Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't tell the kids - chocolate might really be good for you

A recently published study (funded by the Mars candy company) has scientifically shown why some of the chemicals in chocolate are good for us.

When the kids are asking for that third chocolate bar, make sure they don't know about this.

Recent study by Mars underscores health benefits of cocoa flavanols

More on Chinese cadmium pollution scare

Seems that the Chinese government was motivated to arrest some polluters after they (and other factories) dumped toxic cadmium in a river.  It appears that the government is getting the message that if they don't take action against polluters, the public will take action against THEM.

China detains seven over river pollution scandal

"China has detained seven company executives after suspected industrial waste discharges polluted a river with toxic cadmium, threatening drinking supplies for millions, state media said Tuesday.

The discharges have contaminated a 100-kilometre (60-mile) stretch of the Longjiang River in the southern region of Guangxi, sparking panic buying of bottled water in nearby cities, the official China Daily reported.

Jinhe Mining Co. has been blamed for dumping cadmium -- a carcinogen which can seriously damage the kidneys, bones and respiratory system -- into the river, in a spill that was discovered on January 15. But the government has decided to widen the crackdown to go after other polluters, inspecting more than a dozen factories on the river and stopping production at seven plants.

Feng Zhennian, a local environment official, told reporters that seven executives from companies deemed responsible for polluting the river had been taken into custody, the state-run Xinhua news agency said late Monday."

Unfortunately for the polluters, the likeliest outcome in this situation for them, whether we like it or not, is execution. That's a little harsh in my book, but maybe not in the eyes of the people who want some action.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The state of Pains

I really like "Royal Pains", but one of the reasons to like it is Jill Flint (who plays Jill Casey), and they're really underutilizing her.  There should be more angst and more airtime in the Hank/Jill relationship.  And there aren't enough hot pictures of her online. 

Plus, whatever happened to Campbell Scott (Boris)?  Has his new baby and life-threatening genetic unexplained illness been forgotten?  Or is just taking it easy in Cuba?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Epochal tennis at Laver Arena

OK, I'm disappointed for Maria Sharapova - again.  Another 1st-timer denies her the completeness of the comeback.  So now we'll have to see if the mercurial Serena Williams re-establishes her dominance again, or if the next few singles Slams for the women are a game of musical chairs, where about the only good predication I could make is that the last name of the winner will likely end in -a, probably -ova. 

But my God, the Murray-Djokovic semi and the Nadal-Djokovic final were tennis for the ages.  And both times Novak started down the barrel of defeat and refused to wilt.  EVEN though I'm still pulling for Andy Murray to breakthrough the Big 3 and get his first one (Wimbledon would be the best, even if Scotland is making noises about exiting the U.K.), Djokovic was truly amazing to come out on top of both those amazing matches.  Wow.

Another pollution crisis in China

OK, so it's just cadmium, an extremely toxic metal.  But this is another example of the dangers of the Chinese industrial complex running amok with little environmental regulation, sparking panic and fear in the public.

Thank the Lord that couldn't happen in the United States, because we've got the EPA looking out for us, with the force of LAW backing them up.

Nobody in politics would want to change that, would they?

Pollution sparks panic water buying in China

"Authorities found waste discharged into the Longjiang river by the Jinhe Mining Co caused excessive levels of cadmium some three times the government's accepted limit, the official Xinhua news agency said."

but no problem because

"However, Liuzhou officials said water quality in the area was "safe". Over the past week, firefighters had dumped chemicals aimed at neutralising the cadmium into the river.

According to the World Health Organization cadmium is a carcinogen which can seriously damage the kidneys, bones and respiratory system. It has several industrial applications, ranging from steel to batteries.

Three decades of rapid economic growth and lax enforcement of environmental protection laws have caused most waterways in China to be heavily contaminated with toxic waste from factories and farms."
No, OBVIOUSLY we wouldn't want to change the environmental protection laws in the U.S.


Zahia Dehar wears petals

It takes a heck of body -- truly -- to pull this one off.

Zahia Dehar possesses one.

Now, who gets to pull this off?

Zahia in Paris haute couture

The usual suspects ride again

BREAKING: Sixteen prominent scientists say that global warming is nothing to worry about!

Let's see who they are:

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

Richard Lindzen is a well-known U.S. skeptic who has had numerous papers refuted;  Harrison Schmitt has forgotten the geoscience he learned at Harvard and is a sell-out to oil and gas industries;  Will Happer has published stuff that has been blasted as heavily erroneous;  Burt Rutan is totally not a scientist;  and all these guys have been over-utilized again and again by the skeptical side to try and lend false legitimacy to pseudoscience.   I think daily for the next two weeks I'll post links about each of them.

