Saturday, December 31, 2011

3 quick hits: study of ocean pH variation

Interesting new study of how much ocean pH varies in different places and over diurnal cycles.  Good advance in studying the impact of ocean acidification.

Comprehensive Study Makes Key Findings of Ocean pH Variations

"Though many lab simulations of this effect have been performed recently, including at a new acidification laboratory in development at Scripps, there have been few comparable field studies. Using sensors recently developed at Scripps, the researchers surveyed marine ecosystems ranging from coral reefs in the South Pacific Ocean to volcanic CO2 vent communities in the Mediterranean Sea.
They found that in some places, such as Antarctica and the Line Islands of the south Pacific, the range of pH variance is much more limited than in areas of the California coast subject to large vertical movements of water known as upwellings. In some of their study areas, they found that the decrease in seawater pH being caused by greenhouse gas emissions is still within the bounds of natural pH fluctuation.
Some areas already experience daily acidity levels that scientists had expected would only be reached at the end of the 21st Century. "This study is important for identifying the complexity of the ocean acidification problem around the globe," said Scripps marine biologist Jennifer Smith."

3 quick hits: 2, Comet Lovejoy

Great picture of the Christmas Comeback Comet, sungrazing Comet Lovejoy, from the Paranal Observatory.   Wish I'd been able to see this one.

3 quick hits: 1, Kelly Brook in Glamour

Kelly Brook will be in Glamour magazine, describing how she doesn't mind being a role model for curvy girls. That's just fine with me. But I'm sorry, she looks wrong as a blonde.

Kelly Brook shows off her hourglass figure in sexy shoot

The picture in the article doesn't show off her hourglass figure, though.

It's who wears it right (and tight)

The Daily Mail article indicates that Ultimo lingerie had a good year, attributing the success to the correct selection of underwear models, namely Tamara Ecclestone, Amy Childs, and the divine Luisana Lopilato, aka Mrs. Michael Buble.   (More on her soon, I promise.)  But the basic premise of the article is that if you're selling lingerie, cleavage and a tight tummy sell well.  Now, why do I not in any way find that particularly surprising?

Tamara Ecclestone, Amy Childs and Michael Bublé’s Argentinian wife Luisana Lopilato have all stripped down this year.

Posing in nothing but racy underwear the three women have helped boost Ultimo's latest lingerie lines.

Note:  the article has pictures of pretty women wearing lingerie, if you like that kind of thing.

It worked for Jonah

New research shows that bioluminescent bacteria use the glow to get eaten by shrimp;  when the shrimp eat enough bacteria, the bioluminescence shows up in their gut, attracting fish.  The fish eat the shrimp, swim around, then poop out the remnants and the bacteria, which are just fine after spending time in the digestive system of the shrimp and the fish.  So this helps the bacteria move to new locations.  Not only that, while they're in the guts of the shrimp and the fish, they eat some of the other stuff that's in there!

Research shows ocean bacteria glow to attract those that would eat them

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How hard will the GOP work to undo this?

Great news about the EPA's new rules to restrict the emission of mercury, which is a useful metal, but not one that anyone wants more of in the atmosphere and in the Earth's biological cycles.  Now, the articles indicate that compliance will cost money, which means that a regulation such as this might end up in the target reticule of the GOP enviro-bombers.   But here's the deal;  if the GOP runs against the EPA rules against mercury, which will reduce the levels of mercury in the environment, making fish safer to eat, allowing pregnant women to ingest more food without worrying as much about the neurological health of their fetuses (and fetuses are something that the GOP faithful are blood-sworn to protect), and even protecting sushi-eating celebrities like Jeremy Piven and Daphne Zuniga from mental and physical problems caused by too much mercury ingestion -- then the Democrats can run as if the GOP was in FAVOR of poisoning pregnant women, fetuses, and sushi-eating celebrities.  Well, maybe they should just mention the first two.  But I think the GOP would be pretty darned stupid to run in opposition to this necessary and welcome rule. 

Now, the GOP is pretty darned stupid, so I expect to see this mentioned prominently next year.

A couple of comparisons between Enceladus and Earth's Moon

Enceladus' mean radius is 252 km;  Earth's Moon is 1738 km, so Enceladus is roughly 1/6 to  1/7 the size of Earth's Moon.

It takes Enceladus 1.37 days to orbit Saturn once;  obviously it takes Earth's  Moon about 28 days.   The semi-major axis of the orbit of Enceladus is  238,000 km.  Assuming circularity (this is a rough calculation), then the circumference of the orbit is 1,495,398 km - close enough to 1,500,000 km.

The semi-major axis of the Moon's orbit is 385,000 km, so the circumference of the orbit is about 2,420,000 km. 

Orbital speed of Enceladus:  1,500,000 km/32.9 hours = 45,600 km/hr

Orbital speed of Earth's Moon:  2,420,000 km/672 hours = 3600 km/hr


Not good lionfish news

Invasive lionfish making Florida home

OK, it's time to ramp up the harvest efforts.  Start marketing them as an  aphrodisiac and penis enlargement supplement.

