Saturday, June 29, 2013

SI's top 10 swimsuit models, all time

Brinkley, Tiegs, Ireland have to be in there. 

Yup, they are.  Ireland is #2.

Shoulda called Macpherson as #1.

Sports Illustrated's 50 greatest swimsuit models - the top 10

More than one white whale

New report that in addition to the famed Migaloo, a full grown adult male albino humpback whale, there is now a calf with the same distinctive coloration, observed in waters not too far away from where Migaloo was swimming.   The tyke white whale was first spotted in 2011, and also this year, according to the article.  Given the rarity and the proximity, I'd say that the odds are good that Miggy is the father.

Rare white whale spotted, and an albino calf too

What gets me about this article is that Migaloo has been observed since 1991.

And according to this article, Migaloo was observed in an apparently romantic quest, which lends circumstantial evidence to the paternity case.

Migaloo spouting

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Am I going to comment on Obama's climate change initiative?


Science correction: Komodo dragons DON'T have filthy mouths

Science moves on step-by-step.  It has been widely publicized that Komodo dragons killed their prey by biting them with mouths and teeth reeking of toxic bacteria, and then they take it easy until the prey dies of infection, at which time they scavenge until their reptile bellies are full.

It turns out that this was totally wrong.  Thank goodness that science is a self-correcting enterprise, a factor that is totally lost on climate change skeptics.

Too bad for Kirilenko

Maria Kirilenko, Washington Capitals captain (hockey) Alex Ovechkin's fiance and a girl that I promised to devote a little more coverage to, recently got into the top 10 rankings globally for women's tennis.  Unfortunately, at Wimbledon in her first Grand Slam as a top 10 pro, she got knocked out in the first round, which is likely to  knock her back into the teens, ratings-wise. 

She's still darned cute, Alex.  DARNED cute.  So much so that Sports Illustrated featured here, as shown below.

Rietze captures more hot eruptive action

While that subject line may sound a tad bit pornographic, it's really about astoundingly gorgeous pictures of  eruptions of Sakurajima volcano in Japan taken by Martin Rietze.   They are featured in the article linked below. 

This guy is an artist, and a risk-taker (to an extent).  Just astonishing stuff.

On Roy Spencer and his model post - "completely meaningless"

Dr. Roy Spencer recently had an article on his blog that was picked up by other climate skeptic megaphones and mouthpieces as a new, telling slam on climate models.  What he did was show an amalgamation of climate model predictive results (apparently run with a variety of starting boundary conditions and different forcing factors) for the tropical mid-troposphere, and then compared this to the current temperatures measured in the lower troposphere by him and another group using satellite data.  There's a divergence going on.

I was pretty sure that there were problems with this approach, but none immediately appeared in the skeptical refutationist press.  That is, until today.   Turns out that what Spency  did was playing real fast and loose with what he showed of the models for comparison.   So much so, in fact, that what he's showing has no information content --

-- thus rendering any comparisons to it USELESS.

Here's what was said, tellingly, and then you can read the whole thing to find out why.

"This is such a horrendous abuse of statistics that it is difficult to know how to begin to address it. One simply wishes to bitch-slap whoever it was that assembled the graph and ensure that they never work or publish in the field of science or statistics ever again. One cannot generate an ensemble of independent and identically distributed models that have different code. One might, possibly, generate a single model that generates an ensemble of predictions by using uniform deviates (random numbers) to seed “noise” (representing uncertainty) in the inputs.

What I’m trying to say is that the variance and mean of the “ensemble” of models is completely meaningless, statistically because the inputs do not possess the most basic properties required for a meaningful interpretation. They are not independent, their differences are not based on a random distribution of errors, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the errors or differences are unbiased (given that the only way humans can generate unbiased anything is through the use of e.g. dice or other objectively random instruments)."

That's a pretty serious knockdown. 

What's really ultimately interesting about this commentary is that he notes what real scientists would do - they would look at the models that came the closest to the real data, try to figure out why, and try to  figure out what to do to improve the models so that they got better, and gave even closer fits to the data. If you look beyond the distracting and meaningless (his words) black line, which isn't even an average as  it purports to be (read the article), you start to see that there are a few model runs on the low end that aren't that far off the actual data.  A scientist would ask, "So what are these models doing right?"

Obviously the Roy-man is so blinded by trying to prove his point with this "horrendous abuse of statistics"  (that certainly bore repeating) tha he can't act like a real scientist anymore.  Which is a shame because he actually used to be one.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How does crema work, chemically?

An informative video, from Science Friday, about the foam that forms on top of an espresso.  This is also very important stuff!

You'll never think about coffee the same way again.

