Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crystal Palace beats Man U. !!

Manchester United is a storied soccer (football) team in the UK, with lots of championships and history and several players who have famously cheated on their WAGs.   But enough about that.  They play in the Barclays Premier League and though they aren't having the greatest season (just 2nd place!), they're still one of the best teams in the league.

Crystal Palace (which for a couple of years had a developmental team here in Maryland, which unfortunately failed in a rather ugly fashion) plays in the division below the Premier League.  The leagues are kind of fun;   every season the bottom teams in the Premier League get relegated to the lower division, and the top teams in the lower division move up.

So Crystal Palace beating Man U. is kinda like a Division 1-AA football team beating Alabama this year.  Really unlikely, even if Man U. used its reserves and not its experienced vets in a Carling Cup quarterfinal.

And that's what they did, aided by an ESPN Top 10 Highlight goal.

Match report from the Telegraph UK

Another thing coffee is good for

Every week there seems to be another article with a health benefit of coffee (recently, this one about an apparently reduced rate of endometrial cancer).  But it's not all about health;  I was intrigued by the following article in which caffeine from coffee acts as a biomarker for sewage pollution, because all that coffee people are drinking results in a lot of pee, and the pee has residual caffeine in it.  So when the pee gets in the water with raw sewage, the resulting bacterial contamination, usually some kind of E. coli, can get linked to the raw sewage because of the associated caffeine.

Coffee-Drinking Provides Raw Sewage Red Flag
All of which is rather gross, but darn good science.  I think I'll brew another pot and then produce some biomarker.

Were you ever interested in seeing Lady Gaga naked?

Well, if you were interested in the title subject, then just go ahead and look here.

OK, she's fit.  Strange and provocatively creative as well, but clearly all that dancing is keeping her fit.

Mercury's bumps and divots

This particular MESSENGER picture of Mercury's surface (explained here) is the first one I've seen in awhile that causes the "reversing crater" illusion rather easily, in which the craters suddenly optically transform into bumps.   Some of the original images of Olympus Mons on Mars did this too -- the caldera always looked like a bump until better images came along. 

If the craters look like bumps, the small crater at mid-left seems to revert back to a crater easier than the others.  And that's the weird thing about this illusion;  when one bump switches back to looking like a crater, all of them do.  The mind is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Here's a couple of mentions about the illusion:

Lunar craters inverting illusion

A lunar illusion you'll flip over

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Would you mate with a Neanderthal?

Well, maybe you wouldn't, but apparently early Cro-Magnons may have, so much so that this was one of the primary reasons for the disappearance of the Neanderthals.  

Did sex with humans make Neanderthals extinct?

So let's think about this for a moment.  I found this cutie searching for "Neanderthal woman reconstruction":

Well, if I'd drunk enough fermented milk, maybe.

On the other hand, I also found this:

Now, this is very likely Cro-Magnon, not Neanderthal.   Actually, it's Homo sapiens camillabellensis, and a very comely specimen, indeed (from the movie 10,000 BC)

Here's the modern-era Camilla:

OK, considering that I've got an eye for the modern Cro-Magnon beauty, do we really mind that our forebears screwed the Neanderthals (genetically speaking, of course)?

All the news of Lindsay Price

Since discovering that the truly lovelicious Lindsay Price was pregnant, with the child sired by celebrity chef and Aussie Curtis Stone, I have of course been awaiting news of the birth with much anticipation.   Well, she welped a male, according to Wonderwall, and I'm sure lots of other sites by now.

Best of luck to the new family and especially the wee tot.

Lindsay Price and Curtis Stone welcome a baby boy

My comment to the Washington Post

Just thought I'd repost my comment to the Washington Post about Marc Thiessen's so-ridiculous-it-made-me-gag opinion piece (of crap) from yesterday.
One of the most odious and irresponsible op-ed columns I have ever read in the Washington Post -- apparently this is standard modus operandi from  Mr. Thiessen. The Bush tax cuts are a major reason for the debt quandary / morass that the country finds itself in now. Any plan that cemented their  permanence was not a sound, negotiable plan. The only reason for the Toomey  plan was to save face, and likely also to cover a half-dozen Republican  congressional hindquarters from podiatric retribution by the voters. The  laughable attempts by punditry to point fingers of blame in anything but the direction of self, where it rightly belongs, would be comic theater were it not for the impact that they have on those who cannot have their minds  affected by reason and logic.
 If you'd like to pollute your higher reasoning processes with this massive block of illogic, have fun:
The Supercommitee's 13th member -- Occupy Wall Street

Monday, November 28, 2011

He must have seen "Love and Other Drugs"

Anne Hathaway has gotten engaged to her boyfriend Adam Shulman.  Since she's been high-profile unlucky in love, it's nice to see that she's apparently with a nice guy.  As for him (at least it would be for me), after watching Anne demonstrate her full repertoire of abilities with Jake Gyllenhaal in "Love and Other Drugs", I wouldn't let her get away.   She was lithe, long*, lean, and lovely, and she did a decent acting job, too, even if her willingness to go completely nude didn't get an Oscar nom.  She won an accolade from me.