Claude Allegre:  French climategate ends in sceptics humiliation

And then I'm going to write a letter to Harrison Schmitt.

That was too close

Britsh TV Host, actress, and Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden had second baby (following a stillbirth), and almost lost her life due to heavy hemorrhaging. Fortunately, the medical staff was able to pull her through, and now she and her husband can just simply be new parents.
Amanda Holden 'Fought For Her Life' After Childbirth

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dang that's a nice graph

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrates that El Niño years are warm years, and La Niña years are cold years, and both of them are getting warmer.  Like 2011 was, the warmest La Niña year ever.

More on this later.

Oh Mize, 1, 2, and 3

Oh My 1:  Vanessa Hudgens has some bikini trouble

Oh My 2:  Former call girl Zahia Dehar is a runway fashion model (previously got French soccer players in trouble when she was with them, and underage)

Oh My 3:  Jennifer Love Hewitt wears lingerie real well

Oh my yes.

Maria Sharapova, comeback kid

OK, I thought it was over for Maria when Kvitova broke her in the third game of the third set. But she's a battler -- and after I turned it off in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sharapova broke right back, and finished it off by breaking Kvitova in the final game to take the match. She didn't play great, and will probably need to play better to beat Azarenka in the final.

Beyond her looks, which are obviously appealing (see below) I'm following Maria because she's a comeback story. She could have just packed it in when the shoulder injury happened, and relied on her looks to get her through the rest of her life comfortably. But she didn't. She rehabbed, altered her serve, and got back into top-rank tennis shape -- WHICH ISN'T EASY. Her comeback is already a success, but to truly be complete, to have her not perceived as a short-lived phenom with three Grand Slam titles, she needs at least one more. Kvitova surprised her at Wimbledon, I think -- I hope she's ready for a hungry-for-my-first-one Azarenka. Just like Agassi who fought back from injury and came back and won Slams (including eventually the French, in a come-from-behind win in the final), comeback stories are admirable.

Now, there may be plenty of comeback stories we don't hear about if the players don't win a championship -- and those are admirable too -- but in the case of both Agassi and Sharapova, they could have quit and rested on their accomplishments to that date, and called it a career, and NOT put in the time and effort and sweat equity required to get back to the top. To their credit, they did.

About her looks. I was watching the match and how she prepares for each point, with her back to the court. This allows a full appreciation of her most femininely appealing rump, in a short tennis skirt. And it is VERY appealing. So I did a little searching and found a couple other pictures that are indicative of her bottom beauty. (Due to running and overall fitness, many female athletes have attractive derrieres. Is it any surprise that the long and leggy Maria has one too? I certainly hope not.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a solar storm looks like

When the charged protons from the Sun hit the SOHO detector, it snows.

Hilarie Burton on 'Castle'

I knew that I'd seen the lead guest actress on 'Castle', but she looked so much different from her "One Tree Hill" character, I had to go to IMdB to  figure out who it was.  Hilarie Burton with long, brunette-highlighted hair.

Still had the great smile, of course.

I could not imagine better news!

If there is a glimmer of hope for overfishing, it's the realization of how badly the barbaric practice of shark finning hurts both shark populations and the ocean environment.  For whatever reason, Asian people are no longer enamored of shark fin soup.  Praise the Deity!

Asia loses its taste for shark fin

"The younger generation has specifically been very aware of the issue and been stepping away from using shark fin... In the long term it will be a natural progression anyway."

In Hong Kong -- the top shark-fin trading centre, handling about 50 percent of the global trade -- conservationists lauded Peninsula Hotels group's decision two months ago to similarly ditch the dish."
Now, if we could just get Japan to lose its taste for bluefin tuna, we'd really be making progress.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This seaweed idea might really work

In some places, there's lots of seaweed.  Add a few of the right nutrients to the right areas, add sunlight, and the stuff grows like the proverbial weed.   So if seaweed could turn into a biofuel crop, that could be a wedge in the battle against the CO2 dilemma.

So now we've got news of a bacterium that can digest seaweed and turn it directly into ethanol.  That is a potential gamebreaker.

Seaweed study fuels bioenergy enthusiasm

"When the team fed alginate to their engineered E. coli, the microbes pumped out ethanol, the researchers report in the Jan. 20 Science. The system yields 80 percent of the theoretical maximum amount of ethanol for a given amount of biomass, the scientists noted, and with further tweaking will probably be even more efficient."

Add more widespread deployment of nuclear power for domestic and industrial energy use, and then we might have something workable.