"These fish really stay put, at least in our system," Zachary Jud, a marine scientist at Florida International University, said. "We've had some fish that stayed in the same spot for months. The greatest distance some moved was a couple hundred feet."
Because adult lionfish tend to stay in one place, efforts to keep down their numbers by capturing or spearing them have been successful.

And remember, THEY TASTE GOOD!  (But mind the spines).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not just a Legend, but a smart guy, too

Anytime you're with a supermodel (swimsuit type) that apparently is really in love with you, and who lets you write songs about having sex in the morning with you (at least according to their joint interview in Sports Illustrated) then it's a very good idea to get engaged (and perhaps eventually married) to her.

So good move by John Legend to put a ring on Chrissy Teigen's finger.

John Legend Engaged: Singer Engaged To Model Chrissy Teigen 

Chrissy's Me in My Place pictures -- I'm going to review them soon, all the ones I haven't reviewed yet.  Which is a few.  But reviewing the ones I've viewed is a pleasing activity.   As for hers, best picture is #12, best comment is #16.

John Legend sings "Good Morning" -- you can guess what it's about.

A Christmas card from PEER

This card captures the sentiments I frequently feel.   Unfortunately.   Feliz Navidad.

All the more reason to vote against any Republican in sight this coming election season.

There's a place in the world named Wiala

And it is NOT easy to get to.

I'm not sure there's anything there, other than jungle.

(According to Google Maps, it's in Papua New Guinea.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

The "John Carter" trailer is out

I just happened to see the trailer for "John Carter" yesterday -- and it was good.  Now, I commented on the John Carter movie here -- with a lot of commentary on Dejah Thoris, including a link to a modestly nude Lynn Collins, who plays Dejah.   (Apparently this is the extended trailer, but it's the one that caught my eye.)

So, without further ado, here's the trailer  (and there are resemblances to both Star Wars and Dune):

Lynn as Dejah looks good too; good choice for one of the most iconic sci-fi fantasy (the Edgar Rice Burroughs wing of the genre) heroines ever.

Now about the plot; I still wonder how much resemblance it will have to the Burroughs books. But Carter is still apparently a Civil War vet.

Don't know nuttin' 'bout fairy shrimps

After reading the article linked below,  I did a quick search, saw some video, read a little, and I guess they're somewhat related to brine shrimp and Triops.   So that's all I know now -- and that they're endangered.  I wish that wasn't the case, but it's the case with a lot of species these days.

Fairy shrimp threatened by dry autumn

Pond Conservation's Dr Jeremy Biggs said: "With only a handful of sites across the whole of Britain, the future of these beautiful creatures is balanced on a knife-edge."

It is that hoped fairy shrimps (Chirocephalus diaphanous), which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, will return to their "strongholds" this Christmas in Hampshire's New Forest, on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, on Salisbury Plain, in parts of the Sussex Weald, as well as in Oxfordshire, East Anglia and South Wales.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Approval of new nuclear reactor design in U.S.

Good news;  pending construction of several new nuclear plants, the U.S. has approved the new pressurized reactor design from Westinghouse.  This will quiet the critics and push forward construction of several new power plants in the United States.

Here's the Wall Street Journal's take on the approval news:

U.S. Clears Reactor Design Approval of Toshiba's AP1000 Sets Up Possible Nuclear-Power Revival (Westinghouse is a part of Toshiba)
"The AP1000 differs from existing U.S. reactors in several ways. It uses so-called passive systems for cooling, such as the gravity flow of water and natural circulation based on thermodynamics. It also has fewer moving parts, like pumps and valves."

Here's more on the reactor:

The Westinghouse AP1000

Several good explanatory videos at the above link.

Stats on the AP1000 :

A treat for Christmas

Seeing Miranda Kerr in lingerie would brighten any Christmas celebration;  so here's a light-hearted Christmas posting and a link to the delights of satin, silk, and skin:

All she wants for Christmas! Miranda Kerr models the lingerie husbands should be buying this season


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dawn achieves lowest orbit altitude over Vesta

Somehow, even though the altitude is 130 miles, it seems like that's dangerously close.  But to put it in perspective, that's a little more than the distance from Indianapolis, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky.  So it's not exactly in danger of crashing.

Closer and closer to the Vesta surface

Wall Street Journal gets it right

The generally conservative Wall Street Journal put the hammer down on  the Republican SNAFU in Congress on the payroll tax cut extension:

"The entire exercise is political, but Republicans have thoroughly  botched the politics."


2012 predictions; out on limb, but not very far

10 Fairly Easy Predictions for 2012

1. Andy Murray will win a Grand Slam (tennis) title.
2. Khloe Kardashian will get pregnant.
3. Barack Obama will be re-elected President.
4. There will be a "reverse Climategate" with emails from climate change skeptics, showing how they conspire together to distribute the same tired talking points.
5. At some point in the year, the Dow Jones will go below 10,000.
6. The Washington Wizards will make the NBA Playoffs.
7. The year's biggest movie will be "The Hobbit".
8. Kepler will find an exoplanet with near-perfect conditions for Earth-like life.
9. Another famous celebrity will pose nude for Playboy (wow, like that's a stretch).
10. I'll have more than 100 followers on Twitter.

