Thursday, February 27, 2014

Air's so bad in Beijing

China's growing environmental problems aren't getting any better soon. The air in Beijing is horrific right now.  It might even be inhibiting plant growth.
"She [researcher He Dongxian] warned that the toxic smog is hindering photosynthesis of plants and that if it lingers much longer, it could affect food production, according to The Guardian.

Dongxian demonstrated recently that seedlings in Beijing were taking over twice as long to grow as those in a lab."
Add to that the previous report that I wrote about not long ago that , stating that a large percentage of fields are so contaminated by pollutants that they can't grow crops, and we are talking some serious badness here, folks.

The kind of badness that can lead to unrest... or worse.  Even though apparently the Chinese are blocking comments about the air quality on their version of twitter.

Not even time off for holidays?

According to the historical reports, Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco "officially" was the father of nearly 900 children (a world record), and unofficial  estimates put his paternal total over 1,000.

Is that humanly possible?  Well, some enterprising (and likely somewhat dubious, initially) researchers made a  "model" of this priapic effort, complete with harem, and came to the conclusion that he could have accomplished this fertile feat, provided ...

wait for it ...

he had sex with one of his harem girls at least once a day for ...

ahem ...


Whether or not that's humanly possible should be the subject of further research.

I'd be glad to volunteer to see if this rate can be sustained for a couple of weeks, though my advancing age might skew the results a bit.

Yet even more Nina Agdal pictures

Not much I need to say about this.  If you haven't got enough of Nina Agdal from the Sports Illustrated 2014 swimsuit issue, here are some more pics of the uberbabe.

Nina Agdal flaunts incredible body, reveals she's partial to a burger

There's also a short new video to gander at:

Conservative 'experiment' is flopping in Kansas

When last we visited Brownbackistan, i.e., the state of Kansas, the Brownback revolution was in full swing. And not necessarily welcomed by all Kansans.  Well, let's sally back to the paradise of conservatism and see how its going.

Well, there's this:
Kansas:  giving with one hand, taking with the other?
"Kansas is now engaged in what Gov. Sam Brownback has called an “experiment” designed to lure employers to the state. The bait — tax cuts — is almost entirely financial. In fact, the governor has said he supports lower taxes precisely because his state lacks amenities such as beaches, oceans or mountains.

But while that experiment unfolds, Brownback’s Legislature has worked this year on restricting the state’s cultural environment. Limiting rights for some same-sex couples. Escalating standards for permissible corporal punishment. Restrictions on voting. Reduced funding for education."
And this:
"Some Kansans aren’t worried about the contrast. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, for example, has explicitly told people who don’t like the Kansas environment to move somewhere else.

That stance seems at odds with Brownback’s desire to get more people to move into his beachless state.

If Kansas is seeing fewer companies and jobs than predicted — which it is — it may be because tax cuts alone can’t keep overcome the state’s growing reputation as a cultural outlier."

So is really seeing fewer companies and jobs than predicted, as stated above?  I have to check on that, so I will.

Hmm, here's some stuff on Brownback.

Voters say Republican Governor Sam Brownback is ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’

"Voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Brownback’s tax plan and his determination to starve the state of necessary funding for education. He is predictably unpopular with Democrats and Independents, but even with Republicans he has fallen out of favor."

and also this:

Sanity in Kansas: Brownback in big trouble in the polls
"However, here’s one thing to watch in all of the polls: Is the Brownback-supported tax-change policy gaining steam — or losing favor — with Kansans?

In other words, are people seeing more jobs being created in Kansas, as the governor repeatedly promises? If so, his re-election chances grow.

But if that’s not happening throughout 2014 — and it didn’t happen much in 2013 — Davis will have a huge weapon in his arsenal to attack Brownback’s record in the fall elections.

Davis’s chances will be even better if he can make Kansans link the failure to get a lot more jobs and more tax revenues to the failure to provide high-quality services, such as good public education."

OK, so it says "more jobs" weren't created much in 2013.  I need numbers.