Anne Hathaway engaged to Adam Shulman

* One of the reasons for her striking attractiveness while in the buff is the length of her back, which precedes a very lovely behind.   I can demonstrate that tastefully:

If you want to just see Anne nude, finding stills (and probably videos) from the movie is not hard to do.  But staying calm while viewing is harder to do.   If I keep using the word "hard", you'll eventually figure out what I mean.

Absolutely beyond comprehension amazing

This footage of an under-the-ice brinicle descending to the seafloor and freezing hapless starfish in Antarctica is truly, wondrously, one of the most astonishing natural phenomena I have ever seen, and I've seen Madalina Ghenea, Leo DiCaprio's newest catch.  (More on her and him soon.)

Brinicle, icicle of death:

North Anna back to normal operations

A little good news for nuclear - after an unnecessarily long shutdown period due to the unexpected mid-Virginia earthquake, the North Anna nuclear power plant is now back to normal operations at full power generating capacity.   That should help restore confidence in the industry, and perhaps hopefully convince more of the general public that nuclear makes sense for America.

North Anna Power Station, Virginia Nuclear Plant, Back At Full Power After August Earthquake

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pet Peeve of the day

OK, here's one -- the "Tear Here" place on a package that you tear, and you still can't get the package open.   That REALLY bugs me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm back, with observations in tow

Took a train trip to Vermont for an old-fashioned Thanksgiving this past week.  Had lots of time away from the computer to think and ponder and mull and consider.   Passed through NY on the way, which was interesting.   So more later.   I'm still fine and feisty.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's late but the pictures are great

I just found this amazing 2011 calendar of Moon images from the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Web site. 

It'd be nice if they had a 2012 edition.   (It's 24 MB, be ready to download it if you want to.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In brief: the crunch IS coming

Skeptics may not believe it, and may think that both Malthus and Paul Ehrlich were wrong, but the Earth's agricultural sector is running out of land, time, and the ability to feed the world's increasing population. And climate change is going to make it even harder to address the problem.

Call them Cassandras, but those that say resources are eventually going to reach their finite limits are likely right. There are limits to how much food we can produce from this Earth. And I sure don't want to be eating gourmet Soylent Orange and Soylent Green.

Agriculture needs massive investment to avoid hunger, scientists warn

 "Agriculture has been neglected in international climate change negotiations, but if governments persist in ignoring the problem then millions are likely to go hungry, according to a new report published on Wednesday morning, before the next round of negotiations in South Africa later this month."

Links in the above paragraph are courtesy of the Guardian (the British newspaper).

Watch a woman have a brain-shaking orgasm

She really gets off when virtually the whole cerebrum turns yellow.  That must have felt good.
Regarding the advertisement, I'm miffed that they don't mention nuclear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thank you, Twilight, for Ashley Greene

One of the reasons that I'm grateful for the success of the Twilight saga is that it made Ashley Greene a celebrity, and I think in sheer opinion that she is the most classically beautiful brunette in show biz since Jaclyn Smith.  She looked great at the Breaking Dawn premiere.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, who's had her look and fashion ups-and-downs, was positively uplifting, and I mean that in the best way. Or should I say... naah, you can see what I'm thinking.  Most of them, anyway.

Heed the prophecies of the IEA

The International Energy Agency, no surprise, has indicated that the world's energy future had better start heading toward nuclear and renewables, particularly NUCLEAR, or there will be problems.

IEA report advises nations to embrace renewables and nuclear

"The grim reality for environmentalists is that no single renewable energy resource, from wind power to solar energy through biofuels, has remotely become competitive with  kilowatt hours of electrical energy generated by coal or oil-fired power plants. The debate pits those opposed to a transition to greener technologies to those considering  the bottom line, despite greenhouse gas emissions.

Even worse for the environmentalists, the IEA report advocates that as a short-term solution, governments ought to reconsider nuclear power, as it produces zero CO2 emissions.

Projecting into the future the report notes, "A low-nuclear future would also boost demand for fossil fuels: the increase in global coal demand is equal to twice the level of Australia's current steam coal exports and the rise in gas demand is  equivalent to two-thirds of Russia's current natural gas exports."

WHICH is why I am so steamed/peeved/frustrated by climate change skeptics. Were the urgency of climate change properly recognized, the logical path forward (which surprisingly is being recognized by oil-rich Middle East countries who are financing their future with oil money to build NUCLEAR REACTORS), then the nuclear industry would be seen as the way forward for security and civilization.  The Fukushima disaster only made things worse, forcing otherwise level-headed countries like Switzerland to back away from nuclear.  As their glaciers melt faster and faster, they may rethink that stance, but by then it may be too late.  The IEA report should be heeded as prudent and reflective of the actual situation, and we collectively as individuals and countries will ignore it our peril, and particularly the peril to future human generations and the increasingly fragile remnants of the natural environment.