The cloud waves

Still images have been making the rounds, but this is the first time I saw a video of this unusual cloud phenomenon that was sighted recently:

Massive 'cloud waves' roll over Alabama

And if you haven't seen them, here's what they are:

"Breaking waveforms of Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds are the result of shearing winds up at cloud level."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

They're both edible, and tasty

Short article from the Texas SeaGrant explaining about the danger to the local ocean ecosystem from lionfish and black tiger shrimp.   See, the thing is, both of them can be eaten, and they taste good.  And the black tiger shrimp can be BIG.

Lions and tigers:  too much to bear?

"Lionfish, too, are a marketable fish, but on a much smaller scale. They are best caught using traps or by spear gun and are considered a delicacy in Asia, but they have yet to gain popularity in the U.S.

Harvesting lionfish for the restaurant trade appears to be to be an effective method for controlling local population densities in the South Atlantic and Mexico, says Morris."


The apparent main problem with the black tiger shrimp is that they can spread diseases to other shrimp. But they're big and tasty:

"On the other hand, black tiger shrimp are a highly valuable commodity, although Reisinger said he has heard anecdotal reports that some shrimpers have thrown captured black tiger shrimp back into the Gulf of Mexico because they did not think they were a marketable species. The shrimp fetch a market price similar to native white shrimp and slightly more than native brown shrimp. As of early December, the largest black tiger shrimp were going for about $8.35 per pound on the New York Market."

At this point, though, there aren't that many in Texas waters.  But that could change.

Nice quote

Obama blasts GOP after House Republicans defeat two-month payroll tax cut

“What is playing out in Washington, D.C., this week is about political leverage, not about what’s good for the American people. Congress can work out a solution without stopping the payroll tax-cut extension for the middle class,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who served with House Republicans for 4 1/2 years until his appointment to the Senate in the spring, said in a statement."

D*mn straight.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breathtaking volcano photographs

Volcanoes can be dangerous, destructive, and fatal, but their power can also be gorgeous.  Provided you're standing far enough away.

The Year in Volcanic Activity

Just a sample:  Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in Chile

Governor "Caveman" Bob McDonnell guts Virginia

"Better Choices for Virginia, a coalition of businesspeople, nonprofit  leaders, local officials and educators, called on McDonnell to protect and create jobs instead of making cuts to schools, health care, public safety and other core services. It advocates for eliminating tax loopholes instead of a cuts-only approach to budgets.

Since the beginning of the recession, the coalition estimates that Virginia has cut $1.3 billion from education, $238 million from public safety and  $994 million from health care."

Group accuses McDonnell of ‘stealing from Peter to pay Paul’

Excerpts from the Congressional war front

Wow, this fight over the payroll tax cut extension has gotten nasty -- and based on the latest maneouvring, I think that the GOP has downright screwed itself.   We'll see, but I think there are two key principles to remember about this:

1.  There's no doubt about who's at fault for this mess, the Republicans, specifically the Tea Party.
2.  When in doubt, blame the Republicans.  You'll never be wrong.

OK, so awaaaay we go:

Payroll tax cut extension in doubt amidst Republican uproar

"House Republicans have a point. Making tax policy two months at a time is no way to make tax policy. But House Republicans are the reason the Senate was opting for a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. If they agreed to a clean, year-long extension of the payroll tax cut, the bill could pass in the next 10 minutes.
Instead, they've opted to tie it to the Keystone XL Pipeline. And as bad as it is to make tax policy in two-month increments, it's even worse to make controversial energy and environmental decisions using unrelated tax-policy measures -- and their deadlines -- as cover."

Next -  the answer is YES.
Question:  "The opposition from Tea Partyers raises the question: Is denying Obama a victory — one that would help the economy, which could make Obama’s reelection prospects a shade brighter — a higher priority for them  than even cutting taxes?"

 "This latest impasse reveals just how extreme, intransigent, self-indulgent and hostile to basic norms of governing the Tea Party wing has become. It’s as if compromise itself must be opposed, for its own sake, regardless of what any particular compromise contains. This is another case in which the public is seeing with total clarity the disastrous results of giving the Tea Party a seat at the governing table." (click excerpt for full article)

Give 'em hell, Harry:

Harry Reid: Payroll Tax Cut Bill Must Pass Without Further Negotiations 
"My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans,their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class
Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians," Reid said."

According to latest reports, the House is going to reject the Senate bill (passed with 89 votes, which means that a lot of sensible Republican senators -- a phrase that it is extremely hard for me to write -- voted for it.  So the insane GOP in the House, led by Boner Boehner, are screwing the middle class.

Again.  See the two principles again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A tip; getting her sloshed increase your chances of getting lucky

I rather think that this has been common knowledge for a long time, but now there's ofeeshul veryfickashun that getting a chick drunk improves one's chances of scoring with her:

Alcohol can lead to unsafe sex: It's official

"Alcohol consumption, especially heavy drinking, has long been associated with HIV incidence. However, there have been doubts about the cause-and-effect relationship. Researchers weren't sure if alcohol consumption caused HIV via unsafe sex, or whether certain personality traits in individuals, such as sensation-seeking or a disposition to risky behaviour in general, would lead to both alcohol use and unsafe sex.