Brownback leads Kansas in sharp right turn (NY Times)
"The Kansas economy is growing, but like the nation’s, it remains sluggish. Elementary school students are testing well, yet the achievement level of black pupils is slipping. And while income taxes have been slashed, the poorest Kansans have seen their tax burdens increase with the elimination of tax credits. As a result, this year’s campaign for governor is shaping up to be more competitive than the one in 2010, when Mr. Brownback was swept into office with 63 percent of the vote."

"remains sluggish". Not quantitative, darn it.

But I did find some numbers.  Unfortunately not for the whole year, but still...

Research center: Kansas economy growing slower than national pace

"A Wichita State University research center says the Kansas economy is growing at a slower rate than the nation’s economy overall.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research forecast in a report released Thursday that next year’s nonfarm employment growth will be 1.4 percent, a gain of 19,000 jobs.

It says the number of jobs in Kansas has grown 1 percent so far this year and has not kept up with the growth in the state’s labor force. The Kansas unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent in August."

Not exactly stellar, is it?

The Brownback revolution rolls on.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Moon gets smacked

I'm surprised this hasn't been news before now, but back in September (September, um, 11, in fact, otherwise known as 9/11), the Moon got hit with a big rock.  So big that the flash lasted eight seconds.

I guess the reason we're just hearing about this is that it has just been scientifically reported.  

 'Biggest observed meteorite impact' hits Moon (with the discovery picture)

I sincerely hope that NASA has tasked the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to find the new impact crater. Hey, they just found a really new Mars crater, didn't they?

Wouldn't you take the opportunity?

Christina Aguilera has a new fiancĂ©.  That means she's engaged to the guy.

According to the article, though this has not been officially confirmed, she's also pregnant by the guy.

Now, Christina has been looking fiercely hot lately.  So, I ask, if you were the guy, and you had the opportunity that has been so nicely invited, wouldn't you take it?

Apparently he has availed himself of the opportunity and all the honors and enjoyment that accompany it.

Newly engaged Christina Aguilera is pregnant with fiancé Matthew Rutler's child

Christina Aguilera's baby wasn't expected, proposal planned months in advance

Lighthouse of the Week, February 23 - March 1, 2014: Morecambe Light

The United States has lots of lighthouses, but they certainly aren't the only place with lots of rocky coastline and lots of lighthouses.   I could spend weeks and weeks and weeks showing the lighthouses of England (and considering the Flickr photographer I just found, I could do it all from one site). 

But I won't.  I expect that I'll probably have at least one English lighthouse a month, though.

This week's Lighthouse of the Week, the first English one featured here, is Morecambe Light, Lancaster, England.  Very picturesque.

It's from this Flickr page, with both color and black-and-white HIGH QUALITY photography.  And this photog has done this for a lot of locations in England.  He's really good.

Morecambe Lighthouse 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Olympics made me wonder... whatever happened to Lynn Holly Johnson?

Watching the Olympics, in particular the women's figure skating final, made me suddenly wonder what happened to skater and actress Lynn Holly Johnson.  She was decent, placing second at the novice level at the U.S. Championships (according to numerous different places), then starred as a skater who goes blind in Ice Castles, and as a skater who goes after James Bond in For Your Eyes Only.   She kept acting for a decade or so.  And let's face facts, she was cute.  Clearly part of my recollecting was due to a passing resemblance to Gracie Gold.

Here she is at her cute peak:

Related to James Bond:  Lynn Holly Johnson, dynamite as Bibi Dahl im "For Your Eyes Only" (includes some pictures during her young actress days)

It turns out that after actressing, she got married, had two kids, and last year had a stroke caused by a hole in her heart (which apparently is a LOT more common than I ever knew).   Took awhile to recover, and while she might not yet be fully recovered, she's doing pretty well. Below are two articles about this event, which include pretty recent pictures of her with her kids.  She's still cute. 

Article 1 about the stroke and recovery

Article 2 about the stroke and recovery

And here's a fairly recent picture taken about the same time as in the article, showing how cute she still is.

