Saturday, June 30, 2012

The rhetoric is ramping up

Obama hatred makes some people say the darndest stupid things:

Davis' email begins: "Implicit in Benjamin Franklin's fabled response at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention was a dire warning: That the Republic would one day devolve into tyranny unless we the people prevented it."

It goes on to characterize Obama's election as the end point of a "100-year progressive trek to tyranny" before questioning whether a good old-fashioned uprising would be the best means to overturn the president's signature domestic policy. The key paragraph:
If government can mandate that I pay for something I don't want, then what is beyond its power? If the Supreme Court's decision Thursday paves the way for unprecedented intrusion into personal decisions, then has the Republic all but ceased to exist? If so, then is armed rebellion today justified?

Keep talking like that and the American people are going to realize the level of nutcasiness that is inherent in the Tea Party, the group that wants to get Mitt Romney elected so he can rubber-stamp the agenda of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Jim DeMint.

NOT a good idea.

Japanese utilities keep nuclear option

Good news from Japan: 

Japan's nine nuclear power utilities have rejected calls from some of their shareholders to reduce or even eliminate the use of nuclear energy. Tokyo Electric Power Co's (Tepco's) shareholders approved a ¥1 trillion ($12.5 billion) injection of state funds which effectively nationalizes the company.

The nine utilities each held general shareholders' meetings on 27 June in the respective regions. They all faced numerous questions from their shareholders about their position on phasing out the use of nuclear power plants as well as concerns about the resumption of operations of their reactors. Some shareholders also called for plans for new reactors to be dropped. However, all shareholder proposals were voted down at each of the meetings, the Asahi Shimbun.

Some 4500 shareholders attended Tepco's meeting in a gymnasium in Tokyo, which lasted about five-and-a-half hours. During the meeting, shareholders voted against a proposal for the company to permanently shut down its seven-unit Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant in Niigata prefecture, replacing them with advanced gas-turbine generators. However, the company is relying on the restart of those reactors to help improve its profitability.

Utilities reject calls to abandon nuclear

As long as they need power, they'll realize they need nuclear.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can we get to the part where we actually restore them?

Everglades Restoration: Federal report shows little progress, dire outlook

Talk and talk and more talk, and meanwhile nothing serious gets done.  Take the altered Everglades as a microcosmic example of the globe as a whole, and you can see what will happen to us if nothing serious gets done about climate change.  I.e., continuing decline.

"The fourth biennial review by the National Research Council says that while notable progress in the construction of restoration projects has been made since its last report, those initiatives still have done little to reverse generations of decline.

"Unless near-term progress is made to improve water quantity and restore water flow, ecosystem losses will continue, many of which would require decades to centuries to recover," said William Boggess, chair of the NRC committee that wrote the report and a professor at Oregon State University.   ... The plan aims to restore natural water flow, but has been stymied by years of funding shortfalls, legal challenges and political bickering. The Everglades, meantime, continues to be depleted, now occupying about half its historical size of 4 million acres. ... "We thought this problem would be fixed," said David Guest, an attorney for Earthjustice who has spent decades fighting for Everglades restoration. "In 1994, we were screaming bloody murder that it was going to take 12 years and here we are 18 years later and we're nowhere near solving the problem."

Tell me about it.

It was probably a lot worse than we thought

Swine flu likely claimed ~250,000 lives (instead of 90,000) 

"The team estimated there were 284,500 deaths from swine flu in the 12 months from April 2009. But the figure may be as high as 575,400, they said.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 people die of seasonal influenza every year, according to the WHO.
In the flu 2009 season, H1N1 was the "predominant virus", said Dawood.

But comparing the numbers alone did not yield an accurate picture, she stressed, as 80 percent of swine flu victims were younger than 65, while the yearly seasonal flu mainly tends to claim older victims.

The researchers said 51 percent of swine flu deaths was estimated to have occurred in southeast Asia and Africa, which account for 38 percent of the world's population."

Just imagine if something really communicable gets out there. Like bird flu.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pineapple is not citrus

Other than that, good (bad news) op-ed by Neil Wagner.  There is so much trending the wrong  way, with little legitimate response from national governments (see this), that I am going  to renew my call for world government.  At this point on time, I think the European governments would welcome a stern guiding hand on their respective economies. 

No break in the breaking news that the climate is breaking

The Rio conference non-results are another reason that world government is needed to save the world from itself (i.e., humanity). 

Rio+20 shows U.N. impotence in face of global crisis

Some quotes:
"The multilateral process today is not delivering the urgent action we need," WWF's Jim Leape told AFP in an email.