The study, published in the January issue of the journal Addiction, summarizes the results of 12 experiments that tested this cause-and-effect relationship in a systematic way. After pooling the results, the researchers found that alcohol consumption affects decision-making, and that this impact rises with the amount of alcohol consumed. The more alcohol that participants consumed, the higher their willingness to engage in unsafe sex."
Well, actually, I guess there's a predilection for sex already established, and drinking just makes it more possible to do it without protection.  But I think there's an obvious corollary that getting one's potential partner inebriated increases the chance of sex in general -- and since such random acts are unsafe to being with, whether or not protection is involved makes it even more unsafe at any speed.

OK, so how exactly did they test the relationship?  I mean, how were they SURE that this was true?  

We're going to need more of this type of thing

It seems somewhat repulsive to say it, but if we converted all of the fecal material (human and animal) that we currently collect into biofuel, we'd have a lot of biofuel.   And given the drawbacks to the other kinds of biofuel feedstocks that I discussed a few posts ago (in light of the article describing their drawbacks), maybe crap is the way to go for the biofuel industry.

 Turning Pig Manure into Oil Fosters Sustainability in a Crowded World

Musing on freebie lists

Ever heard of a "freebie" list?  It's defined as a list of women (for men) and men (for women) for which spouses would allow their spouse to enjoy sexual relations with, if such an unlikely chance ever arose.  I was going back over my freebie list(s), and found the following:

Current all-time Top 5 Freebie List:
1.  All-around:  Salma Hayek
2.  For the body:  Julianne Hough
3.  For the attitude:  Zoe Saldana  (and she's currently single!  I have a shot!  NOT.)
4.  For the glory:  Brooke Burke
5.  For fun:  Kelly Ripa

All Brooke list:  Burke, Burns, Berry, Morales, Shields, Hogan, Daniels, D'Orsay (Royal Pains), Ashlynn Brooke (cheating by using her last name), Lauren Brooke Thompson (that's REALLY cheating -- but she's FABULOUS).

All Kelly list:   Ripa, Brook, Carlson, Monaco, Hu, Preston, Minka (that's cheating!), Rowland, Pickler (alternate spelling),& Carrington (splendiferous blonde Floridian Playboy Playmate)

Then there's my figure skater freebie list, my Olympic sport athlete freebie list, my Dancing with the Stars contestant freebie list...

One way to improve the approval ratings of Congress

OK, I am seriously ticked off at Congress for their naked political play to add the Keystone pipeline rider to the payroll extension bill.  It is so damned obvious, bare knuckled politics.   The best way to go for Obama is to not approve it, noting that the State Department won't approve it anyway if the proper environmental studies aren't finished, and so if he DID approve it and they didn't, there wouldn't be any pipeline anyway -- and rushing the approval process is a virtual guarantee of a thumbs-down from State.  Now, the rude-as-nude GOP would try to spin the non-approval as an economy drag, and a capitulation to environmentalists, and that might play in the Heartland, but Obama needs votes in a lot of states (like California) where Keystone disapproval will play well widely.   If he approves it, he loses a lot of votes of environmentally-minded independents.  Now, given the intransigence of the GOP and the disaster that electing a Republican president in this environment would precipitate, I don't believe that most  voters who recognize this danger would abandon the Prez even if he approves Keystone, but I also think that they (like me) would be much happier if he didn't.

So I really don't want to improve the approval ratings of the dismal GOP in Congress, but if that had to be done, electing a very gorgeous female representative who includes a Playboy appearance on her list of qualifications, such as just happened in Russia, might kick their percentage points up a few notches.  

I've got to fix the headline a little;  those who pose in Playboy are not by definition "bunnies".

Vladimir Putin appoints Playboy model Maria Kozhevnikova to Parliament

Now, I don't know exactly how the Russian system works, but I think she actually got elected, not appointed.  It could be that Putin appointed her to run for the seat as a representative of his party.

"Siberian hottie Maria Kozhevnikova, a member of Putin’s United Russia party, defended her boss days after winning a seat in Russian parliament to represent Tomsk."

Now, regarding the appearance in Playboy:  searching reveals she did pose nude, i.e., without any clothes on, but strategic angles and artful placement of her blonde hair managed to prevent the exposure of those elements of the female physiology that would classify her as competely (alternatively, totally) nude.  She's so beautiful and so fit it seems a shame that she couldn't just show her nipples too, but she didn't.  Nonetheless, she's a fine-looking woman.  I hope she will also be a credible representative of her constituents in Parliament.
Without much effort, all her pictures can be found, but I'll just provide a comely (and modest) picture of her.
 Something like this could almost get me to vote Republican.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wait a minute - conservatives OPPOSE a tax cut?

Well, I know as I write this that there is a deal in Congress to avert a government shutdown (again).  I haven't read the details.  I hope sincerely and I hope a lot that the Keystone pipeline is off the table. 

But I wrote this before that happened, and I think it's still a legitimate comment.

Payroll tax cut and spending bill stall in Senate, raising threat of shutdown

Wait a minute -- conservatives OPPOSE a tax cut?  Conservatives SUPPORT letting a tax cut lapse, raising taxes on the middle class?