The oldest piano

A weird thought occurred to me the other day, prompted by the violin-napping (and subsequent safe return) of a valuable Stradivarius.  I wondered where the oldest piano in the world was.  The Strads and Guarneris and a few other well-made violins from older days are well-known and tracked and even named.  I knew that the piano was a relatively recent invention (based on and inspired by the harpsichord, according to my brain), but I didn't know who made the first piano, where the oldest pianos were, and other trivia like that.

This being the Internet and World Wide Web era, it wasn't hard to find out.

It turns out that the first pianos were made by an Italian (of course) named Cristofori, who was first a harpsichord maker and player.  He made the first pianos, some of which still exist today.

I got all that (and more) from this site:   Piano history:  the Complete Story

Then I looked around for the actual oldest piano, and it turns out there are still three Cristoforis in museums.  He made a clever hammer mechanism action that wasn't duplicated by other makers for a couple of hundred years.

I got that from this site, about the Metropolitan Museum of Art's (New York) Cristofori piano.

Grand Piano, 1720 , Made by Bartolomeo Cristofori (Italian, 1655–1731)   (includes a picture)
and here:  The Pianofortes of Bartolomeo Cristofori

The other two extant Cristofori pianos are in the Museo Strumenti Musicali in Rome and at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of Leipzig University. The one in New York is the oldest.

So now you know.

Friday, February 21, 2014

One down, nine to go

Even though it's not over yet and we don't know who wins gold, my Undangerous Prediction #10 is going to be correct.  Here's what I predicted:

"But as for hockey, it's a very tough sport to predict, so all I'm going to to do is predict that the gold medal team will be from one of four countries:   Canada, the United States, Russia, or Sweden.  I can't go out on a thicker limb than that, can I?   But I will also predict that not all four of these teams will be in the actual final 4, i.e., the bronze medal game and the gold-silver game.  I will predict that three out of these four will be in those games.  But the prediction to base my success on is the gold medal winner."
I was right on both counts.  The gold medal winner will be either Sweden or Canada (I think everyone expects it to be Canada), and Russia wasn't in the final four (Finland was).  

Next up will be my Oscar Prediction:  Best Actress for Sandra Bullock in "Gravity".

Discover some facts about coffee

Discover Magazine provided 20 things that most people (including me) didn't know about coffee.

20 Things You Didn't Know About Coffee

Speaking environmentally, this one bothered me a bit, considering I'm a coffee consumer (though not of the avid several-cups-a-day variety):

It takes approximately 4,700 ounces, or 37 gallons, of water to make just one cup of coffee when you account for inputs needed to grow and process the beans.

I'm just glad they don't grow coffee in California:

[California] Drought:  Feds cut water allocations to farmers to ZERO

"In the San Joaquin Valley, the state's most productive agricultural region, many growers have already ceased planting winter crops such as broccoli, tomatoes and lettuce because of the drought. Spring plantings of watermelons and cantaloupes also could be cut short."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Overfishing and Senegal

This article indicates that overfishing by countries other than Senegal is affecting fish consumption in Senegal, which being a coastal country is a place where the locals expect to eat fish.  Apparently the local stocks are so overexploited that the Senegalese are having trouble getting fish for themselves.

This is not good for Senegal.  Senegal fears its fish may be off the menu for local consumption

A. "The situation has deteriorated significantly since Chinese, Korean and Russian factories started springing up along the coast, producing meal for fish farming and stock breeding in Europe and Asia."

B. "In winter there used to be plenty of fish in the coastal waters, but now stocks are dwindling, fuelling local resentment of the competition from foreign factories. The problems started in the 1990s when the first large foreign trawlers appeared, some fishing illegally, others with a licence. The number of pirogues also started increasing. For the Senegalese, most of their animal protein intake comes from the sea, so the country's food security is now at stake."

