Sunday, March 31, 2013

If you want this many

My roving eye was entrapped and enraptured by this sweetly beguiling, lightly erotic, lovely picture of a young actress/starlet named Paulie Rojas.   (And another one here).

It came from a Web site/feature/whatever you want to call it that has 501 pictures of beautiful people.  So if you've got the time, it's got the faces (and in some cases the bodies).


The status of krill

Krill, the amazing euphausiid (actually called Euphausiia superba) are the biological engine that drives the Antarctic ecosystem, both on land and especially in the water.   As goes krill, so go the whales, penguins, elephant seals, leopard sharks, Weddell seals, and fish of myriad kinds, some of them with antifreeze in their blood.

So krill counts are important for every other denizen of the southern continent and its adjacent island communities, as well.  A possible large decline (hard to confirm) has been noted;  it might not be so bad as first thought, because there's still a lot of krill.  But as these articles note, further declines wouldn't be good and monitoring is important - even in this era of budget cuts.

Here's an article about the krill fishery management effort from NOAA:
License to krill

"Ice cover is important for krill, which take shelter under the ice and feed on algae that grow there. As winter ice cover has declined in extent and duration, the krill population has declined as well. By some estimates, krill abundance has dropped by as much as 80 percent since the 1970s
With ice cover retreating, fishing has picked up in winter. The AMLR team, after 25 years of summer surveys, has shifted to winter as well. Reiss and his colleagues conducted their first wintertime krill survey last year, and preliminary data indicate that as fishing activity shifts to winter, there is the potential for competition between fishing vessels and winter-resident animals such as gentoo penguins and several species of seals."

And another one from the New York Times:
Team tracks a food supply at the end of the world

"The western Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than most of the rest of the earth. Winter temperatures have shot up roughly 11 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 60 years, reducing sea ice cover. Those and other effects of climate change have caused Antarctic krill populations to plummet 40 to 80 percent in the last three decades around the South Shetland Islands near the tip of the peninsula, according to research published last May in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research, led by Wayne Z. Trivelpiece of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also showed that populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins, which rely heavily on krill, declined more than 50 percent in the northern peninsula, where krill fishing vessels concentrate."

Yes, I like Katie B. and I'm glad her husband does too

Returning to the Kate Beckinsale theme, I am glad as hell that she still appears to be madly in love with her husband (Len Wiseman, as evidenced below), and thus I think they still have great sex, which is what a woman that is this sexy definitely deserves.

Imagination  fills in the gaps when one views a picture like this (from this Daily Mail article).

Demos of why Len Wiseman is a smart, smart guy to be with this woman:

Good move, Len

Even better move (on vacation)

Sony Open (tennis) comments

Just saw Murray survive Ferrer in three sets and a tiebreak.  Murray hit the baseline on a shot that had it been long would've given Ferrer the title.  But Ferrer was fighting cramps in the heat, and had nothing left in the third set tiebreaker.

Sony Open, Miami, Ferrer-Murray final

Maria Sharapova can slightly congratulate herself for taking the first set from Serena, but after that, Serena steamrolled to the win in the next two sets, 6-0 in the third.  Maria is playing so well right now that if it weren't for Serena, she'd be lauded for her dominance.  But this is the Serena era, and the only way anyone else wins a tournament if she's in it is if something goes wrong, like an injury or a terrifically bad day.  She's so good right now that even on a moderately poor form day, like yesterday against Sharapova, she still finds a way to win.

Here's two things from the SI article I've linked to that say it all.

"Maria Sharapova played her best match against Serena Williams in almost 10 years and it still wasn’t enough. ... Sharapova, who entered on an 11-match winning streak in which she hadn’t dropped a set, fell to 0-5 in Miami finals."

That's amazing.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Really? Here?

According to this article (which is from the Daily Mail, so it might be a little exaggerated) HALF of U.S. rivers are so polluted that they can't support aquatic life.

I would have thought that true of China, but here in the U.S.A?  Really?

So I looked around and found an article about the EPA report from the more reputable Washington Post.  What even the Daily Mail article says is that 55% of the U.S. rivers are classified in "poor" condition, many of them in the heavily populated and heavily paved East Coast, where I live.  And a lot of that poorness is mainly due to excess nutrients running off from lawns and farms.   "Poor" means that they are unable to support healthy populations of "aquatic insects and other creatures".   Which is not exactly not supporting any aquatic life -- just not enough and not enough of the right kinds, i.e., organisms sensitive to water quality that is significantly less than clean and pristine.

So -- it isn't good.  Probably not as bad as the Daily Mail painted it, but still not good.

This article from Media Matters has some graphics and summaries about the report, but is mainly about dickhead conservative "news"person John Stossel claiming that everything has been cleaned up nicely and we don't need to spend any more money on piddling little matters like water pollution.

Stupid.  But I expect no less from ignorant Republican conservative "news"persons.

If you want to judge for yourself, here's a link to the actual report.  Go to it.

We have advanced so far

My life has been long enough that I clearly remember the amazing pictures of Mars taken by Mariner 9, which just so happened to be the first ever mission that put a satellite in orbit around another planet.  After the dust cleared, Mariner 9 showed the true face of Mars for the first time:   gigantic canyons, massive volcanoes, cratered areas, nearly featureless deserts (and no canals or little green men).