"Their objections center on several GOP initiatives added to the bill to attract votes  from conservatives, many of whom would not support the tax cut extension otherwise.  They include a reduction in unemployment benefits, new rules that could require the  unemployed to take drug tests and enroll in GED programs to receive benefits, and the delay of new regulations on boiler emissions."

How freakin' hypocritical is that??

How can I NOT post this?

When Kelly Brook does a holiday unwrap strip tease, I am helpless but to comply. And the music is seasonal, too.

Unwrap me! Kelly Brook makes the most alluring Christmas present as she undresses for sexy advent calendar video

Really amazing pictures

50 spectacular pictures

Here's something just gorgeous to look at.  (And it's not a babe).

Photo by Christopher Zimmer.

Bad news from Areva

French nuclear giant Areva suspends investment in sites

"French nuclear giant Areva said Tuesday it is suspending building work at several sites in France, Africa and the United States, one day after forecasting a 1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) euro loss."

France has been leading the way on continuing use of nuclear power in the world energy system;  this latest setback is not very promising.  Still, given China's nice words and slight bit of action in Durban, I think that the nuclearization of the Far East and India will continue apace.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy birthday, Emmanuelle

Emmanuelle Chriqui just turned 34. In tribute, I must post a hot photo of Emmanuelle Chriqui.

Mission accomplished.

I thought biofuels were a good idea

EVEN though I'm a nuclear energy industry consultant and advocate, I recognize that the transportation sector will be reliant on liquid fuels for a long time (except maybe if widespread hydrogen production can result from the invention of solar-powered leaves

Now, burning of fossil fuels is not good for the Earth's climate future, but we have been led to believe that burning biofuels, fuels made from biologically-based feedstocks, would be fine, because the logic goes that the biological things took the CO2 out of the atmosphere, so burning them just puts the CO2 back where it was.

But this might not be such a perfect system after all.  A recent study (now, granted, this is only one study, and deserves to be examined closely) indicated that biofuels don't do what they're supposed to do.

Now, their has been a knock on corn ethanol because it requires a lot of  input to grow corn.  But supposedly stuff like switchgrass works better.  So here's what they did:

"The researchers focused on the major mandated and currently used biofuels  worldwide: corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol from  switchgrass grown in the United States, canola biodiesel produced in  Europe, and sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil and exported to the  United States or Europe.

They evaluated them in terms of their contribution to reducing fossil  fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. They also compared their costs  and effectiveness to two alternative policies: an increase in the gas tax and the implementation of energy efficiency improvements."

""Each dollar spent on energy improvement programs would be 20 times more effective in reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions than a similar cost for the corn ethanol program," Jaeger said.  "Likewise, a gas tax increase would be 21 times more effective than promoting cellulosic ethanol."

YIKES. That's not even CLOSE.

Regarding the laws to produce a certain amount of biofuel: The researchers concluded that all of these biofuel mandates  combined would reduce fossil fuel use by less than 2.5 percent,  or the same amount that a gas tax increase of 25 cents per gallon  could achieve, but at an estimated cost of $67 billion compared  with a cost of $6 billion with a gas tax."

GEEZ, order-of-magnitude!!!

So I conclude that we should a) make hydrogen, b) increase nuclear power generation, as Bill Gates is working with the Chinese to do, c) drastically work on increasing energy efficiency, on a pseudo-war footing, if necessary, and d) pass an increase in the national gas tax. 

If I was in charge, we'd be DONE already!

Another indication that it's real

Climate change driving tropical birds to higher elevations

There's much unwarranted debate about the reality of climate change, regarding whether or not the data is accurate, how much global warming is happening, whether or not it'll be serious, etc.  When "cornered", such as when the Berkeley preliminary announcements came out, before the counter attacks were organized and mounted, some of the skeptics denied (ha) that they had denied global warming is actually happening, insisting  instead that they are just disputing how much is happening, how it's happening, and how much eventually will happen in the future.

Part of that argument was completely disingenuous, because the entire point of casting uncertainty on the ground station weather data was to attribute a warming signal to something else, like increasing urbanization or the installation of a nearby air conditioner.  And it was also disingenuous because all but the really marginal skeptics admit that the atmospheric data is showing warming too (though atmospheric warming scientist Roy Spencer blaims it on warmth manufactured by increasing cloud cover, or something silly like that).

Leaving that aside, one of the potent reminders that global warming is REAL and is HAPPENING is that the denizens of nature are responding to it.  And this article is another example of that.

"Moving to the north doesn't help them, because tropical temperatures do not change very much with latitude. So moving up to higher elevations is the only  way to go, but there are few historical data that can serve as baselines for  comparison over time."

The payroll tax and the Keystone pipeline

Payroll tax:  Mitch McConnell wants to call Obama's bluff

"Earlier this week, the number two Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), said that there would be no further negotiation regarding the payroll tax cut, and that  the bill that comes from the House -- which includes Keystone -- is the one the Senate must pass.

"The package that comes from the House is it," Kyl said. McConnell declined to  specifically say whether he agreed with Kyl.

McConnell said that a "significant number of Democrats" both in the Senate and House support the package Obama has promised to veto."
Can you believe the gall of these bastards?

