Sunday, September 29, 2013

A sonnet on the eve of shutdown

'On contemplating action when those in power betray our trust'

Oh disobedience - you have a clear
attraction when supposed leadership
becomes unmoored and rudderless. The sphere
is then transformed to danger, where a trip
once thought benign becomes becalmed, betrayed
by guidance lost to depths of the most sheer
futility, where will becomes a frayed
and tattered tendon so that strength is mere
survival, step to step and play to play.
So what shall we conspire? If we still fear
reprisal then our courage goes astray 
when we do need it most, when we should gear
ourselves for an assassination, tossed 
by latent doubts when we should not be crossed.

Why it's so hard to compromise right now

Jonathan Rauch, writing in National Affairs:

"In particular, spoilers have three pernicious effects. First, they make it difficult for leaders to lead. If any deal that a leader brings back from negotiations is suspect precisely because it is a deal, and if any leader who brings back such a deal is likely to be accused of treason by a significant share of his base, then it will be hard for a leader either to accept or deliver on a compromise — exactly the kind of problem that has weakened House speaker John Boehner in recent years."
This is why we're here - a couple of years ago, Boehner made a deal with President Obama that might have actually addressed the fiscal problems the country currently has, and Republicans rejected it.  And ever since, any "Grand Deal" has had no chance.

And now we have another shutdown for the sake of ideology.

When in doubt, blame the Republicans.  Right now, at least, it's all their fault. 

Two incredible commentaries about the GOP shutdown fiasco

If you haven't read these, you should.  Even if you're a Republican that agrees with what your representatives are doing to make Congress a travesty of what the Constitution writers envisioned.

Has the GOP leadership become delusional?
This increasing lack of connection to political reality may result in part from classic denial. They are unwilling to accept that their extremist ideological views are massively unpopular with an increasingly progressive electorate.

Last election they simply refused to believe that all of those Hispanics, African Americans, women and young people would come to the polls. Even their pollsters refused to believe that the electorate was changing. They were actually stunned that they lost.

The Tea Party Republicans appear to have abandoned hope that they can achieve their goals through the established -- democratic -- political process. After all, virtually all of their demands are extremely unpopular with the broader electorate and they overwhelmingly lost the last election.

So they have resorted to the tactic of choice for small extremist minorities: hostage-taking. They are threatening to blow up the economy if they don't get their way. 

And that is precisely why the president and Democrats in Congress are so clear that they will not cede to GOP demands. If Democrats were to allow hostage-taking to work, GOP extremists would try the same tactic again and again. There would be no end to the hostage-taking in order to force the majority of Americans to agree to the positions of a small minority that have been rejected in democratic elections.
Here's the second one.

The debt ceiling showdown is the fight of Obama's life, by Jonathan Chait

"If outsiders have failed to grasp the motivations of the House Republicans, puzzling at their odd redoubling of ideological fervor since November, they have likewise mistaken Obama. Everything I have seen from Obama suggests he understands that he cannot repeat his blunder of 2011, when he mistook the GOP’s debt-ceiling threat for an invitation to engage in normal fiscal bargaining.'
"Obama’s incentive structure is simple, then: Allowing Republicans to default on the debt now is better than trading something that allows them to threaten it later. His best option is to refuse to negotiate the debt ceiling and have the House raise it before October 17. His next best option is to refuse to negotiate the debt ceiling, allow default, and never have to go through it again. Bargaining merely postpones, and worsens, the next default crisis. No negotiated debt-ceiling price is small enough to be acceptable. There is therefore no circumstance under which bargaining for a debt-ceiling hike makes sense, even if the alternative is certain default.
That is a frightening reality, made all the more frightening by two additional factors. The first is that Republicans don’t believe Obama’s insistence that he won’t negotiate."

I don't think he will either.  So the Republicans are driving us toward potential disaster.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Old moon missions

The Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) has been taking pictures of humankind's marks on the moon, in the form of landers, crash-landers, manned missions, rover tracks, and stuff like that.  It's kinda cool to see the monuments to our inquiring minds and engineering accomplishments, which will exist for many, many thousands of years - perhaps longer than our own existence as a species on this orb.  (Hope not, but it's possible.)

LROC Coordinates of Robotic Spacecraft 2013 Update

I particularly like the manned mission places, with the LEM descent stages in the middle of the crater created by the thrust from the descent (just before landing).