And since then I witnessed the landings of the Vikings, the Mars Pathfinder and its cute little Sojourner rover, several finally successful orbital missions with advanced cameras that can see the trails of the next rovers, and now the Curiosity roving laboratory.   And with the advances have come clearer and clearer pictures, that can now be animated as if we were actually standing on the surface of Mars.

Quite an era we live in.

Here's the panorama from Curiosity.  If you're not amazed, then you probably aren't impressed with Michelle Keegan's cleavage, either.

Michelle Keegan's new BF, and other important news

I admire a lot of women, for various different reasons, all of which are somewhat based on their female attractiveness.  I have evinced my admiration numerous times on this blog.  One of my objects of repeated evincing is the supremely shaped British soap opera actress Michelle Keegan.

Well, there's news afoot on the Keegan front, and I don't use that word lightly.  She broke up with an idiot rocker boyfriend who apparently cheated on her -- IDIOT -- and has been single for awhile.  But not anymore.  She's now with a British reality show star, who was previously with Lauren Goodger (another reality show star) for about a decade.  With Michelle, he's moved on, and certainly in my opinion moved up.   Apparently they've been revealed to be together over the last couple of months (like here, and like here).  So good for her, and I believe, very good for him.

But there's more.  Not only has Michelle been picked as having the "Cleavage of the Year" -- the darned article does not do that justice, but below I will -- she's also appearing in the  March 2013 issue of FHM-UK, displaying her fineness in photographic fashion.  All of which  makes me very happy. For her, and for me, and for heterosexual sighted males of the  Caucasian persuasion everywhere.

By the way, Wonderbra helped pick the winner of the Cleavage of the Year award, and Michelle had nice things to say about them, thusly:
‘I'm a 30DD so it's usually impossible to find a good one but my Wonderbra is amazing,' says Michelle.
Umm, yes, she said 30DD.  Luverly.  See below.

That's what a 30DD looks like

Whatever happened to Jimmy Chitwood?

As we get ready for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, I'm sure the movie "Hoosiers" will be on a few times.  Plus, as I write this, the Hoosiers are still in the tournament, but may be out by the time you read this.  Hope not, but we'll see.

Anyway, I accidentally stumbled on an article about what happened to the actor that played Jimmy Chitwood, the character in the movie that was a really good player and who hit the winning shot in the championship game, a shot that was nearly identical to the actual  shot taken by Bobby Plump in the 1954 game where little Milan High beat much bigger Muncie Central, the inspiration for the movie.

Actor who played Jimmy Chitwood in 'Hoosiers' made the most of his one big shot

Link to YouTube video on the Milan High - Muncie Central 1954 Indiana championship game

One of the things about the movie was that Jimmy wasn't initially playing on the team, but came back  out to play on the team, and make it a lot better.  Sort of like Elena Delle Donne of Delaware, who went to UConn, quit, came back home to Delaware, played volleyball, and then came back to basketball, where she's taken the Blue Hens to their first-ever women's Sweet 16.   The matchup I'd like to see, but probably won't, is Delle Donne vs. Baylor's Britney Griner.  But there are several more upsets necessary for Delaware to get that far.  Still, Larry Bird and Danny Manning could do it for their teams -- why not Elena?  In BB, one great player can take a good team a long way.

More good things to say about beavers

Beavers are cute, wonderful to see, and even nicer to pet.  If you have a nice tame one at home, that is. And it also turns out that their dams can slow down oil spills and keep them out of sensitive environments, as happened recently.   What's good for  beavers is good for humans everywhere, I always say.  Some of the valiant oil-besmirched beavers were even cleaned up and nursed back to health.

Willard Bay State Park Beaver Dam Partially Contained Chevron Oil Spill, Officials Say 


Possible game-changer

One of the things that would truly change the playing field with regard to climate change and CO2 in the atmosphere is a process that effectively draws CO2 out of the atmosphere and makes something useful out of it.  That's obviously what plants do (they make cellulose, for example, if they are terrestrial woody plants, which can be used for building materials and for energy production, to name
a couple).  

The problem is, there isn't a big enough process and economic incentive to create a process large enough
to address the problem.  Some ideas have been floated, like pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and  injecting it into deep geological formations that can absorb CO2 and hold it sponge-like.  But the energy required to run the extraction process is prohibitive.  Other people have come up with CO2eating "trees"  that could be  deployed along roadways to suck up excess CO2 generated by traffic. 

Which would be expensive.

So what is needed is something relatively cheap that would be self-sustaining with a few basic ingredients, and produce something economically viable, meaning that it could be sold.

And for a long time I figured that would be biomass digestion;  let the plants grow and extract CO2 when doing so, then harvest, dump them into a bacterial digester, let the bacteria  digest and convert the biomass into biofuels.  Steps have been taken in that direction, but it's still hard to break down lignin.  Those cell walls keep getting in the way.

So take out the middle-man.  Have the plant cells produce something fuelish directly, using CO2  from the atmosphere.  If that was deployed large-scale, it could make transportation fuel production carbon-neutral.  That would be a wedge in the right direction.

Well, maybe perhaps a researcher in Georgia is on the right track.  He's engineered a hydrothermal vent bacterium to work at room temperature and take CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into a chemical compound called "3-hydroxypropionic acid, a common industrial chemical used to make  acrylics and many other products".

So if it can do that, can it make hexanol, heptanol, and octanol (i.e., gasoline)?  He thinks  he can.  Then you just grow the bacteria and let them eat CO2, and make the stuff we need.

(And the Repubicans want to reduce the budget for the Department of Energy and basic university research like this that could put the world on a better path.)

