Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How many people like to be naked in their hotel room?

OK, confession time.  I like to be naked in a hotel room when I'm on a trip.  There's a certain sense of freedom and lack of responsibility and enjoyment of being human when one can be naked without anyone judging. Or even noticing.

I suspect that this goes for a lot of people.  My evidence is meager, but there have been enough paparazzi shots of celebrities in states of undress and semi-undress in their room or on the balcony (or on the beach) to indicate that this is something that they occasionally like to indulge in, as well.  And despite the fact that a crime was committed to find out, we found out that sportscaster Erin Andrews likes to iron her clothes in the freedom of her hotel room while enjoying the freedom to be naked in her hotel room.

Privacy allows one to do things that they don't normally do.  So on my next trip, I'll be naked in my hotel room again.

And face it, if we all looked as good as the young lady in this picture admiring herself in the hotel room mirror, a lot of us would admire ourselves in the hotel room mirror.

More on this later, I hope, when I ruminate on more effective hotel resort advertising.

Turnabout is fair karma

This is about Olympic Swimming, London 2012.  Winning one gold medal is HARD.  Very HARD.  And now the media seems to be critical of Ryan Lochte for not winning everything he swims in.   The 200 meter freestyle was loaded, and Agnel was ready after the super anchor leg in the men's 4 x 100.

Oh yeah, about that.  Four years ago, it took an absolutely flat-out miraculous performance by Jason Lezak to make Phelps 8-0 and not 7-1.  The world has been catching up to the U.S. in men's sprint swimming, and so for the U.S. to battle right to the end against France, who deserved reverse karma after the incredible loss four years ago, was still remarkable.  Lochte should not be down on himself, he's not a specialist in the 100m free!  If he still comes out with wins in the 200 back and the 200 IM, and the potential for a 4 x 200 freestyle relay gold (but that's going to be a battle), then it's still a very, very good Olympics for him.  I think the signature race of the meet will be the 200 IM.

Phelps had better darned well win the 200 meter butterfly, because Kitajima didn't beat him to the first time to win the same event in three Olympics pseudo-record. 

How in the world can any other team beat the U.S. women's 400 meter medley relay?   Back = Franklin, Breaststroke = Soni, Butterfly = Vollmer, and Freestyle = Jessica Hardy.   Best backstroker, second best by a whisker breaststroker (and Lithuania does not have a relay, I don't think), WR in the fly, and a pretty decent freestyle sprinter.  Please don't false start!

I hope Soni takes the 200 meter breaststroke.

The men's 100 meter breaststroke was nuts.  Shows what it takes to win that event now - massive pectoral muscles (note that I did NOT say fins).  Good job by Grevers to win the 100 back.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This woman, Sherlyn Chopra, will make history in November when she becomes the first Indian woman EVER to pose nude for Playboy.

This nails the prediction  I made last December.  She certainly has the requisite feminine beauty (and parts)  to appear in Playboy.  And their are many other pictures of her in some nice underwear that demonstrate this, I've found out.  But not only that, despite the negativity that has been expressed about this achievement in her home country, she has the courage to to do it.  It's one thing to be blond, buxom, and Californian and pose starkers for the bunny mag; it's another thing to do it when your whole culture opposes it.

Therefore, I'm looking forward to her history making appearance, for more than the usual reasons.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Whatever happened to Misty Hyman?

Well, we're right on the cusp of the next Olympiad, which has led to a couple of looks back before the next ones get going.  Rowdy Gaines provided five "edge of his seat" moments, even though he left out my favorite, the one he was probably in the stands for, the men's 800m freestyle relay at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, also known as the "Grossbusters" relay.

One of his moments was Misty Hyman's upset win in the 200m Butterfly at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. I remember liking that one too.  Which made me wonder whatever happened to Misty, who I thought at the time was kinda cute.

Turns out that now she's more than cute, she's athletically hot, and keeping other people in shape too in her place of employment, in her home state and city of Phoenix, AZ (well, Scottsdale, actually).

Now a need an excuse to get in shape at the spa. And take up triathlons, which won't be easy.

Swim with gold medal winner Misty Hyman in the Triathlon Training Package at Sanctuary

This is as big as the picture gets. I'm sorry too.

Another step forward for Kepler

The amazing Kepler telescope has now produced a scientific result indicating that solar systems like the one we're in -- with most of the main planets in the same plane, which is also aligned with the rotational plane of the parent star's equator -- might be very common.   As they say in the biz, more research is needed.

But I'm impressed. 

Both by the telescope, and the scientists who study the data it's producing.

Alien solar system Kepler-30 looks like our own

Great volcano action (unless you live nearby)

Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupts all the time, many times a day, so many times that watching it on several different Webcams trained on it could be classed as an Internet geek spectator sport.  (And it's kind of fun if you have the time).

But every now and then it has a bit of a bigger blast, like it did yesterday, and that can be fun to watch too.  See what I mean.