"International action is in fact important, to galvanize a global response to these challenges, but it's clear that we need to look to leadership in other places... that means looking for changes everywhere -- communities, cities, national governments and companies."
and this:

Observers said the most tangible success was a plan for "Sustainable Development Goals" to succeed the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which touch on health, poverty and so on, after they expire in 2015.
In an interview with AFP carried on its Geopolitics blog (, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, said the MDGs had been an important catalyzer -- but for ordinary citizens, not leaders.

"They have been a global call to action that has mobilized millions of people around the world, as well as informed, nudged or pushed governments to take seriously the challenges of poverty, hunger and disease.  "They thus teach us a lesson: we cannot rely on the politicians and the diplomats to get this job done."

At least you'd go out in a blaze of glory

The movie "Volcano" made a hash of what would happen (or not happen) to human bodies in proximity to red-hot lava.  And there's been speculation on what would REALLY happen, not that anyone was stepping to volunteer for this once-in-a-life-ending-time experiment.  (Really now, hasn't someone who donated their body to science ever suggested this as a novel form of cremation)? But given that the actual thing wasn't possible, some enterprising researchers decided to toss a trash bag weighing approximately as much as a human into the lava lake at Erta Ale.

The results were, somewhat surprisingly, worthy of a Viking warrior funeral.

The Joe vs. the volcano experiment

I hate to be pessimistic

I hate to be pessimistic, but I give the Mars Curiosity Lander only about a 30% chance of landing success, i.e., 3-1 odds against it landing successfully. Oh, I know that everything has been checked and double-checked, but as the video notes, there is zero margin for error. Everything -- every component, every sequence, every element - has to work perfectly. Without any human control or intervention (of course the events in the sequence happen so fast that intervention would probably screw things up worse). I know the scientific payoff is big, but this is a tremendous amount of risk, and the downside is that the public will believe less in the capabilities of fully robotic exploration of the Solar System if Curiosity doesn't land safely and operate as designed.

7 Minutes of Terror - the Video

The junk up there

Hazards of space junk force an international response

Yet another trend that is heading in the wrong direction fast.  And yet another reason for world government, because if we were all under one governing body, then I think the WG would fund an effective cleanup effort.  As it is, we are stuck with an orbital tragedy-of-the-commons where anybody with a launch vehicle can get it up there, but doesn't have to have aplan for bringing it back down (which is also a problem for those rare priapism sufferers). 

So what exactly are they/we going to do about it?  That's still not clear at all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kelly does pearls right in black-and-white

With the advent of color photography, the erotic black-and-white nude study has become a much rarer thing.  Playboy used to have one or two black-and-white pictures with every pictorial in the 70s and 80s, but not anymore.   Playboy tweeted a link to this remarkable grayscale picture of Kelly Brook on the beach wearing pearls and nothing else.

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Romney campaign tells GOP govs to let them do the talking

Economic prospects improving in your state?   Shhh... don't tell the people of your state about it.  The Romney campaign is attempting to muzzle GOP governors so that they don't hear good economic news, and so that Romney can keep bashing the Obama administration (you know, the Presidential administration that saved the world from global depression, a place that the GOP Congress led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor want to take us back to?)

Romney campaign tells governors to downplay good economic news

"A Romney spokesperson didn’t deny the story, saying only that Romney frequently praises governors “for their ability to overcome the job-stifling policies of the Obama administration. That’s a new twist on the Romney camp’s argument that the recovery has only proceeded in spite of Obama’s policies, and only underscores the difficulty for Romney here — i.e., acknowledging the recovery where it’s happening while claiming Obama gets negative credit for it. It also highlights just how tightly Romney’s fortunes are dependent on us seeing the worst economic news possible for the next five months."

Well, don't forget that candidate Romney is such an adept liar that he may not even realize he's lying, or is lying because he feels that is necessary to fulfill his "calling" to be President of the United States.

The split over climate

Don't be deceived about public opinion on climate change.  The view of who believes what is being manipulated by skillful skeptics, and the loudest voices of skepticism are unduly represented in the blogosphere and news cycle.  The imbalance is politically and philosophically (and psychologically) rooted, as ably documented by Chris Mooney in "The Republican Brain".

Question:  Do you think climate change is occurring?

See that 38% on the Republican side that don't believe climate change is occurring?  There are a lot of Tea Party members and FreeRepublic posters in that slice of the pie.

The Battle over Climate Change

"Public opinion in the U.S. about anthropogenic climate change is also changing.  This spring, four major universities released polls showing that a clear majority of American citizens now say that the world is warming and that the country should take action. Jon Krosnick, a professor of communications at Stanford University, conducted one of the polls. He found that 83 percent of Americans say they believe that the Earth has been warming. One significant factor, he suggests, is that Americans can finally see and feel climate change happening."

