Tuesday, April 30, 2013

You're standing by the right sign

Since this seems to be a Julianne Hough day, I just wanted to grab a recent picture from my archives and show that sometimes where you stand is as important as how you stand.   Pictured with a pre-pregnancy (or at least a pre-showing) Malin Akerman, the idea of having a "Guy's Choice" between those two is synaptically saturating.

Levels of perfection

So it turns out that Julianne Hough might have gotten a little 'comfortable' in her relationship with Ryan Seacrest.  OK, I'm sorry, but when she was pro-dancer-fit on DWTS (and that means FIT), she was spectacular.   In the relationship, and not keeping the dancer fitness, she apparently by her own admission put on a few pounds (like 20, which demonstrates the level of sharpness that dancers have to maintain).   She was still a beauty with the extra weight, but there is a clear difference between awesome dancer fitness and just plain being a gorgeous woman.

So that's what I'm meaning here.  Julianne with the extra 20 pounds - perfect.  Julianne back in dancer-fit shape - a higher level of perfection.

Like this:


 So it is with delight I can report that for whatever reason, Julianne has resharpened her totally awesome physique - as demo'ed by the beach pictures shown in the linked article, as well as above.  And oh happy day, not only is she in some wondrously small bikinis to demonstrate the sharpness, she's also accompanied by Nina Dobrev.   There are not as many pictures of Nina, but what there are still makes one happy to be heterosexual.

There's still a lot more on the way

 The marine legacy of the Japanese tsunami is still making its way across the Pacific Ocean. A boat just washed up on the California shore that was set adrift by the monster waves. Boats float high and drift fast (propelled partly by the wind), so this shows that the slower, partly immersed stuff is still coming and will be hitting the West Coast for months and years to come.

Small boat confirmed as first Japan tsunami debris to reach California

A quick revisit before the Stanley Cup playoffs start

Back on the Ides of March, I assessed the Washington Capitals chances of making the playoffs by making a couple of assumptions about how they and other teams would play.   I did this and concluded that their chances of making the playoffs at that time were low, due mostly to their horrible start.

But I did say this:
"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."

and this:
"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."

Well, surprisingly, both happened.   I 'projected' the following point totals at the end of the season:

Ottawa:   53
New Jersey:  52
Winnipeg:  51
Toronto:  51
Carolina:  53
Washington:  50

So what happened?   Here's the final point totals for those teams:

Ottawa:  56
New Jersey:  48
** Winnipeg:  51
Toronto:  57
Carolina:  42
Washington:  57

To put it bluntly, Carolina collapsed (partly due to losing their top goalie), New Jersey faded just enough (two games made the difference), and OBVIOUSLY the Caps did even better than the .600 pace I projected, due to their sometimes-maligned superstar Alex Ovechkin getting hot, and just about everybody else contributing.

What's interesting is also that Ottawa and Toronto played better than I projected (.500 play for the rest of the season), but not by a ton;  3 games for Toronto and a game and an OT loss for Ottawa.  And Winnipeg did exactly what I expected.  Of all the teams I feel bad about for not making the playoffs, I feel the worst for them, because they played pretty well the whole season.  But the biggest story is Toronto, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.   The Maple Leafs have been hockey's version of the Cubs, losing consistently but keeping their fans. 

It'll be interesting.

One last thing, only three teams in the whole NHL won 8 out of their last 10 games.

Columbus, which just barely missed the playoffs (another sad story);
Pittsburgh, the juggernaut, and

Yeah, it'll be very interesting.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Roundup is NOT a problem, probably

Not as bad as we were led to believe

I heard this first on the radio, and it concerned me, as I have used Roundup (glyphosate) on my own garden plants.  And it seemed unusual, because I would have thought it would have been tested sufficiently.

Here's an  example of the report (there were many):

Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson's, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows

 All of the articles and the radio report I heard were apparently based on the same Reuters article.  And it turns out that the paper that the Reuters article was based on was a completely bogus piece of schlockwork:

When media uncritically cover pseudoscience

"The paper is by two authors with dubious credentials and is such a mashup of pseudoscience and gibberish that actual scientists have been unable to make sense of it. As one of them also noted, the paper is published in a “low-tier pay-for-play journal.” "

So there's really nothing apparently really bad about Roundup (other than the potential development of genetic resistance).  Believe it or not, not everything you read on the Internet (or hear on the radio news) is true.

 There is a lot to learn from this episode about how the media cover the schlockwork scientists so beloved by the climate skeptics community.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Flow batteries might stabilize unstable energy sources

New article out in which the technology that maybe could make solar and wind energy better for times when the sun don't shine and the wind don't blow is described.  I.e., storage technology.  Batteries are good but very inefficient energy storage devices.   But if you make a better battery, the world might be interested.

"Among the most promising batteries for intermittent grid storage today are "flow" batteries, because it's relatively simple to scale their tanks, pumps and pipes to the sizes needed to handle large capacities of energy. The new flow battery developed by Cui's group has a simplified, less expensive design that presents a potentially viable solution for large-scale production."  [ It uses lithium and sulfur rather than expensive elements, like vanadium. ]
Might just work.  I still think there are other reasons to prefer nuclear energy to wind and solar, but everything we do to reduce our burning of fossil fuels is good for the long-term.

New battery design could help solar and wind power the grid

Thursday, April 25, 2013

She will enter the world consciousness pretty soon

I've been watching Michelle Keegan for a few years now.  With good reason; there's quite a bit to like when I watch.  But Michelle has been on a Brit soap for her "formative" years.  As noted here earlier (see "Michelle K. moving on" in the post list to the right), that's going to end in 2014, leaving her free to pursue other things.  Like world domination.  Because the more the world finds out about Michelle, the more people (by that I mainly mean males), will want to watch.