Now, the people who live nearby in Kagoshima don't really want it do that, because it requires clean up, breathing masks, things like that.  I sometimes forget that living near an active volcano might be unsettling at times.

Monday, July 23, 2012

This is good. Really good.

Just happened to click a link on Twitter, which led to 46 bikini pictures of Bar Refaeli from the 2009 SI shoot.

The half-life of the happy high is many hours.

A good example below.  As an aside, it's hard to see how the outfit in 25-27 can rightly be called a swimsuit and not nightwear.

Sometimes it's the simple things that make you happy.

Is this the way out?

New laser power record set at the National Ignition Facility.  The goal is to use the laser to fuse pellets of deuterium.   The question is whether or not they can make the break-even point.

Laser Record Broken: 500-Terawatt Beam May Pave Way For Fusion Energy 

Even I'm an advocate and facilitator of nuclear FISSION energy, the ultimate solution, if it's achievable (and I don't know that it is) to our energy and climate woes, which we share collectively as a human civilization, is NUCLEAR FUSION energy.

Let's hope.

"The National Ignition Facility (NIF) delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of power during its historic test shot on July 5 — about 1,000 times more power than the entire United States uses at any given time. That power came from 1.85 megajoules of energy that represent about 100 times as much as what any other laser can sustain."

The National Reviews's stupid, stupid, stupid op-ed on climate

Short review:  absolute total idiocy.

It's entitled:  "CO2 reductions good for nothing", by Henry Payne.

Here's one thing it says:
"In assessing the New York Times ”good news” of the Great Recession, U.S. Energy Information Administration official Howard Gruenspecht found some bad news. That is, that U.S. CO2 emissions have increased since the recession ended. “The 3.9 percent increase in emissions in 2010 was primarily driven by the rebound from the economic downturn experienced in 2008 and 2009,” he lamented.

Bad news? Better that a richer world endure inevitable temperatures with First World air conditioning than a poorer world that suffers inevitable temperatures in Third World shanties."

My response:

No, you moronic f*cktard.  It's not just about temperatures.  It's about collapsing ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, crop reductions, increased damage from extreme events, population dislocations, and serious reductions in freshwater resources, to names just a FEW off the top of my head.  Climate change has to be addressed, and even small steps in the right direction are better than capitulation, leading to increased bigger steps in the wrong direction.

It's about the human future.  And the planetary future. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

50th anniversary of "The Girl from Ipanema"

The famous bossa nova song "The Girl from Ipanema" is now 50 years old.  There's a lot of history in this song.

Here's the article.

More on the inspiration, which is described in the article, later, because I did research on that subject a couple of years ago.

Good news about Karen Mulder

Supermodel Karen Mulder was one of the absolute hottest Victoria's Secret models in the late 1990s.  Then she went through a tough patch with depression, an attempted suicide, and some bizarre behavior.  She said that she'd been sexually abused and date-raped. 

So it was moderately good news to see that she appears in good health, and in good shape for a model at the age of 42, as reported.  (Though a picture caption says age 44).

Supermodel Karen Mulder back to her best age 42

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's join the CoochWatch

Virginia's vigilante Attorney General, who like to file lawsuits that he has no chance of winning, has jumped the shark over new abortion regulations.  The basic story is that the Virginia Legislature passed new regulations on abortion clinics, regulations designed such that they would find it nearly impossible to comply.  I.e., designed to make them shut down.  But the Virginia Board of Health, under some pressure, voted to let existing clinics stay open and not have to comply.  But Cuccinelli overruled them.  So a bunch of Virginians have launched Coochwatch, to keep an eye on the radical AG as he tries to dial back Virginia into previous centuries when men were men and women were virtuous.  And virginal, I believe he thinks. 

Not that anything he thinks is remotely close to actual reality.

Darrell Issa's absurd lengths

Until I read the article below, I didn't know that Rep. Darrell Issa, who regularly appears to walk the borderline between nutty and deranged, had tried to do this twice before.  It's ABSURD.   Are there any other regions of the country (and it would even be stretching things to call the EEZ a region of the country, rather than an extension of the country's coastal zone) that are named after people, even Presidents, that died just a short while ago? 

It's all part of the Republican obsession with the revering and deifying the name and memory of Reagan, partly to codify all that they think he represented in American history (even though he didn't).  They want him to be the Chief Saint of Conservatism - and when we remember that David Stockman admitted that the strategy of tax-cutting was to STARVE the budget of money so that programs would get cut, we really appreciate the Grover Norquist agenda pledge.  I'm not stretching things, Norquist has admitted as much.  And George W. Bush was able to ram through the budget cuts which still bedevil us today, and which added to the deficits that Reagan started (because starving the budget didn't work).  So Reaganism should not be memorialized, it should be condemned, but not by the true-believers on the hard Republican right.