Now I've got two - scratch that, one - reasons to stay up late this week

Maria Sharapova waxed Sabine Lisicki at the Australian (tennis) Open, moving her at least to another match on Wednesday against unseeded Makarova (who's got some thunder, becuz she beat Serena Williams).   So I thought that I'd be able to watch her play again, as well as Caroline Wozniacki.  I didn't count on the skill and competitiveness of a slightly gimpy Kim Clijsters.   Darn.  I really like watching Wozniacki ... play.  And about the only chance I get is during majors, and she hasn't got one yet.

If the seeds go as seeded, then we'll have a Wimbledon rematch on tap in the semis.  I'd stay up for THAT.

I now detest John Boehner as a person, not just as a politician

John Boehner's spineless wimpishness in the face of the childish behavior of the Tea Party caucus has been at turn nauseating, other times repugnant.  But still, for most of the time, I felt that he was a dedicated public servant in a very tough place.  Some of his public pronouncements made me upset, and at other times it was obvious that he was lying, but I still felt that it was the perils of the position he inherited.   I still thought he respected the position he was in.

I no longer do.  His disrespectful parody of the State of the Union address, an important public occasion, pushed me over the edge.  He's a friggin' jerk.  Though I don't know him personally, I don't need to.  I detest the man. 

John Boehner State of the Union spoof

John Boehner:  State of the Union address may be 'pathetic'

Boehner said it sounds to him like "the same old policies" of more spending, taxes and regulations that have hurt the economy.

The Ohio Republican told "Fox News Sunday" that if that's what Obama is going to talk about, then "I think it's pathetic."

In the interview, Boehner also hinted that he may link the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to the payroll tax cut extension. "Every option is on the table. We are going to do everything we can to try to make sure that this Keystone pipeline is, in fact, approved," he said. When pressed by Chris Wallace on whether he would "link" the pipeline to the payroll tax cut, he replied, "We may. But as I said, all options are on the table."
See what I mean?  How can anyone respect this jerk?

Go, Newt, GO!

Can Romney the turnaround artist do it again?

"But Sunday morning, from coast to coast, Republican candidates for Congress, governorships and other offices awakened to a sobering thought: They could be running next autumn with Gingrich — whose current approval rating nationally in a Jan. 12-14 Fox News and Opinion Dynamics poll was 27 percent favorable, 56 percent unfavorable — atop the ticket."

Hard to think of a better reason to support Gingrich for the Republican nomination for President, isn't it?  Thanks, George Will.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Perspective is everything

Every now and then the Cassini spacecraft that's touring the Saturnian system finds a really unique perspective for an image.  This latest example is from the close flyby of Dione (the moon in front).  Other moons and rings are beyond Dione.  Shots like this keep bringing back to me that this  place is REAL.

Hard to believe

It truly is hard to believe that the New Horizons spacecraft is only three years away from Pluto encounter.  I remember when they weren't sure if they could build and launch it on time.

Just a three year cruise left before Pluto flyby

It launched in 2006. 

Sorry to hear this about Marc Morano's dad

We certainly don't agree on climate, but I was saddened to find out that climate change skeptic extraordinaire Marc P. Morano's  father died recently.  He was a prominent lawyer and a World War II vet, who received the Purple Heart for action  in the Battle of the Bulge.

Here's the full obituary:

Carl J. Morano, 87, a Washington lawyer who specialized in criminal cases and traffic cases, died Nov. 20 at Avalon House, an assisted-living facility in McLean.

He had Parkinson’s disease, his son Thomas J. Morano said.

Mr. Morano had a solo law practice in Washington for 50 years before retiring in 2004.

Carl Joseph Morano was born in Scranton, Pa. He served in the Army during World War II and participated in the Battle of the Bulge in Europe. He received the Purple Heart.

He graduated in 1951 from Catholic University law school.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion.  He was a McLean resident until moving to Avalon House two months  before his death.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Leonore Leone Morano of  McLean; six children, Carl Morano of Belleville, N.J., Thomas J. Morano of McLean, Laura Jones of Vienna, William Morano of Sterling, Lisa Weber of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Marc P. Morano of Manassas;
and nine grandchildren.

My condolences to the Morano family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Most popular freebie candidates

The following links to a 1:01 video about the top 10 females that men would like to cheat with, if they had the crazy chance to do so.  Katy Perry was #1, and #10 was --- Sarah Palin?   They asked 25,000 men, supposedly, and obviously they didn't ask enough liberal Democrats.

What celebs would your man cheat on you with?

Gotta agree on one of the 10 -- the luscious Latina, Salma Hayek.