UGA discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere

But I hope this potential game-changer gets the funds he needs to do what he thinks he can do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Geographical trivia

The first, second, and fourth highest mountains in North America are in Alaska and the Yukon.

So where are the third and fifth highest?  (Not hard to search for, but this surprised me.)

Here's a nice picture of the third highest:

Pico de Orizaba/Citlaltepetl, Mexico.  Popocatepetl, also in Mexico, is the fifth-highest.

Guilty as charged, and loving it

I would truly like to see celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis pose nude for high quality erotic photographs, such as appear in Playboy.

I know, I know, I'm a terrible person.  But I still would.

This is funny:

And this is probably the best I'll ever get:

I wrote this about the Capitals in the Washington Post

Before Friday's game against Winnipeg, I wrote the following in the comments section on an article about the Washington Capitals in the Washington post, which was entitled "Braden Holtby, Capitals shut out first place Jets".  It was about the Thursday night game.  The Capitals and Jets were in a strange (for the regular season) situation of playing back-to-back games on one team's rink - in this case, Winnipeg's.

"There's a scene in the movie "Patton", after the general and his aide have surveyed the field of battle, where Patton says, "Now I have precisely the right instrument at precisely the right moment of history and exactly the right place. ... This will change too, very quickly. Like a planet spinning off into the universe. A moment like this won't come again for years." 

In this strange and short season, the Capitals suddenly find themselves in a similar situation of stellar alignment. Following an unbelievably atrocious start (still finding it hard to believe three 5-on-3 power plays in four games), they have clawed back to a semblance of respectability, with occasional forays into the land of the sublime - or at least the acceptable. The cavalry (Laich) & artillery (Green) are back.

Now, facing a strange Winnipeg team (that wins more on the road than at home) in back-to-back road games, and then the Rangers at MSG, the Caps could envision going into next Tuesday's home game against the beatable (at least they aren't Pittsburgh) Islanders with a chance to pass both NYR and CAR and find themselves in the unlikely Shangri-La of a playoff spot. NYR (32 pts) doesn't play again until they face WSH on Sunday. CAR (32 pts) doesn't play again until Tuesday, vs the better-on-the-road Jets. Good for health, not good for points. WSH has 27 points right now. Beating WIN again = 29. Beating NYR = 31 (and NYR stays at 32). Beating NYI on Tuesday = 33. If WIN beats CAR that night, the 'Caps move past the 'Canes. And NYI (29 pts) has to play PIT Friday, though one can't expect miracles from FLA again (or can we) on Sunday.

The saying goes "play it one game at a time". The players should, must focus on the immediate. Fans can look ahead and see tantalizing possibilities. Bu were I Adam Oates, I think I would make it very clear in that locker room tonight before the game that this is their time.

Unleash the fury & believe the system. Believe It Or Not, it's working."

What happened, you ask?  Well, the Capitals won 6-1, setting up a hugely critical game against the Rangers tomorrow (Sunday, March 24).   This will really serve to show whether or not this team has gotten over the horrendous start and is ready to finish the season strong -- and get into the NHL playoffs, which are madder than March Madness.

Not many response to what I wrote, but I think I did pretty good.  And maybe the coach did give them the right pep talk before the game.

UK approves new nuclear plant

Good news from Ol' England:  a new nuclear plant has been approved.

Britain gives green light to new nuclear plant

It's going to be an EDF plant in Somerset, and it's a large plant.  It will be able to produce ~7% of Britain's electricity.

No information on what kind of plant it's going to be. There's the usual griping by environmental groups who don't understand the importance of meeting growing energy demand AND keeping carbon emissions to a minimum, and who think wind power is a viable alternative.  Just how many windmills, and how much ocean 'acreage', would be needed to produce 7% of the UK's electricity in 2020?  And how many ships would be necessary to go out and service the gigantic windmill field.

I mean, get real. 

Is this really the solution?  Ocean windmills to the horizon? Seriously?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maybe it wasn't a collision (or a correct prediction)

A couple of days ago I credited myself with a fulfilled prediction after a report that a piece of Chinese space satellite junk had crashed into a Russian mini-sat.  Well, there's a report out now that maybe that didn't happen.  So in the interests of maintaining my predictive integrity, here's a link to a story about that.

China Space Junk / Russian satellite collision never happened?

Well, OK.  There's still a lot of time left in the year.  Also enough time to shut down a national park due to sequestration during high season, another one of my predictions.

Didn't I say so?

Not very long ago, I made a very modest prediction about who the final three would be on this season of "Dancing with the Stars".  One of my three finalists was Zendaya.

Well, well, well.  Look who did good in Week 1.

'DWTS' premiere recap: Zendaya emerges as the early frontrunner

Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy:Disney channel star Zendaya and her partner Val tackled a contemporary routine that brought down the audience to their feet. OK, so Zendaya is a professionally trained hip-hop dancer, but at just 16 years old, it was still an impressive feat. "Sweet sixteen and a superb debut on 'Dancing with the Stars,'" Bruno proclaimed, leaping from his chair with enthusiasm.
Another one of my predicted finalists, Dorothy Hamill, who probably hasn't forgotten how to be graceful, did good too.

Ken Cuccinelli ducks and covers his *ss

The Washington Post notes how likely candidate for Virginia governor and nasty hard right conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is hiding some of his previous record of hard right nasty positions in his first moves to try and disguise himself as something more than a nasty hard right conservative.  This is an effort to somehow appeal to anyone in Virginia who isn't a nasty hard right conservative to vote for him. 