So winning a Brit-based poll ranking the world's hottest women is one of the first steps toward Michelle-around-the-world.   Such polls don't take into account, much, the hotness of other women from clearly different ethnicities, unless they are massively beautiful on all accounts like Zhang Ziyi (even though I would argue that one reason for Ziyi's worldwide appeal is that her features are not "strongly" Asian).  Still, such polls do put one, ahem, at the forefront of the news, especially when the runner-up is the well-fronted Kate Upton.

An article about this, featuring a nice glamour (wearing a dress on the red carpet with ample cleavage is what I mean by that, not what is commonly meant by that term):

Michelle Keegan beats Kate Upton, Mila Kunis and Kelly Brook to be crowned world’s sexiest woman

Here's the Top 10.  Four of them (the names you don't recognize) are breast-baring babes of British breeding (BBBofBB).

 1. Michelle Keegan
2. Kate Upton
3. Leah Francis
4. Alice Goodwin
5. Kelly Brook
6. Mila Kunis
7. Rihanna
8. Jess Kingham
9. Melissa Debling
10. Jennifer Lawrence

I tried to find the full list of Zoo's 101, but couldn't.  Maybe in a few days it'll be published by somebody.  Looking at their cover, other recognizables on the list are Eva Mendes and Katy Perry.  And there are more BBBofBB, too, as might be expected from a magazine that publishes pictures of a lot of BBBofBB.

It's the volume, stupid

Climate skeptics are afraid of Arctic sea ice loss.  That's because, no matter how hard they try, it's essentially undeniable that it's happening.  And it's obvious, and it's visible, and it will affect charismatic megafauna like polar bears and seals and walruses and puffins and ... well, a lot of Arctic animals.  Most of them, actually.

So the skeptics play games with data, and in the middle of winter they pull out  arguments like the sea ice extent is really big.   They play games with polar bear population numbers, ignoring what's happening to the most vulnerable populations because that's what's going to happen to most polar bear populations in too short a span of time.

But as I pointed out via Twitter to public enemy Marc Morano, it's first-year ice that's refreezing at the surface of the Arctic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere winter.  Sure, when it gets cold the surface freezes.   But what can't be seen under the ice cover is how THIN it is.  Which means low volume.  That problem is coming into clarity.  And this video demonstrates exactly what's going on, in a very visible fashion.

So keep on denying, Morano and your ilk and misguided, sadly misinformed, and politically-predetermined followers.  The truth will bear us out.  But unfortunately, when the tide of truth turns, the cost of trying to fix things will be much higher than if the propagandists supplying the denial crowd with misinformation had not been able to do so.

And some things won't ever go back to the way they should have been, either.

Yeah, I wondered the same thing

Why does America lose its head over 'terror' but ignore its daily gun deaths? 

"If only Americans reacted the same way to the actual threats that exist in their country. There's something quite fitting and ironic about the fact that the Boston freak-out happened in the same week the Senate blocked consideration of a gun control bill that would have strengthened background checks for potential buyers. Even though this reform is supported by more than 90% of Americans, and even though 56 out of 100 senators voted in favour of it, the Republican minority prevented even a vote from being held on the bill because it would have allegedly violated the second amendment rights of "law-abiding Americans".

So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks)."

My question is:  what will it take to regulate guns in this country?  Obviously Newtown wasn't enough.  So I thought of the massacre in Norway, where 69 people, mostly teenagers, were killed.   The guns were obtained legally, through gun control laws, because the killer was a member of a hunting club.  He also had a pistol under the same law.  But apparently he had to get his high-capacity magazines from somewhere else, because they are outlawed and not available anywhere in Norway.  So he got them from... the United States.

Massacres by gun have spurred stronger gun control legislation in a lot of countries.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/gun-control-laws-around-the-world_n_2321894.html
As this article points out, such measures don't prevent or eliminate gun violence or massacres.  But they do reduce their occurrence, even such "individual" acts as suicide.  Sure, if you outlaw bridges because people jump off them, people will jump off of cliffs.   Nothing is 100% certain.  But if gun massacres can be reduced, I would think that a country concerned about homegrown terrorist bombers would also be concerned about homegrown gun-toting mass killers.

Apparently not enough.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Michelle K. moving on

Big announcement:  Michelle Keegan is leaving the British soap "Coronation Street" next year to move on to other acting opportunities.

Thinking on this for a millisecond;  I think she'll get a few.

Michelle Keegan to leave Coronation Street
The actress said: "I have had the most amazing 6 years at Coronation Street and it was such a difficult decision to leave. But I felt it was the right time for me to make the next step in my career."

Can't bounce back

We all know that fish stocks in many cases are declining, in some cases drastically.  On the other, somewhat better hand, things like marine reserves and well-managed (strongly enforced) fisheries have in many times resulted in the recovery of some fisheries.

The problem is - sometimes nature doesn't cooperate.  Sometimes the balance of reproduction and replacement and predation has been so disrupted by the low population numbers that the cycles of nature cannot be reestablished.   And that may be the case with the North Atlantic cod.

Some fish species, including cod, may never bounce back: study

"But when you don't take action rapidly ... not only does it result in a much longer potential recovery time, but the uncertainty as to whether recovery will happen at all increases exponentially," said Jeff Hutchings, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University and one of the authors of the study.