No longer the most dangerous man in America - for now

Okay dokay, I was wrong-ay about Rick Perry.  I thought given the Tea Party momentum that Governor Good Hair was a rock solid lock for the GOP Presidential nomination.  Thank God and Tebow that I was wrong.   He dropped out of the race and endorsed Newt Gingrich.  Which leads me to the two tweets that I'm going to tweet tomorrow, but here's a preview:

#Dem dream scenario: Part 1 - Gingrich wins SC, battles Romney all the way to #GOP convention, forcing Mitt far right, but loses.

#Dem dream scenario: Pt. 2 - Romney runs for POTUS, repudiates positions taken vs. Gingrich, #TeaParty drops him #GOP stay home like '08.

Now, there is one clear scenario that's still possible.  If (and probably when) Romney gets the nomination, he's going to need a Vice Presidential candidate on the ticket.  Caveman Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has been suggested, and he's got the definitive right wing and evangelical credentials (even a link to Pat Roberts).  Not a bad choice, and he hasn't been seen looking like a fool in recent debates, either.  But Rick Perry also has those credentials.   Having Perry provides the ticket with heavy right wing weight, as well as potentially reassuring the evangelical Christians who I know are going to still have a hard time voting for the heretical Mormon Presidential candidate.  So maybe they will think that with a professing Christian as a VP, there'd at least be a chance for a conversion.  And of course God could then take a hand in matters, as has happened before for Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.  And in Texas a lot of those guys can hit what they aim at.    Oh yeah, didn't Perry have a hunting ranch?

Food for thought.  If you like indigestion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

China realizes the risks of climate change

The Chinese government has released a new report indicating that they are starting to get the threat that climate change poses to their populace -- not to mention their own internal stability.  Because if the people are getting sick from pollution and aren't getting fed due to pollution, they're going to blame someone.  And if they end up blaming the government that encouraged all the businesses that generated all the pollution, then that government is going to be in TROUBLE.

China report spells out 'grim' climate change risks

Water, either too much or too little, lies at the heart of how that warming could trip up China's budding prosperity.

"Climate change will lead to severe imbalances in China's water resources within each year and across the years. In most areas, precipitation will be increasingly concentrated in the summer and autumn rainy seasons, and floods and droughts will become increasingly frequent," says the report.

"Without effective measures in response, by the latter part of the 21st century, climate change could still constitute a threat to our country's food security," it says.

That's why, I think, that the window is budging open regarding getting China (and hopefully India) to sign on to real climate change action.  And that action can begin real soon:

Slashing global warming by 2050:  a 12-step program (from NASA)

Here are 2 of my favorite points:

Make Fuel and Vehicle Standards More Stringent

Many cars around the world, but especially in Africa and Asia, lack particle filters or access to clean burning fuels. Shindell’s team calculated that upgrading the world’s fleet to comply with current European standards would reduce black carbon emissions by 18 percent.

Compost Biodegradable Garbage

If we universally separated out compostable material from landfills, the amount of methane produced by them—currently about 22 percent of all human sources of methane—would be reduced.  (And though they don't say it, you could also use this stuff as a biofuel feedstock.)

Ashley Greene reps DKNY

Ashley Greene, about whom I have opined is one of the most beautiful actresses we've been blessed with in a long time, is representing DKNY's spring collection.  The results are outstanding.  First link has a short video that's worth a watch or two.

Spring is here

Stepping into a fashion fairy tale: Ashley Greene floats into spring in delicate pink dress for new DKNY campaign

Inquiring minds may never know

Since I am unlikely to ever know someone with them, I'm asking these questions at large -

a) do nipple piercings make the nipples more sensitive?

b) if the answer to a is yes, does it enhance the enjoyment of nipple stimulation?

c) will the nipples still function for breastfeeding if the piercings are removed? (I think yes, because there are milk ducts in the areola, but I don't know)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I read this tweet, and got REALLY mad

The tweet:

@NatGeoChannel National Geographic
Just announced: Wicked Tuna coming this Spring - high stakes bluefin tuna fishing,  inspired by the characters of The Perfect Storm #tca12

Here's my original note of comment:
Tuna fishing should not be presented as anything other than leading to  extinction.  It should not be glorified and those that do it, even though I know they are hard-working men and women, should not be made into celebrities or heroes.

But still I didn't get it.  The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC channel?  From a magazine that has brought us stunning documentation of the splendors of the eroding natural world and nature treasures of the world?  A magazine that glorified naturalists protecting endangered species?

And then I read this, and got even angrier:

National Geographic Channel, In Race for Bottom, Adds Killing Endangered Species to New Season Entertainment Lineup by Carl Safina
It seems almost like the scenario of a post-apocalyptic surrealist satire, unimaginable just a few years back: National Geographic Channel has been bought out by Fox, is "joint-venturing" with the disgraceful and disgraced Rupert Murdoch, and creating programmes to push Bull O'Reilly's tomes. And, well -- National Geographic Channel will be killing endangered species for entertainment.