It won't work.  People like me around the country, and I'm sure lots of good Dems in Virginia, will maintain the drumbeat about how bad it would be to elect a nasty hard right conservative like Cooch the Gooch as governor of the Old Dominion.

Ken Cuccinelli's airbrushed policies

Extracting a quote:
 "So far as we’ve seen, Mr. Cuccinelli hasn’t shifted his position [on immigration]; he’s just removed it from public view.

This didn’t stop with immigration. In the past few months, the Cuccinelli campaign has also removed from its Web site pages laying out the candidate’s views on abortion (he’s against it) and gun rights (he’s for them), among other things. Mr. Cuccinelli is hardly the first politician to moderate his views while running for higher office, nor even the first to opt for expedience. What sets him apart on immigration, however, is not only the extremity of his thinking compared to the electorate’s, but also how quickly he’s become marginalized within the Republican Party. That’s inconvenient for Mr. Cuccinelli, but there’s no airbrushing it away."
When he starts accepting that humans have caused climate change, then we'll know he's in full lie-to-the-electorate-to-get-elected mode.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Clear perspective on the value of nuclear power

Tom Zeller of the Huffington Post provides a very good perspective on why nuclear power is necessary to the future of human civilization -- and why it's currently a problem.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

Key elements of his work:

"In an analysis published last year, the International Energy Agency suggested that a wholesale divestment from nuclear power would be precisely the wrong move at a time when greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly out of control. Movements away from nuclear power, after all, would in large part be met with increased use of carbon-intensive sources like coal and natural gas, according to the agency's chief economist, Fatih Birol.

Increasing deployment of renewable power sources like wind and solar, as well as improvements in energy efficiency, are vitally important, of course, but many of the world's experts believe that such measures are, by themselves, not enough to tackle the climate imperative facing the planet. "Renewables cannot make it alone," Birol said. "It is not enough."

Precisely right.  It's worth reading the whole thing, which discusses well the risks and the economics.   I happen to think that, given the problems with large plants (which have led to the permanent shutdown of a couple of plants), that the way to go is the mini-nuclear plant.  I think that this also helps control the problem of waste, as the fuel can be self-contained in what essentially becomes a plug-in, pull-out mode, and then you just truck the fuel cylinder to a repository.

Local mini-nukes would work sort of like the way that the Japanese use incinerators.   As local power sources, they have around 20 (here's another perspective).  So my motto might be, "A nuke in every backyard".   Catchy, eh?

"Game of Thrones" anticipation

Is there a nickname for "Game of Thrones" aficionados?   Thronies?  I don't know.  In my book, Tolkien will always be the best, but the ambition and size of George R.R. Martin's effort, and the remarkable HBO translation to video (with movie quality), has been outstanding.

And this season looks to be amazing.

I'm ready.

She'll never know

Another sonnet for March.  I'm in a poetic mood.

'It's all about her'

(dedicated to J)

My eyes seek her in ev'ry likely place
because she is the shape of which I dream.
She's not a classic beauty, has not grace
that begets male amazement -- no, her stream
flows through me when she slakes my needful thirst
for pure connubiality. Indeed,
I know I shall not ever feel a burst
of ecstasies inside her; and my seed
shall not be planted in her womb;  but still
I wish to be her husband when I see
her, have the opportunity and thrill
to view her naked, hold her blissfully
together in both love and passion -- there
is why I wish to be with one so rare.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Things like this make me concerned

Not good news for penguins.  I hate seeing news like this, because it confirms what I think I already know about the state of the world.

Penguins in Antarctica at Serious Risk as Ice Melt Continues (VIDEO)

(Question to the skeptics:  how can this be happening if Antarctic sea ice is increasing?)

"According to a new report by NBC News' Kerry Sanders, the welfare and existence of at least half of the world's 18 penguin species will be negatively impacted if the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula persists. Experts say that a big part of the problem is related to food: Less ice means less krill, a cornerstone of the Antarctic ecosystem and a mainstay of a penguin's diet."

I've got to take a closer look at the state of the krill.

So quit your job

Ryan Seacrest makes (or has made) millions of dollars.  Obviously he's a busy guy between American Top 40, American Idol, red carpet interviews, and lots of other stuff that I don't have time to look up.

But now, after three years of dating a woman that I would argue is currently in the Top 10 of Pure Most Desirable (Julianne Hough), they are taking a break -- can't tell if it's permanent yet -- from their relationship.  It is, of course, a relationship in which it appears that he scored the entrance pass to her most sacred portal (based on what I wrote about).  Can't be sure about that, but one drawback to giving it up to an Alpha Male is that the Alpha Male expects to mate with all of the females in his harem.  Which in human terms amounts to serial monogamy.  Ryan is moving on (but as I said with Leonard DiCaprio and Bar Refaeli, moving on to a higher level is not easy, even the Leo made a strong attempt with both Madalina Ghenea and Erin Heatherton).

OK, Ryan, opportunities like this don't come along every day.  Sure, you've had your fun - but can you seriously top this?  If I was you, I'd quit your day jobs.  Why do you have to work?   Wrap things up, take a long break, and enjoy the profits.  Seriously.

(There was the minor incident of the $100,000 of jewelry he gave her getting stolen from her apparently unlocked car.  Maybe he was miffed.  But hey, this is Julianne Hough we're talking about).