Hutchings said that may explain why cod hasn't bounced back more than 20 years after Ottawa declared a moratorium on the commercial cod fishery, a once thriving Atlantic Canadian industry.
"Here we are two decades after enormous depletion of cod stocks ... and people are still wondering about the prospects of recovery," said Hutchings.

"Our study really suggests that recovery is quite unlikely now for cod because of our failure to act when we could have."
Words to remember as we face overfishing around the world.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Environmental statement number two

OK, this isn't exactly an environmental statement, and I don't always agree with some of PETA's extremism (though their hearts are in the right place).  However, I tend to agree with the sentiment of not wearing fur -- that seems needless in this modern era.   Likewise with animal testing of cosmetics, which is the subject of this particular campaign.

(Regarding nude photography, I would rather that more women had kept their fur on, but that's still a subject for another extended treatment.)

But, regarding PETA:  they are somewhat famed for their ad campaigns featuring nice nude (but strategically unexposed) ladies admonishing us not to wear fur.   And at turns out that one time in the past, in a Friday round-up post back in 2009, I noted that Karina Smirnoff had done one of these nice PETA ads.  And I also hoped in that article that they'd get fellow 'Dancing with the Stars' pro Kym Johnson to do the same thing.   In another post, "The current list of women I'd like to see" [... totally naked], I had Kym Johnson on that list, too.

Well, suddenly, Kym Johnson has done the PETA ad I desired, coming out (ha) against animal testing of cosmetics.  (Actually, two of them.) And they expose pretty much what I expected:  her athletic dancer's physique is quite admirable.  Exhibit A exhibits a truly spectacular torso.  Exhibit B gives us an enhanced sense of the dance-sculpted glutes and thighs.

Nice.  Very nice.  Really, really nice.

At the PETA site for Kym's appearance (click that link if you want to assist with the petition), there's even a video of the photoshoot.  (Here linked via YouTube.)

Now, if only she'd follow birthday-suit after Karina and give us a full Monty, I'd be even more pleased.  But it was polite of her to oblige the PETA folks -- and her ardent admirers.

Environmental statement number one

Borrowed this picture of a confused koala to make a short and pithy statement.

What do you think of it?

Friday, April 19, 2013

How's that private Mars mission going?

In spite of the fact that they aren't even ready to start considering candidates yet, many people have applied to be the passengers on Dennis Tito's quick-run-to-Mars mission.

The goal of the mission is to inspire the public — and Congress — to recommit to long-distance space travel, Tito said at the National Space Symposium.

To prove that humans can explore deep space, Tito and his team are planning a stripped-down, austere mission: The spacecraft will pass within 100 miles (161 km) of Mars' surface, but won't enter orbit or touchdown, because that would require additional propulsion systems.

"It's like a boomerang," Tito said. "You throw it out there and it comes right back in 501 days."

(I previously noted how this could be privately financed, big-time).

It's interesting that so many people are willing to take a ride on what is literally a long shot.  But heck, if I didn't have a family, I'd probably put in an application too.

Yes, Republicans are an infection; Ted Cruz is a symptom

Two op-eds from the Washington Post highlight the seriousness of the Republican problem.

First, about Ted Cruz, the idiosyncrazy (yeah, I spelled that right) from Texas:

Ted Cruz is a talking headache for GOP leaders

A snippet:
" GOP lawmakers encouraged the rise of the tea party, which now dominates Republican primaries and threatens the same leaders who nurtured it. Cruz’s fellow Texan, John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, could face a primary challenge next year and therefore can’t afford to cross Cruz, who beat an establishment Republican in the 2012 primary. Likewise, the Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is up for reelection and has to keep on the good side of tea party favorites such as Sen. Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, and Cruz."

Then, about whether ideological stalemate is a good way to run the country:

Gridlock is no way to govern 
(does that answer the question?)

" The Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank reforms were enacted despite GOP obduracy and promiscuous use of the filibuster, in part because Democrats for a short time had 60 votes in the Senate and kept their members together. But the quality of both laws was diminished by the unwillingness of members of the minority to vote for the final product on the floor after many concessions they requested had been agreed to during committee markups. More important, passing laws in this fashion left nearly half the polity viewing the legislation as illegitimate. "


" Finally, Summers’s idea that climate change and inequality are issues not of gridlock but of vision forgets the fact that serious debates about policy avenues in these areas are impossible if half the political arena believes that climate change is a hoax, and if one political party is animated by the Grover Norquist no-tax pledge and the Mitt Romney vision of a nation of 53 percent makers and 47 percent takers."    


Maybe, just maybe, the cowardly act of not passing any meaningful gun control legislation despite the crying blood of the children of Newtown will be somewhat of a wake-up call.  I'd like to think so, even it's unlikely.

New view of the Horseshoe Nebula

Sometimes the Hubble Telescope can blow one's mind.

This is one of those times.  

First, one of the classic, traditional astronomical, pictures of the Horseshoe Nebula.

And here's the Hubble update view.

Go to Wired.com to read the caption (and see it larger).  Hard to believe the Hubble mission is 23 years old!!

Malin Akerman is a mom

Beautiful actress Malin Akerman had a son a few days ago.

Malin Akerman gives birth to baby boy Sebastian Zincone!

She was very cute pregnant, as one would expect. But she didn't pose nude pregnant, which seemed to be in vogue these days.  Darn.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mother... of ... two ...

Keri Russell, yes, mother of two (still remember her from Felicity when that seemed impossible) is on a new, well-rated show called The Americans, and is also on the cover of Women's Health.

I'd like to know her trainer.  Wow.

And this is what she looked like a bit younger, and before kids.  Nude. More Wow.

Coming up next - the Allure nude issue.  Yay!