Mariah Carey looks good, really good

An article from the Daily Mail shows that Mariah Carey, post-twins, is looking darned good.  Very impressive effort to come back from the birth of her twins (now two years old, the article mentions).  I'll bet Nick Cannon is happy about that - and the twins, too.

Admittedly, both the black one-piece and the poses are more flattering, and she's still curvy, but it's a very nice curvy.

Mariah Carey in two swimsuits at new video shoot

In a tin box?

Interesting news about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  Some aerial pictures of the island where some think she landed and stayed until her death were found in a tin box in New Zealand.  So now they are presumably going to be processed with modern photographic and image processing techniques, to see if there are any signs of someone living there.  The photographs were taken about 15 months after Earhart's disappearance.

Really.  In a little tin box that everyone had forgotten about.  That boggles the mind.  As it says:

"Found by Matthew O'Sullivan, keeper of photographs at the New Zealand Air Force Museum in Christchurch, the images lay forgotten in an unlabeled tin box in the museum's archives.
The box contained five sheets of contact prints -- for a total of 45 photos, complete with negatives -- and a slip of paper with the words "Gardner Island."

Photos could prove Amelia Earhart lived as a castaway

The article shows low-res examples of the pictures.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Six "space" movies this summer and fall lists and briefly describes six soon-to-be-released movies with a space element or them.  They are, in order of appearance in the article:

"After Earth", which is apparently forgettable and skippable;
"Man of Steel", not really science-fiction, but I hope to see it;
"Europa Report", which I REALLY want to see;
"Elysium", with a bald Matt Damon wielding a big ray gun;
"Gravity", which sounds intriguing, and starring big names Clooney and Bullock;  and
"Ender's Game", which a lot of sci-fi readers have been waiting for.  I read it and it's not my favorite, but might translate well to the screen.

Summer and Fall Space Movies to Check Out

Astonishing tornado picture

Link to a picture of a tornado nearing Denver International Airport that is just plain astonishing.  The core circulation under the cloud is visible through a nearly transparent rotating vortex reaching down to the ground.

Tornado near Denver International Airport.

Found via this article:  Staring into the Belly of the Tornadic Beast

As long as you've got a definite escape route, this is a remarkable phenomenon of nature to witness.

Incipient panic

I see that the Senate Republicans are already starting to panic that the Democrats are going to take action on their nomination-blocking with a "nuclear option" move to end the practice of filibustering nominees.

Orrin Hatch says that it's about ending debate.  But the thing is, THEY AREN'T DEBATING about the nominations.   They're just blocking them by saying that they want to leave open the option to debate about them in the future.

That, sir, is disingenuous.  But they're going to be floundering for a strategy to make themselves look better until the nuclear option is invoked.

July is when it's going to happen.  Fireworks in the Senate!

Sen. Hatch chides Dems for committing 'filibuster fraud'

"Republicans have argued that requiring 60 votes to overcome a filibuster — a cloture motion — should not count as truly blocking a nomination. GOP senators say they're simply exercising their right to "advise and consent" on nomination, which is granted under the Constitution."

But if they aren't talking about a nomination, how could they possibly advise and then consent (or reject) it? Man up, Pubbies.  The President deserves the opportunity to actually govern the country, not something you're very good at, apparently.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just-so story: why the gorilla was white

With apologies to Rudyard Kipling, having in my younger years seen many pictures of Snowflake, the world's one and only albino gorilla (ever) in National Geographic, I did kinda wonder why there was never more than one.  I think that Snowflake had offspring (I'm too lazy to check on that right now), so that albino gene might still be available, but there has never been another albino gorilla.   Considering our success at propagating white tigers, that's a little surprising.

Anyway, research has discovered why Snowflake was an albino.  This article also explained to me that there are four different genetic mutations in humans that cause albinism.  I never knew that.

The reason that Snowflake was albino was:   his father was the brother of either his mother's mother or his mother's father.  I.e., his father was his great-uncle.  Inbreeding gives rise to recessive genes, and that's what happened.

Albino gorilla Snowflake was inbred  (according to gene sequencing)

The article points out that reduced populations and smaller regions to live in might cause this to happen again. 

(Provided gorillas don't go extinct first.)

Such happy thoughts.

Who's going to take Miranda Kerr's place?

Since Miranda Kerr is leaving Victoria's Secret (not that I think her modeling career will end anytime soon), we need a replacement model that combines the cute and sexy in one adorable desirable package as effortlessly as Miranda.  And who works for Victoria's Secret.  And who also models swimsuits, because Miranda did both of those things quite well.

I nominate Nina Agdal.

Below are eight reasons why.