C. ""We need to put our heads together to find ways of gradually bringing the fish back," says Diapa Diop, the under-secretary for traditional fishing. "We must create protected marine areas, wildlife refuges for certain species and review the permits granted to factories. If our people no longer have enough to eat, we must stop exporting."

Words to remember.

Indonesia's impressive volcanoes

An article with phenomenal (and sad) pictures of the eruptions of Kelud and Sinabung in Indonesia.

Indonesia's two erupting volcanoes

Here's an example from Sinabung, an impressive pyroclastic flow:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SciAm discusses 'symptoms' of climate change

Good read in Scientific American about climate change and health and disease.  There's a lot to think about here, so I'll just give one human and one (sob!) plant example.

" "Brain-eating amoeba" sound like something a zombie would infect you with. But the pathogen that causes the disease, Naegleria fowleri, is actually a microscopic organism that thrives in warm freshwater lakes and is almost always fatal. Although it's still rare, recent cases have occurred in Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana. 
"As freshwater lakes get hotter in the summer, that leads to more amoebae in the water and increased human risk," said Sonia Altizer, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Georgia. "
"  For example, coffee-leaf rust, or Hemileia vastatrix, is a fungus that physically weakens coffee plants, prevents them from growing properly and ruins the crops for farmers. It has spread across the world, and the International Coffee Organization said it cost growers in Central America $500 million and 374,000 jobs in the 2012-13 crop year. 
One major reason the rust was so devastating in Central America was unusually heavy rainfall at high attitudes where coffee is grown. While single rain events can't be tied to climate change, heavier precipitation overall does have a climate link. "

Now, for many people, losing their morning cup of joe is like being infected with a brain-eating amoeba.  Even if it's not that bad, this is not good news for the economy OR the mental acuity.

Huge solar eruption

From, this picture of a massive solar explosion and filamentous eruption over the weekend:


Just wow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

By all accounts, Mount Kelud eruption was big

Though Sinabung's pyroclastic flows have been garnering media attention for several weeks, that particular eruption got overshadowed (almost literally) by an unexpected and large blast from Mount Kelud.  The satellite picture was really impressive:

Satellite picture of Mount Kelud eruption cloud

The pictures from the ground are pretty impressive, too.

What it looks like when a volcano sends ash 55,000 feet into the air

Big enough for climate effects (which would be cooling)?  Only time will tell. 

Impressive night picture of eruption cloud with lightning

Sequestration - the accepted and ridiculous way to cut

VERY interesting article about how Congress has accepted the detestable tactic of sequestration to accomplish something that they can't find the stomach to do any other way - cut the budget.

This is bad news, as the article notes.

How Congress Came to Love the Thing It Hated Most

A. "But after years of cutting spending in the wake of the tea-party wave of 2010, with no alterations to mandatory-spending morasses like Medicare or tax reform, Congress is running out of areas to cut back and find available funding for new programs. On the discretionary side of the budget, members are essentially left turning over seat cushions looking for change."

B. " In the interim, members are showing a penchant for returning to sequestration as the ultimate offset for new programs and changes to old ones. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and her House counterpart Paul Ryan added two years of mandatory sequestration cuts in order to cut spending in their budget agreement in December. And just this week, members added another year to reverse unpopular cuts to military pensions. The legislative cuts will now expire in 2024. "

[ Seriously ??? ]

C. " But with so few other options for spending cuts and offsets, Congress could easily add a few more years of sequestration in 2014. That's concerning for members, who worry about the potentially devastating effects of 10 years of hacksaw cuts to Medicare and Social Security in particular. But the concern is particularly acute among conservatives, who are anxious over adding new spending programs in exchange for offsets 10 years down the line, which could easily disappear by the time they're set to take effect."

So, they are sequestering many years into the future, expecting Congresses of the future to continue reversing them and passing cuts later into the future. 

This is ridiculous.  Truly ridiculous.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lighthouse of the Week, February 16-22, 2014: Grand Haven, MI

This week's lighthouse is on the shores of Lake Michigan, and it has been frequently photographed being besieged with high waves or coated in ice.    Right now, I expect there's a lot of ice on this one, given that most of the Great Lakes are covered with ice.