She's just so cute

Sports Illustrated's Swim Daily has a video of the cute-beyond-imagining Nina Agdal (who when she models swimwear and lingerie becomes hot-beyond-dreams) discussing her life and showing off her apartment in New York.

More material to dream on.

Nina Agdal can only cook egg whites (and other things we learned when we visited her Manhattan apartment)

The 2014 MacArthur Grant genius class

In case you missed it, the MacArthur Foundation announced their 2014 recipients.  The Washington Post has a visual introduction to each of them here:

MacArthur Foundation awards 24 'genius' grants

A few I like:
  • C. Kevin Boyce, a paleobotanist and associate professor in Stanford University’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, looks at links between ancient plants and today's ecosystems.
  • David Lobell is an agricultural ecologist and associate professor at Stanford who has investigated the impact of climate change on crop production and food security around the world.
  • Angela Duckworth is a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who is credited with helping to transform our understanding of what roles self-control and grit play in educational achievement.

Is nuclear energy a global growth industry?

Restating the question:  "Is nuclear energy a global growth industry?"

The answer would appear to be a moderate 'yes'.

Here's why I say that:

IAEA Issues Projections for Nuclear Power from 2020 to 2050

That acronym stands for "International Atomic Energy Agency".

And the key lead-in states:

"Every year, the IAEA makes low and high projections of global nuclear power generating capacity: this year's low projection indicates 17 per cent growth in world total nuclear power capacity by 2030, while the high projection suggests a 94 per cent growth, i.e. nearly a doubling in global generation capacity. In other words, growth in nuclear power following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is expected to continue, however at a rate lower than estimated prior to the accident."

So, barring anything else unexpected (which would be unlikely), there should still be more nuclear energy in the future.   And I think in places that need it most and which can afford it the easiest.  And if the U.S. put a tax on carbon emissions, we could afford more clean energy too.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Add her to my special list

I've added a woman to my list of women I'd like to see nude, but very likely won't ever (first authored in 2010, but it hasn't changed much since).  The new addition is "Breaking Bad" acdtor Aaron Paul's California girl wife Lauren Parsekian.  She's sleek and lovely, and she's also a  good person who has co-headed a nationwide campaign to try and convince young girls to be kinder to one another, because the opposite (bullying in many different forms) can lead to tragedy.  

So she's sexy and a good person.  Aaron's got a great wife there.  I expect he's enjoying all the newlywed benefits of her sexiness and goodness.  (At least I hope so.)

Wedding dress and bikini (the only bikini picture I could find - she can't REALLY be from California!) In the latter, her husband is casually embracing his territory.

Is nuclear on the decline, or not?

The Guardian UK has a dispiriting article about the state of nuclear energy in the United States.  The interesting thing is, though, that nuclear energy around the world is actually a growth industry.   I still expect that the nuclear industry in the U.S. will reverse as the economics of scaling up wind and solar truly become apparent, as new and safer plants are built, and as small 'neighborhood' reactors reach demonstration stage.

Here's the article, and then the confounding statistics from the article.

First US nuclear power closures in 15 years signal wider industry problems

" With the industry's survival hanging in the balance, nuclear power supporters and equipment makers have focused on overseas markets where growing energy demand is fueling power projects of all stripes. Worldwide, there are 70 nuclear power reactors under construction, with almost 40 percent of those in China alone. Russia has 11 in the works and India has plans for 20 new reactors, with 7 underway. Experts warn, however, that it's hard to tell how many of those plants will be completed.  [And this doesn't mention the plants in the Middle East, where the power could be used to run desalination plants, to help with dwindling water resources. ]
"A more concerted approach to energy efficiency could lessen the need for new power plants. Fear of storm-induced power outages and other grid problems could accelerate a move away from large, centralized power plants (like nuclear reactors) that supply electricity through long-distance transmission lines."
 and there's also this:

 Researchers Just Hit A New World Record In Solar Cell Efficiency  

which might be great if everybody in sunny places can put solar cells on their roof, but even then, what about the places and climes where winter is cold, snowy, and cloudy?

Great Idea, but who's paying for it?

Leave it to the Swiss, who have a VERY clean country, to come up with a concept for a mission to start attacking the rapidly escalating problem of space junk.

They've conceived a satellite that will grab defunct satellites and other pieces of large space junk and then proceed to toss the junk Earthward, where it will incinerate (hopefully completely).   They plan to start operations in 2018.