More about the warming aspect:
"The second consideration is the contentious issue of global warming, and the  impact of traditional fossil fuel-fired power plants belching vast amounts of  CO2 into the atmosphere.

While even the most diehard proponents of traditional power plant electrical  generation to not deny that their facilities emit significant amounts of  carbon dioxide, they denigrate the concerns of environmentalists as 'fuzzy science."

So, at the end of the day, the two fundamental issues facing the world's nations  seeking to satiate their population's demand for reliable and inexpensive power  devolve down to cost and scientific projections."

Will global warming actually become a campaign issue?

Dang, Salon (and Bill McKibben) were dead solid perfect with this analysis:
Has global warming become a campaign issue? : Why blocking the Keystone pipeline could help Obama and denying climate change will hurt Romney

"Still, scientific studies only reach a certain audience. Weird weather is a far more powerful messenger. It’s been hard to miss the record flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and across the Northeast; the record drought and fires across the Southwest; the record multi-billion dollar weather disasters across the country this year; the record pretty-much everything-you-don’t-want across the nation. Obama certainly noticed. He’s responsible for finding the cash every time some other state submerges."

And then there's Romney:

"In late October, however, he evidently felt he had no choice but to pin himself to exactly that wall and so stated conclusively: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” In other words, he not only flip-flopped to the side of climate denial, but did so less than six months after he had said no less definitively: “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer… And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.” Note as well that he did so, while all the evidence, even some recently funded by the deniers, pointed the other way. If he becomes the Republican presidential candidate as expected, this may be the most powerful weathervane ad the White House will have in its arsenal. Even for people who don’t care about climate change, it makes him look like the spinally challenged fellow he seems to be. But it’s an ad that couldn’t be run if the president had okayed that pipeline."

Go, Mitt, Go!

Monday, November 14, 2011

If the political hacks would act like grown ups

From the Washington Post:

On supercommittee, growing doubts about reaching a debt deal

Now, yes there are doubts. And I doubt there going to get it done, whereupon Wall Street will tank, and approximately $1 trillion dollars in paper losses later, the idiots in Congress (meaning the GOP) are going to look up from the damage of the catastrophe and ask, "Whuh the f*** happened, Vern?" Well, one of the main problems is the no-win attitude exuding like slime from think- (using that word VERY loosely) tanks like the Cato Institute of GOP Brainless Pundits. So, I ask, regarding the following, THIS is BAD?
Conservative analysts were stunned by the GOP decision to retreat from its hard-line stance against raising taxes above current levels. “I actually think the Republicans appear to be caving,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “There’s more of a likelihood of a deal today than there was a week ago.”
Because he's a partisan think-tank hack, Tanner uses the word "caving". I think there's a better phrase that can be used: "coming to a sensible bargaining position". So let's see how that sounds now:
Conservative analysts were stunned by the GOP decision to retreat from its hard-line stance against raising taxes above current levels. "I actually think the Republicans appear to be coming to a sensible bargaining position," said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. "There's more of a likelihood of a deal today than there was a week ago."
See how much better that sounds? It even sounds good FOR THE REPUBLICANS. Now, I obviously have no love for the Republican horde in Congress, but coming to a deal is good for all of us, including them, much as I would hate for anything to help them. Next:
"The GOP offer would reduce many lucrative tax breaks for upper-income households. But it would dedicate only a small portion of the proceeds to deficit reduction. In that regard, Robert Greenstein and Jim Horney of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue that the GOP plan “appears designed to heighten the chances” that future rounds of deficit reduction “will focus almost entirely on spending cuts” — ultimately forcing lawmakers to decimate Medicare and Social Security."
And that would very likely be BAD for Republicans. I am so torn.

North Anna ready for restart

After what I think was a much too overly cautious review, the earthquake-nicked North Anna Nuclear Plant has been approved for restart by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Now, I know that earthquake caught everybody by surprise, but it's really unlikely to happen again, and the review was basically due to the Fukushima fallout.  (Sorry.)  Here's hoping that at least here in the U.S., we get back to normalcy with nuclear.
NRC approves North Anna restart "The NRC’s independent actions included an Augmented Inspection Team (AIT) that examined the plant shortly after the quake, as well as a restart readiness inspection in mid-October. Both Dominion and NRC’s results showed only minor damage that did not affect North Anna’s safety systems." One thing we know now for sure -- it was built good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

England beat Spain in soccer (futbol)

It was fun watching England defeat Spain 1-0 in a friendly, but it was one of those soccer games where the losing team dominated. I was amazed at how easily Spain passed to the open man, and I was sure they were going to get the equalizer, but they didn't. Must feel good to the English, at least.

Analyzing England's friendly win over Spain

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I emailed Marc Morano to post this article

Earlier this evening I emailed Marc Morano at Climate Depot to post the following article on Climate Depot:

Science controversies past and present

He won't have the GUTS to post it.