Once again, the Republicans simply have to play politics. As has been widely described, they are getting squeezed on the payroll tax issue.  Let it lapse, and it's their fault that the average Americans get a tax increase.  After all, this is the party that defined letting temporary tax cuts lapse and the tax brackets go back to where they were (which is what has to happen for the disastrous W Bush-era tax cuts) as a tax increase.  Dolts.  But by that logic, letting the payroll tax lapse is a tax increase, and we know the GOP can't abide a tax increase.  Oh yeah, and letting the payroll tax cut lapse could also hurt the economy by impacting average American buying power.

They're also getting squeezed because the way proposed to pay for the payroll tax cut extension is a small little increase on millionaires.  But that can't happen because a) it's a tax increase, and b) it's on the 1% or so of the people that the GOP is protecting at all costs so that they can keep every little bit of their millions.

This is intolerable.   (For the GOP, that is.)

Faced with intolerability, the GOP has decided to punish the President, and human society in general, by trying to force the President to sign a fast-track for  the Keystone pollution-importing, climate-damaging tar sands oil pipeline.  They want to make the President veto it, so that they can claim that the President isn't interested in creating jobs (even if they are unsustainable jobs in the climate-damaging energy industry) and that he was the one that blocked the payroll tax cut extension, rather than their holier-than-thou selves.   [Oh yeah, and they also want to roll back pollution regulations and make a few spending cuts while they're at it.]

Because this is utterly bodacious politicking, we can see through all the holes in this tactic.  For once it would be frigging refreshing if the GOP would do something for the good of the country rather than try to twist every possible situation into something that might possible make it harder for Obama to get reelected.  If they really wanted to gain friends in the independent middle class (and that represents a lot of voters), tax the millionaires, pass the extension, and see what happens.  I'll bet, except for the Tea Party howlin' Jims, that this would actually go down well politically on a lot of fronts. But don't tell that to the lame old men in the Senate and the House who  claim to have been elected for the good of the American people.

Because they're only in it for themselves.  And their millionaire cronies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ashley Greene south of the border

The hottest actress in the Twilight series, Ashley Greene, appears in Esquire's Mexico edition.  Below is my choice for the best picture in the article, with her doing the "sexy senorita" pose.  

Ashley Grene  [sic] in Esquire Mexico

If you didn't see this; Lindsey Vonn laps the field

Lindsey Vonn uncorked an incredible downhill run, winning by nearly two seconds in a sport that is usually decided my a couple tenths.

 Lindsey Vonn wins Lake Louise downhill

After seeing her training regimen in the "Lindsey Vonn:  In the Moment" documentary, I can understand how she's capable of something like this.  But it's still pretty amazing to actually witness her dominance.

He's a clown, he's a clown

Early on in the short history of this blog  I skewered Nils Axel-Morner.  But  not very well. 

In the following, Mark Lynas and George Monbiot do it WELL.

 The Spectator runs false sea-level claims on its cover

Here's an example excerpt:
"Mörner also claims in the Spectator article to speak on behalf of the INQUA (the International Union for Quaternary Research) commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, whose members he says are "the world's true experts on sea level" – as opposed to the IPCC, which he asserts has "hijacked and distorted" the data. Mörner was indeed president of this commission until 2003. However, as documented by the Carbon Brief, INQUA now clearly dissociates itself from Mörner's views. Current president of the INQUA commission on Coastal and Marine Processes, Professor Roland Gehrels of the University of Plymouth, says his view do not represent 99% of its members, and the organisation has previously stated that it is "distressed" that Mörner continues to falsely "represent himself in his former capacity."

Truer now than then

This is how Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain  described the climate policy challenge in  2005 and, if anything, his statement is more germane now given prospects for prolonged  international financial ills:

“The blunt truth about the politics of climate change  is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.”

And this will hold true until such time that it becomes clear that the risks to the  economy have become so great that action needs to be taken on climate change -- at which time it will be too late.

Late news from Durban is that countries have agreed to limit carbon emissions (CO2) starting in 2020 -- which is eight years too late.  But not one country is willing to sacrifice any tiny bit of its economy, until imminent danger looms.  

Bottom line:   we, collectively as humanity, and the Earth we live on, are in trouble for a host of different reasons.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comet fly-in, fly-by, and maybe break-up

In case you haven't heard, next week (just after the total lunar eclipse that I am not longitudinally privileged to witness) a sungrazing comet is going to graze the Sun.  According to the following article, we can watch the SOHO observations as-it-happens:

Sun-grazing Comet Lovejoy flies by the Sun

I was really impressed in this article when they said that at top speed, these sungrazing comets are moving at more than a million miles per hour.

This picture is of Ikeya-Seki, mentioned in the article.  Comet Lovejoy is not expected to be this bright;  but we can hope.

Their kids are going to be so ugly

Retired rugby player Thom Evans and his girlfriend, the icon of curvaceousnes Kelly Brook, make a very fine looking couple:

So, the saying goes, they won't have gorgeous kids.  I'm not sure I believe that.

Current research says (not sure if I believe this, either) that good-looking couples are more likely to have attractive daughters than attractive sons.