This is a great idea that addresses a growing concern - presumably they've got buy-in from space agencies that want to get some of that debris down.  But the article doesn't say if that's true, so I am still left to wonder who's going to pay for this space clean-up operation.

The 'hoover' on a mission to clear up space: CleanSpace One will sweep up 370,000 pieces of junk orbiting the planet

(That title is somewhat misleading;  they're not going after all 370,000 pieces of junk.  They're going after satellites and pieces big enough to grapple and and getting them de-orbited.  That way those big things can't collide with anything else, resulting in the generation of many small uncatchable pieces of space junk that can nonetheless put a hurting on working pieces of space hardware if they collide with such.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gene Robinson's take on the Obamacare defunding fiasco

Gene Robinson, opinion writer for the Washington Post, sums up the horrific situation iin Congress concisely. 

Obamacare the GOP nightmare

"Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government — and perhaps even refuse to let the Treasury pay its creditors — in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to keep millions of Americans from getting health insurance."

Isn't that ridiculous?

Thank you, women of Virginia

 Terry Mcauliffe has a significant lead over Ken Cuccinelli, and it's due to a majority of women realizing that the Evil Cooch is actually the 2nd coming of Satan.

Well, maybe not that bad, but he's still a pretty reprehensible excuse for a gubernatorial contender.

Mcauliffe leads Cuccinelli in Virginia governor poll

Illustrative excerpts:
The shift in the race has come .htmllmost exclusively from female voters, who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin over Cuccinelli. The candidates were effectively tied among women in a Washington Post poll in May.

The challenge for Cuccinelli is stark: Nearly half of all voters view him unfavorably, and they trust his opponent as much as or more than the Republican on every major issue in the race, according to the poll.

Cuccinelli has accused McAuliffe and other Democrats of waging a war on coal and working-class Virginians, but he trails by nine points among voters who were asked whom they trust more on energy and the environment.

All of which sounds great to me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

How we got climate change started early in Europe

Turns out that soot from the early industrial revolution has been tabbed as one of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that glaciers in the Alps started melting and receding in the 1850s. This was prior to the generally-accepted end of the Little Ice Age, and also prior to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations, which has since, over decades, led to increased melting, which is likely the major cause of glacier shrinkage now. 

Which all goes to show that the climate is a multi-faceted system, and changing any factors can affect other factors downstream. In this case, the glacial meltwater streams downstream.

Pollution melted Alps' glaciers, not rising temperatures

One of the marine villains

I never heard of the blanket octopus before. Never ever.  And that is surprising.

This is a suggested villain in a clever blog post linked below.

Eleven Marine Organisms that would make Amazing Aquaman Villains

A visual tribute to Deep Impact

NASA's Deep Impact mission was ambitious, risky, and hugely successful.  And it officially just ended due to a communications and maneuvering failure.   So below is a "greatest hits" (the knowledgeable NASA followers should chuckle at that) summary of the Deep Impact mission.

Epic comet mission fades to black

The eyes have it, frequently

Men are visual creatures.  And I'm a man.

"The fickleness of vision"

Besotted? Yes, that can occur in just
a moment's glance -- a quick appraisal which
shall truly not appease my common lust,
but which allows me chance to scratch an itch
that happens with predictable recurr-
ence ev'ry time my eyes encounter grace
and supple svelteness. So I am not pure --
I have not claimed I was -- so commonplace
is my infection that the simple means
to soothe it can be found quite easily,
but now with whom I wish it could. The scenes
that I envision rise as eagerly
as my emboldened self, and yet they pass
when I espy another lovely lass. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The wrong milestone for Japan

Apparently this will be temporary, but Japan is shutting down their one operating nuclear reactor.  I of course think that's short-sighted, and apparently some of the Japanese pols do too, but Japan will be nuclear-energy-free again for awhile.

Japan to be nuclear-free as last reactor is switched off

Note this, from the article:  "But utilities have called for the swift restart of reactors to ensure stable electricity supplies. "In order to maintain stable supplies, we believe it is necessary for nuclear to play its role" as a key energy source, Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies in Japan, said Friday. He is also the president of Kansai Electric."

Wise words.

You can never have too much Madalina

I accidentally happened upon this page with numerous pictures of Madalina Ghenea.  She's not nude in any of them (though in a couple she's quite close).  These pictures just celebrate the beauty of one of the world's great international beauties (whom I have praised before).