Grand Haven, where the Grand Haven lighthouse is almost exactly east of Milwaukee, north of Holland, northwest of Grand Rapids, and south of Muskegon. The Grand Haven lighthouse is actually two lighthouses, one at the end of the pier and one in the middle of it.  Both are bright red.

Links and other Grand Haven pictures:

Lighthouse with waves, Ed Post photography

Fine Art America, unique perspective with clouds

Grand Haven lighthouses in winter

Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy

Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy:  History

Friday, February 14, 2014

I said similarly

Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post noted what might be happening with Obamacare;  to whit, despite its problems, it is working, and the more it works, the more it will undercut it as a campaign issue for the shutdown Republicans next fall.

The [shutdown] GOP's healthcare crisis

An excerpt from near the end:
"Republicans may even have to take the drastic step of saying what they advocate, rather than harping on what they oppose. Is there a [shutdown] GOP plan to cover those with preexisting conditions? To cover the working poor? Is expanding access to health insurance really such an awful thing?

Sorry, I didn’t catch what you said."
 Whereas, for the Democrats, the shutdown issue and the party that caused it will always stay the same.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Public service on cheese mold

I have always wondered if something I have done for a long time is safe.  What that thing is:  if I have a piece of cheese in the refrigerator, and it has a couple of green spots on the surface, or a white coating, I have just blithely trimmed off the affected part and used the rest.  Admittedly, if I see just a small green spot on bread, I sometimes pull that off too, and use the bread, but most of the time I'll throw away moldy bread.  But still, I cut the cheese...
... and use the rest.

But is that safe?  I don't think that I've ever become ill because of doing it, but that still doesn't mean it's accepted by food scientists or nutritionists or especially doctors as safe.  I never researched the subject to find out, either.

But Discovery Channel has now addressed the issue.  And now after watching the video, I have an answer to that previously-unanswered question.

If you want to know the answer, you'll have to watch the video too.

How to refer to Republicans this year

It has come to my attention that the Republicans are managing to make some of the electorate forget about the disastrous shutdown last October.  Part of the reason for that was the continuing tempest in a teapot about Obamacare.  I see recently that 3 million people have signed up through the exchanges, good but not great to this point.  Though there's some heavy sledding still ahead, a lot of the what the opposition party has been saying about this healthcare plan has not come to pass.  And certainly the Obama administration and the Democrats have their work cut out for them to get on the positive side of the issue.  But the tide has turned.

Note that above I said "opposition party".  Because what needs to be done now by responsible liberal bloggers like myself, and I think actually the media too, is to constantly remind the voting public that the shutdown was entirely caused by Republicans and the Tea Party.   And the way to do that is to constantly refer to Republicans as "the shutdown Republican party".   All the time.  Every single time.

Shown below is an example of how this works, with a Washington Post article provided as an example.

Here's the original article:  How John Boehner decided to give up on the debt limit fight

And below is the text of the article, properly rewritten:

"This week’s debt-limit drama ended as it began: with House Speaker John A. Boehner (shutdown R-Ohio), standing alone before his colleagues, seeking consensus but receiving only silence and stares in return. 
The scene happened Tuesday morning at the Capitol Hill Club, where House shutdown Republicans had gathered for a private breakfast. 
After listening to a handful of colleagues flatly discuss fundraising strategy for 30 minutes, Boehner stood up, walked past dozens of sleepy, coffee-sipping shutdown Republicans and tersely woke up the room with an update. 
“Listen – we’re going to move forward,” Boehner said. Instead of bringing up the leadership’s plan, which would link a restoration of recently cut military benefits to a debt-ceiling extension, he would push a “clean” bill, averting default more than two weeks before the Treasury Department’s debt-limit deadline. 
“We’re going to get this done,” Boehner continued, according to several people present for his remarks. No strings attached, he added. He said he was going stop reaching for votes on the plan, an effort that had stalled on Monday. And he wasn’t going to even think of floating another proposal. He was going to do what he thought was best for the shutdown GOP, in spite of the widespread angst. 
For the past week, Boehner said, he had gone through all of the possible options with the conference, had mulled a variety of scenarios, all with the hope of getting 200-plus shutdown Republicans united. But nothing ever gained traction, even the military pension fix, which he thought could win Democratic votes. 
Ahead of the midterm elections, Boehner argued that now is not the time to get drawn into weeks of dramatic headlines and fiscal battles with President Obama. “We’re not going to make ourselves the story,” he said. He spoke about the need for the party to not get mired in damaging endeavors. 
Boehner’s delivery was crisp; his decision was final. 
The room of shutdown Republicans sat up, stunned that Boehner was abruptly shifting away from the leadership’s plan, which had been championed 12 hours earlier at a Monday night meeting in the Capitol basement. But there were no outcries or boos. A few members whispered to each other that Boehner was right, that due to conservative opposition to any hike, he was cornered. 
But they didn’t speak up or clap. Boehner just stood there for a moment after he finished, eyed the room, and walked toward his seat. On his way there, Boehner shook his head, then turned to the nearly mute crowd and wondered aloud why he wasn’t getting applause. “I’m getting this monkey off your back and you’re not going to even clap?” Boehner asked, scowling playfully at some shutdown tea-party favorites. 
In a second, attendees snapped back and dozens of them applauded, but there were no cheers. “There was, how do I say it, a polite golf clap,” one House shutdown GOP veteran said. “But that, thank God, was the end.” 
Boehner’s allies said there was never a grand plan to end the talks on Tuesday morning with a brief speech; that was how events evolved, following the mixed reception for Boehner’s latest gambit on Monday, where a long line of shutdown Republicans complained when the floor was opened for comment. 
One member on Monday night, Rep. Andy Harris (shutdown R-Md.), went so far as to knock Boehner as a tool of the insurance companies, due to his decision to not bring up a debt-limit plan that would address the federal health-care law’s risk corridors. Harris was booed for the swipe and backed off. Boehner, in response, said Harris's preferred option was given ample consideration, then pulled after conservatives balked. 
“I think he wants to get the issue taken care of,” Rep. Tom Cole (shutdown R-Okla.) said. “John Boehner is the adult in the room.” (Cole voted no on the debt limit increase.) 
As House shutdown Republicans filed out into the cold winter air following Tuesday’s breakfast, Boehner walked next door for a press conference. “Happy, happy, happy,” he muttered as he entered, shrouded by Capitol Police. 
“You all know that our members are not crazy about voting to increase the debt ceiling,” Boehner told reporters, his voice weary. “When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing. We’ve seen that before, we see it again.” 
Ten minutes later, as he departed, Boehner started to sing a ditty. “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-a,” he said. “Plenty of sunshine coming my way.” 
Members of the press and a handful of aides watching the speaker leave were bemused by his dark, singsong humor. Boehner winked and hustled out, having endured an awkward morning, but with a crisis avoided."
See how easy it is?  Everybody should do this!

Who Meryl Davis reminded me of

OK, I'll start right off by saying that this isn't a fair post.  But after watching the team figure skating at the Sochi Olympics, ice dancer Meryl Davis reminded me of someone.  I couldn't figure out who.  

Now, Meryl Davis is a pretty woman.  See below.

And she clearly has a fine and fit body (many female figure skaters do) and remarkable skill and grace in ice skating, which makes her a champion.  Below is an example of her fine and fit body, in a bikini on the beach.

So this post is not in any way meant to denigrate Meryl Davis, who I admire for her skills, and who I think would be a great woman to be with, someone so lovely that I would be lucky to be with her.  As would any man.

But in the team figure skating, she was made up very heavily, and she was making some unusual expressions in the kiss and cry area waiting for their scores.