I know young models are generally quite appealing.  Nina is only 21.   That's amazing.  And well, if male truth be told, d*mned appealing. 

Also, if you search wisely, there are a couple of shots where she's officially topless, if you guess my areolar meaning.

Even though it's possible to search for lots and lots of Nina's eye candy, I hope you'll enjoy this compilation.

This one deserves to be seen even larger

See this one larger, too

This one is larger and full length

Public service: How to launch action on climate change

From Ambassador Marlene Moses, Nauru:

How to launch action on climate change

She writes:
"To stay on track, our proposal calls for the following calendar of events:

  •     In the run up to COP19 in Warsaw this year, negotiators and observers should compile a list of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and technologies proven to reduce emissions. The compilation should feed into a “technical paper,” written by the UNFCCC Secretariat, which would form the basis of more detailed discussions to come; 
  •     The Warsaw conference should host a high-level meeting of environment ministers in order to assess the work and identify priority areas to be advanced in 2014;
  •     The conference should establish expert working groups, which would be tasked with developing detailed and scalable solutions in the priority areas;

    The following year, at COP 20, the groups should deliver on their mandate, setting the stage for implementation."
And I must point out -- "technologies proven to reduce emissions" has nuclear energy number 1 on the list.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How do they know it's red?

More on asteroid QE2, which gave us a pass close enough to allow radar imaging just a short while ago.  It turned out that it had a moonlet.  Now, they imaged the asteroid with radar, which allowed the discovery of surface features and the orbiting moonlet. And it turned out that this was a whole new kind of asteroid than anything they'd seen before.

Last I checked, radar data wasn't in color.   So I was a bit confused by the following statement.

“Asteroid QE2 is dark, red, and primitive — that is, it hasn’t been heated or melted as much as other asteroids," Arecibo's Ellen Howell said in a statement. "QE2 is nothing like any asteroid we've visited with a spacecraft, or plan to, or that we have meteorites from. It's an entirely new beast in the menagerie of asteroids near Earth."
 So I'd like that explained a bit further.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 Radar Images Reveal Near-Earth Space Rock To Be 'Entirely New Beast,' Scientists Say 

June's first sonnet

I may write another (I never know), but here's a sonnet for June.

Metaphor for

As alabaster stallions gallop through
a set of wind-whipped waves which break
upon a Gallic beach; as geese-flocks flew
en masse to greet the dawn; as islands quake
when magma bursts the bounds of ground in waves
of molten splendor; those are my intense
associations as I sense the slaves
to passion rising -- vital perfect sense
when onrush captivates and dominates,
enchained to rhythm and to pleasure, or-
dered to ascension, forced to be in states
of necessary thralldom as their store
of treasure is awarded to my mate
until my waves recede and tides abate.


Friday, June 14, 2013

A more direct article about nuclear energy

The movie Pandora's Promise, which I wrote about previously, is causing a lot of reexamination and reconsideration of nuclear energy and how it might be integral to ending the era of fossil fuels and critically addressing the issue of climate change substantively.

Andrew Revkin used Dot Earth to host an opinion piece by one of the film's principals, Richard Rhodes.  In it, he explains why he used to oppose nuclear power, why he doesn't any more, and also why he thinks so many other people are still opposed to it.

Then he wrote this:

"I’m not surprised that the clean and peaceful technology, which today provides about 13.5 percent of world electricity without air pollution or greenhouse gases, was tarred with the same brush as the Bomb. I am surprised, however, that idealistic, intelligent people who want to clean up the air and limit global warming are opposed to nuclear power. They might as well be out there promoting fossil fuels. In effect, they are."

Now, this is why I also have serious issues with the charlatans posing as "experts" who are climate change skeptics (more on this soon). Because they are beholden to the fossil fuel industry, and that era HAS TO END, for the sake of security, health, the future inhabitability of our world, and for a more stable future, societally and environmentally.

An article on climate and nuclear energy

This article is about several different issues in the current climate change discussion, but I of course like one of the things that it says.

Who Is Fooling Who When It Comes to Climate Change

"With international climate negotiations working toward some form of agreement in 2015 that would only come into effect at the end of the decade, the world is “drifting off track,” in the words of IEA executive director Marina van der Hoeven at the press conference releasing the analysis. “But the problem is not going away.” Instead of dithering for a decade and paying for phantom emission reductions, the kinds of emissions declines seen in the U.S. must be repeated the world over. And that will take everything from CO2 capture and storage in Europe to more nuclear power in China, as well as the new plan to phase out HFCs. The rest is hot air from a bunch of flimflam artists."
 Thank you, David Biello, for pointing that out.