Which leads me back to Issa's absurd idea to name the Exclusive Economic Zone the "Ronald Wilson Reagan" Exclusive Economic Zone." Fortunately his bill/idea has never even received a vote in committee.  While Reagan still has his followers in politics, he will still be revered.  When they are finally eradicated from the public service, then his deification will slowly decline, and history will judge him more harshly, able (by half luck) to end the USSR, but otherwise an out-of-touch figurehead with ideas that made him look good, but which were ultimately bad for the country.  And which made more believers following his wrong ideas that have made the country even worse off.

If Romney, a rich Republican in the Reagan mold, gets elected, the idiots like Issa will be able to force him to starve the beast, truly, damaging our public investments irreparably, because they realized that to reduce the size of government you can't just cut taxes and hope that Congress meekly tries to keep up with mounting deficits, you actually have to cut government.  And what they are trying to cut is the 1/3 or so that is discretionary, unless you are Paul Ryan and you are actually trying to cut Medicare and Social Security.  That's where the reforms need to be -- but not if you want to be rich and pay a 15% tax rate like Mittens.  And naming everything possible after Reagan makes him look much better in the public eye than he deserves.   So, Darrell, why not try and actually find something to do that's good for the country, eh?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A holiday in space? I know what I'm thinking

According to this BBC video report, a far-thinking company on the Isle of Man has a spare Russian space capsule, complete with re-entry module, that they're offering to anyone with the impressive financial wherewithal to get it into space the opportunity to be one of the passengers on that same flight.  And this particular individual (or consortium, as the case might be) can bring friends. Wink.

In case you don't catch my drift... WINK.

Isle of Man company offering holidays in space

And you know that makes me recall that I've written a couple of previous blog postings about ideas like this:

More images of the honeymoon suite in space

I can think of two ways to make money with this

Hmm, I wonder how much money Michael Buble is worth these days...

(Here's another article about the space vacation company, Excalibur Almaz:  Excalibur Almaz, Private Space Company, To Sell Tickets To The Moon For $155 Million (PHOTOS) 

Haven't looked at cricket for awhile

I went sort of off-track in trying to keep up some with world-class cricket, but the fact that England is playing a 3-match Test series with South Africa, which is a #1 vs. #2 in the Test cricket world, caught my eye.  According to the first day report, England started a bit shaky but batsman Alistair Cook -- an English name if I ever saw one -- made a century, which certainly helps.  This Test series is taking place in England.  I tend to think that they'll lose a little coverage when the Olympics get started, but not everyone can be in London.

England does well on first day of first Test v. South Africa

Kevin Pietersen only made 42.  Looks like Stuart Broad is back for England; I wonder if he's close to top form.

Straight talk on the future? Doubtful

The Washington Post's encourages Romney and Obama to have a discussion about the future of America, a discussion that actually has content.

And he offers this sobering reason why:

"America is worse off than it was 30 years ago — in infrastructure, education and research. The country spends much less on infrastructure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). By 2009, federal funding for research and development was half the share of GDP that it was in 1960. Even spending on education and training is lower as a percentage of the federal budget than it was during the 1980s."
The budget cuts that the Republicans have been advocating would eviscerate federal funding for research, and that is the research that has kept the U.S. at the forefront of the world in many different arenas.   Or should I more correctly say, that was the research that kept the U.S. at the forefront.  The anti-science Republicans are doing their best to make the U.S. second-best, or even further behind.  And that is what I want to hear a tax-cut advocate talk about a bit more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Oh heck, it's Luisana again

I do not possess the ability to pass up comment on Luisana Lopilato modeling Ultimo lingerie yet another time.   Well, after all, that's what she's getting paid by the brand to do.

The pictures are wondrous.

The video -- I don't know what the next level above spectacular is.  (Awesomely stupendous?)

I've got to discuss happiness in marriage soon, because if Michael Buble isn't, there's something wrong.

Luisana models Ultimo's Lulu and Yasmin styles

Thank heaven for beautiful girls.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let them sweat

Recently, a big part of the Mid-Atlantic and the eastern Midwest had to suffer from severe power outages during an intense, history-making, climate change-fueled heat wave, due to a powerful derecho event.  (If you haven't heard about that I don't know what hole you live in, but a derecho is basically a very strong, very fast moving thunderstorm complex.  It does most of its damage with straight-line, Cat 1 to Cat 2 hurricane force winds.  In the forested East, this meant bringing down a lot of trees and power lines.  Hence lots of urban and suburban regions lost power for significant numbers of days.  That marks the end of the lesson).

Anyways, it was apparently tough, sweaty, and not much fun.  I can vouch for that, we were without power from Friday to late Sunday.  Glad I didn't have to go through another hot night.  And being in the power business, I can see why people get grouchy when they don't have it.  (I pretty much knew that, but this certainly brought the lesson home).

Got lucky on the food front, because Saturday was a grocery run.