88 pound ball o' fire

Always wondered what Kristin Chenoweth REALLY looked like, if you know what I mean (wink).

Now I know.   And I also know how much she weighs.  88 pounds.  Slightly more than half of what I weigh.

Cute as a button, and about the same size.

Kristin Chenoweth, 88 Pounds, Thinks She Has a "Muffin Top"—See Her Tiny Bikini Bod!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coffee done right

I know not everyone likes coffee, but a lot of people do, and I am one of them (but I like it with creamer and sugar, not black).   Anyway, the HuffingtonPost provided a public service on how to make a good cup of coffee.  I actually already follow most of the guidelines in the article.

How to Make Coffee:  Mistakes Not to Make

I always get this one right:
3 .) Ignoring the magic ratio.
For the best cup of coffee, every time, the perfect ration is 2 tablespoons of coffee to 6 oz. of water. Of course, if you like it a little stronger you can add more coffee -- and vice versa. Just try to stay as close to the optimum ratio as possible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where did I know Leland Orser from?

Saw Leland Orser in "Saving Private Ryan", but it took awhile to figure out who he was (the actor, not the character he was playing).  I kept telling myself that I knew him from something else.  So I did the IMDb check, and this is what I know him from:


And from Wikipedia:

Lucien Dubenko is the current Chief of Surgery. He was first introduced shortly before Elizabeth Corday departed, as an arrogant but obviously talented surgeon, bragging about, and then showing his ability to run the bowel with a laparoscope. Dr. Corday bitterly protests his hiring to Kerry Weaver. Corday's anger causes her to conduct an illegal organ transplant between two HIV+ men, which leads to her being reprimanded and being forced to take a demotion. Corday eventually quits the hospital altogether, though Dubenko praises her actions in doing the transplant. Dubenko is portrayed as a very dedicated and talented surgeon, with a keen interest in medical science, lecturing the interns on physiology. Dubenko becomes friends with residents Abby Lockhart and Neela Rasgotra, and later seems to fall for both of them, most notably Neela after she becomes a surgical intern. He has a baby sister who lives in an assisted-care facility because she was in a car crash caused by her drunken teenage boyfriend that left her with brain damage. After he discovers he has prostate cancer, he asks Abby to have sex with him to make sure he is fully functioning after surgery, but reacts with equanimity when she declines the offer. During Luka and Abby's wedding, he asks Luka to take care of Abby. He was involved in a "friends with benefits" relationship with new ER Chief Dr. Skye Wexler, which later ended after he lashed out at her for excluding him from her life and accused her of being a slut. He later resigned in protest over the death of patient Sheryl Hawkins, when he had to leave the OR and leave Dr. Rasgotra (Junior Resident) to finish the operation, because he was the only attending available in the hospital, this ouburst enraged Dr. Anspaugh during the M&M. Efforts by Neela and Simon Brenner led to his return in Season 15, and he later justly criticized Neela for her dismissive attitude towards teaching surgical residents.

Skye Wexler was played by Kari Matchett, most recently (and still on) Covert Affairs.

A sonnet for April

Less than arm's length

How close can I come? Feet or inches may
at times partition me from entrance and
the glory desired;  I rarely mark the way
to that exalted path or the demand
which would enable it, for it is not
mine to possess -- though I can covet there --
where others access readily. The lot
of Biblical proscription states my stare
is just akin to murder, yet I hope
I merely recognize the wonderous
pure treasure of fervent pleasure I would scope
if I could feel the rain and thunderous
acclaim as clouds release their burden store;
its closeness magnifies the silent roar.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sometimes they get lucky

Great goal scorers have a knack for doing things just right to get the ball into the net in numerous different ways.

And sometimes they just plain get lucky.  I think this was one of those times for Didier Drogba.

If you click the full-size button on the right, it'll be a little more clear. Basically Drogba got his foot on the ball, it popped nearly straight up, but the trajectory was just right to go just under the crossbar, which was obviously a very big surprise to the goalkeeper.

GOOD endangered species news

A previously unknown hang-out (ha) for around 200 orangutans was recently found in Borneo.

Great!  Now leave them and the forest they live in alone, and let them reproduce in peace.

Secret Population of Orangutans Found

For Boston ... for whatever reason they fell

A tribute ... just listen.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Will this new flywheel work?

Flywheels got touted several years ago as a great way to store energy, which is needed if renewable energy use continues to increase, and is used.  But they had problems.  A new flywheel design claims to have solved some of those problems.  We shall see.  But it if works, it's better news for those renewables like solar and wind that are intermittent.

Turn Up the Juice: New Flywheel Raises Hopes for Energy Storage Breakthrough

Storing electricity in spinning wheels isn't new, but a new design may make it cheap enough to compete with other technologies

Yes, frivolous, but it's Michelle Keegan

I posted a couple of postings ago about Michelle Keegan in a white bikini, which is very nice by itself.  Soon after, there was this incident where someone very briefly posted a shot of two nice titties that happened to be bare naked on Michelle's Instagram, immediately took them down, but a few people grabbed them.  MK has denied that they belong to her.

The whole reason to post about this is that the article at The Smoking Jacket has about every recent bikini picture of Michelle they could find.  Which, if you enjoy pictures of a gorgeous slender brunette with an incredible rack (I admit that I do), is rather enjoyable.  So enjoy if that's something you'd enjoy doing, too.

The boobs weren't Michelle Keegan's.  Who's Michelle Keegan?

with four pictures of Kate Upton in body paint

I was going to entitle this brief posting "What it's like to paint Kate Upton in body paint, with four pictures of Kate Upton in body paint".  But I decided that to attract attention to this posting, because it's worth attracting attention to this posting, that I would entitle it with the main thing that people searching for and finding this article would be most interested in, which is four pictures of Kate Upton in body paint (and actually, not very much of it).