So now Julianne might be available.  After a suitably respectful waiting period (three days is likely enough), what suitor will be texting her telly for a dinner date?  Remember that she's a Mormon by upbringing, but perhaps not exactly following all the tenets of female Mormonhood -- which is of course good since that is a very misognystic religion.

I sure know one thing -- if I was in the right category (meaning having the basic requirements of wealthy, good-looking, available, and in a sufficiently high social stratum), I'd call her as soon as the signing period started.

It's over! Julianne Hough and Ryan Seacrest 'call time on their three-year relationship'

Excellent news for sharks and manta rays

New protections were agreed to for shark and manta ray protection in the world's oceans"

Sharks and Manta Rays Receive Protection Under CITES 

 "At this year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties meeting in Bangkok, countries agreed to increase protection for five commercially-exploited species of sharks and manta rays.  CITES member nations, referred to as “Parties”, voted in support of listing the oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and great), the porbeagle shark and manta rays in CITES Appendix II – an action that means increased protection, but still allows legal and sustainable trade."
 It's a start.  Every forward step in oceanic fish protection, no matter how small, is important, if we are to change the trajectory of  ocean overexploitation before it's too late and make the oceanic realm are partner, rather than merely a resource, in our journey to the future.

(Maybe that's too poetic.  But sharks are exploited for mainly their fins, which is cruel and feeds a greedy humanity that merely eats them for a novelty.  Changing their status is a important move, both symbolic and path-setting.)

Happier days for whitetip sharks

Count this is a fulfilled prediction

Back when I did my undangerous predictions for 2013, I predicted this:

10. A major satellite collision in space emphasizes the space debris problem.

That was kind of a throwaway -- I was looking something that might happen to fill out the list of 10. 

Well, look what just happened:

Russian satellite hit by debris from Chinese anti-satellite test

"A small Russian spacecraft in orbit appears to have been struck by Chinese space junk from a 2007 anti-satellite test, likely damaging the Russian craft, possibly severely, has learned."


"CSSI technical program manager T.S. Kelso reported that the collision involved the Chinese space junk and Russia's small Ball Lens In The Space (BLITS) retroreflector satellite, a 17-pound (7.5 kilograms). The Fengyun 1C satellite debris was created during China's anti-satellite test on Jan. 11, 2007, and has posed a threat to satellites and crewed spacecraft ever since."

Well, that is a fulfilled prediction;  faster than I thought this year, and it hit a really small satellite.  But that shows the space debris problem is very, very serious.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Numbers game in the NHL Eastern Conference

For four or five years now, I've been somewhat of a fan of the Washington Capitals hockey team, even though I rarely get to their games.  Four or five years ago, they were the only winning professional big league team in either Washington or Baltimore, with the exception of the Ravens, and I've never been as big a fan of them as I was of the Colts.  I had to learn to like hockey, and now I like it as a game that has about as much non-stop action as is possible other than soccer.

The Capitals have had their playoff heartbreaks, but they've been a consistent regular season winner.  Ironically they fired the coach that got them started winning, Bruce Boudreau, because it was thought he didn't build the team for the playoffs and was having trouble with former superstar, now just star Alex Ovechkin.   Now Boudreau merely has his new team, the Anaheim Ducks, in second place in the Western Conference behind the statistically improbably Chicago Blackhawks.

This year, however, with the lockout and shortened season, the Capitals got off to a horrendous start under new coach Adam Oates, with some unbelievable bad luck and bad habits, resulting in things like three 5-on-3 power play in their first four games.  They've improved since, but have still had some bad games, like Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Thursday they had a near-miraculous comeback and managed to beat the 'Canes, supposedly keeping their chances of getting into the playoffs alive.

Well, that got me to thinking - should I still worry about the Capitals making the playoffs this year, or stop worrying about the outcome of each game and just enjoy the sport for what it is?   Do they still have a realistic chance to make the playoffs?

So what I did was simple.  I looked at the bottom four teams currently in playoff position, plus the Hurricanes who are first in the Southeast Division, so they stand third in the conference.  I looked at how many games they played and thus how many points they could still get.  In hockey the playoff determinant is not won-loss record, it's the number of points you get:  2 for a win in regulation time or OT/shootout, 1 for a loss in OT or shootout.  Then I assumed that each of these teams would finish the rest of the season and get half the points available.  For the Capitals, I made the hopeful assumption that they'd win 60% of the remaining games - which might be way too hopeful, given how they've done so far this season -- and when that didn't quite come out even, I gave them one more point for a loss in OT.

So here's the results.  I did this in the afternoon, so results of tonight's games are not included.

Ottawa Senators
21 gms left/42 pts left: 
32 points currently, total of 53 with .500 play.

New Jersey Devils
21 gms/42 pts: 
31 points currently, total of 52 with .500 play.

Toronto Maple Leafs (surprisingly doing well this season)
20 gms/40 pts: 
31 points currently, total of 51 with .500 play.

Winnipeg Jets
21 gms/42 points: 
30 points currently, total of 51 with .500 play.

Carolina Hurricanes
22 gms/44 points: 
31 points currently, total of 53 with .500 play.

Washington Capitals:

22 games left/44 points:  23 points currently. 

Get 60% of the points = 26 points total.  Give them one extra for an OT loss = 27.   23 + 27 = 50 points total.

This means that if they win every 3 out of their next 5 games, and the closest five teams ahead of them only get half the available points,  then they would fall short.

So they either need to get real hot and get more than 60%, or one or more of  the teams ahead of them has to fade.