Anyway, thinking back on all that, I figure that I should tell the Japanese people (for whom I hold no great respect on the conservation front considering that they are bringing bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction for the sake of high-end sushi) that if they want to sweat it out during the summer because they are afraid of nuclear power, which in my opinion is the only way to avoid more climate change, stronger storms, bigger and longer droughts, flooding, sea level rise, biodiversity devastation, and overall downside trends for much of this good Earth, then they can just go ahead and sweat.   I, on the other hand, think that we should try to come up with a way to get to a future with both power and a viable terrestrial environment for most of the world's people.  People say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Oh, and I should add, I'm very sorry about what happened to your country with the earthquake and tsunami.  Yes, I know the derecho was very small potatoes compared to that.  But these things happen, and they help tell us how to fix things so that the next time they happen -- and I'm sorry your island country is in a location that's bound to have more earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis -- then the effects won't be so devastating. Hopefully.

Nuclear restart generates power, protest in Japan

"But there are no easy answers for Japan. The nation has no known fossil-fuel reserves of its own, and began relying heavily to nuclear power as a home-grown resource after the global oil shocks of the 1970s. The nation's faith in the safety of its nuclear fleet was shattered when the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami touched off the crisis at Fukushima. Since then, Japan has been ramping up fossil-fuel imports, aggressively promoting renewables and conservation, and trying to plot a new energy future.
While debate continues on a long-term plan, though, Noda concluded Japan couldn't make it through summer without some measure of atomic energy—a decision that now has driven opposition into the streets."

Not good news at all

Just found this out today -- the next Finnish reactor supposed to come on line next year isn't going to make that, and probably won't make the year after that, too.  Part of restoring and increasing the public confidence in clean and safe nuclear energy is bringing reactors online on time, and preferably on or under budget.   These multi-year extensions and multi-billion cost overruns are NOT good for business.

Olkiluoto 3 delayed beyond 2014

"TVO noted, "Planning, documentation and licensing of the reactor plant automation are not yet completed," and complained that these "have not progressed according to the supplier's schedules." TVO senior vice president for corporate relations Anna Lehtiranta said, "Even though we are not pleased with the situation and the fact that there have been repeated challenges with the time scheduling, works are progressing and solutions for remaining instrumentation and control (I&C) items are fixed step-by-step."

The utility said that Areva-Siemens are constructing the 1600 MWe plant under a fixed-price turnkey contract and therefore the consortium is responsible for the time schedule of the project. It expects the supplier "to update the overall schedule and provide a new confirmation and analysis of the completion date, as well as clarification of the measures needed to keep up with the schedule."

This is where it gets interesting:

Areva-Siemens filed a request for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce in December 2008 concerning the delay of Olkiluoto and the related costs. Its latest monetary claim, including indirect items and interest, is some €1.9 billion ($2.3 billion). TVO has made a counterclaim which currently amounts to €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion).
And that is not any way to make progress.

"Game of Thrones" lands Mrs. Peel, aka Tracy Bond, aka ...

Exciting casting news about "Game of Thrones" next season from HBO at the recent Comic-Con.  They've got Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, otherwise known as Diana Rigg, playing the matriarch of the Tyrells.  As Huffington Post reports: 
"Diana Rigg of the classic British series "The Avengers" joins "Game of Thrones" as Lady Olenna Tyrell, "The Queen of Thorns." She is the grandmother of the aristocrats Loras and Margaery Tyrell and the matriarch of the powerful Tyrell clan."

 Let's recall that Margaery Tyrell is the lady, played by Natalie Dormer (who also played Anne Boleyn in "The Tudors"), who offered herself in marriage to the horrid King Joffrey (actually her brother offered her, but it's pretty obvious Margaery was in on the deal).  I expect that Margaery's expertise in the marital arts will blow young Joffrey's mind.  Can't wait to find out if I'm right.  And watching Dame Enid go face-to-face with Margaery at some point in the next season will be a match made in fantasy/sci-fi heaven.

Two marvelous quotes about Mitt Romney

First, from "Mitt Romney and GOP learn what's good for the goose is good for the sauce" :

"Since Mitt Romney continues to want to divert attention from his own questionable doings by assigning blame, it’s not the Obama Team he should be lambasting. He need look no further than his own party: the one that announced the day after President Obama was elected that its sole focus during his administration would be to guarantee that he is a one-term president, and whose every action backed up that sentiment.

Romney’s own Republican party, the one that has obfuscated and filibustered nearly  everything that has come their way; the conservative crew that refused to compromise on budgets that forced the nation into default [and a strong reduction in consumer confidence]; the elite that has failed to act on jobs legislation that would help the economy and the middle class; and the denizens of dysfunction that have voted over thirty times to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act are the ones to blame."

And from Jon Stewart on the Daily Show:

"I was just the guy with the the smoke screenish, yet still legal title of CEO and Managing Director who was paid at least $100,000 a year to do what, according to me, Mitt Romney, was nothing. That’s the kind of common sense business experience I hope to bring to the White House."

Priceless.   As well as dead-on accurate.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Europeans take on space junk

Like it or not, space junk -- otherwise known as leftovers in orbit -- is a growing problem that threatens space commerce, space research, Earth observations in space, and the growing importance of communications in the world economy.  So it's good to see that the European Space Agency is taking some steps to address the problem.  If we had a world government with more finances devotable to such an issue, we could take even more steps.