They've just announced the new unscripted show: Wicked Tuna.

The first word that comes to mind is:  boycott.  And I will be writing in.  Indignantly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Hunley in full view

The Confederate submarine Hunley has finally been put on full view after years of preservation efforts.   It's a pretty amazing recovery for a sub that was found buried in the sediments of Charleston Harbor with only a little bit of its top hatch sticking out.

Pictured for the first time since the Civil War: Confederate submarine finally revealed after being buried at sea for 150 years

Great idea for lionfish control

Great idea!  More dive shops should join in.  After all, a healthy reef is in  their best interests.

Grand Cayman dive operator offers free scuba diving to hunt lionfish

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yeah, probably true

New research indicates that most people want to date a good-looking person, even if they say looks don't matter that much.

Unconsciously, everyone wants to date a hottie

"People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner," study researcher Eli Finkel, of Northwestern University, said in a statement. "But study after study shows that those preferences don't predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners. Now we can get under the hood with this quirky methodology to see what people actually prefer in live-interaction settings."

 It all hearkens back to mate choices and fertility.   Good-looking should mean good genes, and that's what our unconscious selves REALLY want, a mate that will produce hearty and healthy offspring.  And all the indicators of fecundity and fertility rate high on the attractiveness scale. 

Something like this, considering it from the male perspective:

Lack of water is GOOD news?

Texas Drought:  Power grid concerns Senate Democrats

"But senators heard testimony from state utility authorities who said part of  the problem is that energy is currently so inexpensive to produce in Texas that there is little incentive to improve infrastructure and make energy generation more efficient to guard against shortfalls sparked by water shortages.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said the continued lack of rainfall poses serious concerns "about the ability to keep the lights on" in the short term and that things will only get more complicated in the future. He said Texas should have a contingency plan for coping with future energy needs similar to the $16 million it spends on a long-term water plan it produces every five years."

A clear example of how the infrastructure of civilization is intimately  interconnected with climate.

Now, since Governor Rick Perry thinks that climate change is all a scam cooked up by scientists who want to get research grant money, he probably won't propose to do a thing about this.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Excerpts from the Dave Barry end-of-year review

Excerpts with humor and some politically-telling commentary from Dave Barry's latest end-of-year review:

"In Washington, Congress is under mounting pressure to do something about the  pesky federal debt, which continues to mount as a result of the fact that the government continues to spend insanely more money than it actually has. Congress, after carefully weighing its three options — stop spending so
much money; get some more money somehow; or implement some combination of options one and two — decides to go with option four: continue to do  nothing while engaging in relentlessly hyperpartisan gasbaggery. Incredibly, this does not solve the debt problem."

"Standard & Poor’s makes good on its threat to downgrade the U.S. credit rating, noting that the federal government, in making fiscal decisions, is exhibiting “the IQ of a turnip.”

"Meanwhile on the Republican side, Herman Cain surges to the top of the pile with his “9-9-9” plan, which combines the quality of being easy to remember with the quality of being something that nobody thinks will ever actually happen. Seeking to regain momentum, Rick Perry also comes out with a tax
plan, but he can remember only the first two nines. Adding spice to the mix, Mitt Romney unexpectedly exhibits a lifelike facial expression but is quickly subdued by his advisers."

"Meanwhile, in a vindication for the Department of Homeland Security, alert passengers aboard a United Airlines flight foil an apparent terrorist attack when they subdue a man attempting to deep-fry a turkey in economy class. After the plane makes an emergency landing, the man is removed by  federal agents, who confirm that he was carrying not only cranberry sauce, but “enough stuffing to choke a buffalo.”

The wonders of the Afar

Some remarkable pictures of activity in the Afar Depression

First time I've heard Africa had geysers.  I wonder how many?  Well, let's see at the following Web site:


So there's a few of them. North America (by virtue of Yellowstone) has a lot more geysers, but Africa has two active lava lakes, and right now a fire-fountaining cone, and if you count the Red Sea, a Surtsey-type marine eruption.  And occasional massive outbreaks of lava.

Geysers and flamingos -- you won't see that in North America

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thanks to the Huffington Post

Major kudos to the HuffingtonPost for starting a Science section.  Much needed.