I've seen several of these before, but that's OK, she's uniquely beautiful in all of them.  (Oh, there's also a couple of videos.)  She's got an unbelievably great body, but she also has a great smile (which she flashes when she's not trying to be incredibly sensuous, which she does well too).  If you choose to scroll through them, not that I'm particularly partial to the cute blue polka-dot number.

Madalina Ghenea - Impossible not to fall in love with this Romanian-Italian girl

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

GOCE to go goodbye

A really cool-looking satellite named GOCE has finished its mission measuring gravity and ocean circulation (which is what it's named for, the Gravity and Ocean Circulation Explorer) is going to re-enter and burn up in Earth's atmosphere.  But not all of it will burn up.  Some of it will survive to hit the surface.  And they don't know where.

Yeah, this is really what the GOCE satellite looks like

Now, this is not at all to detract from the success of the mission, which by all accounts was quite successful.   No, it's just about space debris and the need to have controlled re-entries so a piece of this wondrous, gorgeous satellite doesn't end up a steaming mass of metal on my living room rug after burning a hole through my f*cking roof.

Sheesh.  Well, according to the article, they know now to try and make it so these things don't have controlled re-entries, and there's even an international agreement to do so, but when GOCE was launched, they didn't have such an agreement.

Oh well.  GOCE measured gravity, and very soon it will prove that gravity still works.

This is a bit funny, and tragically true

The five stages of climate denial, by Abe and Nucky:

The five stages of climate denial are on display, prior to release of the IPCC report

Yes, those who deny the climate is changing due to the activities of humans (predominantly) do all of these things.  My favorite is number 2, because it's technical and it also refutes a recently highly-circulated release of nonsense from Roy Spencer:

So here's a big massive quote, with big massive quotation marks.  I underlined a couple of points worth special noting.

"Stage 2:  Deny we're the cause

Once people move beyond denying that the problem exists, they often move to the next stage, denying that we're responsible. John Christy and Roy Spencer took this approach by disputing the accuracy of global climate models in The Daily Mail and The Christian Post, respectively. Spencer was quite explicit about this:
...we deny "that most [current climate change] is human-caused, and that it is a threat to future generations that must be addressed by the global community."
Christy and Spencer made their case by comparing the outputs of 73 climate models to satellite temperature measurements, and showing that the models seemed to predict more warming than has been observed. But the comparison was not of surface temperatures, or of the lowermost layer of the atmosphere, or even any measurement global average temperatures. They specifically looked at measurements of the temperature of the middle troposphere (TMT) in the tropics.

There's certainly nothing wrong with examining this particular subset of temperature data, but it's a bit of an odd choice on the face of it. The real problem lies in the fact that satellite measurements of TMT are highly uncertain. In fact, estimates of the TMT trend by different scientific groups vary wildly, despite using the same raw satellite data.

Another problem is that the stratosphere (the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere) is coolingan expected consequence of the increased greenhouse effect. But some of the cooling stratosphere bleeds into the TMT data, leading to another cool bias. While there is a discrepancy between model simulations and measurements of tropical troposphere temperatures, it's not clear how much (if any) is due to the models being wrong, and how much is due to errors in the measurements. As a U.S. Climate Change Science Program report co-authored by John Christy concluded,
"This difference between models and observations may arise from errors that are common to all models, from errors in the observational data sets, or from a combination of these factors. The second explanation is favored, but the issue is still open."
However, in mainstream media interviews and editorials, Christy and Spencer always fail to mention the possibility that the problem could lie more in the measurements than the models, which frankly is intellectually dishonest. Additionally, climate models have done very well in projecting long-term global surface temperature changes."

Read the article to find out what the other four stages are.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two Congressional climate and energy foibles

1.  The Republicans in Congress are quashing the idea of having a national science laureate who would go around the country inspiring the next generation about the wonders of science.  The reason?  Concerns that he might say something real about climate change.

House Republicans pull science laureate bill

The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.”
(Can I just slap Larry Hart upside de head?)

Oh, and by the way, the bill had bipartisan support.  And was backed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A science laureate for the United States?

A bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers wants the United States to have a Science Laureate. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) yesterday introduced legislation that would empower the president to select a "nationally renowned expert" who would "travel around the country to inspire future scientists," according to a statement released by Hirono's office. 

Conservative Republicans make me sick.  And most of them are ignorant anti-science dweebs.

2.  A bipartisan (there's that strange word again) energy efficiency bill is getting held up by Congressional shenanigans related to the pipe dream of stopping Obamacare.