It is WORTH IT to click on the link if you want to see a beautiful voluptuous nude model wearing a few well-placed sections of body paint.

Painting a nude Kate Upton

Actually, I went back and looked for a long time and realized that there are five pictures of Kate Upton in body paint.  This is an important point to remember.

I heart Greg Sargent

Greg Sargent is a very, very liberal Washington Post columnist who writes a very, very liberal column called "The Plum Line".

It's a liberal political playground, and I can say that because I'm a liberal.  (Even though I work in the nuclear power industry.)

Anyhow, Sargent's commentary on the two-faced bastardness of the initial Republican political attacks on President Obama's budget was so good it almost brought me to tears.  Because I'm a liberal I cry easily.

Here's what touched my bleeding heart:

Fiscal frauds

"Let’s step back a bit. Late last year, Boehner and Mitch McConnell explicitly called on Obama to agree to Chained CPI, with McConnell even claiming that Chained CPI and Medicare means testing “would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

But now that Obama has included those things in his budget, Republicans are not only still unwilling to contemplate new revenue; the chair of the NRCC is signaling that Republicans will us it to attack Democrats for “coming back at seniors,” just as they did in 2012 and 2010. In other words, even as Republican Congressional leaders continue to claim we need to cut entitlements, the chair of the committee charged with electing Republicans to the House is simultaneously making it all the harder for this to actually get done by signaling that Dems will pay a heavy political price if they agree to actually do anything along those lines.

 Folks should acknowledge and call out how truly farcical and deeply unserious this really is."

 Sigh. What a lovely liberal he is!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And the best-looking at the ACM awards goes to...

ACM stands for Academy of Country Music Awards.

The winner of the red carpet contest was Jewel.  Hands down.

Somebody already asked this silly question

What's the longest word in the English language in which no letter appears more than once?

Word in which no letter appears more than once are called "isograms" - I learned that when I was looking up the answer to this one.

Here's the question and the answer.

Five I was glad to see

I have frequently commented on lovely actresses or celebrities that I'd like to see pose nude (artistically, OF COURSE) -- but I realized that I hadn't commented on several that had graciously deigned to reward us with views of their exposed loveliness.  So here are five that I would like to gratefully acknowledge for their candid exposure (with brief  comments):

1. Katarina Witt - everybody always said that she had the body of a Playmate, so she demonstrated that she did, with athletic power added.

2. Elle Macpherson - one of the best ever supermodels gives good look. She was also nice
to see in "Sirens".

3. Brooke Burke (-Charvet) - probably one of the most desired-to-go-nude by a lot of guys,
not just me.  Brooke actually did three (I think) nude feature appearances. 

The thing is, and I wish I knew the whole story about this, before she was even recognizable for something other than Frederick's of Hollywood ads, she also posed for a set of erotic encounter black-and-whites with a male model that can still be  found with little difficulty.  At that point in her career, whenever it was, her
body was utterly, spectacularly, incredibly superb.  Seeing it in posed artistic 'action' - well, that was very, very nice.  The question is: how did she get convinced to do it? 

4. Kelly Brook - though there were a few candid and posed nude shots before, Playboy showed why the girl-next-door looks of Kelly go below the lingerie, gowns, and swimwear she's frequently photographed in.  She's just fab.

5. Gene Lee Nolin - 'Baywatch' got famous partly by casting Playmates, first Erika Eleniak, then Pamela Anderson.  In their final season, they also had a couple more that I don't remember.  But Gena Lee didn't start her career by posing, but she finally did, and it was quite revelatious.  She was also in a sex tape (gee,
I think Pam Anderson was in a couple too), but Gena Lee's sex tape was kind of awkward. Yeah, I watched it for educational purposes only.  And she also had one of the best sideboob shots ever taken.

Speaking of "whatever happened to Gena Lee Nolin", she's married to a good-looking ex-hockey player with four kids, still looks great, and has chronicled her struggle with thyroid disease in a book, and she's also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GenaLeeNolin)

I also want to mention Miranda Kerr, who is gorgeous in practically every aspect, and not shy about showing why.  But she's done it often enough that I kind of expect it, even though I appreciate it every time she does.

Playboy also playmated a couple of actual beauty queens.  Shanna Moakler caught my eye and appetite in the short-lived "Pacific Blue" - but she was a naked revelation as a Playmate, with one of the most beautiful full-body complexions I've ever seen.  And good-queen gone slightly bad Lindsey Gayle Evans was another demonstration that beauty queens really are beauteous.  [Note:  I fixed this because I first had Shanna in "Baywatch Nights", which WAS awful.  "Pacific Blue" was kinda fun.  And I also was reminded, Internet-assisted, that Shanna was the Playmate in the December 2001 issue in which Gena Lee Nolin appeared nude. That was a GOOD month for the mag.]

Regarding nude scenes in movies and TV, here are a couple others that I'm happy to have witnessed going starkers or nearly starkers for the sake of cinematic or televised art:

- Emmy Rossum

- Kate Winslet (Kate is notably for being fearless about showing off her quite fine anatomy in the flicks, but in Titanic she was lusciously young and spectacular -  and it also was an important factor in the plot!)

- Gwyneth Paltrow

- Halle Berry

- Nicole Kidman

- Natasha Henstridge

- Emmanuelle Beart

- Sophie Marceau (not unaccustomed to nudity in French films first, and thus not shy about nudity on film in general, but she was  entrancing in "Firelight").  If you want a selection of her appearances unclad, just image search thusly:  [ "Sophie Marceau" best ].