ESA's Clean Space targets orbital debris and greener environment

Industry is contributing to ESA's draft plans for developing Clean Space technologies: new tools to assess environmental effects, more eco-friendly replacements for materials and techniques, and ways to halt the production of more space debris and bring down existing debris levels.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain emphasises that implementing Clean Space is a major objective of Agenda 2015, the Agency's upcoming action plan: "If we are convinced that space infrastructure will become more and more essential, then we must transmit the space environment to future generations as we found it, that is, pristine."

Good goals.  Maybe it's a good plan.

The rock orbiting Mars

Great picture of Phobos from the Mars Express.  Despite the face that the Russian's ambition mission to Phobos failed, it would still be a good target.  But Mars doesn't take kindly to poorl-planned missions. 

GO Curiousity!

Lindsay Price's new good news

The lucky regular readers of this blog (there may actually be a few of them)  will know or remember that I am a Lindsay Price fan from way back.  I've posted on how pretty she is,  what she looks like nackt (that's naked for us English speakers), and that's she got pregnant and then had a baby with her boyfriend, Aussie celebrity chef Curtis Stone.  Just search to verify.

Well, now it there's news that Curtis is going to do right by the mother of his baby and marry her.  Which I think is good news -- they seem happy together, at least based on the quotes in the article.

Curtis Stone and Lindsay Price engaged! After three years and a baby together couple are finally ready to tie the knot

The near future of Andy Murray

After Murray's loss at Wimbledon makes it possible to wonder if he'll ever win a Grand Slam.  It was close: he was 30-love in the pivotal game of the 2nd set, when Federer broke him to take it;  he was 40-love in the epic pivotal game of the third set, with 10 (or was it 11?) deuces.  And closing the roof appeared to aid the genius of Federer, who painted the lines in the last two sets -- Murray never caught a break on replays.  Federer is likely the best that's ever been (even though it's hard to judge for sure as technologies change and training improves), and it's hard to beat that when it is at its best.  And he was.

Will Andy Murray ever win a Grand Slam?

So this article wonders if Murray has the heart and mind to win a Slam final.  He's definitely got the game, and he's maturing.   Now, Federer is getting older, even if he didn't show it at Wimbledon, but faster surfaces make for quicker points, and that aided him.   With all due deference to his athletic wizardry, he's lost half a step and eventually it'll be a step.   That leaves Nadal and Djokovic.  At any given time, Nadal's style could deal him a significant injury, and then he's out of commission for awhile.  Which leaves a pretty athletic Djokovic.  It's hard to see how he can be beaten if he plays at his best, by anybody, but not everyone plays at their best all the time, so it only takes one upset to open the door.

So, if I was to predict, I'd say he will win one.  Of course, I predicted he'd win one this year, and now there's only one more chance for him to do that.  But I wish him luck;  it's hard to be #4 in a world with three great players.  And so in addition to his athletic talent, he'll probably need a bit of luck, too.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why cut taxes when you can avoid them?

Sanjay Sanghoee wonders, even despite Romney's Bain Capital irregularities, why and if a Presidential candidate should so openly avoid paying taxes.   And what he says about taxes is dead right, too.

Romney and offshore tax havens


"It is disturbing to think that a potential president of the United States would consider  it acceptable to siphon money into offshore bank accounts in order to shield that money from taxes. Taxation, unpleasant as it might be, is the primary funding mechanism for our nation; without it we would be reduced to a wasteland of crumbling infrastructure,  non-existent public services, and anarchy. Taxes fund most of our crucial public functions from road repair and public transport to the police force, welfare, and  even trash collection."

We're already seeing difficult choices being made because of the tax cut and deficit legacy of the Bush years, compounded by the nasty recession that began at the end of the Bush administration and which bedeviled the Obama administration.  Those choices are only going to get more difficult, and the GOP is squirming about the potential of tough Defense cuts.  (And so are employers.)  But still the GOP won't consider taxes as part of a deficit reduction package that might actually make a difference.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nearly unbelievable natural chemistry

Just when you think that nature can't come up with anything really surprising, there comes this discovery of how the most reactive gaseous element known can actually exist in nature as its gaseous self, as little gas bubbles inside a form of the mineral flourite called antozonite.  I had never heard of stinky fluorite (oh, I'm sorry, "fetid" fluorite), and now I think I won't ever forget about it!

First direct evidence that elemental fluorine occurs in nature

(picture below)

There.  See?  It is truly possible to learn something new every day, especially in the era of the Internet.

Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun

This particular video has some nice paintings associated with it.  This particular post is a preview of coming attractions.

A sonnet about... well, you know

Well if you don't know what "clouds and rain" mean, you are invited to look it up.