I recommended this quote from the article to him:

"Greenhouse warming today faces an even greater array of bogus counterarguments based on the uninformed interpretation of data from ice cores, erroneous views about natural carbon sources, alleged but unobserved alternative drivers of climate change, naive expectations of the time scales over which models and observations should match, and various forms of statistical chicanery and logical fallacy. Many of the arguments sound reasonable to an inexpert but intelligent layperson. Critics use the alleged flaws to attempt to discredit the entire field.

Debates between mainstream scientists and silver-tongued opponents cannot be won by the side of truth no matter how obvious the fallacies may be to an expert. Incredibly, as recently as the mid-19th century, a highly charismatic figure calling himself “Parallax” devoted two decades of his life to crisscrossing England arguing that Earth was flat. He debated legitimate astronomers—sometimes teams of them—in town-hall-type settings and wowed audiences."

So Marc Morano is nothing new. His brand of pragmatic conservatism, of calling for harassment and demonization of legitimate scientists and legitimate scientific inquiry, is typical of a pattern. A pattern of reaction to that which cannot be comprehended or accepted.

Unfortunately, the rest of us are in the boat with the knuckleheads.

There's a little good news, and much bad news

OK, the little bit of good news. Apparently there isn't infectious salmon anemia in British Columbia:

Further tests fail to detect salmon virus

The bad news: because they're so popular, bluefin tuna and marlin are on the fast track to extinction:

First global assessment finds highest-grossing tunas and billfishes most vulnerable to extinction

This is a quote:
"Regional fisheries managers set quotas for these ocean-crossing species, which all countries in each region must agree to enforce. However, the lucrative lure of supply and demand often outweighs playing by the rules. As fish populations decline, rarity adds to their price, which spurs increased—and sometimes illegal—fishing. “This means the last bluefin is worth more than the boat that’s caught it,” Collette says."

So how good did Kimberly Williams Paisley look at the 2011 CMA Awards?

Good. Real good.

This good. (Thou shalt not covet... but Brad Paisley is not my neighbor!)

More here: (but unfortunately watermarks on the larger sizes, still you get the impression)

AP Images

Fox News - Destroying the World One Mind at a Time

Study Maps the Relationship Between Cable News and Climate Change Perceptions

"A new study finds that Fox News tends to feature guests who doubt the reality of climate change and stories that dismiss the need for action, while CNN and MSNBC tend to feature guests who assert the reality of climate change and the need for action. Interestingly, however, Fox tends to devote more attention to the issue than either CNN or MSNBC."

and and and

"As their content analysis indicates, at CNN/MSNBC there is a strong one-sided outlook offered on climate change that is consistent with expert agreement but that also reflects the position of most Democratic elites. At Fox News, there is a similarly one-sided outlook that dismisses the problem, tends to reject expert views, and reflects the position of most Republican elites."

and and and

"As depicted in the figure below from the study, Republicans who are heavier viewers of Fox News are more doubtful of climate change than their lighter viewing counter-parts. This finding is consistent with past theorizing that Fox reinforces and strengthens the views of Republicans who are predisposed to be more dismissive of the issue.

Similarly, Democrats who watch Fox News appear to be somewhat resistant to the typically one-sided messages found at the cable network, processing the counter-attitudinal arguments in a way that defends their pre-existing beliefs and opinions on climate change."

Let's put it more simply: people who watch a lot of Fox News know sh*t about climate change.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A girl and a shirt = oh my

In past posts I have noted how much I like the combination of a mostly-nude woman and a man's dress shirt. Model Tiff Crystal, under consideration for the prestigious photographic position of Playboy centerfold, demonstrates why this can be so beguiling (and arousing, if one is so inclined).

Breaking - menhaden catch reduction APPROVED

A beautiful thing for an unbeautiful fish - a school of menhaden:

Unbelievable! Flying in the face of corporate pressure (in this day of business uber alles), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has approved a substantial reduction in the East Coast menhaden harvest.

And can I say -- it's about D*MN time. The state of Virginia and Omega Proteins, of course, did not approve. And seriously, I don't get that -- a significant increase in menhaden stocks would be good, if not great, for Omega Proteins. And it would also be good for fish, and fisheries, and farmed fish, etc. etc. etc. I just do not understand the mentality of commercial fishing operations that keep trying to fish out a stock until it is commercially unviable to do so, at which time the stock is in serious danger of crashing, if it hasn't already crashed.

Well, anyway, this is good news, provided the catch reductions actually catch on. Ha. I mean, get implemented and work. But the good news is: catch reductions, when imposed and followed, DO work. The recovery of the swordfish stock in the northwestern Atlantic demonstrated this.

Panel Votes to Reduce a Forage Fish Catch

Should this be legal?

Should it be legal for supermodels who have had babies to breastfeed their youngsters?