Senate takes up bipartisan energy efficiency legislation

In a floor speech on Wednesday, Portman [ a Republican??!!] noted that the bill has the support of 260 businesses, trade groups and non-governmental organizations, from right-leaning groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Christian Coalition to the Sierra Club. The White House also issued a statement on Wednesday saying it supports the bill.  The legislation "makes good environmental sense," Portman said. "I think it makes good energy sense. And I think it makes good economic sense, too."
 But wait... 

Senate energy efficiency bill - better luck next week?
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sought to introduce an amendment to the bill that would delay the implementation of health care reform's individual mandate for one year. "I have nothing against this bill and the provisions of it," said Vitter. "I support the vast majority of the provisions of this bill."

"I'm not blocking anything," said Vitter. "I'm proposing making amendments."
and also

Senate Republicans pledged Wednesday night [September 11]  to use the energy efficiency bill to force a vote on an unrelated measure that would delay the implementation of health care reform. Politico reports that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has filed an amendment that seeks to delay the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate for people to obtain health insurance. He is expected to give a floor speech on it Thursday morning.

Get me anti-emetics, quick!!  Using a good bill to try and push their pipe dream is UGLY.  (And bad for the country, too.)

When Sarah Brightman is in space

I was just hearing the other day that divine diva Sarah Brightman may get her chance to fly in space after all.

Sarah Brightman's flight to ISS appears to be on again

Her new tour and album, in fact, are inspired by this upcoming adventure:

For Sarah Brightman, 'Dreamchaser' Is a Prelude to Upcoming Space Journey

Now, I read a lot of science fiction when I had time and when I was younger.  I had a sudden thought about this journey, given that Sarah is truly likely to be the most artistically gifted person ever to fly in space (when and if she gets there).   And that made me think of one of the best pieces of science fiction ever written about the arts and being in orbit.

Thus, my thought was, if during Sarah's journey in space we suddenly encounter a swarm of red fireflies in a balloon, and if there is someone like Charlie Armstead supporting Sarah's artistic endeavors, then hopefully she has her StarSong ready.  Because if this happens, remember that the ISS might be commanded by someone who is ultimately a military man, or who might be called on to act as one.  So under those unlikely circumstances, we might hear something said like this:

"MISTER ARMSTEAD! This is a military vessel. We are facing more than fifty intelligent beings who appeared out of hyperspace near here twenty minutes ago, beings who therefore use a drive beyond my conception with no visible parts. If it makes you feel any better that I am aware that I have a passenger aboard of greater intrinsic value to my species than this ship and everyone else aboard her, and if it is any comfort to you that this knowledge already provides a distraction I need like an auxiliary anus, and I can no more leave this orbit than I can grow horns. Now, will you get off this bridge or will you be dragged?" (by Spider Robinson, in the Hugo Award winning novella Stardance)

Now, I've touched on this subject before, when Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, took a tourist trip on space.   Despite the fact that Sarah is a remarkable singer, wouldn't it be more artistically interesting if one of Guy's Cirque stars traveled in space?   Someone like the persons below?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Way to go, U.S men's national soccer team

By beating Mexico 2-0 and getting some help from Panama, who tied Honduras, the U.S. men's national soccer team qualified for the World Cup next year in Brazil.

The team didn't have a lot of drama associated with this qualifying run, except for the snow job they pulled on Costa Rica during their home game in Denver.  Costa Rica got revenge a few days ago with a great home win (and key U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley out after tweaking an ankle on loose turf just before the game).

Mexico has never been a particularly easy game for the U.S. - they had a long history of losing to Mexico, particularly under important circumstances.  After the disappointing game against Costa Rica, they had to play well.  And they did, apparently.  Eddie Johnson can SKY for a header, that's very clear.

U.S. MNT Qualifies for 2014 World Cup in Brazil with 2-0 Victory Against Mexico at Sold-Out Columbus Crew Stadium

Next we have to see how England is doing in the World Cup qualifying.

Way to go, Mystics

I don't know why I worry about or follow the Washington Mystics, the area's WNBA team. I'm not even a great fan of pro baskeball. It might be because they have a very dedicated fan base, and the team has been consistently inconsistent.  Maybe it's because they always seem to have a couple of hard-working players who aren't  rewarded much for their hard work.