If this is progress, then one of the biggest steps backward we could take as a country would be electing Candidate Etch-a-Sketch, Mitt Romney.

All in favor, say "Qui"

The rumors are that the 'Entourage' movie is in the writing stage.  For all those of us who desire every chance to experience the desirous Emmanuelle Chriqui, this is clearly good news.   Especially when Emm plays the seemingly-unaware-of-her-incredibleness Sloan.

'Entourage' movie could start filming January 2013

"Anna Karenina" remake

The great Tolstoy tragic love story epic is getting remade once again, with a release due this November, starring Keira Knightley in the title role.  Keira has proven she's adept with period pieces, and she's also shown great talent in other great Russian literary remakes, i.e., a relatively unsung "Dr. Zhivago" redo in which a very young Keira played a very young Lara, and provided a stunningly erotic love/nude scene that I first witnessed uncut and uncensored on regular cable TV (might've been PBS).  (A small collection of stills from that, if you're interested).

Now, in "Anna Karenina" she does have to demonstrate that she's the equal of hotness to Sophie Marceau, who did an Anna K movie in the last decade.  Unfortunately, the movie was a dud and didn't do justice to Sophie's intrinsic hotness factor.

"Anna Karenina" trailer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If you can't get there by bus

Great pictures of Antarctica's stunningly unique Mount Erebus, including its active lava lake.  These are great partly because this is obviously a place that the total vast majority of the citizens of the world are unlikely to ever visit in person.

Ice and fire:  Mount Erebus

Predicting Phelps progress at U.S. Olympic Trials

Articles out today that Michael Phelps has an ambitious program planned for the U.S. Olympic Trials.  The linked article also indicates that it's possible that Phelps might drop the 100 freestyle.  I don't think he will, because he only has to finish 6th to be on the relay, at least as an alternate, and that's probably a medal.   I think it's likely that he won't swim the 200 backstroke, ultimately.   I also think that he might have trouble making the final in the 400 IM, let alone qualifying by finishing first or second, given his reported training laxity.   200 fly is a lock, but the 100 fly, given his penchant for coming back late, is not a lock.  200 IM is probably another lock, I don't see anyone touching him or Lochte in that.  200 free also a relay spot, and he's still one of the best.  

So I expect him to qualify in the 200 Fly, IM, and Free, question marks in the 400 IM and 200 back, and likely on the relay in the 100 Free.

Water Log

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Scenic shot

This was part of a tribute to Helmut Newton, but it could also have been included in a tribute to Ansel Adams.

Minus the nude model, of course.

"Krisha with Seagulls"

Now that's a top!

Athletic and lovely Chloe Miranda, cyber girl, former track star, and even a B-movie starlet now (search "Zombie Killers") shows how to wear a napkin as a top.  And the results are immensely appealing.  And her lower abs are TIGHT.   I like that in a woman.

Why not just start stopping now?

Europe made a supposed "big breakthrough" on fisheries by agreeing not to throw away as much of the fish they catch but don't want.

Is that a big f*cking deal or WHAT?

But for the bigger issue of actually not taking out just about all the fish in the sea, they punted the can down the road.

European fisheries reform stumbles forward

"On the broader issue of ensuring that fish stocks are actually sustainable, Gjerskov said that member states had “embraced the concept” of maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

Gjerskov said that the council had committed to bringing catches down to MSY limits by 2015 “where possible” and by 2020 “at the latest”. Richartz argues that this gives fisheries managers a free hand to "set the quotas higher than the scientific advice” for the next decade. Under existing international commitments, fish stocks in Europe should be fished at no more than MSY by 2015."

Yes, they're "embracing the concept".  Actually doing something about the problem -- HA.  Fat chance.

Can we put this in my car windows?

I've always thought this would be possible -- windows that darken on command.  I also always thought that would be GREAT for cars, so you could just simply darken the windows while parked on a hot day and keep the car interior from heating up into the stifling range.  It would probably also save a bit of gas, because the AC wouldn't have to be cranked to cool off the superheated interior when starting up and heading out.

Energy efficient dynamic glass that 'switches on demand'

"Dynamically tinting architectural glass will substantially enhance building energy efficiency and occupant comfort. We have been carefully evaluating the landscape for the right technology that is ready for scale and wide spread adoption," said Scott Thomsen, Guardian Glass Group president.

Necessity trumps ideology (and fear)

It will likely be another hot summer in Japan (after all, the May we just had was the 2nd warmest globally ever), so the Japanese prime minister will probably let a couple of nuclear reactors get restarted to have enough power for air-conditioning.   I imagine after the Japanese public gets moderately comfortable with this reality, a few more will get restarted too.