Ultimately, I conclude that their chances of making the playoffs this season are low.  So I will stop being concerned about their record, hope some of their players get healthy and spark an unexpected improvement of this season's fortunes.  

If they get on a winning streak and win five or six games in a row, then I might be a little more hopeful about their postseason chances.  But with those current numbers, there is little point in agonizing over how they do the rest of the season.   I'll just watch the games and enjoy the skillful game of hockey.  If the Caps make the playoffs, great. If they don't, then I've prepared myself to anticipate that outcome, and it will be interesting to see who they trade for.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Here's where the world should follow our lead

The United States is proving, time and time again, from sea to shining sea, that aggressive fisheries management does what it's supposed to do -- helps fisheries recover from way, way depleted to economically viable and also species-viable: i.e., the fish aren't in danger of not coming back.  These examples should show the world that if you take action, fisheries can be managed successfully.   The problem is, in a lot of other oceans and places around the world, the people need the fish.  Every day.  So we need to give them support not to fish, and replace the protein in their diets that fish supply.  In other places (like Japan and Spain at the forefront) the tradition of eating seafood has to be addressed.   C'mon, it's fine to eat seafood some days, just not EVERY day.

Maybe then we'll make progress.  Meanwhile, back in the USA (and USA Today):

Depleted fisheries rebound:  NRDC

"We now have the strongest fishery system in the world," says NRDC senior attorney Brad Sewell, noting many foreign fisheries are in decline. His report says there's an upswing in the number of U.S. recreational fishing trips and the gross commercial revenue of the 27 rebuilding stocks — worth a total $585 million annually.

"We're at this watershed moment," Sewell says, referring to the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. That law was used to help reverse what was an emerging crisis in the 1990s when many of New England's iconic groundfish stocks, such as cod, haddock and flounder, faced collapse.

Follow suit, world.  Follow suit.

The Cape Parrot - close to extinction

Another example of charismatic megafauna (i.e., animals and birds we notice) in critical danger of extinction.  Now, there are likely lots of rare rainforest frogs and insects, and hundreds, if not thousands, of plant species nearing the brink or over it, but we notice the bigger things more easily.  I recently mentioned the leatherback turtle, have previously noticed the fairly official disappearance of the Yangtze river dolphin, and now I find out about a bird I never heard of before, the South African cape parrot, which is extremely rare.  Mainly because of drastic loss of its forest habitat home.

It would be really great if the President of the World could chart a realistic human reduction plan that would get us back down safely to a billion or so in 100 years, but I don't think that's going to happen.  But it sure would be nice if we could share the planet a bit more equitably with its other inhabitants.

First ever footage of Africa's rarest parrot in high forest canopy

Hot wet sex video with lots of sperm

Ha, made you look.

But in fact, this IS a sex video with lots of sperm.

Coral sex, that is.

Sadly, as coral reefs decline around the world, scenes like this will become less common than they already are.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Yes, I knew, but did you?

A couple of links about the new film "Greedy Lying Bastards", about climate change deniers and their funding sources.  Looks like the usual cast of hoodlums is covered, with the man that defines "twit", Lord High Idiot Monckton, at the forefront, the Mouth of Sauron Marc Morano featured, and the Koch conspiracy strongly highlighted.

If these f*ckers would get out of the way shilling for fossil fuels, we could get fissioning and make climate change an issue that could actually be dealt with reasonably.

Film targets climate change deniers

Rotten Tomatoes:  Greedy Lying Bastards

I'd be happy to conduct the appraisal

According to Jennifer Love Hewitt, OOD (Object of Desire), she'd be happy to have her shapely large breasts insured for $5 million USD.  While I doubt there are previously-employed breast insurance appraisers that aren't in jail, if such a position was available and legal, I would be happy to conduct the necessary examination of her assets to make sure that they were worth the premium.

Of course I would.

Probably worth it

I knew it was bad, but this bad?

Several times on this blog I have opined that China's environmental problems could potentially lead to social unrest, societal upheaval, and revolution.   This take shows how much the environmental problems cost the economy.  The recent intense smog in Beijing underscores how the environmental travails in this  country affect daily life, and the article underscores how it's also a pocketbook issue for the average citizen and a budgetary issue for the governmment.

Pollution Is Costing China's Economy More Than $100 Billion A Year

That's really bad:

Longer analysis of the Russian fireball

I was fascinated by the Russian fireball several days ago, partly because I've been concerned about both the space junk problem and the end-of-civilization scenarios that are posed by a larger impactor.  So this analysis was interesting of how big it was, where it came from, and how much energy was released.

Additional details on the large fireball event over Russia on February 15, 2013

Some great pictures taken by a frozen lake

Why da Zeppelin go BOOM!

You know that annoying thing that happens on low humidity days when you walk across a carpet and then touch a doorknow (or somebody else)?  A shock - static electricity!

That's what investigators have concluded caused the Hindenburg to catch fire, and once that happened, being filled with hydrogen, it burned up real fast.

Dennis Tito proposes Mission to Mars - but how to fund it?

Can Dennis Tito really get to Mars for $1 billion?

Question #3: Can he do it for $1 billion? To ordinary people a billion dollars sounds like a lot, but in the space world is it chump change. In 1989 President George H.W. Bush proposed a manned mission to Mars, but the concept sank when the media got wind of the estimated $500 billion price tag. Nevertheless, Tito’s goal is not quite as crazy as it initially sounds.