Humanity to the stars

Long-term plan for the long-term survival of the human race, somewhere other than this solar system

Female skipper chosen to lead 100-year project to go beyond the solar system
With the money in the bank, Jemison's group, the Houston-based Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, now has to take on the challenge of building a programme that can last 100 years which hopefully will result in a starship.
I saw this, and without reading it, remembered several of the "gen-ship" stories that I'd read about in science fiction. The vast output of global resources that would be required is beyond comprehension. However, if the human race commits to launching a lifeboat that would allow potential survival to extend beyond this ravaged planet, then it makes sense to start planning. A 100-year timeline seems reasonable. I'm just not sure what shape the human race and the planet will be in 100 years from now.

Not quite extinct, but really hard to find

Using DNA, scientists have discovered that one of the species of Galapagos tortoises once thought extinct probably isn't. 

'Extinct' Galapagos Tortoise Reappears 

'Extinct' for 150 years, an iconic Galápagos giant tortoise species lives

Well, now the next step is to do a 100% complete census of the entire tortoise population, to see if the putative survivors really do exist on the island. That will be one heck of an effort. I hear Earthwatch calling. Still, this is one of those rare opportunities to rediscover a supposedly extinct species -- and possibly save them from extinction. Maybe, just maybe.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Manchester Utd. beats Manchester City

In a Manchester showdown in the FA Cup, Manchester United won 3-2 with two goals from Wayne Rooney, a red card that might not have been deserved on Man City, and a close call in stoppage time on a great free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov.  Good stuff.

Video highlights (but this doesn't have the controversial red card)

Great Mount Etna eruption video

Mount Etna in Sicily had a pretty spectacular short eruption a couple of days ago.  In addition to the fairly routine (but beautiful and fascinating) lava fountains, Etna also launched a few small pyroclastic flows, which is not something it's noted for.   They may have occurred partly due to interaction with newfallen snow.   Whatever the cause, it was quite a display.

Also it's high-definition; looks great at full screen.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gettin' ready for the 'Shameless' premiere

The first season of 'Shameless' was pretty amazing and surprising.  The trailer for the 2nd season makes it looks like it's going to be more of the same crazy ride.  And one reason to watch is the all-out performance by the delectable Emmy Rossum, who in the role manages to be both hot and disturbing -- and that's tough to do.

When Emmy puts on the glam, she's gorgeous:

At the 'Shameless' premiere

Friday, January 6, 2012

On the luckiness of Michael Bublé

OK, let's face it, when it comes to getting, bedding, and occasionally keeping extremely good-looking babes, singers are probably the top-notch babegetters, even ahead of  international soccer stars and National Basketball Association players.  (Many star athletes get star babes, we know).  But there does seem to be somewhat of a difference between the singers and the athletes -- athletes tend to be (though not always) fit, which  is a plus in the looks department, and that would seem to generate some sex appeal
for the ladies.  Many athletes are also reasonably good-looking men.  Combine that with reasonable earning potential (and sometimes unreasonable), and the frequency with which good-looking babes  attend sporting events, this helps to explain the success rate for athletes.

But singers are another breed entirely.  They not only have babes attending their events, they frequently have them swooning in the aisles or tossing their undies on the stage.  Add to that a projected (explicitly or implicitly) romantic attractiveness, and the women just seem to line up to lie down for them.  And looks can be very secondary, though it doesn't hurt to be a good-looking man to get a hot babe.   You just don't have to necessarily be handsome if you've got the pipes and the hips.

There's no way I could make a comprehensive list, so just a few examples here.

Harry Connick Jr. and Jill Goodacre (previous generation Victoria's Secret throb)
Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter (and Rod's NUMEROUS other conquests)
Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova
Eddy Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds
Mick Jagger: Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall
Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson;  Tommy Lee and Heather Locklear
Richie Sambora and Heather Locklear
Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams (Kimberly also dated an athlete, Pete Sampras)
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley
Joe Jonas and Ashley Greene
Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley

Now, to this list, we add Michael Bublé.  He may even have set a new standard. While not unattractive, he's 36 and a bit chunky (even more so recently).   That didn't stop him from getting married to the absolutely lusciously  stunning Luisana Lopilato, 24, who has the added feature of being Latina
Argentinian.  Lopilato is an actress and singer in her own right, and just recently added the title "Lead Underwear Model for Ultimo" to her resume.

She has a wondrous front and a perfect derriere  (though I can't find as many examples of the derriere as I would like).

And she's pretty, and smiles great, and ... well ... she's as hot as they come.

I don't know how long it will last for Bublé and Lopilato -- one always hopes for permanence in these relationships -- but it sure would be fun to tag along on their ride.  If you know what I mean.

The rest of this is mostly going to be about Luisana Lopilato.  I mean,  there are shapes...

and then there are SHAPES.

The aforementioned derriere

Pre-Buble, about 20 years old.