Models breastfeeding? Model mommies talk

Of course it should be legal -- I'm just joshing wit ya. My point is, we come to think of the breasts of supermodels as merely the most admirable aspects of their curvaceousness, used primarily for the accentuation of the visual and sensual appeal of the garments they are wearing (particularly lingerie, when it comes to the Victoria's Secret lovelies) --- but those glands stuffed with fat cells and featuring milk ducts actually have a physiological function! Whoulda thunk it? And thanks to the mommies that use them as nature intended. And if they look good to boot, that's a bonus.

Just who exactly are they trying to fool ?

The old adage rings true: if the lips of a Republican senator or congressperson are moving, they're lying.

Republicans: Super Committee Remarks By Chuck Schumer Are Proof Obama Wants It To Fail

"A recent Quinnipiac University poll found Americans would be more likely to blame the GOP if the super committee fails, by 46 to 36 percent, although the poll also found that voters favor spending cuts over tax hikes." [I think the latter point is ridiculously unsurprising.]


"Last I saw, Sen. Schumer was not on the super committee. I think all three of the Senate Republicans are working really hard to make it work," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). "I think my side is increasingly concerned that the other side's decided it's strategically to their advantage for it not to work."

Awhile back when the supercommittee was just getting started, I wrote this post:

Is Boehner on the supercommittee or not?

And that quoted an article in the Washington Post, in which Boehner said:

"Tax increases must not be included as part of any bipartisan deal to reduce the country’s debt, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to say Thursday afternoon in remarks before the Economic Club of Washington."

Now, from the horse's ass, errrr, mouth:

"Tax reform should deal with the whole tax code, both the personal side and the corporate side, and it should result in a code that is simpler and fairer to everyone.

Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the Joint Committee.

It’s a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country."

[Actually, I thought it was a budget committee that was supposed to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. But that's just what I read.]

Further down, the ass, I mean Speaker, said:

"When it comes to producing savings to reach its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target, the Joint Select Committee has only one option: spending cuts and entitlement reform."
So here in September is the Speaker telling the supercommittee what it can and cannot do. And when they finally float their "tax reform" plan, it lowers the highest bracket tax rate and makes the Bush tax cuts -- what got us started on this unsustainable road in the first place -- permanent. That alone adds $3 TRILLION to the debt by 2020; and the savings in their "plan" don't recoup this by half.

Now, let's hear briefly from Mark Warner, who knows a thing or three about balancing budgets that conservative Republicans -- i.e., governor Dummhead, Jim Gilmore -- have unbalanced.

"Unless we are willing to put entitlement reform and tax reform that raises revenues into the mix, we're not going to do the job that we were hired to do."

And he also said:

"We're looking at a ratio of about $3 in cuts for every additional dollar in revenues. And the revenues we're talking about literally are coming from lower rates, where we can lower our rates on individual and on corporate rates back to where they're much more competitive on a worldwide basis. But we're getting rid of a number of the tax expenditures.

I mean, a fact that I'm not sure most Americans realize -- we collect about $1 trillion a year in income taxes, yet we have $1.2 trillion a year in income tax expenditures, deductions, many of them that are popular, charitable deduction, home mortgage deduction. If we would cut back on some of those, we could actually lower rates and still increase revenues."

Final statement: if you restrict the range of potential solutions to a problem, then that is a recipe for failure, because it could leave out the solutions that might actually work. If that type of solution is blocked for reasons of ideological purity, then the fingers of blame are pointing right at the GOP for causing the supercomittee to fail. And then we ALL pay the price of failure.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kimberly Williams Paisley last year

She's still one of my favorites, so on the eve of the CMA awards (hosted by her lucky hubby), here's how great she looked last year. I wonder how good she'll look THIS year?

The real campaign issue

The real campaign issue next year will be the Republican attempt to defeat the President by not doing ANYTHING to address the country's difficult problems. I've been thinking this for months, and this column expresses it well.

"Do-Nothing Republican Congress" Could Sink GOP In 2012

"McConnell, and his House counterpart, John Boehner, don't lose a wink of sleep over concerns that their intransigence harms the economic prospects of everyday Americans. In their view, the worse the economy gets, the more likely the voters will be to boot President Obama out of the Oval Office.

But a good case can be made that these guys will end up being too clever by half -- that in fact they are providing fuel for precisely the argument that could defeat them in 2012."


"In the deliberations of the "Super Committee," Republicans have been completely unwilling to give on the fundamental question of whether millionaires should be asked to pay to put America's economic house in order. The view of the Republican leadership is that -- in addition to defeating President Obama -- their principal mission is to act as guard dogs for the exploding incomes of the top 1%."


"They will privatize Social Security, destroy Medicare, emasculate the labor movement, cut taxes further for corporations and the wealthy. They will create new radical conservative facts on the ground that they hope will entrench conservative power for generations."

In short, the Republicans in Congress are putting self-interest before the good of the country. And that's the issue that will decide the election.

