to cover much of the peninsula’s bays and fjords by May, protecting krill and forcing humpback whales to migrate elsewhere to find food, Nowacek says, but rapid climate change in the area over the last 50 years has significantly reduced the extent, and delayed the annual arrival, of the ice cover.

"The lack of sea ice is good news for the whales in the short term, providing them with all-you-can-eat feasts as the krill migrate vertically toward the bay’s surface each night. But it is bad news in the long term for both species, and for everything else in the Southern Ocean that depends on krill,” says Ari S. Friedlaender, co-principal investigator on the project and research scientist at Duke."

Bad news is that the change in sea ice could ultimately affect krill population abundance, and that would affect everything that eats them.

Emmanuelle Chriqui talks "The Borgias"

After watching Emmanuelle Chriqui play a marriageable wench (who wenches with an older Borgia brother while her 14-year old husband awaits her on their wedding night), I discovered a video with her talking about the show.

Emmanuelle Chriqui on "The Borgias"

She was seductive and delectable, with the requisite Chriqui "looks".