New PM set to order nuclear restart this weekend

"Yoshihiko Noda is expected to tell Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) to re-fire two idled reactors at its Oi plant serving the industrial heartland of western Japan.

The controversial move comes amid fears that electricity demand will outstrip supply as temperatures soar and air-conditioners get cranked up, further crimping Japan's wobbly economic recovery."

Revisiting my 2012 predictions

At the end of 2011, I posted 10 "safe" predictions for 2012.    Halfway through the year, I'm conducting an evaluation of my predictions.  Several of them are still "to be determined".

1. Andy Murray will win a Grand Slam (tennis) title.   TBD -- but his injuries are making it less likely.

2. Khloe Kardashian will get pregnant. TBD -- but Kim's new boyfriend Kanye West is ready for baby-making.  I bet.  Hopefully Khloe and Lamar will conceive.

3. Barack Obama will be re-elected President.  TBD -- Etch-a-Sketch candidate Mitt Romney is doing better than expected, and the Republican zillionaires are gearing up the money machine, but the Electoral College is still in Barack's favor, and the immigration move yesterday was brilliant, helping his prospects in Florida and firming up California.

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.  YES -- even though it wasn't quite as expected, the correspondence that Peter Gleick acquired hurt the Heartland Institute, and then they over-reacted with the Unabomber billboard.  

5. At some point in the year, the Dow Jones will go below 10,000.  TBD -- hope I'm wrong on this one, because it would hurt #3, but with Spain and Greece so iffy on going broke, a true European monetary crisis could still make this happen.

6. The Washington Wizards will make the NBA Playoffs.   NO - maybe next year.

7. The year's biggest movie will be "The Hobbit".  TBD -- but probably will end up wrong, because I didn't anticipate "The Avengers" being so huge.  And "The Dark Knight Rises" will probably also be big.

8. Kepler will find an exoplanet with near-perfect conditions for Earth-like life.  TBD, but I might be able to claim a provisional YES on this one.  See my previous post today.

9. Another famous celebrity will pose nude for Playboy (wow, like that's a stretch).  I could say YES because of Jenny McCarthy.   She's borderline famous.  And Lindsay Lohan was in the January issue, but  I knew that was going to happen when I wrote the prediction.  There's still time for more nudity.

10. I'll have more than 100 followers on Twitter.  TBD -- I've been hovering around 80.  Tell your friends.

The way the ball moves

I've always wondered while watching baseball on TV how the announcers can determine whether a pitch is a curve, slider, sinker, cutter, etc.   Now, I can tell the difference between a fastball, change-up, or straight curve, but the other ones are more subtle.   So finally being frustrated by this, I figured that the Web was wide enough to have a guide to recognizing pitches.  And I was right.   So here's my public service in the sports department:

Baseball pitches illustrated

Changing the odds

Up until recently, one of the great uncertainties in evaluating whether or not we are alone or not in the Universe has been how many habitable planets there are.   Now, I was of the personal opinion, unfounded on any data, that the Universe is so vast, with so many galaxies and stars ("billions and billions") that somewhere else in this multitude of opportunities there has to be at least one more place with at least some algae and amoebas. 

But the recent results from Kepler are changing the odds in the scientific sense, data-wise.  Kepler's data is indicating that a lot of stars have planets, and a lot of these planets fall in the category of "Earth-like".  Which pushes the odds toward the higher likelihood of life of some kind existing on some of them.  Intelligent life?   Well, that's probably much more rare, of course, but the Universe is a big place with lots and lots and lots ... and lots of stars.

Earth-like planets probably much more common than [previously] thought

"The message we’ve been getting from the planet hunting community is loud and clear, and that message is that all stars have planets," said Shostak. Since life is potentially everywhere, he would like to focus more of the institute’s attention on the dense center of our galaxy. "Now that we know that potentially habitable planets can form around virtually any kind of star, it’s important to focus our attention on star-rich areas"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Remarkable photographs of volcano eruptions and lightning

National Geographic has a feature on volcanic eruptions and the lightning that is frequently induced within the massive ash clouds they release.   Example below.

National Geographic:  Lightning and volcanoes

I wish I could get larger versions of some of these.  They're fantastic.

Say it ain't so, Cheryl

Even though I promised I'd buy tickets, the luminous British pop star Cheryl (formerly known as Cheryl Cole and before she got married to the dumber-than-dirt but still a fine defensive midfielder Ashley Cole, Cheryl Tweedy) has decided not to try and make it big in the States.   So she won't be touring here and apparently won't be on any television shows.

DARN.  I repeat, darn darn darn.  So I guess I'll just have be content (if that's possible) with videos and her highly frequent appearances in the Daily Mail, like this one from today.