Be vewwy qwiet - I'm hunting wionfish

A good lionfish catch is good news anytime, anywhere:

Florida Divers Capture 312 Invasive Lionfish During Lower Keys Derby

Kill the Lionfish! Kill the Lionfish! (Actually, kill it and eat it!)

Yep, they're interested

I posted pictures from Mars Rover Opportunity yesterday; they definitely think that the vein of rock they're looking at is a phyllosilicate (clay mineral):

NASA: We've discovered something completely new on the surface of Mars

Mercury and Mars

A new picture of one of the dominant geological features on Mercury, Caloris Basin, from MESSENGER:

Peaks in Caloris Basin

And four pictures from Opportunity's search for clay minerals near Endeavour Crater. They were looking for light-colored features. Looks like they found something.

There are goals, and then there are GOALS

I like how Huffington Post features sport highlight videos. This goal was Spectacular! Even if you're not a big soccer aficionado, it's worth watching for the sheer athletic skill of it.

Marama Vahirua Goal: Monaco Striker Juggles Ball & Scores Goal Against Le Mans (VIDEO)

Conowingo Dam sediment threatens Chesapeake Bay

The authorities have known about this for years, but still there is no plan on how to deal with it. And every major storm (or heavy spring rains) makes it worse. Money, money, money, makes the world go round. We're all in this together, Bay states -- why can't we do something collectively?

Maryland Dam Trapping Harmful Sediment Poised To Harm Chesapeake Bay

"If the storage capacity is reached in about 20 years, as Langland predicted, at least 3 million tons of sediment would wash into the bay yearly, making matters far worse."

Sunday, November 6, 2011


No matter what one may think of horse racing and gambling and all that other stuff, there's something about a great stretch run that stirs the heart. Drosselmeyer did that in the Breeder's Cup Classic.

Drosselmeyer wins Cup Classic

Nearing the finish

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Major sunspot; could be flare time

A super-sized sunspot is currently rotating into the direct-shot position on the Sun. If it flares when facing Earth, we could have another solar storm like the one that pushed auroras down over the Carolinas about 10 days ago.

Recent pictures from SOHO:



Volcano News from El Hierro

The Canary Island offshore volcano has entered both an heavy bubbling phase and an explosive fountaining phase. This could get GOOD. (Hopefully the populace, with nearby villages evacuating, will be OK.)

A few of the pictures are right in the "amazing" category.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Were you wondering if Kelly Brook was wearing a skintight catsuit?

Well, if you were, she is!

Kelly Brook in a new sci-fi movie

Now, the picture below is not the outfit from the movie, but it's similar enough on the basics.

Update on La Reunion wildfires

I wrote about the fires in La Reunion's national park yesterday, and how they are threatening the biome in a UNESCO world heritage nature site. Well, I found a little more info about the fires (with pictures) today. It doesn't look good from altitude, either.

Fires in La Reunion

Fire ravages heart of La Reunion National Park

"A fire that broke out on 11 October 2010 in the Maïdo forest at La Reunion National Park on Réunion Island was the worst the area has seen in twenty years, with roughly 1,000 hectares of the Park affected. Key areas of endemic plants seem to be seriously affected as well as other key micro-habitats for biodiversity. Among wildlife, several rare species are under threat, according to a preliminary report submitted by the State Party."

A hectare is about 2.5 acres, in case you didn't know. (I didn't.)

I hope they extinguish these soon.

I'm thinking the same thing

Large asteroid to pass by Earth November 8 - but what if it didn't miss?

In case you were wondering:

"... a similar-sized object hitting Earth would result in a 4,000-megaton blast, magnitude 7.0 earthquate and, should it strike in the deep ocean, 70-foot-high tsunami waves 60 miles from the splashdown site."

But that's not all!

"For example, YU55 would strike with a velocity of 11 miles per second. Although it would begin to disintegrate as it passed through the atmosphere, the fragments would strike in a compact cluster that would blast out a crater 4 miles in diameter and 1,700 feet deep, Melosh said.

Sixty miles away from the impact site the heat from the fireball would cause extensive first-degree skin burns, the seismic shaking would knock down chimneys and the blast wave would shatter glass windows.

If YU55 were to strike a large city like Chicago, it would obliterate the entire city and leave few survivors."

So, there's no danger, right?

"What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we were aware of it well in advance," Melosh said. "Before about 1980 we wouldn't know about an asteroid of this size until it was already making a close pass, but now it is unlikely that such an asteroid will approach the Earth without our knowledge."

I sure hope he's right about that.

Is Romney's Mormonism an issue -- for the 'liberal' media?

I've written a lot about how I think that if Mitt Romney is the GOP candidate for President next year, the "hard" evangelical Christian wing of the party won't be able to vote for him, because Mormonism is not just another religion, it's heretical Christianity. Well, some pundits are thinking that the liberal media that's in President Obama's pocket (as if that might actually be true) will exploit the issue to keep reminding the evangelical Christians in the GOP that they can't possibly vote for him.