PETA ad features four Miss USAs, starkers

PETA, of course, is famous for their campaign against animal cruelty, both particularly in terms of not wearing garments made of animal fur (not faux fur).  They also do campaigns for vegetarianism, but I'm still going to eat meat.  Not wearing fur is not a problem.

The Huffington Post has an article about the latest recruits to the cause, four former Miss USAs.  One of them is Shanna Moakler, who I mentioned previously.  Another one is Alyssa Campanella, a knockout redhead who's Miss USA from 2011.

Four Miss USA winners pose naked to "Say No to Fur"

The thing about this article, is that it has a video to go with it of the four Miss USAs shooting for the ad.  They are all wriggling about in their birthday suits.  Because there are four of them, some of the areas you're not supposed to see occasionally sneak into view.  So they get blurred a bit, darn it.  Still, at about the 1:30 mark, Shanna shows she's not shy -- and she's still got what it takes.  There's a little bit of blurring, but you can still tell what's where.  (If you want more and better, just search on her name plus Playboy, and you'll find plenty.)  She's sweet.  And hot.

After this, however, in the video, there are some scenes of the cruelty of the fur trade that are pretty graphic. They have the effect of showing why aspect of the PETA effort is totally justified.  I'd have to say I support the girls, not just because they look good naked, but because the fur trade is a throwback to more primitive times when we still traditionally did that.  But this is one tradition that doesn't need to continue.

Oh, by the way, here's the ad.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In case of impending disaster, here's how to do nothing

Sad, but basically true.  Great Tom Toles cartoon (acquired from here:  Steve Easterbrook - Climate Cartoons)

North Carolina shows conserv GOP running amok

Katrina van den Heuvel of the Washington Post had a recent opinion piece about a major infusion of money into North Carolina to elect more Tea Party candidates.  Ohhhhhh, great.

The third Koch "brother" hits North Carolina

The name of this third "Koch brother" is Art Pope.  He put a couple million into state and local races, with this result:

"... Pope’s organizations spent $2.2 million on 22 state legislature races, and won 18 of them."

So now the state legislature has a Republican majority, which goes along with a Republican governor (McCrory).  Here's what they've been doing so far:
  1. "Conservative legislators want to dilute the influence of minority voters by curtailing early voting, ending Sunday registration and enacting unnecessary voter ID laws.
  2. Public education is being gutted. As Jane Mayer reported in the New Yorker, despite overwhelming support, the legislature repealed the pennysalestax that went toward public education funding. Even the state’s prized University of North Carolina system is facing some $50 million in budget cuts.
  3. Unsurprisingly, and unconscionably, Gov. McCrory has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though it would insure half a million North Carolinians.
  4. Despite a 9.2 percent jobless rate — well above the national average of 7.9 percent — North Carolina is cutting back on unemployment benefits."
 Isn't that lovely?  There is some pushback, but I think it will be more visible than effective.  Because money squawks.

But what does 'DATING' mean, Derek?

If you delve back into the history of this blog, you'll find that I followed very closely the unusual relationship between arch-dancer Derek Hough and British pop singing superstar and delectable diva Cheryl Cole, who was bouncing back from a divorce from Chelsea football (soccer) star Ashley Cole.  It seemed to me that Derek was the more active partner, doing his best to get Cheryl to think of him as more than a friend (and perhaps at least raise him to the "friends with benefits" label.   But it was never clear if that happened, much to my voyeuristic chagrin.

Well, now it emerges that Derek in an interview reveals, finally, that he and Cheryl "dated".  In celeb-speak, "dating" usually is indicative of a sleepover relationship, in the good sense, and not just dinner, drinks, and dancing on the town.  (The paparazzi did catch them in a few moments of apparent intimacy, but most of the time, they didn't even hold hands when they went out!  That was strange.) Now, Derek is too much of a gentleman to ever reveal if he had his way with the lady, but as I stated on more than one occasion, I sure hope that he did.  And after her dangerous bout of malaria, after the doctor's released her from the imposed no-sex ban, I would have thought it quite kind of her to reward the man who saved her life, plausibly, with the truest act of thankfulness known to womankind, the carnal right to the carnal rite.

Well, I'll never know for sure.  But now at least I know they "dated".

Seriously, it's hard to believe some of this

The following article is so close to parody that you could think it came from The Onion.  But no, it's real.  A Tea Party congressmen from the great and misled state of Oklahoma wants President Obama to apologize.

For what, you ask?   If you haven't heard this story already, he wants Obama to apologize for...

... investing in climate change research.