Her clutching, touching, urging hold sustains
the verging merge that she incites with joy,
compelling simple motion as the rains
and clouds converge and soar, and we alloy
our bond of silken steel -- we hold and mold,
entwining beauty (though it might be viewed
as other than the nature we enfold
within the basal act, where crude or rude
that it may seem, and lovely be, it lies
far more than necessary) -- brutal force
received, returned, replete complete, replies
in luscious naked brilliance voice the source
of ecstasy, onrushing love gives lust
its reason to transform from near to must.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beyond the petals

Awhile ago I posted about Zahia Dehar's couture dress that basically looked like a collection of artfully draped flower petals.  Well, she's moved on in the fashion world, but I'm not sure that she's improved.  Furthermore, given what she's designing (she actually is designing nightwear and lingerie), I'm not sure she HAS to improve.  Remember, I'm talking about a remarkably shaped girl who rose to fame, so to speak,because she was an underage teenage prostitute hosting some strapping Euro soccer players

So here's the article, from the Huffington Post:

Zahia Dehar's lingerie collection at Paris fashion week

Here's Zahia herself, still quite remarkably shaped.  She's wearing something that is ostensibly called a bridal gown.  If that's a bridal gown, the wedding would be almost unimaginable.  But I can still try.

 And below is one of her more conservative pieces.  I'm not kidding.  The one being worn by the model walking the other way is somewhat less conservative, as can be ass-certained.

And there's a 12-minute video (in HD, no less) of the show right here.  Not for the faint of heart.

This review said: 

"The perfect combination of sweet and sexy, the Zahia Dehar catwalk consisted of cupcakes and corsets aplenty, with models emerging from deliciously decorated giant cakes. These girls definitely know how to make an entrance!"

 More pictures of the collection, and this comment:

"Do you like what you see? I think her designs are awesome. These are not your ‘average’ push up bra and panty lingerie from your ‘favorite store.’

I should say so.  Does Zahia have talent as a fashion designer?  I don't really think an opinion is warranted.  Should it be?  That's probably missing the point of all this.

This place really does exist

Some places in this world seem too improbably wonderful to be real. 

This railway bridge in the Swiss Alps (image from National Geographic) is one of them.

Swiss nuke plants are in great shape

The government of Switzerland has certified that its four nuclear power plants are safe from earthquakes.

I'd expect nothing less of the Swiss. And I also would expect very few major earthquakes in Switzerland, too.  Maybe their decision for full phase-out by 2034 will reverse when the climatic path toward melting Alpine glaciers becomes all the more  obvious.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Republican Climate Brainiacs on attack

Over on Watts Up with That?, chief of the site Anthony Watts went after science writer Chris Mooney in the "By this logic, Chris Mooney should be blaming Obama for not seizing the opportunity to talk about global cooling last winter" post. Many of his followers joined in the condemnation chorus. Which all nicely ties in with Mooney's theses, well-supported by research, in the book. And I enjoy the taste of irony in that.

I felt it necessary to reply, if only to illustrate exactly what cognitive contortions the climate denial crowd has to go through to overlook the obvious.  My reply is shown below.  

One of Mooney’s points regarding how those with the Republican brain think about subjects is the cognitive necessity to ignore or discount that which contradicts their points. A destructive derecho fueled by extraordinary high temperature differential? It happens every four years or so around here. NEVER MIND that it was one of the most powerful derechos ever recorded in the Mid-Atlantic, causing more destruction than anything other than a hurricane, according to the Governor of Virginia. The massive heat wave? Heat waves happen all the time, it’s natural variability. NEVER MIND that all-time high temperature records are being set (as for last year in Oklahoma and Texas), not just daily temperature records. NEVER MIND the increasing ratio difference between record highs and record lows. Temperature stations are sited incorrectly, or increasing trends are caused by ‘urban heat islands’? Of course that makes sense. NEVER MIND that phenologic data of numerous kinds show earlier springs and later autumns, the behavior of numerous animal species is changing, or species are declining, in directions consistent with climate warming. The massive fires out West, last summer and this? No big deal, summer is fire season. NEVER MIND that pine bark beetles are ravaging higher altitude forests, creating optimum fuel conditions under dry weather, and also causing soil erosion and water loss in the Southwest as pinyon pine and juniper die off. The decline in sea ice extent in the Arctic? Let’s hang on to the hope that the extent won’t go below the minimum of 2007. NEVER MIND that the sea ice volume is at all time lows, as is multi-year ice.

That’s what many of the discussions at this site amount to — cognitive reassurance for those who need to know that NEVER MIND is a way of dealing with a reality that they can’t deal with.

As for this post: NEVER MIND. It’s meaningless, because all the trends that go against the necessary belief structures are meaningless to those who are cognitively unable to consider them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some sense on the GOP side

Believe it or not, there are a few Republican Congressmen and candidates that aren't kowtowing to the King of the Republican Revolution, Grover Norquist, because they aren't signing on to his ridiculous pledge against taxes.  I wish that he could be relegated to insignificance in a short period of time, but unfortunately the dieless brainhards (sorry, I meant brainless diehards) are still hoping that Jim DeMint will magically run for President with Marco Rubio by his side.  That would be a surefire prescription for disaster if they got elected, but a rubber stamp, Etch-a-Sketch candidate would be just about as bad.