Tito doesn't realize the obvious way to make huge amounts of money for this mission.  Have an Earth orbital test flight, with a married couple, have the couple have the first-time ever documented sexual intercourse in space/weightlessness, SELL THE RECORDINGS over the Internet, make unbelievable amounts of money, and then fund the mission to Mars.  (As I've suggested before).

Though the Mars mission profile calls for a middle-aged married couple, the test flight couple could be young, attractive, and limber.

And hot for each other.


Here's how it's supposed to work:

Private Mars mission flyby

Sunday, March 3, 2013

And the blame goes to...

If there is an award for the single person most responsible for the sequestration, the one individual who did more to bring it about than any other, then that award will go to this person:

Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA.

Here's why, excerpted from an extended profile in The New Yorker (I added some emphases):

Cantor told me that it was a “fair assessment” that he talked Boehner out of accepting Obama’s deal. He said he told Boehner that it would be better, instead, to take the issues of taxes and spending to the voters and “have it out” with the Democrats in the election. Why give Obama an enormous political victory, and potentially help him win reëlection, when they might be able to negotiate a more favorable deal with a new Republican President? Boehner told Obama there was no deal. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet.

What’s more, by scuttling the 2011 Grand Bargain negotiations, Cantor, more than any other politician, helped create the series of fiscal crises that have gripped Washington since Election Day. The failure of the Grand Bargain led to a byzantine deal: if the two parties could not agree on a new deficit plan, then a combination of tax increases and spending cuts—cuts known, in budget jargon, as a “sequester”—would automatically kick in on New Year’s Day. (The sequester was postponed until March 1st.)

[ Quoting Tom Cole, Oklahoma GOP Representative: ]
He [Cole] seemed far more frustrated with the extremists in his own party. “This is a very different Republican Party than the one I got elected into,” he said. “It’s much more domestically focused, much more fiscally responsible, much less concerned about America’s position in the world or about defending the country. It almost takes for granted the security that we have now. It’s not a group shaped by 9/11. Their 9/11 is the fiscal crisis, the long-term deficit.”
 [ During the fiscal cliff negotiations final hours ]
A few hours after his daily call, Cantor walked into the meeting room with Boehner—another public show of alliance. Cantor then announced that he couldn’t vote for the Biden-McConnell compromise. If Obama was getting new revenues, Republicans had to get spending cuts. “I do not support the bill,” he told reporters as he walked out of the meeting. Once again, Cantor had abandoned Boehner at a crucial moment of the negotiations. The Senate bill seemed doomed, and the economy was headed for the cliff.

Cantor seems newly pained by his reputation as an ideological roadblock. In Virginia, his favorable rating is twenty-seven per cent, a fact that makes a statewide run for office in the near future a dim prospect. [ Instead, the Republicans have Ken Cuccinelli !]

The looming sequester, which would slash spending across the government, was created by both parties, after the failure of the Grand Bargain, in 2011, as a purposely odious policy, in order to force the two sides to reach a more rational plan to reduce long-term deficits. Now House Republicans wanted the sequester to go into effect—and were blaming Obama for creating it. I asked Cantor about the disconnect between his speech, which highlighted real Americans who would theoretically be helped by future G.O.P. policies, and the real-world and immediate impact of the sequester. “What’s our choice, right?” he said. “There seemed to be no interest whatsoever on the part of the White House or the Senate to act. It’s up to the President to lead.”

In Richmond, before my last conversation with Cantor, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who may run for President in 2016, spoke at an annual political breakfast hosted by Cantor. Jindal’s target was Obama, but his remarks were an implicit rebuke to House Republicans for becoming mired in a series of unnecessary fiscal crises that are of their own making, and which have kept them from dealing with other issues. “These are, in reality, sideshows in Washington that we have allowed to take center stage in our country,” Jindal said. “As conservatives, we are falling into the sideshow trap.”
So there you have it.  Even though there's a lot of blame to spread around, and more to come, Cantor takes credit for talking Boehner out of a potential revenues + cuts deal that might have actually approached reasonableness.  He takes credit for trying to wait for the election to get a Republican President with which a better deal (good for them, bad for the country) could be brokered, though rubber-stamped is more like it.  He turned down the Biden-McConnell deal that ended the fiscal cliff mess.  He leads the Tea Party Republican contingent in the House.

Eric Cantor is bad for America.

New sonnet: "Emproxified"


Dedicated to Allie, Tiffany, Connie, and Jessie

To see there is to be there -- or at least
to wish it so;  the path to paradise
is narrow, and yet wide when our increased
attentions smooth the way. There is no price
upon it; its familiarity
and sweet vulgarity attracts our base
dimensions and the shared humility 
of wantingness.  We comprehend the grace
and beauty that surrounds it, but to view
it accessed and revealed invites our need
to take his same direction. If we do --
if we are juxtaposed so that our seed
is there emplaced by our imaginings,
then we sense what a real immersion brings.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Robert Reich and I both agree... the Tea Party is still winning

Back on New Year's Eve 2012, I wrote a post entitled "The Tea Party is Winning".  In it, I said:

ONE:  "This is what they want, actually.  They want the sequester.  They want a big f*cking slice out of the government, no matter how many people on the lower rungs get kicked off the ladder into the mud, no matter if you have to wait a year to get a passport processed by the one remaining employee who knows how to do anything at the State Department, no matter if another interstate bridge collapses due to inadequate inspections and postponed repairs and kills another 50 people or so."