There are probably easily more than 100 different ways why climate change research, which is indeed a broad umbrella, benefits society.  For example, more efficient scrubbers on fossil fuel energy plants reduce sulfur and nitrate emissions -- good for public health.  Improved vehicular gas mileage (one reason for doing that is climate change) does one thing of importance -- it saves people money.  Climate change research also helps figure out (better) how hurricanes form, which might protect our coasts in case one of them forms and heads for the U.S.  Of course, as a good Tea Party member from Oklahoma, he'd probably want to take money out of school lunch programs to pay for disaster relief in case that happens.

But as I said, seriously, he wants Obama to apologize for investing in climate change research.

Here's what he said:
“Even climate change alarmists admit the number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. and the number of tornado touchdowns have been on a slow decline for over 100 years,” Bridenstine said on the House floor Tuesday, according to Raw Story. “But here is what we absolutely know. We know that Oklahoma will have tornadoes when the cold jet stream meets the warm Gulf air, and we also know that this President spends 30 times as much money on global warming research as he does on weather forecasting and warning. For this gross misallocation, the people of Oklahoma are ready to accept the President’s apology and I intend to submit legislation to fix this.”
 I'd like to remind him of something.

Oklahoma July 2011 average temperature highest for any state, for any month, EVER

Yeah, like a Congressman from Oklahoma should be for de-investing in climate change.  That is a level of idiocy that I did not actually think achievable.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lindsay and Curtis get maritally knotted

I've commented back in this blog a few times about my manly admiration for actress Lindsay Price.  (Even commented about her posing nude, though she didn't bare any of the best parts of her loveliness).   I also commented when she got pregnant, and when she had a baby by her chef boyfriend Curtis Stone, and when they subsequently got engaged.

Well, they finally did what couples in love do traditionally, which is to get married (even though the tradition is getting stretched in several cases when the child comes before the marriage.  The 'first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage' verse is getting rearranged, such as for currently pregnant Jennifer Love Hewitt and previously pregnant Linda Cardellini, who just got engaged to her baby daddy). 

As is also traditional, here's a recent picture of Lindsay.  She was making an appearance with Curtis (who appears in other pictures at this event), but I liked this one, for obvious reasons.  I think it might be somewhat obvious that she's still likely breast-feeding her tot.

Perhaps one of the most important posts I've ever made

Yes, I think it's very important that the world find out about the different taste profiles of coffee beans grown in different parts of the world.

Well, it's important because I, who likes coffee (but doesn't drink gallons of it a day, a couple of cuppas a day is enough), never saw this kind of important information before.  And this is simple.  Get into blending, and then I think it could get much more complex.

So, if you think this is as important as I do, feel free to pass it on.

What do coffees from the major growing regions taste like?

As an example, here's Sumatran/Indonesian, one that I like in particular:

Again we see the result of variety, processing, and climate in the coffees from Indonesia, which tend to have a deep, dark, almost meaty earthiness to them. Sumatran coffees in particular take to dark roasting well, and so there are often smoky and toasted flavors present in the cup. Others will have a stouty or mushroom-like complexity that is both savory and herbaceous, and a long, lasting finish that feels like very dark or unsweetened cocoa.
Now they just need to tell me if Tanzanian Peaberry tastes that much different from plain ol' Kenyan, and what's so great about Kona.

Maybe he'll get to that next time.

Nuclear energy offers a way off the main track

Carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012, IEA report says

Well, that's to be expected in an industrializing world.   Regardless of what the climate skeptics say or do, we're messing with the climate, and there are numerous environmental signs all pointing in the same direction -- down bad-times road.

"The energy sector accounts for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, so “energy has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change,” the IEA said. Its report urged nations to take four steps, including aggressive energy-efficiency measures, by 2015 to keep alive any hope of limiting climate change to 2 degrees Celsius."

And what might be done about that?   What's one tactic in this battle?

"Notwithstanding the Fukushima accident, [Faith] Birol said nuclear energy remains “a very important option to fight against climate change.” The report also urged the pursuit of carbon capture and storage methods." 

There are some people thinking that nuclear is a dead-end road.  But the innovators think otherwise.  I'm with them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Putin divorcing

Russian President Vladimir Putin is divorcing his wife.  They say there isn't another woman involved.   While that might be true now, it might NOT have been true a couple of years ago.  More on that later.

President Putin and wife Lyudmila say marriage is over on TV

Two words:  rhythmic gymnastics.

How much food we waste

Do we, collectively, realize how much hunger we could reduce by doing a better job of not wasting food?

The energy savings are important, too. 

Relayed from ThinkProgress.