Beautiful people have more daughters

I told you so (China pollution)

When someone is doing some kind of behavior that is bothering you, the first natural reaction is to ask them to stop, hopefully politely.  If that doesn't work, then the next step  is commonly to complain to them more vigorously, or attempt to find a way to make the person stop what they're doing.  (Like calling security, or the authorities).  If that route wasn't available, the next step after complaining and stronger appeals to desist  might be physical force. 

The aggravation factor might be compounded if the person doing the annoying thing isn't aware of it, or worse, IS aware of it but either denies that it's annoying, or doesn't admit that it's as annoying as you find it.  That perception can lead to real disagreements and a real downside to any action that the offendee might make on the offender.

Of course, if there's a way to escape being influenced by the behavior, then that's a good way to go.  But what if there wasn't?

Take as a somewhat gross example that you are unfortunately sitting next to  someone on a bus who is regularly and strongly passing very odoriferous intestinal gas.  You could ask them to stop, but they might not be able to.  You could complain to  them and hope they'd get off, get some Gas-X, and get on a different bus.  If the  bus wasn't crowded, you could try to move away from them.  But how would you feel if you got to the point where you just flat out told them how obviously awful it was (which could have several backup passenger attestations), and they said either:

"Oh, just get used to it, it's not that bad," or
"So what, it's bad, what are you going to do about it?" or
"You gotta a problem with me?  It's a free country," etc.

You and the other affected passengery would probably be ticked off at the offender's lack of awareness, sensitivity, and politeness.  There is obviously a reasonable solution to someone really offensive and really unaware/obstinate about it, which would be to escort them off the bus.  Might take a few people to do it.  Which at a certain level is something that the gassy offender should have taken upon to do themselves -- get off and walk, before precipitating a conflict.

Well, right now the citizenry of China reminds me of passengers on a bus trapped breathing the emanations of a wealthy gassy person on a bus who is trying to  get them to live with it by passing out small amounts of money.  Even though  the money is good, the citizens are getting more and more fed up with the situation, particularly because the person passing the gas still doesn't admit it's becoming
a serious problem.  So these people are complaining that the person really has to be aware that he's offending them so badly, and do something, like get off the bus or change his/her diet.

With that introduction, read the following:

"Competitor Tencent's weibo users' posts on pollution generated a whopping 68 million  comments, boosting the topic to the fourth most-discussed of the day.

Some linked the toxic air to other hot issues of the day, such as a manhunt for the  bomber of a bank in central China, or a yoghurt drink made by Coca Cola that was  deliberately poisoned, killing one.

"The bank explosion in Wuhan, poisoned milk in Changchun, serious air pollution  in Beijing... Can we live or not? Or is it that I pay too much attention to the  dark side of society?" web user Gaiyong wrote."

Weibo user "T_maoyangshenghuo" reacted angrily at comments from the spokesperson  of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau saying the smog in Beijing caused  "slight pollution" over the last two days.

"Beijing citizens are speechless. Where is the serious pollution? In the brain of  the spokesperson?" the message said.

and also this:

"For a quarter of the year, we can't see beyond 500 metres (yards) and the government  shamelessly declares that air quality is good," said one critic on Sina's weibo,  a hugely popular microblog. "Can't they tell us the truth?"

So the Chinese people are ticked off, and one of the things ticking them off is that the government isn't admitting the seriousness of the problem.  I have often  stated that China's environmental problems will lead to civil unrest.  And the tone of these responses to the irritation, health effects, and disruption is that they're getting ticked off enough to consider throwing the Chinese government off the bus.

And if that happens, watch out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cheryl Cole puts weight back on, apparently in the right places

I haven't had a chance to say much about the adorable Cheryl Cole since the U.S. X-Factor fiasco. Despite admiring other beauties, Cheryl is still highly appealing to my sensual sensibilities.

So to read that she's put some womanly curves back on her frame suits me just fine. And even though Derek Hough finally got fed up with Dimples' indecision, I think if he's somewhere reading this, he must have released a soft exclamation, such as "Oh God..." '

The curves are back, well and truly. I’ve got my boobs and bum back and, yeah, I like it. I think it’s sexy. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Romney has a Tea Party problem

I focus on what I still know to be a problem. Gingrich is the current GOP flavor of the month, but I'm starting to sense a potentially brokered convention (even though most opinion is that the rules make that very, very unlikely). But if it happens, it'll be in Florida. And that leads to the nightmare scenario which I plan to describe shortly.

Here's what E.J. Dionne said:  (A GOP Presidential circus that's steeped in tea)


"Yet Romney still can’t take off, and a lot of ink and online pixels have been spent trying to explain why. I see four factors holding Romney back. That he is a flip-flopper is no longer a charge by his opponents; it is taken as a given. His refusal to repudiate his Massachusetts health-care plan goes down badly with conservatives. His public personality is, well, stiff and patrician enough that the Internet is now full of videos of Romney’s awkwardness. And he is a Mormon, a problem for some conservative evangelicals."

[He didn't say: five, he's too rich, and that won't play well with a dissatisfied middle, and the Obama campaign is itching to label Romney with the "too-rich-for-you" stamp.]

Really, that much?