For whatever reason, I'm happy that they made the playoffs this year.  Given the star power elsewhere in the WNBA - Taurasi, Parker, Moore, Delle Donne, Catchings, Griner, McCoughtry are a few of them - I don't expect them to go real far in the playoffs.  But the WNBA's short  playoff format sometimes creates a surprise.  So good luck to them.  I won't lose much sleep  if they go out  early, but I will be happy for them if they manage to go far.

Vaughn, Latta each score 15 points and Mystics clinch playoff spot with 69-67 win over Fever

Another article about them - one of the main reasons they've improved this year is the new coach, apparently.

Washington Mystics say work isn't done after clinching postseason bid

Only three current Mystics — Monique Currie, Crystal Langhorne and Matee Ajavon — were with the team for its last playoff appearance in 2010.   Thibault reshaped the rest of the roster when he arrived as both the coach and general manager, adding much needed stability in the back court with starting point guard Ivory Latta and fortifying the interior with Kia Vaughn and Michelle Snow. He also drafted off-guard Tayler Hill and center Emma Meesseman.

Darn, this one hurts

Obviously everyone should have a chance to find their happiness.  But somehow I wished that Zoe Saldana had always stayed available.  (She's got a great attitude about sex, as I noted here.  And also here.)   However, apparently she took the next step in an under-the-radar relationship to a fortunate partner.  Very fortunate.

Zoe Saldana marries Marco Perego in secret ceremony


Here's something her new husband gets to enjoy up close and personal for Allure magazine.  The rest of us just have to think about how nice that is for him.

Repeat.  Sob.

It's June 1997 again

I dreamed of her again last night, engrasped,
enamored as so many times before --
unchanging just as she was when I gasped
in first-time recognition of the store
of talents she possessed. They are the same
in simple basic functionality
as all the others of her sex, but fame
accrued when hers were offered just to me
(as well as all the other men who looked).
And thus envisioned, she was mine, alone,
repeatedly and willingly, so hooked
and mastered by the loveliness I own
within my hands and eyes that I return
in thought and act each time for her I yearn.

Dedicated to Carrie Stevens

Friday, September 13, 2013

Is it 2014 yet?

Kelly Brook's 2014 calendar is now available for sale.

I'm ready - see below.

Since I am a definite Kelly Brook admirer, more on her later, but soon.

The first 'Fanfare'

Something I was just wondering about:

According to this Wikipedia article, the first performance of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" was on March 12, 1943, perhaps by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.  I wonder how it was received and reviewed.  It is such a stirring, uplifting piece, the audience had to be moved.

This confirms the first performance date:
Aaron Copland Works - F - Library of Congress

This excerpt from Copland's autobiography (in PDF) gives a little more depth.

And if you want to listen to it:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GREAT idea

Just found out about this (even though I eat a lot of Natural Valley granola bars).   If you've heard of Google StreetView, this is Nature Valley TrailView.  They put cameras on backpacks and hiked some of America's most scenic trails.  This is really a great idea especially for lots of us who probably won't hike a lot of miles on these trails.  Click and enjoy!

Nature Valley Trail View

Here's a preview "How To" video.

How Miranda Kerr gets dressed

Two insightful articles indicate how one of the world's most cutely desirable supermodels chooses her undergarments, or lack thereof.

In the first case, she wasn't wearing a bra underneath a sheer top.  This is not really a problem.

And in this case, she wore a tank top without a bra at the U.S. tennis Open.   (And if you only want to click on one link, this also has a picture of the evidence of the previous bralessness from the first article.)

Definitely has some body confidence, doesn't she?

How many states would we end up with?

I live in a very Democratic (in the political sense) state.  This is difficult for Republicans to handle in this state.   Especially since most of them live in the western part of the state.

So they have hatched a plan (similar to some other ideas elsewhere) to secede from Maryland and form their own western Maryland conservative enclave.

Western secessionists hatch seek to sever ties from liberal free state

Most of these plans are unlikely to secede (let alone succeede).    But I wondered how many states we'd end up with if all of the secessionist movements worked.   Probably 60 or so.  And if it worked for the conservatives, then I'd bet that some liberal enclaves in conservative states (say Denver and its suburban areas in Colorado, as an example) would want to do it too.

Shades of "The Postman".

Of course this is unlikely to happen.  But when you have gun-totin' rootin'-tootin' Tea Partyists getting ready to bear up their arms to resist an unjust Presidency (which is just about exactly what some of them have said) it isn't completely impossible.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

In case you didn't understand the cause of the global warming slowdown

(If you want this on a T-shirt, go here.)