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Drought plows on

Did you happen to think that the drought plaguing the central United States had eased?  If so, not much.  According to this report, it's still pretty bad, and unless there's a bit of a shift in the weather, probably going to stay that way.

Withering drought still plaguing half of America

There's a nice graphic image showing the highlights, but it's a PDF and I can't reproduce it here.  So here's a summary statement.  This article showed up on April 4.

"Weekly drought figures released Thursday by the US Drought Monitor, a joint project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA and several other government and academic partners, show the situation has worsened slightly from last week, with nearly 52% of the continental US now suffering from a moderate drought or worse. Below-average winter snow pack and rainfall are keeping much of the country in a holding pattern. No measurable precipitation fell on most of central and northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, central and northern Iowa, southwestern Minnesota, and the Louisiana Bayou last week. Rain that fell in the West did nothing to alleviate the drought there; in fact, parts of western Oregon and southwestern Washington have reported their driest start to a calendar year on record. The forecast for the next two weeks? Dry and dry again."

I have a feeling we're going to feel the bite of this during the year.

Fall of the yellowwood

Back in mid-March, I wrote about the extreme endangeredness of South Africa's Cape parrot.  It turns out that the nearness of extinction is not just about the parrot, it's also about the entire forest ecosystem that the Cape parrot inhabits -- the yellowwood forest.

National Geographic has an article about this, an ecosystem decline I had not heard about before.  Nonetheless, it is another example of how humankind's expansion is directly connected (not that this is surprising or anything) to naturekind's dimunition.  I wish it was different.  I wish that a powerful world government could control the air, the water, and the population.  Because that's really the only rational course that might preserve the amazing diversity of the world we all live on.

The State of South Africa's Yellowwood Forests:  An Open Letter to the President [ of South Africa ]

The full article is long, but worth reading.  Here's an interesting point:

 All yellowwood trees are now protected. Permits are, however, still active that allow sawmills to harvest yellowwood trees up to their quota every year. Most of trees felled are over 150-200 years old and irreplaceable. The equivalent of 600 cubic meters of yellowwood timber or anywhere between 20 and 100 large yellowwood trees are felled legally each year in the Amathole region alone. The fact is that, if we continue, legal and illegal logging will very soon destroy our national forests. We have seen more yellowwood tree poaching in the last three years than in previous years and record the loss of important yellowwood trees every year. Some desperate local communities in the Transkei region are burning yellowwood as firewood. Now is the time to protect our golden indigenous forests. Right now there are harvesting contractors targeting the last-remaining intact yellowwood forest patches, eroding our natural heritage every day that yellowwood extraction continues. Today, only a handful of yellowwood trees over 500-years-old remain scattered in remote, degraded forest patches protected from historical and illegal logging by inaccessibility, proud landowners and local foresters. In King William’s Town and Keiskammahoek (Eastern Cape) you can see 200, even 300-year-old yellowwood trees being chopped up at saw mills. Yellowwood planks are now valued at up to R25,000 ($3,000) per cubic meter, an increase in value of over 400% in the last 6 years. This sets a high price for our natural heritage, as legal yellowwood timber is getting harder to source and prices are being driven even higher."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Long-time admirer here

I'm a long time admirer of model Josie Maran (even though she crashed out of her shot at DWTS pretty early).  She's just fabulously pretty.   Well, now that she's had two kids and matured a bit, she's just pretty, not gorgeous model pretty, but still quite fine.  So it was nice to see this update from the Daily Mail.

Model Josie Maran puts sexy bikini body on display as she splashes around with her little water baby 

Now, Josie does give birth pretty strangely -- giving out snacks to guests while waiting for the big moment is unconventional -- but she also is majorly concerned about the environment, and I also like her for that.

She's also started a cosmetics line. As an aside, I wonder how well these little start-up cosmetics lines do against the corporate cosmetics giants like Maybelline and Revlon.

Here's a quick pic of Josie in her savage prime.  May I say again, I do have a tinge of envy for the male participant in the baby-making processes.

Great read - but we knew this already

Saw this in Salon;  it discusses and generally confirms what we observers wedded to reality already knew -- the Republican Party is messed up, and by being messed up, is messing up the rational governance of this fine country.

The Republican Party is broken 
(by Jonathan Bernstein)

"The key question, however, is the nature of the problem. [Rick] Hasen sees it, as many do, as a mismatch between partisan polarization on the one hand and the U.S. Madisonian system on the other."

The source of these deadlocks over budget reform is hardly a mystery: It is the mismatch between highly ideological political parties and our divided form of government, which makes passing legislation difficult even in the absence of partisan deadlock. The partisanship of our political branches and mismatch with our structure of government raise this fundamental question: Is the United States’ political system so broken that we should change the United States Constitution to adopt a parliamentary system, either a Westminster system as in the United Kingdom or a different form of parliamentary democracy? Such a move toward unified government would allow the Democratic or Republican parties to act in a unified way to pursue a rational plan on budget reform on other issues.

The Results:
  •     An aversion to normal bargaining and compromise
  •     An inability to banish fringe people and views from the mainstream of the party
  •     An almost comical lack of interest in substantive policy formation
  •     A willingness to ignore established norms and play “Constitutional hardball”
  •     A belief that when out of office, the best play is always all-out obstruction
As you can see, this doesn't allow for much actual work to improve the country and move it forward getting done. 

What does Olympus Mons look like from orbit?