U.S. could achieve over $80 billion in lower energy costs by focusing on safer renewable energy

I, certainly echoing others and not forming my opinion independently, have always thought that we could, collectively, do a much better job on energy efficiency. The linked article, despite discounting the need for continuing investment in nuclear power (I don't think the goals are fully achievable, but they are good goals nonetheless), describes what energy efficiency could do for the country thusly:

"Due in part to a significantly increased emphasis on energy efficiency, power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2020 would fall 25 percent below 2010 levels; by 2050, such pollution would be 81 percent below 2010 levels. Under status quo trends, CO2 emissions would grow 28 percent from current levels by 2050."

If those numbers are achievable, it will take uniform will from the populace to get there. But we should.

Good news from the baseball Hall of Fame

The veterans' committee of the Baseball HoF has elected superior Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who died last year from complications of diabetes after losing both legs to the disease. Not only was Santo statistically sound as a Hall-of-Famer, he played loyally on a team that never made the playoffs the whole time he was on it, and I don't think that he played on any other teams. A very, very deserving choice.

Late Cubs star Ron Santo elected to Hall of Fame by veterans' committee

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have GOP arch conservatives overplayed their hand on the payroll tax?

It's been obvious for most of this Congressional session that the insensible, intractable, implacable, immovable, irrevocable GOP conservatives have been running the show.   The have also been running their leadership, throwing useful compromise positions worked out by their leadership onto the fire, and in so doing perplexing that same leadership.  The number of times that John Boehner backtracked his positions so that they finally aligned with the Tea Party's ideological pinings was apalling.   Mitch McConnell didn't have quite those obstacles to deal with, but he was an obstacle himself, declaring that some negotiating positions that the Democrats thought were good starting points were dead on arrival even before they had left the station!

But the GOP conservatives may have outsmarted and outflanked themselves on the payroll tax cut extension that they rejected a few days ago.   One angle is that they did this to maintain poor economic conditions, because the vast majority of economists agree that reinstating the payroll tax will cause a reduction in economic growth and a likely maintenance of high unemployment, two factors that will influence President Obama's reelection chances negatively.  Never mind the fact that doing this is bad for the country.  Another angle is that they are so beholden to their wealthy campaign donors and their ideological positions that they cannot abandon those positions even if it becomes obvious that they're favoring the rich over the middle class and those lower than that. 

So by rejecting the payroll tax extension, bugging Boehner and McConnell in the process (this was mainly a Senate thing), they hand the Dems a beautiful campaign issue, gift wrapped in time for Christmas. Maybe they won the day, but this could definitely turn into a turning point for Dem prospects in 2012.

So thanks for that, GOP, and especially you Tea Party folks.

Why Dems think they’re on offensive after payroll tax cut failure

 Dems intend to relentlessly frame their message around this idea: They want government to act to restore the middle class’s security and future, while Republicans are implacably and ideologically hostile towards any such government action, particularly if it means the wealthy have to sacrifice anything in the process. Dems are gambling that the public’s grasp of this basic difference in priorities between the parties will overcome the GOP’s argument that Obama’s economic policies have failed and continuing public unhappiness with Obama over chronic economic suffering.

Payroll Tax Cut Extension Rejected In Senate Vote  

"Tonight's votes highlight a sharp contrast between the two parties: Democrats voted to put more money in the pockets of the middle class families who need it most, while Republicans would only support a bill that exacts a price from middle class workers while protecting the wealthiest Americans," Murray, the fourth-ranking Democrat, said.
which also has this:

President Barack Obama released his own statement to hammer the middle class message that's emerging as a key theme of his campaign.
        "Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share," he said. "That is unacceptable. It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet."
 There's a sports saying about teams in pennant races controlling their own destiny.  With this rejection of the payroll tax extension, the GOP lost quite a bit of their control.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kelly Brook models New Look dresses (and more)

Kelly Brook, who has a body that was born to model lingerie (and this is something that she has done well and often, along with the occasional nude shot), can also model clothes.   Even though she's not with Ultimo anymore (that's currently being fronted . . . by the extraordinary Luisana Lopilato, who I am going to write more about soon), she is with New Look.  She has her name on and her body in New Look swimwear, and now New Look dresses.  And the thing about Kelly that makes her so appealing, other than the obvious, is that she can look great in swimwear and when she turns the glamor on, she can look great in high society wear, too.

Kelly Brook sizzles in sequins as she models New Look's hot new party dresses - and there's something for every budget

Kelly in stripey swimwear

Kelly in shiny short dress

Speaking of lingerie, here's Kelly's 2012 calendar, in which she is in lingerie every month.  There certainly isn't anything wrong with that.  March is my favorite, but November is very darned appealing as well.   I also think she might have been a little bit pregnant when these were shot.  I don't know if this is New Look lingerie or not, but she's represented them before.

Kelly Brook's 2012 lingerie calendar

Big yellow diamond sold for $10.9 mil

I"m somewhat fascinated by the biggest of the world's diamonds, so when the 110 carat yellow Sun Drop diamond went on sale at Sotheby's, I noticed.  It sold to an anonymous buyer for $10.9 million dollars, which is not chump change.  The shame of that is, we might never see it again.  The buyer OUGHT to put it on display in a museum or jewelry store somewhere.

The Sun Drop