British pop star and U.K. 'X Factor' judge Cheryl Cole won't try to crack the U.S. market, she says

More Jason de Graaf pictures

I found this page while trying to determine where Jason de Graaf lived and where he had his shows.

Great photo realistic paintings that reflect, by Jason de Graaf

My favorite is the third one from the top, a tribute to M.C. Escher, where you can the artist reflected in the metallic ball painting himself reflected in the metallic ball.  Clever.    This guy's good.

Based on this page, it's apparently titled "Untitled - Self".

Oh yeah -- he's Canadian, from Quebec, and most of his shows have been in Canada;  a recent one in 2010 was in Vancouver.

Why does Mitt Romney lie so often, and so well?

The root of Mitt Romney's comfort with lying

Pithy quotes:

"But this pattern of lying and not acknowledging it even when confronted directly has  persisted and has led me to look for other sources of Romney’s behavior, and of his  clear comfort with continuing it. I think much of this comfort stems from his Mormon faith.

I found myself discussing this situation with several colleagues and we agreed  that Romney doesn’t lie. Let me repeat: Mitt Romney doesn’t lie. He is telling  the truth as he sees it — and truth it is, facts notwithstanding. This is not  simply a case of Hamlet arguing about point of view, saying, “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” This is about a  conflict between evidence and faith. There is a long tradition in the Mormon  belief system where evidence takes second place to faith.

This unwavering faith is central to Romney’s comfort deflecting any examples that the press might bring up of his lying. Further it allows him to repeat  lies again and again — both personally and in political advertising — because to him they are not lies at all. I’m reminded of that old epigram from the 1960s that said “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.”

That may be all good and well in many offices, but it’s not so good in the Oval Office."

The more and more I read about Mitt Romney, the more I'm convinced he's just like Greg Stillson of Stephen King's The Dead Zone.  Do we REALLY want to give this flake a chance to be POTUS?

Here's yet another example:
Mitt Romney's 'Absurd' Claim Misses Billions In Federal Funds For Cops, Teachers, Firefighters 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Incredible paintings

Passing along this link to the hyper-realistic paintings featured in it.  Phenomenal work.

Artist Jason de Graaf hyper-realism

Example:  'Perihelion'

Don't want to see a $2.5bil crash

This well-written article from describes the truly high stakes for NASA when the Mars Science Laboratory makes its landing attempt on August 6.  There's a lot (repeat, a LOT) riding on this one.  The landing sequence, shown in the video, is frighteningly complex.  And remember how much this baby cost.  Cover your eyes and peek through your fingers!

Huge Mars Curiosity Lander faces high stakes for landing

Those d*mn dams

Now, nuclear power is not entirely without environmental impact;  many plants use manmade reservoirs for cooling water (a problem cited in an earlier post).   But these big reservoirs built for hydroelectric generation are screwing up some really great natural environments.  There are continuing protests about the Patagonian dam projects, and now I read about this project, which imperils Africa's unique Lake Turkana.  It goes back to the original problem we have on this world, too many people needing too much power.  And with drastic tipping points looming, the real solutions are just as drastic.

Kenya's fragile Lake Turkana threatened by Ethiopian dam

Sharapova comes back all the way

I watched the French Open women's final; it was closer than the final score indicated. Errani had several opportunities to make it really interesting, and she provided a couple of drop shots that made Maria work a lot more than I think she expected or wanted to.  But despite some double faults at bad places, Sharapova started strong and stayed more consistent.  I don't know why I empathized so much with a multimillionaire gorgeous blonde Russian, but you could sense in her determination to get back to Grand Slam finals, and then finally win one again, that she's more than just a pretty face and athletic body;  she wants to be a champion, too.

And that I find admirable.  As well as the lovely rest of her.

And may I say, after the match was over, when she was bending over to put her equipment in her bag and clearly you could see she was wearing lacy red underthings under that LBTD (little black tennis dress) -- I'm sure that appealed to the French men in the audience.   Image-searching with 'Sharapova' and 'French Open' will certainly provide some examples.  I know, trust me.

Maria Sharapova wins French Open, career Grand Slam

French Open:  the women

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This doesn't look like the Julianne I remember

A bit weird to see pictures of the delectable Julianne and to be somewhat turned off by them.  I hope that's an aberration.  Even the cover shot isn't that great.  But the slit black sheath dress (below) -- THAT gets me back to normal in a hurry.  (Is it a coincidence that it says "free SCORE" by her head?)

'Ryan Seacrest hit on me while I was still with my ex,' reveals Julianne Hough as she rocks out in a studded bra


And who is this again?

I happened accidentally on this YouTube video showing "Orientalist" art set to the music of the first movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Scheherazade'.