Now, Luisana has never posed completely nude, and now that she's married, there's less of a chance of that.   Unfortunately.  Still, one could hope for a deal that she couldn't refuse.  However, her singing hubby is likely making unreasonable amounts of money, so there's little reason that she'd have to consider a deal she couldn't refuse.  Being such as it is, therefore we can just contemplate her in the glory of lingerie, and think about the glory of the lack of it.

The best video of Luisana modeling lingerie.  Kinda makes me wish I could sing.

Ultimo Christmas lingerie video.  And the bonus is that you get to see her on a bed.  Not nude on a bed, but still, she's on a bed.  There's a better (less grainy) version at Ultimo here.

I also note that Bublé has recently mentioned that he would like to start a family (though he'll wait until his wife is ready).  This is code for the fact that the honeymoon/newlywed frequency of lovemaking has started to slow down, and for Bublé to keep the frequency up, and to have a chance to see and experience his wife Luisana Lopilato nude as much as possible, there has to be a reason to have a scheduled frequency.  So, if I was in his shoes, I'd probably make the same points. 

More on the potential Constitutional crisis

I think the best-case scenario would be a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Prez (and I think that's the likely outcome) prior to the elections.  It would a major slap in the face to the Republicans who are seeking to block the ability of the President to conduct the basic functions of the office via procedural subterfuge.  However,  I expect that the ruling would actually come after the elections, because the conservatives on the SCOTUS wouldn't want to give the Prez this kind of victory.

Obama appointments could trigger court test case
Representing the "blatant abuse of power" side, we have (unsurprisingly) the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, and former Reagan attorney general Ed Meese (from the Heritage Foundation, naturally):
Obama’s recess appointments are unconstitutional
Obama's Reckless Recess Ploy 
Obama's Recess Appointments: An Impeachable Offense?
"Now we have the makings of a banana republic, where the rule of clearly written constitutional law is compromised by a ruler's subjective whim." That's a bit over the top, I think.

Representing the "Senate is blocking Obama's right to appoint people to run the country" side, we have the Huffington Post's Adam Levin, the New York Times with Harvard's Lawrence Tribe, and The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn.

Is Obama's Cordray Appointment Unprecedented? Not By a Longshot 
Games and Gimmicks in the Senate
"In this case, the administration’s focus on the gimmicky nature of pro forma sessions is best understood as one among several factors that combine to present unconstitutional interference with the president’s irreducible power and duty." Seems much more reasonable to me.

Were the Recess Appointments Constitutional? The Case for Yes
"The administration goes on to point out that Obama did not use the recess appointment power to fill every vacancy. He did so only for the new consumer board and the NLRB because, without the appointments, those particular agencies simply could not operate. Here’s what White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler said:
"These appointees were necessary for these government agencies to function. The agencies were created to enforce duly passed laws, the Dodd-Frank Act and the National Labor Relations Act. The president has a constitutional obligation to enforce the laws and to make sure that personnel necessary to enforce the laws are in place. That's the whole point of the recess appointment clause, to make it possible for the president to do that."
I think the Constitution wins when the President wins this one.

News from the Chinese environmental wars

Drought shrinks China's largest freshwater lake

So the Baiji (the Yangtze river dolphin) is extinct, but the finless porpoise still has a chance. Not much of a chance, though, given the environmental pressure it is facing in China.

Yangtze river dolphins under drought threat  (actually, this is about the finless porpoises, NOT the extinct Baiji)

Public pollution unrest DOES work in China:  Beijing to issue new smog data after online outcry
"China has the world's largest online population, with around half a billion web users,  posing a growing challenge to authorities in a country that tightly controls its media.


But the state-run China Daily has said that if PM2.5 were used as China's main standard,  only 20 percent of Chinese cities would be rated as having satisfactory air quality,  against the current 80 percent."

Avatar and Kepler

Wanted:  Habitable moons

So what are they looking for?  Pandora? The Forest Moon of  Endor?   Either one of them would be a nice place to visit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A real Constitutional crisis?

Constitutional crisis? POTUS appoints Cordray to head CFPB with recess appt; but Senate not officially in recess.

"[George W. Bush presidential legal counsel] Bradbury sharply denounced the [pro forma] sessions as “phony,” arguing: “They  serve but one purpose: to prevent the president from exercising his  constitutional authority to make recess appointments.” He urged the  President to call the Senate’s bluff in order to avoid more “gridlock.”

While this shows that Senate Dems also used the “pro forma” tactic, it  also allows the White House to argue that even Bush’s lawyers see it  as a sham and agree that Obama has the power to make such appointments."