TWO:  " So no matter what happens to the fiscal cliff and the sequester and the next round of debt ceiling hostage taking, by getting us this far, and by making the Speaker dance to their tune and Mitch McConnell sing their praises, remember - the worse it gets, the more that the Tea Party wins.  And also remember, the worse it gets;  credit  downgrade, recession, higher unemployment, lapses in national security, more brutal massacres of children and firefighters with assault weapons, less mental health treatments for those that need it, more hungry kids, more teen mothers who can't get abortions --  that's how the Tea Party wants it.  Even if they say they don't."

So imagine my satisfaction when I read the esteemed Robert Reich in the Huffington Post, "The Sequester and the Tea Party Plot":

ONE:  "Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the "sequestration" cuts beginning today (Friday). "This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington," says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a Tea Partier who was first elected in 2010.

Sequestration is only the start. What they set out to do was not simply change Washington but eviscerate the U.S. government -- "drown it in the bathtub," in the words of their guru Grover Norquist -- slashing Social Security and Medicare, ending worker protections we've had since the 1930s, eroding civil rights and voting rights, terminating programs that have helped the poor for generations, and making it impossible for the government to invest in our future."

TWO:   "A conspiracy theorist might think they welcome more joblessness because they want Americans to be even more fearful and angry. Tea Partiers use fear and anger in their war against the government -- blaming the anemic recovery on government deficits and the government's size, and selling a poisonous snake-oil of austerity economics and trickle-down economics as the remedy.

They likewise use the disruption and paralysis they've sown in Washington to persuade Americans government is necessarily dysfunctional, and politics inherently bad. Their continuing showdowns and standoffs are, in this sense, part of the plot."

Think about that for a minute.  It's pretty amazing (and a bit worrisome) that a noted voice like Robert Reich and my barely-noted voice in the hinterlands are saying the same things.  I already tweeted to John Boehner asking if he's going to take credit for the recession that the sequestration could very well cause.

What to do?  The Tea Party is still winning, and the next step is the Continuing Resolution to continue the remaining hamstrung government operations past March 27.   Here's how Reich ends his piece:

"Instead, the President should let the public see the Tea Partiers for who they are -- a small, radical minority intent on dismantling the government of the United States. As long as they are allowed to dictate the terms of public debate they will continue to hold the rest of us hostage to their extremism.
 I agree that's what the Prez should do.  But what, exactly, is the best way to accomplish it?

More megafauna likely to go missing

The Pacific leatherback turtle doesn't have very high numbers in the wild population any more -- according to this report, in a short period of years it'll have NO numbers.

California's leatherback sea turtle could face extinction in 20 years

Leatherback turtles have been on the decline since 1980, according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. The population of nesting sea turtles has dropped by 5.9 percent per year since 1984. The number of nests dropped from 14,455 in 1984 to 1,532 in 2011.


“This study is a grim warning that we’re not doing enough to save leatherback sea turtles or their ocean home. The problems they face--climate change, plastic pollution, fisheries that catch far more than fish--are problems that threaten us, too," Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity said in the release.

Aren't I a fountain of depressing news today?

Bluefin tuna decline still mainly Japan's fault

Japan is weird - they keep whaling even though most of the world's public opinion decries this practice, and they're eating their favorite sushi fish, toro (aka bluefin tuna) into extinction.  At least we can blame the hunger for sharkfin on the Chinese people.

As I have noted, they need to be apprised of the fact that tuna is radioactive, has way too much mercury, and also has cancerous PCBs in it.

But they'd probably keep eating it.

Worries about decline of bluefin tuna, prized king of sushi, fail to curb Japan's appetite

Without stricter caps, “there is a high likelihood that Pacific bluefin will become less available to Japanese consumers,” said Masayuki Komatsu, a former senior Fisheries Agency official. Japan faces two choices, he said: Immediately impose catch quotas or “stop eating the bluefin to protect it.”


While the media plays a role, the Fisheries Agency, domestic scientists and fishing industry are mainly responsible for failing to address the problem and keeping the public in the dark, Komatsu and other critics say. During his tenure at the agency until 2005, regulators were often more intent on protecting fishermen than marine resources, he said, and they were also reluctant to publicize information about declining fish stocks or impose catch limits for fear of upsetting fishermen or politicians.
But won't the fishermen be MORE upset when they're aren't any fish to catch, and the politicians be upset when they can't eat their favorite toro sushi?

That's a question that needs to be asked.  Repeatedly.

But still...

While Japanese consumers are very sensitive about food safety and quality, awareness about resource management is still not very prevalent. Major retailer Aeon Co. has a lineup of 50 products with a special blue label from the Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainable marine foods. However, MSC-labeled products account for only 3 percent of Aeon’s total fish sales.
 I repeat:  Pacific bluefin tuna is radioactive, and has too much mercury and PCBs in it to be safe to eat.


Another reason not to eat tuna... it's not tuna!

Studies show that stuff labeled "tuna" could be a lot of other fish, but not tuna.

My solution:  don't eat any tuna.  (Can't remember the last time I actually ATE any tuna, or at least something called tuna.)

More than half our tuna isn't really tuna

"The study compiled data from more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retailers in 21 states between 2010 to 2012. DNA testing showed that 33 percent of those samples were mislabeled or posing as fish that they were not. Samples claimed to be tuna and snapper had the highest fail rates, at 59 percent and 87 percent, respectively."

It's too bad we can't farm tuna, and feed them fishmeal made from Asian carp.