He goes by the pseudonym Tamino, and by his real name he's an accomplished statistician.  As Tamino, he specializes in skewering the pseudoscientific natterings of climate change skeptics, skillfully showing how bad they are at doing what they purport to be doing.   At other times, he skillfully defends the climate change position with accurate statistical arguments.

One of the more vexatious current climate conditions is the observed slowing down of the rate of warming over the past 15 or 16 years or so.  Skeptics are exploiting this trend, clumsily ignoring all of the other evidence, such as hundreds of natural phenological trends responding to warming, summer Arctic sea ice extent setting minimum records repeatedly (and clearly declining trends in thickness/volume), and even such obvious things as the first decade of this century being the warmest ever, and the year 2010 being the warmest year ever, aided by a modest El Niño.

But that El Niño condition (or lack of it) is also apparently responsible for the observed slowdown in the warming trend.  (Nature paper by Kosaka and Xie.)  And if you want to understand that, Tamino has provided an absolutely excellent explication of it.

El Niño and the Non-Spherical Cow

To really get how good this is, read the whole thing (including the illustrations).  I've grabbed two paragraphs that state some basic conclusions pretty well.   I've had to grab one figure, too.

"The bottom line is that those who claim that global warming has “stopped” or even “paused” are deluding themselves. The phrase “global warming” refers to climate change, including temperature increase, which is caused by mankind, and that has continued unabated. In fact, if it weren’t for the continued warming due to human activity, natural variations (like ENSO) would have brought about a notable cooling over the last decade or so. But Earth hasn’t cooled during that period, not even at the surface where we notice it most immediately, and that’s because the man-made component — global warming — has continued."
2.  First the figure:

And the interpretation of it:
"This is, according to the new research, how ENSO has modified global temperature since 1950. The influence is clear: a pronounced recent ENSO-induced cooling which has cancelled the continued global warming due to man-made CO2, leading to the “hiatus” in the increase of global temperature."
OK, got that?  There is a current slowdown in the increase in global temperature - and scientists know why.  And we will get hit with heat when this influence goes away - and it will.  And then the skeptics will be roasted.

Along with us, unfortunately.

Chriqui at the beach

The lovely, gorgeous, stunning (take your pick, and there are a lot more adjectives like those that can be applied) Emmanuelle Chriqui went to Miami Beach a few days ago.   And the results are most pleasing to her fans, of which there are many, of which many are male, and of which I count myself.

There's even a video.  It indicates she swims well, too, despite not wearing goggles and thus carrying her head too high.

Her current boyfriend (who I recently discovered the name of from the Daily Mail article) is very, very, very, very, very lucky.  And by that I mean lucky.

Here's a shorter article from the Huffington Post, with a bit more about the prospects for an Entourage movie.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A real 'Whatever Happened To...?" mystery

Most of the time when I post a "Whatever Happened To...?" article, I've found something about what happened to them.  But in this case, I haven't.   And this goes back to the days of my youth.

There was a beautiful redheaded actress and model named Brooke Mills.  She was on some TV shows, did some prison-girl movies (for which she was actually noted as doing a credible job of acting), and also posed for Penthouse when Penthouse was still pretty tame.  For some strange reason that I don't recall, I had that particular issue. And then, in 1977, she did her last acting gig, and disappeared.

Literally ... to the point that there isn't anything else about her anywhere, except for one thing.  Read on.

So I wondered again what happened to Brooke Mills, and I did a little searching, and I found this Web site.  With some images.  One of them is of Brooke Mills.  It's the only other thing with Brooke Mills in it that I've ever found.   

Oh yeah, she's nude.  But it's art.  

(As an aside, Peter Gowland was a famous glamour photographer who dabbled in acting.  Do an image search with his name and see what he did and who he shot.)

So I wonder what happened to her.  I suspect she did the normal regular thing of getting married, having kids, and dropping out of sight from the Hollywood media.   And she was, after all, just a starlet, and they come and go.  But still, it seems surprising that there's nothing on her current where- and do-abouts, anywhere.
So if you're reading this (and I know very few people do), and you know something about whatever happened to Brooke Mills, tell me.  I'd just like to know.