At about the 4:30 mark, the art gets decidedly desirable.

Hey, you can watch -- it's art, right? And it's the kind of art I like.

Really good summary article of the struggle of science vs. skepticism in climate research

Not much I can add to this, because it so well summarizes the frustration that regular scientists have with the skeptical cabal that glamorizes, accentuates, and exploits the common and vital disagreements that occur in the scientific process.  Science is a way of characterizing the truth -- it has a blobby shape, and to refine it to spherical perfection is not an easy thing to do.  There will always be bumps, deviations from  the idealized unreachable perfection of truth, because we characterize it imperfectly and with a limited viewpoint that cannot and will not exclusively occupy all perspectives. 

So... we should soldier on, calling the skeptics on their misleading tactics, while at the same time trying to sympathize with their victims, the conservatives and Tea Party members and mainline Republicans that are unable to think beyond what they are told is true, and what they therefore believe to be true.  It is a sad fact that they accept what skeptics tell them is true -- even though it can be shown to be demonstrably false easily -- because of what their mind and traditions and upbringing require them to know is true.  And thus do the lies of the Moranoes and the Wattses continue to mislead and cause the gullible to misthink.

Climate scientists lament a nation stuck on the wrong debate

"The IPCC suite of scenarios provide ... a bit too rosy of a picture," says Reilly. "Our study shows that without action, there is virtually no chance that we won't enter very dangerous territory." Even moderate action isn't likely to help.

Follow-up work by these same researchers published this year in MIT's annual Energy and Climate Outlook found that if countries achieve the emission cuts they promised at international climate negotiations, the global temperature would still increase by over 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), with a significant chance of a 5 degree Celsius rise by century's end."

Not rosy at all, is it?

Japan's expensive nuke-free course

This is actually quite interesting -- showing the costs of several different scenarios for Japan's economic trajectory with different percentages of energy-generating technologies.  What's REALLY interesting is the hit that their GDP would take if they try to go totally nuke-free.  That'll leave a mark if it happens.

Japan considers nuclear free future

"But many consider an over-reliance on renewables to be expensive and unrealistic. The no-nuclear scenario could reduce the country’s gross domestic product by up to ¥31 trillion (US $396 billion) per year, according to the committee. Some local government officials, including Hashimoto, have begun to soften their position on nuclear energy in a bid to protect jobs, and two reactors in Fukui prefecture look set to be restarted."
 Well, they can try...

Sharapova: once more into the breach

So, Maria is through, and so is Kvitova.  I imagine that Petra is the last person left that  Maria wanted to see across the net.  It's a somewhat classic pattern that she's played well to get this far, a pattern she's sustained since the French Open last year -- can she close the deal now?   What's the ova-unda on this match? (I apologize - had to.)

She has to play smart and not try to out-slug Kvitova to win.

There's Something About Maria

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brief MTV Movie Awards fashion comments

Via Wonderwall: MTV Movie Awards red carpet gallery

Women's fashions were not that great or exciting;  pretty casual.  Kudos to Kate Beckinsale's simple beauty. Victoria Justice doppelganged Vanessa Marcil.  And Jennifer Aniston wore tight leather.   That's worth a mention.

Apply liberally to prevent conservative disaster

Use it wherever you can;  remind Republicans that this guy has no spine, no principles, no center, and no guidance except the phrase "do whatever you have to do, and say whatever you have to say, to get elected".


If it weren't for the power boats with their slashing propellers, being a manatee would almost be the dream life of an animal.  Think about it:  they live in warm clear tropical waters; they pretty much eat all the time; being fat is not a  problem for them; when they aren't eating they're probably just floating semi-weightless napping; and they don't spend much time worrying about mating. 

(Even manatee mating is almost kind of fun; imagine sumo wrestlers in shallow waters).

You know what they say about 'having to come up for air' in a romantic relationship? Well, these romantic Sirenia appear to know when to clinch and when to inhale:

This is not news to me

 Cooling water shortages -- lakes, rivers -- could be a problem for both coal-fired and uranium-powered electricity generating plants.

Study suggests coal, nuclear power face future cooling water problems

Thermoelectric power plants supply more than 90 percent of electricity in the United States and account for 40 percent of the nation's freshwater usage, says the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In Europe, such plants supply three-quarters of the electricity and account for about half of the freshwater use.

Coal, nuclear and gas plants turn large amounts of water into steam to spin a turbine. They also rely on water at consistent temperatures to cool the turbines and any spike in river water temperatures can affect a plant's operation.

Disruptions to power supplies were already occurring, the authors noted.

During warm, dry summers in 2003, 2006 and 2009 several power plants in Europe cut production because of restricted availability of cooling water, driving up power prices.