Olympus Mons is the massive Martian volcano that is like 6 times the size of Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa (as measured from the seafloor).   An artist has created images based on Mars altimetry of what these things might look like from low orbit.   Olympus Mons has always captured my imagination.

The site:  Space 4 Case

The image:

He promises new stuff coming soon.  I'll check back periodically.

Friday, April 5, 2013

This is not good AT ALL

A couple of years ago colony collapse disorder (CCD) made many people worry about the fate of honeybees, which are critical to the cultivation of quite a few crops, notably fruits and nuts.  I had been under the impression that assiduous management of the colonies, i.e. the expulsion and or destruction of any apparently infected hives or individuals, had reduced the occurrences.  Plus they seemed to have figured out how to deal with the varroa mite.

 But now I read that this not the case, and commercial beekeepers have been reporting that last year was a really bad year for honeybees.  A couple of more years like this and things are going to get critical.

Mystery malady kills more bees, heightening worries on farms

A couple of worrisome excerpts:

"A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables."
Further down:  
"Annual bee losses of 5 percent to 10 percent once were the norm for beekeepers. But after colony collapse disorder surfaced around 2005, the losses approached one-third of all bees, despite beekeepers’ best efforts to ensure their health.

Nor is the impact limited to beekeepers. The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by honeybees. Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices."

"But many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that are used to control pests. 

While each substance has been certified, there has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths"
 Whatever is causing it, they need to get a handle on it, fast, or pretty soon we'll be talking about the same situation with honeybees that is being contemplated with regard to the little brown bat -- nearly complete disappearance.  Loss of bats means more insect pests that don't get eaten.  Loss of honeybees means less of a lot of things we take for granted.

 People might notice that.

Gosh, don't you wonder...

... who the Washington DC Metro area high school swimmers of the year should be?

I think national records pretty much set the standard, so the two DC-Metro swimmers of the year are Jack Conger and Katie Ledecky.


Note that the Virginia boys had a couple of pretty good swimmers, too:

About Ledecky:


Eugene Robinson in the WashPost lands a stinging zinger on the Cooch:

"The Democratic candidate, longtime party fundraiser and operative Terry McAuliffe, has always shown more talent as a kingmaker than as a candidate. But he’s fortunate to have as his opponent Ken Cuccinelli, the commonwealth’s loony-bin attorney general. Describing Cuccinelli’s views as “far right” is like calling Usain Bolt “reasonably fast.”

And there's also this:

"At the moment, Cuccinelli is challenging an appeals-court decision that struck down Virginia’s sodomy law, which sought to restrict sex acts between any two people, including married couples. The Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional 10 years ago, so the appeals court really had no choice. But Cuccinelli is appealing anyway.

When he was campaigning for attorney general, Cuccinelli refused to endorse his Republican predecessor’s policy of nondiscrimination against gays and lesbians. “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong,” he said at the time. “They’re intrinsically wrong. . . . They don’t comport with natural law.”

Love it.  The Cooch is a complete exemplar of Tea Party looniness run amok in a human brain.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kelly Monaco sounds like a dream (looks like one too)

 And she's cute, too!

Kelly Monaco, of "Dancing with the Stars" and "General Hospital" fame, first got noticed as a Playboy Playmate.  I happened to know that for some reason.    Well, obviously she's moved on since then to her more current activities (despite occasionally drawing attention to her still-strong figure by nearly losing her top during a dance on the inaugural DWTS season, and making her partner wear some bags on his chest so that he had an idea what she has to contend with by being blessed in the breast department).

So, anyway, Kel's still an interesting subject, and when she discusses her love and sex life, she comes across as the type of girl any guy would really enjoy having.  Repeatedly.

I've excerpted her comments from the HuffingtonPost story about celebrity gals dishing on their sex lives.  The Grand Canyon reference is due to the fact that Jenny McCarthy said she did it in the Grand Canyon and it wasn't very good.

Q:  What's your most embarrassing sex story? 

A: Kelly Monaco: See, Jenny’s got many embarrassing stories she’s willing to share with anybody! But me … shoot. I don’t know if anything’s really been that embarrassing. I haven’t had many partners. I’m still an under five [partners] girl, so I can recall just about everything that’s happened and I’m not really embarrassed about any of it. I guess maybe thinking back on my ‘90s bush*, you know, that’s kind of embarrassing! And I was in Playboy, so I have like that big bush everywhere and I thought that was hot then, but times change. I was current then!

*Actually, that's not quite true.  Kelly was already from the era of trimming, though not shaved.  You have to go back a couple of years more to see the true total untrimmed bushiness.  I was going to write a long article about that, but still haven't had the time to put it together.   But concerning Kelly, here is a NSFW NSFW NSFW NSFW NSFW (got that already) picture of Kelly's total Playboy magnificence -- and she was really magnificent, really truly a spectacular figure -- that shows she wasn't wearing a totally natural feminine jungle.  But enough about that, I'm sure you aren't interested. 

Q: Where's the strangest place you've had sex?

A:   Kelly Monaco: Strangest place? I like to have sex anywhere, so I don’t know, is it strange? I would definitely f**k at the Grand Canyon if I had the opportunity. Next time I’ll make sure of it … I’ve never been, maybe that could be fun.

Q:  When do you feel sexiest?

A:    Kelly Monaco: When I’m naked in bed. Just naked.

All of which adds up to a woman that just seems to have her priorities in the erotic section of her life exactly in the right place.

More seriously, sequestration could increase weather disaster impact

J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society, provided a scathing criticism of sequestration and its impact on the National Weather Service and our weather forecasting resources.