This could be real interesting, both as a campaign issue to show that the Republicans have been blocking Obama just for the sake of blocking (and not doing that which is good for the country due to their intentions to block whatever he's doing), and also as an issue of historical significance.  Question:  if Congress does something to subvert the rights of the President to perform his designated duties, does the President have the right to perform his duties, even if in so doing he apparently breaks a Constitutional prohibition?

Yeah, the Supreme Court opinjins on this one could have bona fide entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Deal with climate change now -- everybody but the businessmen moguls agree

Climate change must be addressed now

"To not take climate change seriously, you must somehow believe there is a gigantic international conspiracy involving the world's top scientists, all of whom have agreed to distort their data. Come on. I realize that people on both sides of the political spectrum can twist themselves into pretzels to reach an ideological result, but that's way beyond improbable. I believe that scientists, as they have down through history, are basing their conclusions on unbiased scientific inquiry."

But that's the thing.  Impossible/improbable though it is, skeptics and deniers DO think that it's all a conspiracy to spread socialism throughout the world.  As if, given the way things are going right now, that would actually be bad.  Oh, I know, socialism stifles the competitive urges that give capitalism its impetus.  Well, look what's that gotten us into.  Maybe a dose of "we're all in this together" rather than the current "Every man for himself, and he who dies with the most gold wins" that seems to be the Republican raison d'etre, and we could make the world a better place.

Minka and Derek

OK, first I ask how many couples both have names with a "k" in them? and then I congratulate the Jete on his perceptivity in getting back together with Minka, who is an absolute hard A-list 10.  Even if they're are lots of fish in the sea, Derek, very few of them rate as high as this catch.

Stay hooked.
Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly, dating again

Plus, this gives me an excuse to post a picture of Minka.   (Speaking of which, what's with the initials - Minka Kelly, Miranda Kerr, Mila Kunis;  quite a trio!)

Aristarchus Crater -- incredible zoom capability

Aristarchus Crater, from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

I just found this site, where you can zoom in to boulder resolution  on the surface of the Moon.  It's almost like being there!  Currently on page 6 is a view of the Apollo 17 landing site, entitled "Skimming the Moon".
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera - Browse Gallery

Expansion of Plant Vogtle

Truly excellent news.

Plant Vogtle combined operating license expected

"The $14.8 billion project marks the first new commercial power reactors to be built in the United States in a generation, and is unfolding in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan that raised new questions about nuclear safety and construction standards."


"The Vogtle project also heralds the American debut of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, a new design that features a cooling reservoir above the reactor vessel that can be fed into the unit by gravity in the event of an emergency.  Because other proposed nuclear expansions in the U.S. will use the same design, the Vogtle project has been designated as the NRC’s official “reference site” for future AP1000 construction."

Monday, January 2, 2012

GRAIL in orbit

In case you missed this news while partying in the New Year, the Moon has two new satellites.

NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft reunite in lunar orbit

The gravity maps will be interesting, but I can't wait for the first MoonKAM image.

A guide to Amy Childs

In a previous post I mentioned that reality show starlet (?) from Britain Amy Childs is a model for Ultimo lingerie, and possesses the requisite mammarian attributes to represent them quite attractively.   Well, if you want to know pretty much all you need to know about Amy Childs, here it is:

Amy Childs, bra queen

In a couple of these pictures she has a slight Brittany Murphy resemblance.

Oh, and she also has a 2012 calendar.  I'll have to see if I can locate that.  And she has also posed nude, though not quite nude enough, in my opinion.  But her bottom is brilliant, as they might say in the UK.

Top of the Premier upset on New Year's weekend

Both Manchester City and Manchester United lost over the weekend, Manchester City in the 92nd minute when they could have gone three points ahead.  Chelsea, still eight back of the leaders, almost tied but got a late goal from Frank Lampard on an Ashley Cole cross.  But Chelsea had previously lost 3-1 to Aston Villa.  It's almost unheard of for the top teams in the Premier League to all lose in the same weekend.

Also, Peter Crouch (married to the wondrous Abbey) scored two for Stoke City.

Match summaries:

Aston Villa 3, Chelsea 1

Wolverhampton 1, Chelsea 2

Last-gasp Ji stuns Man City

Manchester United 2, Blackburn Rovers 3

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The sea is whipped up

Sometimes weather and ocean biology combine to produce a whole lot of sea foam, as happened here in Britain a couple of days ago.

Let it foam, let it foam, let it foam

Still, this doesn't match the "world record" event in Australia a couple of years ago,

Sea of foam

Rogues gallery of craters on Mars

This was fascinating.  The HIRISE camera operators (HIRISE is the super camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) picked their favorite strange craters on Mars.

This one is my favorite (fourth one on the list):