Featuring one of my favorites

No hiding the fact that Carrie Stevens is one of my favorite Playboy Playmates ever.  Not only is she an extraordinarily beautiful woman (clothed and unclothed), she has a real life history with ups and downs, she's a talented actress, she believes in causes and does something about them, she can cook!!, she tells it like it is plain and simple, and not only that, she's an extraordinarily beautiful MILK. (Mother I'd Like to Know, and I don't mean that in the Biblical sense, though I'll admit it'd be a great bonus - still, meeting her in person for a true tete-a-tete would be enough).   Well, yes, that's the plain truth.

But rather than me continue to extol her virtues and attributes, learn more about her in the following recent interview.

Playmate Carrie Stevens talks about Eric Carr, KISS, Playboy and Centerfold Chefs

Here's an interesting part of the interview:

LRI: We are well versed in Playboy history and have the pleasure of driving by the Chicago building often as Illinois residents. After all these years what does it mean to you to be a part of the Playboy family and have that honor on your resume?

Carrie: Becoming a Playmate made me an overnight celebrity.  It was my “rock star” moment.  I got to go on tour and sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans…much like a musician ….without the talent.  After all these years, I still visit the Mansion once a month or so.  I consider Hugh Hefner a dear friend.  He has been a kind and loving and I feel a part of his family of close friends.  There will only ever be one Miss June 1997, and I am proud to have made my mark in Playboy history.

And an interesting picture, which was taken quite recently (wow):

Gentlemen prefur Carrie

ESA's Mars Express still taking great Mars pics

Another successful Mars mission has been the European Space Agency's Mars Express, which launched about 10 years ago.  It has taken a lot of really superb pictures of Mars, some of which I've blogged about here.  The one they released recently is no exception.  My picture here isn't as high resolution as you can get;  I recommend following the link and then going to the high-res pictures if you really want to get the full effect!  It is stunning.

The flood waters of Mars

Kasei Valles splits into two main branches that hug a broad island of fractured terrain - Sacra Mensa - rising 2 km above the channels that swerve around it. While weaker materials succumbed to the erosive power of the fast-flowing water, this hardier outcrop has stood the test of time.

Slightly further downstream, the flood waters did their best to erase the 100 km-wide Sharonov crater, crumpling its southern rim. Around Sharonov, many small streamlined islands form teardrop shapes rising from the riverbed, carved as water swept around these natural obstacles.

Where Opportunity is going next

The remarkable Opportunity rover is still working, and now starting on a 1.2 km move to Solander Point on the rim of Endeavour crater, where there are rock layers to be investigated.  It's actually a southern journey, as seen in image 8 in the article.  I'm showing image 7, which shows where Opportunity is and where it's going in perspective.

Mars Rover Opportunity Trekking Toward More Layers

"Cape York exposes just a few yards, or meters, of vertical cross-section through geological layering. Solander Point exposes roughly 10 times as much. Researchers hope to find evidence about different stages in the history of ancient Martian environments. The rim of Endeavour Crater displays older rocks than what Opportunity examined at Eagle, Endurance, Victoria and Santa Maria craters during the first eight years of the rover's work on Mars. "

Here we GO - Obama makes the noms

President Obama set the stage for the filibuster fight by nominating three candidates for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  This is a battle that's been brewing for a long time;  the Dems in the Senate are ready to pull the trigger on the nuclear option to make it impossible to filibuster Presidential nominations.

All this is about is allowing the President to run the country in the way that he is Constitutionally entitled to do.  It's both stupid and wrong for the Republicans to do what they've been doing.  I'm totally behind it.

Article about the nominations:

Obama calls on Senate to quickly confirm 3 judicial nominees

“This is not about principled opposition; this is about political obstruction,” Obama said. “I recognize that neither party has a perfect track record here. Democrats weren’t completely blameless when I was in the Senate. But what’s happening now is unprecedented. For the good of the American people, it has to stop.”

Op-ed imploring the Republicans to save the filibuster for only those times when it's important:

Please Republicans, save the filibuster

"Exactly the way that the creation of the 60-vote Senate, with filibusters on every nomination, was a major change when Republicans initiated it in January 2009.

And the solution is very simple. All Republicans have to do is to return to the way things were before 2009, saving the filibuster for only those measures and nominations on which they have their very strongest objections, and the problem will go away.

It’s up to the Republicans. The 60-vote Senate is unsustainable. Occasional filibusters work just fine. So they need to choose which one they want."

Exactly right.  Skip the nuclear option;  just stop filibustering Presidential nominations.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Truth talk about nuclear energy

   is good.


Good, well-thought-out piece on nuclear energy, actually a review of a film, in Scientific American.   I'll excerpt a bit and recommend reading the whole thing.