Unlike my previous post, this is totally for real.  And SCARY.

Here's his money paragraph, but I recommend reading the whole thing (click the link above).  I added a little emphasis.

"During a recent interview on CNN, today's interview, I discussed the Arctic Oscillation, Blocking Highs, and a high resolution RPM model forecast.  The knowledge and capabilities related to these discussions emerged from years of research, development, collaborative sharing via meetings, and investments. The public may take for granted a tornado warning (probably from a Doppler indicated signature) or satellite loop of an approaching hurricane. Likewise, the public probably just assumes that they will have 5-9 day warning of storms like Sandy; 15-60 minutes lead time for tornadic storms approaching their home; an airline with appropriate data for safe air travel; or a military with reliable information to avoid hazardous weather on a mission protecting our freedom. However, these capabilities "can" and "will" worsen/ degrade if we cut weather balloon launches, cut investments in the latest computing technology for our models, reduce Doppler radar maintenance, delay satellite launches, or shatter employee morale. We are accustomed to progress, innovation, and advancement and have come to expect it. I am honestly concerned that we will regress in capability and this will jeopardize lives, property, and our security. Anyone that knows me, understands that I am not an "over-the-top," hyperbolic person. I just call things as I see them. And by the way, I have not even spoken about the challenges that a changing climate adds to the weather mix."

Keep that in mind, slash-happy Republicans, when a tornado or hurricane takes aim at YOUR district.

How to get sequestration noticed

Apparently sequestration hasn't taken much of a bite yet, but from what I understand, it still will -- with some effects not noticeable for years.  For instance, DoD is canceling or slowing down readiness and maintenance projects, so that the net result will be that the fighting force will be lessened in numbers and effectiveness -- in subsequent months and years. 

Furthermore, furloughs have basically not started yet.   When they do, there will be government service delays and government project slowdowns and stoppages.   These will get noticed, especially at places like airports during heavy summer travel season.

However, a well-done April Fool's jest about reducing the frequency of Old Faithful eruptions made it occur to me that might be the way to make more people realize that sequestration is real and is happening.  (Apparently a few people took it seriously;  take a look at the note at the bottom).

People notice the national parks and monuments, natural treasures that constitute our shared environmental and conservation legacy.  And of the course the Park Service also takes care of our heritage in memorials and history, as well as the center of our government.

So, here's a couple of ideas to make more people sit up and take notice.  Be careful;  something like this might end up happening in real life.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Size matters - apparently - to Hayden

Hayden Panettiere, during her previous run with heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, explained to Ellen DeGeneres that she and the big guy manage to "find a way" when it comes to intimate positioning.  Well, after being with anothe large athlete for a couple of years, she's back with Klitschko and might be engaged to him.  Whether they are or not, the size difference still doesn't appear to be a problem, yet it still provides fodder for thinking.

A kiss for my fiancé! Hayden Panettiere sports a fringed bikini as she cuddles up to Wladimir Klitschko amid engagement rumours

What gets me is how similar the picture above is, both in the setting and the size difference between the principals, to the picture I put in this article about Elisha Cuthbert and Dion Phaneuf.

This is SEXY

Olivia Wilde on the cover of Marie Claire.  I just wish I could see this picture without the interfering text.

While looking for this (yes, I saw it in the checkout line), I realized I had forgotten how much fun it was to read women's magazines.  Here are some links to articles online now:

The science of love and sex (including the importance of the sense of smell)

10 new sex positions you've never heard of ... but need to try, now [the visual aids are rather tame]

Sexy lingerie your guy will love [the visual aids in this one are as would be expected]

How sex can make you more beautiful

I like women that read articles like this, and then apply them.

If I don't get there, this is pretty close

The AirPano Web site is totally amazing.  These guys are taking 360-degree panoramas of natural spectacles and well-known cityscapes, and posting them.   This is like the Mars panorama that I posted a few days ago -- it's almost like being right there.

A place that I'd like to go, but probably won't ever, is Angel Falls, the world's tallest single drop waterfall.  So I watched the AirPano panorama of the place, and was suitably astonished.  In my previous post today I lamented the endangerment of a couple of species, because of the decline of natural environments globally.  Angel Falls is still not a major eco-tourist destination because of the difficulty of getting there, and that in mind is a good thing.  I'll just have to enjoy the photography (and enjoy tall waterfalls like Multnomah, which is easy to get to -- and which I've seen).

Here's a link to the 360-degree panorama (actually the page, where the panoramas are).

And here's a link to a wide-view panorama (still shot) of the Angel Falls setting.

These are just great.

A couple of species on the brink

Extinction danger alert for the Chinese finless river porpoise, and the spoon-billed sandpiper.  In both cases, declining health of river and wetland environments is in the center of the problem.   And unfortunately, both of these animals are very cute.

WWF says 'Chinese river pig' [ finless porpoise ] close to extinction

"Scientists spent over a month last year scanning more than 3,400 kilometres (2,125 miles) of the [ Yangtze ] river in a hunt for the porpoises, but only saw 380, the conservation group WWF said in a statement. Based on that observation, combined with sightings of the porpoises in lakes connected to the river, the total number alive in the wild was likely to be a little more than 1,000, the WWF said."
Rare video of endangered shorebird
Researchers with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology capture video of newborn Spoon Billed Sandpiper chicks. This critically endangered Asian shorebird could go extinct within ten years.
This isn't news that's good to hear, but it's news we need to pay attention to.  Ecosystems are in decline globally, and that means species loss.  These are more "charismatic megafauna" that are in serious trouble.  We need reserves that preserve large natural environments, and we need them now, everywhere.