Fewer Republicans signing on to the Pledge against Taxes

Baltimore Orioles Pitching - who are these guys?

After Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen, with Arrieta, Hunter, and Matusz sent down,  the Orioles are trying a long reliever, Miguel Gonzalez*, as a starter, and  who else have they got?  Chris Tillman?  Maybe. Where's Zach Britton when you need him?  (Actually, he's just about ready to go.)

*Game update - he did well, holding the Angels without a run (Daren O'Day let a two-run homer go, but that was it in a 3-2 win), but this is not a sustainable pitching rotation.

Orioles trying something completely different

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finding hope in a fancy toilet

In my previous post, I wrote about the hope that fougerite gives us.  In this post, I write about a truer hope from new technology - a new toilet that saves water (a lot) and which takes the waste we humans produce (a lot) and turns it into electricity.   The reason I found this so hopeful is that it addresses directly the fact that we humans are so wasteful, and makes us less so.  If similar steps could be taken for major sectors like transportation and home enerrgy use, and recycling of just about everything, and even capturing otherwise wasted food, we'd really be taking steps in the direction that we as a collective humanity need to go.

New toilet turns human waste into electricity and fertilizer

What the heck is 'green rust' ?

So green rust offers hope for the future.  But that beggars the question -- what exactly is 'green rust' ?  It appears that it is an oxidation product of iron (Fe), but rather than the normal case of Fe3+ (which creates red rust), this is rust utilizing Fe2+

I got that from this:  Iron (II) hydroxide

"If the solution was not deoxygenated and the iron reduced, the precipitate can vary in color starting from green to reddish brown depending on the iron(III) content. This precipitate is also known as "green rust" in the crystal lattice of which iron(II) ions are easily substituted by iron(III) ions produced by its progressive oxidation."

So it turns out that recently natural iron (II) hydroxide was found, and it is named fougerite.

And apparently fougerite gives us hope:

 Evidence of oceanic "green rust" offers hope for the future

But why?  WHY?

This is why:

"The high reactivity of green rust is the reason it could be so much help in cleaning up polluted sites. The rust reduces elements like chromium, uranium and selenium, significantly reducing their solubility and mobility in the environment, and in some cases absorbing them into the rust's molecular structure."

So now I know.  And now anybody reading this knows, too.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Saving the Southwest -- beyond hope?

Dying trees in Southwest set stage for erosion, water loss in Colorado River 

In addition to the increased fire risk, the results of which we have currently witnessed in Colorado, the loss of drought-resistant trees is setting the stage for more problems in the near future.  Even though the evidence is stark, it's too bad many of the West's citizens choose not to see it or understand it.  Mostly those of the Republican persuasion, sad to say. 

"Pinyon pine and juniper are naturally drought-resistant, so when these tree species die from lack of water, it means something pretty serious is happening," said Wendy Peterman, an OSU doctoral student and soil scientist with the Conservation Biology Institute. "They are the last bastion, the last trees standing and in some cases the only thing still holding soils in place."

"These areas could ultimately turn from forests to grasslands, and in the meantime people are getting pretty desperate about these soil erosion issues," she said. "And anything that further reduces flows in the Colorado River is also a significant concern."

Recent drought in Arizona and New Mexico is causing decline of pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) across 12 000 km2 of the Southwest (Breshears et. al 2005).

Fix or famine?

The Baltic Sea isn't in great shape, due to its shape and the increasing population around its shores. That shape means that the circulation and refreshment of the water is restricted, which leads to excess nutrients, which leads to eutrophication, which leads to bottom anoxia, i.e., no oxygen in the waters on the bottom, which kills the organisms living on the bottom, or drives them away, and reduces the food supply for the fish and their habitat -- all-in-all, not a good situation.  There are two ways to address such a situation -- reduce the nutrient input, or geo-engineer a fix, like pumping oxygenated water down to the bottom.  Such a plan is going to be demonstrated, but some researchers are saying geo-engineering could make more problems than it solves.  My view is:  test and verify.  The Earth's beleaguered ecosystems need all the help they can get.  So I don't agree with not testing a pilot project.

Saving the Baltic:  geoengineering efforts to mix oxygen into the Deep Baltic should be abandoned

Musical tribute to the 4th

Original motion picture soundtrack, 1776:    Is Anybody There?

Monday, July 2, 2012

What to do with time on your hands

Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy is married to a beautiful former model and former rock star escort (Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton), and since he just recently lost the reelection battle, it appears that they both needed something to do.

Former French First Lady pregnant with third child at age 44

The six (seven?) different types of sports movies

One of the things I want to write about is sports movie music, for which we owe a great deal of respect to Jerry Goldsmith.  But as I was thinking about that, I thought about the plots and stories in sports movies, and came up with several categories.  Below are the results of this line of thinking.