A similar event in 2007-2008 in the United States caused several power plants to reduce production, or shut down for several days because of a lack of water for cooling and environmental restrictions on warm water discharges back into rivers, the study said.

Keyholes for science?

Well, who would have guessed this?  The U.S. military-industrial complex is giving away spy telescopes to be used for astronomical science.

But there are a few things missing:
"First, they don’t have instruments. There are no cameras, spectrographs or other  instruments that a space telescope typically needs. Second, they don’t have a  program, a mission or a staff behind them. They’re just hardware."

Where have we heard that before?  Oh yeah, the ESA's Sentinel program.   They can get the instrumented Earth observing satellites to the launch pad, but they don't have the money to run them in orbit.

How stupid is this state of affairs?   NASA will work it out in a decade or so, and there isn't a pressing national/international interest to get these scopes launched in a hurry.  But with the loss of Envisat still hurting, ESA needs to get the Sentinel series into space.  Now.

Unbreakable world record?

If it isn't broken at this year's Olympics or in the run-up to them via national trials (the best chance), the world  record for the men's high jump could reach the two decade mark in 2013.  Over the past 12 years, no one has been closer than two inches to Javier Sotomayor's record. 

It is possible that the limits of human capability to surmount the power of gravity are near their limit in this event.

Sharapova's French chances

No, this isn't about the odds that the long and blonde Russian will show up wearing a cute and skimpy maid's outfit.

Who's left?  Next up for her was an unseeded player (Zakopalova);  she was stretched to three sets via a tiebreaker, but handled the third well.  Next up is 23rd seed Kanepi.  Lurking ahead, unfortunately, is Kvitova; she waxed her fourth round opponent, an unseeded American with the All-American name of Lepchenko.  On the other side of the draw is Azarenka-slayer Cibulkova (15), Stosur (6), Errani (21), and Kerber (10).  Not bad, but with Kvitova a potential opponent if she gets past Kanepi, I'd currently put her chances of winning it all at around 25%.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Look quick

I never even knew Sumatra had rabbits.  According to this article, they aren't going to have them much longer.  Another of the charismatic macrofauna on the brink of nevermore.

Researchers Capture Fleeting Images of Incredibly Rare Sumatran Rabbit [Video]
After seeing these images, the researchers took the opportunity to compile further data on the rabbit by asking other researchers in Sumatra if they had ever seen the animal. The only positive responses came from scientists working in Kerinci Seblat N.P. In a paper published online last week in the journal Oryx, the researchers conclude that these two Sumatran parks are probably the last strongholds of the rare species.

Not sure how many are left, but their remaining range is very small.

Oppy on the move

New pictures here from Opportunity, now on the move on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Update: Waking Up on Mars With the Sun's Rays (Photos)

If we aren't constantly amazed that we have a working robot on Mars leaving tracks like the ones below, then we aren't amazed enough.   Hopefully in August we'll have a new working Mars track-maker (and also a remarkable laboratory pushing the limits of what robots can do).

Black carbon is a pollutant, too

According to additions to the Gothenburg Protocol, black carbon is probably going to be classed as a "transboundary pollutant".

Fine Particles, Black Carbon May Be Added To Controlled Pollutants Under Air Convention
The treaty's Secretariat considers the addition of black carbon, or soot, to be breaking new ground in air pollution policy. “For the first time, we have an international agreement that acknowledges the link between air pollution and climat e change,” European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik said in a May 7 statement.
“By agreeing to regulate one of the contributors to climate chang e, 'Black Carbon,’ we will see positive impacts at both local and international levels.”
Black carbon is composed of fine particles produced from the incomplete combustion of diese l fuel, wood, crop waste and other biomass, oil, refuse, and in some cases coal. Evidence indicates that black carbon contributes to climat e change by warming the atmosphere and by darkening the surface of snow and ice, speeding melting.
 However, parties did not commit to specific reductions of black carbon.

Which is typical.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Better zeolites can aid carbon capture

News article about improved zeolites (basically, minerals with holes in them) that could improve carbon capture technology.  This is important because despite all our important efforts to implement other sources (renewables, and of course my favorite, nuclear), we're going to be stuck with CO2 emissions for quite awhile.  So if better technology can make CC more acceptable and more widely used, then go for it, energy producers.  

By the way, the reason this is important is that it improves the efficiency of CC because it reduces the amount of energy lost during the CC process.

New materials could slash energy costs for CO2 capture

... researchers found that commonly used industrial minerals called zeolites could significantly improve the energy efficiency of "carbon capture" technology.