Hope springs eternal: 'Pandora's Promise' and the truth about nuclear energy

A. "There is no evidence that extremely low levels of radiation cause cancer, and the total number of deaths caused by even the worst nuclear accidents are a fraction of those from other causes like coal pollution and cigarette smoking."

B. " Nuclear power is the only high-density, low-carbon energy source that is ready to be deployed on a vast scale. When it comes to climate change, time is running out, and solutions have to be not just comprehensive but quick; as [Gaia father James] Lovelock says, “we have no time to experiment with visionary solutions”. "

C. "The solution to the cost problem is to make reactors leaner and meaner, and that is what the film does talk about. Fortunately many prominent thinkers who also happen to be wealthy are supporting inspired research into new smaller, safer and more efficient reactors."

And here's the link to the Web site about the film:  Pandora's Promise  (complete with trailer)

Worth reading.  Worth seeing, if possible.

Really, really historical piscine pictures

Just a few months ago an expedition captured the first live video footage of a giant squid in its deep sea realm.  Now there's a video of a live oarfish in the depths of the ocean, too.  Oarfish, for those who can't wait to watch the video, are a very long narrow fish with a dorsal fin that is almost the same length as the fish.

What gets me is the pattern of movement of the dorsal fin.  It appears to have two wave functions, one moving in about the first 2/3 of the fin and the other in the rear 1/3 of the fin.  Sometimes the front part of the fin is moving in a different direction than the rear part of the fin.

Amazing era in which we live, isn't it?

Video of an oarfish in the wild

MESSENGER covers Mercury

NASA announced today that the MESSENGER mission had completed its photographic coverage of the planet Mercury.  100% of the surface has been photographed in sunlight.

That's really impressive, especially considering how hard it was to get there and get in orbit around the hot little planet.

Mercury 100% coverage (with link to larger version of the images below)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Azarenka, Sharapova, Williams, Errani

The women's draw at the French Open went almost according to seed (Errani was #5, not #4), and it will hopefully be competitive, with Errani comfortable on clay and that surface clearly being the one that Serena is most limited by.    As for the Azarenka vs. Sharapova slug and scream match, I'll always give the edge to a woman that can shrug off a 6-love first set and win the match, which is what Maria just did.  But that one is a toss-up.

Sharapova, Azarenka in French semis

I'd like to see another Sharapova-Errani final with Maria winning again, but in my gut I think Serena is on a path to history, and this will be another brick in the wall.

Celebrity pregnancies: JLoH, finally

I think, given how much publicity Jennifer Love Hewitt's relationship foibles have received (as well as the publicity her lovely mammaries have been granted) we've all been collectively awaiting this news for a long time, and many males may have actually imagined themselves in the driver's seat trying to get to this particular destination.  But the procreative powers with regard to her womb have been granted to her Client List co-star Brian Hallisay.  Turns out that they also got engaged.

(Of course, I should point out in the interest of public interest that the main activity she gets tips for on The Client List is not likely to result in pregnancy.  Just in case someone wasn't aware of that.)

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Pregnant Or Engaged First? 'The Client List' Co-Stars Have Everyone Guessing; But Does It Matter? [VIDEO]

Celebrity pregnancies: Kate joins the 3 -with-3 club

Just read today that Kate Winslet is pregnant by her third husband, Ned Rocknroll.  Good for them.   Provided that the pregnancy goes to term (which we all hope, of course), she'll join the somewhat distinctive and unique group of women who have had children with 3 different husbands/mates.  (As chronicled by me here.   And also here.)

(Of course, there may actually be a lot of women in this group, but we don't hear about many of them, and truly, sometimes this is a situation that arises out of poor or desperate circumstances.  So it should be noted that this is really a club of celebrity women who have had children with three different husbands/mates.)

But in this case, it appears to be a case of true love - maybe - following its natural physiological course.

Kate Winslet Pregnant:  Actress expecting first child with husband Ned Rocknroll

Monday, June 3, 2013

How's Elena doing?

 While most of the rest of the basketball country watching the WNBA is keeping track of Britney Griner, I still am watching Elena Delle Donne, who (if we shall collectively remember) was at one point being called the female Michael Jordan.   Britney is now being called the female Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul Jabbar, which raises the prospect that the rookies are the equivalent of having Jordan and Lew/Kareem in the league at the same time. 

Not sure who they compare Skylar Diggins to, but she sure is cute.  The female Rick Fox, maybe?

Back to  Elena Double-D (oh c'mon, you had to see THAT coming):

22, 20, and 15 points in her first three games, and her new team, the Chicago Sky, is 3-0.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

What was that again?