 1. Bio-pic:  following the life of a famous athlete.  Ali, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, The Express, Seabiscuit, Cobb (book), Coach Carter, Pride of the Yankees
2. Coming-of-age story: Athlete, (frequently self-absorbed) has to mature to a) win, b)  become a better person, and c) learn that sports isn't everything.   So many:  Vision Quest, Youngblood, All the Right Moves, Varsity Blues, Days of  Thunder, Bend it Like Beckham ...
3. Underdog:  athlete or team that is too [small, underfunded, underskilled, disadvantaged] gets [unlikely break, new coach, unexpected inspiration, great player] and  [ wins championship, comes close to winning, has moment-of-a-lifetime,  learns valuable life lessons]. So many:  The Rookie, The Mighty Ducks, The Replacements, Hoosiers, The Color of Money, The Longest Yard, Breaking Away, Rocky, The Bad News Bears, The Karate Kid, Major League, Million Dollar Baby...

4. Literary adaptation. (Semi-Tough, The Natural, For Love of the Game, North Dallas Forty, Moneyball, Brian's Song, Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Bang the Drum Slowly)

5. Absurd comedy, the "Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Caddyshack" division.  (Caddyshack, Blades of Glory, The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, Kingpin, BASEketball, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Talladega Nights, Slapshot)

6. Event movie:  About a real event or season.  (The Greatest Game Ever Played, Glory Road, Remember the Titans, Invictus, Miracle, We Are Marshall, Rudy, Eight Men Out,  A League of Their Own, Chariots of Fire)

Hybrids:  The Rookie - underdog and event movie
Rudy - underdog and event movie
Miracle - the ultimate underdog and event movie
Breaking Away - underdog and coming-of-age
The Bad News Bears - underdog and absurd comedy
Cobb - biopic and literary adaptation
Seabiscuit - biopic and literary adaptation
Semi-Tough - literary adaptation and absurd comedy
Glory Road - event movie based on a book
Vision Quest - literary adaptation and coming-of-age plot

There are a few movies that are tough calls:  could I call these sports rom-coms?
Bull Durham
Heaven Can Wait
Tin Cup
White Men Can't Jump
Jerry Maguire
Field of Dreams

Czech this one off

The Czech Republic recently completed a power upgrade at the Dukovany nuclear plant. And they have a populace largely in favor of nuclear power.

Dukovany raises output to match Temelin

The nuclear power plant of Dukovany has completed a project to raise its output from 1,760 MW to 2,000 MW. A plant spokesman told the Czech Press Agency that the EDU+ project had included the replacement and modernisation of eight turbine sets, generators and transformers and a rise in output among all four nuclear reactors.

Poll: support for nuclear energy on rise 

More than 60 percent of Czechs are for in favour of the further development of nuclear energy in the country, a new poll by the STEM agency suggests, indicating that doubts over nuclear power raised by last year´s disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan have continued to drop. Support for nuclear energy among Czechs, however, has not reached previous levels of support such as in 2009 when more than 70 percent were in favour. The number of those who are confidant that electricity production by nuclear power plants could be covered by other sources has meanwhile decreased: fewer than half of those polled replied that other sources would be sufficient. More than three-quarters of Czechs also fear energy dependency, another factor that STEM took into account with regards to growing support for nuclear energy in the country.
I'm glad our Czech mates have a sensible outlook on nuclear power.  (Badda-bing)

Late June Quinnipiac poll finds swing state swing to Obama

Note:  this happened before the surprising Supreme Court preservation of the Obama health care program.

Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania swing toward Obama

-- FLORIDA: Obama 45 - Romney 41 OHIO: Obama 47 - Romney 38 PENNSYLVANIA: Obama 45 - Romney 39 Voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania support President Barack Obama's new immigration policy and are divided on whether the president or Gov. Mitt Romney would be better for their personal economic future, as they give Obama leads in these three critical swing states, a razor thin 4 points in Florida, a healthy 9 points in Ohio and 6 points in Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.

There's still a long, long way to go -- and lots of money to be spent -- and likely one or two near-collapses of European countries due to debt (Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland all in the running) -- so the outcome is not at all a sure thing, so this type of news is merely hopeful.   I still think and hope that Romney's penchant for both lying about (when he has to) and avoiding  issues (every chance he gets) will come to the fore big-time when the real campaign gets underway.

And I sure would like to have an Etch-a-Sketch bumper sticker (such as the one I designed below).

Did you see these images?

Lots and lots of people have posted and reposted about the Wellcome microscopic photography awards, so I ain't being original here, but the images are so amazing that I want a link to them on my blog, too.  Like many others, I was fascinated by the diatom that looks like a radioactivity symbol -- which appeals to my nuclear sentiments, natch.   I tried searching to see it it was identifiable as a species, but I couldn't find anything.

Wellcome Image Awards 2012 (HuffingtonPost slide show)

Yes, some radioactivity leaked into the ocean near the Fukushima plant, but I didn't think this was necessary