"It looks like we can beat the current state-of-the-art technology by about 30 percent, and not just with one or two zeolites," said study co-author Michael Deem, Rice's John W. Cox Professor of Bioengineering and professor of physics and astronomy.

"Our analysis showed that dozens of zeolites are more efficient than the amine ab-sorbents currently used for CO2 capture."

If you've never seen a daytime fireball

I have been fortunate enough to see a daytime fireball once, while driving on a bright afternoon near Baltimore.   But a lot of people haven't.  The link below is to a video featured at Discover Mag online that caught the recent daytime-visible bolide over Californey, of which some pieces have been found, and which has also turned out to be a carbonaceous chondrite.  All very exciting stuff.   (The accompanying music is a bit cheesy, though, even if it is reggae-ish).

Video of the daytime California fireball

Figure 4 with caption

There have only been a couple of articles about the Australian hockey stick, which is a definite poke-in-the-eye to the climate warming skeptical factory that keeps churning out articles disparaging what is now a paper now 14 years in the past.   (But why should they change their ill-begotten tactics now?)

But maybe they'll have to, ultimately.  Because if a pretty-much-independent hockey stick could be found, that would make all the criticisms of the original ring more hollow than they already do.   And that's the case with this one, I think.   Now, the critical "hockey stick" figure is Figure 4.  The two representations I've seen have not included the caption, which I think has critical information.   So that's what I got.  I don't subscribe to the journal, I went to the library and downloaded the PDF, mailed it to myself, and then copied the figure out of it.

One key thing to note is that the interesting peak around 1300 isn't as reliable as other periods.  But the oft-described pattern is here; a bit warmer from 1200-1600, then a bit cooler from 1600-1900, and then the 20th century warming -- caused by rapid industrialization and increased emissions of GHGs (you know what that means).

And I think the deep "valley", post-1800, has to be "eighteen hunderd and froze ta death", i.e., the year without a summer, caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora.

Now let's customize!

Have you heard about the hologram lingerie model?  Truly the next-generation in advertising:

Now, if we can order these custom-made (for example, a Luisana Lopilato lingerie hologram or a Kelly Brook lingerie hologram or a definite bestseller, a Miranda Kerr lingerie hologram), I think it'll be a real moneymaker.

Those zeroes are noticeable

OK, the difference between 398 and 400 is not that big.  It's only 2 ppm.  (If you haven't gotten the gist yet, I'm talking about atmospheric CO2 concentrations).   But perhaps, in the global public mind, the difference will be significant and noticeable.   We can only hope.   Now, realize that officially (i.e., Keeling curve officially) we're not at 400 yet -- just some samples taken in the Arctic.  But we're getting there, we're close, and that's a line that we're all going to cross, together.

So here's the story on where we are, from the Huffington Post.

Carbon Dioxide Levels in World's Air Reach Troubling Milestone

So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.  "The fact that it's 400 is significant," said Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. "It's just a reminder to everybody that we haven't fixed this and we're still in trouble."
The Arctic is the leading indicator in global warming, both in carbon dioxide in the air and effects, said Pieter Tans, a senior NOAA scientist.  "This is the first time the entire Arctic is that high," he said.  Tans called reaching the 400 number "depressing," and Butler said it was "a troubling milestone."
 Now, I wonder if Climate Depot had anything to say about this?  Well, he has a link to an article from Steven Goddard.   Who has no credentials evident anywhere to talk about anything related to climate.  Now, I've studied climate and environmental impacts as part of my job as a nuclear energy consultant.  I don't claim to be an expert, just someone who attempts to understand.  But I don't know anything about Goddard, nor does Goddard reveal anything about himself.

But the thing is, Goddard doesn't question the number, because the number is real.  All he does is question the rate at which we got to the number.

Is that really a major concern?  The number is going to keep going up until we take MAJOR, global-economy-changing steps to change that trajectory significantly.

Now, I also note that Climate Depot has said nary a word about the new Southern Hemisphere hockey stick.  (And I'll have more on this, too.)

Nina Dobrev will be legendary

I predict that Nina Dobrev will go from TV ingenue/starlet to great acclaimed beauty in about two more years.

Here's one reason why:

Here's more reasons why:

Nina Dobrev at Cannes (Just Jared)

Ultimo guide to Luisana Lopilato

Just some page links to Luisana on the Ultimo Web site:

The One

Icon (gotta love "Boob Lift Technology" !)

Swimwear (the Miami Bikini on LL makes one gulp hard)

Fashion Collection (really like the "Evangeline" model;  unfortunately there aren't any large versions of the pictures on this page)

Opium (from whence cometh the picture in the previous post)

OMG (you can use the "zoom" feature)

Christmas Video (I probably posted on this one before;  48 seconds of mesmerization)