You gotta admit, it's a good idea. Whereas some evangelical Christians are entirely alright with electing a heretic cult member, because their social goals (criminalizing homosexuality, criminalizing abortion, making women 2nd class citizens, jailing teenagers for having sex, things like that) are the same.

We'll see. I rather think that the idea of making the main issue about Romney, if he is the candidate, his outrageous amount of money rather than his religion. I'm OK with that. However, it's still my theory that the Great White Dope, Rick Perry, will make a "surprising" comeback and become the GOP Prez candidate. Herman Cain's peccadilloes just make me feel more comfortable with my fear that the Most Dangerous Man in America will indeed be running against Obama next summer.

"The major networks are heavily invested in Barack Obama's reelection," said Richard Land, a leader with the Southern Baptist Convention who heads its ethics and religious liberty commission.

"And they're all going to run detailed specials, now that we have the first Mormon nominee for president: 'What does the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe?' And they're going to go into all the beliefs of Mormonism, hoping to scare the 40 percent of independents who make up the decisive vote in the electorate to not vote for someone who believes such things."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, agreed.

"I think the media, and the American public via the media, will know all they want to know about Mormonism," Perkins said. "I think the left-leaning media that is sympathetic to the president will try to drive a wedge deeper between him and social conservatives."


Chuck Colson, a former Nixon White House official who went to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal and is now head of Prison Fellowship Ministries, wrote on Oct. 17: "Is the Mormon faith Christian? No. It is not. There are significant and un-reconciled doctrinal differences between Mormonism and Christianity, like the sole sufficiency of Christ and the exclusivity of the Bible."

"Having said that, there may be no other group of people I appreciate more as co-belligerents than the Mormons," Colson said. "They are stalwarts on life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty issues."

So -- did you think I was kidding about that stuff highlighted in yellow up above? No, I wasn't.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Haven't seen a menhaden overfishing story for awhile

From National Geographic: Overfishing 101: a small fish with big problems

Some of my previous work on menhaden:

One of the craziest ideas ever -- and it just might work

So much for that idea

Why isn't the Chesapeake Bay a national park?

As for the current news:
A lot of the pressure to stop menhaden overfishing will be on the state of Virginia, currently led by Governor "Caveman" Bob McDonnell, to reign in the Omega Proteins plant in Reedsville and allow the fishery to recover for the good of all involved, INCLUDING THE EMPLOYEES OF THE PLANT IN REEDSVILLE! Sorry to shout, but overfishing really makes no sense and ticks me off, too.

The good news is that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which manages the fishery, is poised to take historic steps to restore this valuable species. When the ASMFC meets next week in Boston from November 7-10, it will consider the many ways menhaden are used: for commercial products such as omega 3 fatty acid pills and factory farm feed; as bait for commercial and recreational fishermen, who target larger fish; and, most importantly, as a pillar of the East Coast marine food web.


To answer this public outcry and save this small but important fish, the commission should embrace the strongest rebuilding goal on the table: a fourfold increase in the population. By doing so, the ASMFC would follow the best scientific advice for managing key prey species such as menhaden. Delaying decisions or maintaining the status quo—another option still on the table—is not scientifically or ecologically defensible.

Commercial fishing should not jeopardize the health of marine ecosystems, recreational fishing opportunities, or public resources. As with other fisheries, we need to focus on sustainability and provide everyone on the Atlantic coast with ample fish, both big and small.

Belgium drops the nuclear ball

Belgium to switch off nuclear; operator see blackouts ahead

In another short-sighted move by a liberal European country, Belgium thinks that it can get to the future without nuclear power. I wish them luck and expect that they're going to have considerable problems with that plan. So also does the utility that runs the reactors that are going to get shut down.

"Already a net importer of electricity, Belgium could become increasingly dependent on its neighbours, increase its carbon footprint by replacing nuclear with thermal energy, and be forced to considerably hike the price of electricity for consumers.

"On a question such as this which is fundamental to the national economy, it is essential that clear decisions be taken and communicated," it [Electrabel, subsidiary of GDF-Suez] said."

The idiocy continues. But better news is around:

Czechs open tender for new reactors at Temelin plant

The Czechs have got it right. Use nuclear in the national energy mix to achieve future advancement in the nation's society and security.

Aw, crap: fire threatens important national park on Reunion Island

Wildfire threatens Reunion Island national park, affecting vistas and flora and fauna of inestimable value

Very few articles findable on this. It doesn't sound good. Actually, it never does sound good when valuable and unique ecosystems are threatened with immolation. La Reunion is a beautiful island, with a volcano, somewhat akin to Hawaii, with a burgeoning population. Since island ecosystems are usually unique, any loss to them hurts the worldwide biodiversity pool.

The Halloween climate skeptic explosion

Judith Curry's blog exploded on Halloween. It was caused by Dr. Curry having a conversation with Dr. Muller of the BEST climate/temperature project, and reporting on her impressions on the conversation.