The GOP is too juvenile to govern, by Eugene Robinson, says in part:

"Cruz and the others are worried that a conference committee might not only work out a budget but also make it possible to raise the federal debt ceiling without the now-customary showdown threatening default and catastrophe. They believe that brinkmanship is the only way to stop runaway government spending, which produces massive trillion-dollar deficits, which add to the ballooning national debt, which . . ."
I just posted yesterday about Paul Ryan saying basically the same thing (according to Greg Sargent, but I think he was spot-on).  But as Eugene points out, the budget is going down by a lot.  Do we really have to have ANOTHER crisis so that the Republicans can claim spending is out of control -- when it clearly isn't any more (partly because of the stupid sequester, but still...)

Can't we have one debt ceiling raise without drama?  Please?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This is not a pose

Since it's been a few posts since I posted about a fabulous female, I thought I'd post about Candice Swanepoel.   She was having some downtime with her boyfriend in Miami.  (Now here's where I'm confused;  I distinctly remember reading that her boyfriend was in the South African army.  I can't find a link to that anywhere right now, but I didn't imagine it).  Anyway, her long-term boyfriend is also a model.

The think about the next picture is that she wasn't posing.  She's just naturally modelic (as you'd figure, being that's what she does for a living, but still... is that fair to so many other normals?)

And of course there's this very non-normal remarkableness:

Article links:
Candice Swanepoel frolics poolside in a teeny bikini

Candice Swanepoel on off-duty Miami holiday

Best grocery stores for sustainable seafood

Given that one of the themes of this blog has become trying to save fisheries like the bluefin tuna and trying to kill invasive species like lionfish, I thought it would be useful to relay the Greenpeace rankings on what grocery stores do the best job of stocking sustainable seafood for their clientele.   I got this from the Huffington Post.

And here's the link to the full report.

As if we didn't know this already!

Another valuable insight from my parallel thinker Greg Sargent at the Washington Post:

Paul Ryan admits GOP can't govern without a hostage crisis

Here's one of the things he wrote  (emphasis mine):
"The simple fact of the matter here is that Republicans are not willing to enter into negotiations over the budget unless they can use the threat of crashing the economy to get more of what they want. To this apparent end, conservative Senators such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have insisted that Dems agree in advance of any budget talks not to make the debt limit any part of them — a position supported by Mitch McConnell. But as Jonathan Chait noted recently, Democrats can’t do this; it would mean “they couldn’t strike any deal because Republicans would come back in the fall demanding more concessions in return for not blowing up the world economy.”
This would be unbelievable in a movie if it wasn't for the fact that this is actually happening. Ugh.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I really want to see this

I want to go see Joss Whedon's made in the house, shot in 12 days, black-and-white version of the Bard's "Much Ado About Nothing".   Surprised Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't in it, because it seems like everybody else from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show) IS in this flick.  Even Nathan Fillion.

Because it's an art-house movie, I expect I'll have to drive a bit to go see it.

Why the nuclear option on filibuster nominations is necessary

 Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, explains it all in the Huffington Post.

BREAKING COURT NEWS: President Does Job. Republicans Set Hair on Fire.

A part of this piece:
"One has to hand it to the Republicans; they are the masters of creative obstructionism. No one in American history has come up with so many clever ways to use Senate procedures as partisan bludgeons. No argument is too ludicrous. No procedural gimmick too outrageous. No deception too preposterous. Don't want the Democratic president to make the judicial appointments the Constitution entitles him to? Just eliminate the seats! Don't want a legal star like Caitlin Halligan to sit on the bench? Don't let her get a vote! Don't want big-business interests to lose in court? Make sure the conservative firewall in the D.C. Circuit is never challenged!"

The return of Dactyl

Some of you reading this may remember that the communication-challenged Galileo Jupiter probe flew by a couple of asteroids on the way to its ultimately succesful Jupiter mission.   And when it flew by asteroid Ida, it discovered, for the very first time, that a big asteroid had a little asteroid as a moon.

Well, Earth just had a close (relatively speaking in the astronomical sense) pass by a big asteroid, and it turns out from a radar survey of this asteroid that it too has a moon.  Now, when I read the article and saw the pictures, I thought the little bright spot was the "new" moon, but I had to wait until I saw a tweet to another article to confirm that.

So, as it stands, the picures show that the asteroid does have a little moon.  Because there are asteroid fragments all over the Solar System (mostly in the belt, of course), it's not unlikely that many of this little planet pieces have littler planet species in orbit around them.

NASA radar discovers that asteroid has its own moon

Because the asteroid is named 1998 QE2, my preference for the name of the moon is "Dinghy".