Time cover article on honeybees

The honeybee crisis is real.    If you don't believe me, it's the cover story on Time magazine this week.  Now, Time isn't what it used to be, but it's still got its finger on the pulse of world events.  Now, you also have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, but I found an article online with a summary.   It's not much different than what we've heard before, but the world (and especially the beekeepers and the scientists) are trying hard to figure out what's wrong -- and if they can fix the problem.

I wasn't really that far off

After Alec and Hilaria Baldwin's baby was born, I predicted that the next notable celeb birth would be Fergie and Josh Duhamel's kid.  But as I noted in this post, the next noteworthy debut was the offspring of Michael Buble and Luisana Lopilato, born on August 28.  Well, I found out from this article that Fergie and Josh's son (monikered Axl) was born on August 29.    So I only missed that prediction by a day.

Obligatorily, I have to note that the Daily Mail suggested the Luisana can motivate herself to lose her baby weight and get back to her normal level of outstanding lusciousness by looking at pictures of herself modelng Ultimo lingerie.  Well, I don't know if that will work or not, but it does give me an excuse to link to the article.

Two Bills go Dancing

My first post of the month was about the somewhat remarkable casting for "Dancing with the Stars" this season.  Well, in addition to the cast listed in that first post, I didn't mention that they've also got Bill Nye the Science Guy to supply brainpower, and country comedian Bill Engvall for some laughs.

Dancing with the Stars Season 17 cast

I have to think the the pre-start favorites are Elizabeth Berkley, Christina Milian, and Corbin Bleu (most well-known for High School Musical).

Selena defines the dress

Took a little while to get to this, but I had to comment on the dress Selena Gomez sported at the MTV Video Music Awards.  At first glance, it looks like some of the seams have split, revealing her undergarments.  At second glance, this is how it's designed.  And she wears it well.  She's still nubile, but she's on the edge of marvelously desirable maturity.

Game of inches

Oh yeah, that's a cliche, but in this case, it applied.   Steve Lombardozzi of the Washington Nationals made a spin-and-throw play to first base, which was being covered just in time by Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman.  The ball got to Zimmerman's glove at the same time that Zimmerman's foot stepped on first base, on step ahead of Cesar Hernandez of the Philadelphia Phillies.  I did a screen capture of the video to show how close this was.

Here's the video of the play.

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is getting REALLY tiresome

John Boehner is getting repetitive - and tiresome.

Boehner (R-Ohio) has proposed a short-term budget bill to keep the government open into the new fiscal year with relatively little fuss. But during a speech in Boise, Idaho, on Monday [August 26], he said House Republicans will draw a line in the sand over lifting the federal debt limit, demanding spending “cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.” 

House GOP bracing for debt limit battle

The thing is - what he's proposing is impossible, so it won't happen.  It didn't work before and it won't work again.  And it especially won't happen if they make a movement like they're serious about it, and all of a sudden our markets tank and our credit rating takes another hit.

Boehner, is, in fact, predicting this:  "...Boehner said, predicting a repeat of the debt-limit fight of 2011, which tanked consumer confidence, along with the GOP’s approval ratings."

Seriously?   SERIOUSLY?

Can you see the Arctic Ocean?

We are near the annual sea-ice minimum (extent wise) in the Arctic, and I wondered what it looked like from space, considering how thin the ice is.  So I made a comparison of sea ice concentration and a real-time real-color view from a cool new NASA Web app called Worldview.   What's interesting is that in the areas where the sea ice concentration is being shown as very low (lower than 50%), it looks like areas of the blue ocean are showing through.  I also thought that this area of low concentration cutting through the areas of higher concentration could lead to a more rapid decline, but looking at today's image, it looks like there's been some fill.  Still, it shows how thin the ice is this time of year.  Full of holes - like Swiss cheese, as one scientist said.

Unbelievable DWTS casting

I don't know if this is final or not, but "Dancing with the Stars" is apparently going for serious ratings this next season with the casting of:

1.  Arguably the "Jersey Shore's" most recognizable resident, Snooki;

2. A beloved TV star currently treating inoperable brain cancer, Valerie Harper;

3. Ex-Scientologist (and controversially so), Leah Rimini;

 4.  'Teen Mom', porn starlet (one time), and implant queen Farrah Abraham;

5.  'Saved by the Bell' and 'Showgirls' star Elizabeth Berkley;

6.  Ozzy Osbourne's son Jack (who's got MS at a pretty young age); and

7.  One of the lesser-known guys from N'Sync (who might have a dancing skills advantage).

Dancing with the Stars includes Rimini and Harper