Herewith my own personal summary of the affair at current (and noting that there is not a bowl big enough to hold all the popcorn necessary to watch THIS show):

1. Muller/BEST goes preliminarily public with their results, ostensibly indicating that the basic surface temperature records from other groups are correct.

2. Muller writes a Wall Street Journal op-ed stating the basics, that it appears his work has established that the surface temperature records are basically correct. He shows a graph of increasing temperatures over many decades. Climate change skeptics everywhere are apoplectic; Marc Morano at ClimateDepot has a severe attack of dyspepsia. Anthony Watts is very disappointed in Dr. Muller for going public with a result that shows his work and investment of years to be shameful and shamful. Watts searches for reasons to disavow his previous pledge to accept the BEST results, whatever they might be.

3. Judith Curry and others point out that Muller's graph doesn't show that the first decade of the 20th century, if a trend is to be plotted from peak to peak, doesn't show a warming trend (even though the compendium of warm years in the decade make it the warmest ever, indicating the warming is still occurring.)

4. Curry is widely touted, at least by climate skeptic-friendly journalists, as definitely criticizing the Muller/BEST results and showing that they aren't worth the disks they are recorded on.

5. Then Curry has a sit-down with Muller and tends to recant, crediting that BEST may have done a good job, had some reasons re the IPCC process to get the word out, and she feels that Muller is dedicated to getting it right.

6. Climate skeptics globally attack, beg, cajole, plead, and otherwise comment on Curry's blog that she's wrong; Muller is a liar, fake, charlatan, flim-flam artist, con man, two-timing weasel, no good down-hearted hound dog; please see reason and kick the guy's ass; Anthony Watts is God and Steve McIntyre is his prophet; Muller should have done what good scientists do and wait for peer review even though skeptics can tout erroneous and misguided back-of-the-envelope calculations as True Writ and get them echoed by climate skeptic blogs around the world; Al Gore is still fat; MARS IS STILL WARMING, BY JOVE! ; the BEST results can't be right because global warming isn't happening; a climate skeptic can either say it isn't warming at all or that man isn't primarily causing it and be right either way; or just "please see it our way again".

What is really astonishing is the level of corrosive vitriol directed at Dr. Curry just because she said some reasonable things. The number of people convinced and offended that she's been seduced is amazing. Well, I guess if you think a pretty girl is going to marry you you're pretty
happy, and then when she leaves you at the altar and takes off with a more handsome guy, you're likely to be really, really, really angry. (Hey, I would be.) And that's how it is with a lot of these folks now.

Finally, my summary regarding the ongoing drama of Judith Curry's life:

When you dance with the devil, it's hard not to get burned.

It never rains in sunny Pandora (Avatar) - but it should

I just realized that despite the rain-foresty environment of Pandora, characterized by a) lush, BIG vegetation; b) waterfalls dripping off of floating mountains [see above]; c) natives wearing hardly any clothes (yes, the Na'Vi were nearly naked); and d) a lot of water in the ecosystem (remember the river Jake jumped into to escape the Thanator) -- that I don't recall a single scene in which it was actually raining. Now, arguably this would have been hard to do in the outdoor action scenes and look realistic, even though Avatar's CGI was pretty amazing -- but it wouldn't have been hard to do, like when the drivers are in the mobile lab, they could have heard raindrops
pounding on the outside of the lab and water pouring down the windows one night. Now, it could also be covered up by saying that this region of Pandora has wet and dry seasons, and that the action only took place during the dry season (mining operations and logging could get very bogged down in heavy rains, so this is plausible), but there was never any allusion to that type of seasonality.

Also, it was very sunny a lot of the time. That's not very realistic in a rainy and foggy and cloudy and misty rain forest environment.

So this could be an oversight in Cameron's vision. I did a little Google searching and there doesn't appear to be any mention or discussion of this issue. Maybe I should email him.

Singleness is nice

Former beauty pageant queen turned Playboy playmate Lindsey Gayle Evans recently finished a relationship with electronic music artiste deadmau5, after a short retry. After seeing this Halloween costume, I don't think she'll have any trouble at all acquiring a new boyfriend at whatever point she decides that she wants one.

There were probably a few applicants at the Halloween party she wore this to, I reckon.

Lutetia results demystified

Rosetta reveals the science and mystery of Asteroid Lutetia

I posted abstracts to the three Science articles about Lutetia a few posts ago. The linked article here gives a digestible precis of what was discovered.

In case you want to skip down to the bottom line, here it is:

The Rosetta data indicate that Lutetia is probably a primordial planetesimal, one of the building blocks from which the planets were born 4.5 billion years ago. Having survived numerous impacts, Lutetia can be regarded as an important missing link between smaller asteroids, which are often shattered rubble piles, and terrestrial planets such as Earth.

"This is a crucial step in understanding the asteroid belt," said Rita Schulz, ESA's Rosetta Project Scientist. "Having seen several members of the belt in the past that were all different in their own ways, we have now found a large and rather primordial body. Clearly, there is still much more to investigate before we understand the belt fully."