And this is the look that made me think she looked like someone.  A day or so later, it hit me.  And yes, this is who she reminded me of.   Which is unfair to the beautiful Meryl Davis.  But see if you agree.   (Minus the facial hair, obviously.)

Another flavor for the K-cups

It's somewhat amazing that the Keurig coffee maker, that uses single serving cups to brew the delicious caffeine elixir, has so come to dominate the market for what it does.  There are lots of different flavors of Keurig coffees, some made by Keurig and some by other manufacturers.  Now I can see having the varietals;  the Sumatrans, the Colombians, the Costa Ricans, the Ethiopians, the Kenyans, the Tanzanian Peaberrys, etc.   And then of course there are flavored coffees like vanilla, hazelnut, raspberry, mocha.  And different roasts, like French and Italian.  All that makes sense, and there is significant variety of those flavors.  And Starbucks and Peets and Green Mountain and Caribou and many of the other major grinders and brewers have their own K-cups, and blends and roasts that have distinctiveness.

So now there's places like Dunkin' Donuts and the Donut House and Donut Shop and mass market coffees like Folgers and Millstone and Eight O'Clock and Chock Full o'Nuts all have K-cups, too.  At this point it becomes hard to actually tell the difference between the different kinds of swill, because at this point there's very little difference in taste.  It's all about branding.

But there is a flavor that I haven't seen out yet.  And this is a flavor that hundreds of thousands of office workers in these great United States (and likely around the world) are very familiar with.  And it's extremely distinctive from all the other good flavors. So I propose that somebody out there should make this wondrous flavor:

What do you think?  A winner?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Good for Pharrell

R&B musician Pharrell came to much wider attention than he had previously acquired when he was one of the three guys singing while ogling the three mostly nekkid hotties in the video for "Blurred Lines" (one of whom, who now is known as Elle Evans and who was previously referred to as Lindsey Gayle Evans, I have shared some tweet talk with).   BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME.

This is about Pharrell and his environmental efforts, specifically to promote awareness of plastic pollution.

Here's part of the article:
Pharrell Williams is now the creative director of a recycled textiles maker, Bionic Yarn. The company is partnering with G-Star Raw to launch a new collection during Fashion Week, called Raw for the Ocean. 
Bionic Yarn is made from recycled plastic PET, some of which is extracted from the ocean. One of the goals of the line is to raise awareness about the massive plastics pollution problem. Fittingly, the mascot of the collection is an octopus. 
Good alignment choice, Pharrell.

Is this real?

I found this topless-but-with-strategically-deployed-arms picture of Natalie Portman while doing a bit of research (you'll see why a couple posts from now, in a day or so).   The thing is, she doesn't look real. Might be the camera lens, deliberately distorted.  But that's not really the  point.  The point is, if it is all real, then she has a mighty admirable ta-ta separation, i.e., cleavage.   She is a beautiful woman;  we've known that for a long time.  But combine the admirable front with the seductively and tightly curved back (written about by me here, and also here), well, that's quite a package, to go with the considerable acting talent.

If I was the God of Thunder, I'd be interested in promoting her to goddessness, too.

Ashley Greene in love

Ashley Greene, lovely, long, leggy lass who came to our attention in the 'Twilight' saga but who since has shown her fine form in other movies and numerous appearances,  has had a mixed success story on the romantic front.  According to this article in the Daily Mail, and the paparazzi pictures included, her love life is currently in the "good" mode, with Paul Khoury, who (the article states) is Liam Hemsworth's best friend and an "Australian TV personality.

Good on him, then. And on her, it would appear.

Ashley has been keeping busy and maintaining her cash flow;  IMdB shows her with three movies in post-production.  I'm guessing she's the lead actress in at least two of the three.  Hopefully they won't all be straight to Netflix and DVD releases.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturn has a moon named Erriapus

Saturn has a LOT of moons -- most of them not very big at all.  It's also got Titan, the moon with a strange atmosphere, the two-color moon Iapetus, and the Death Star moon, Mimas.

But if you look around, you can find a list of all the moons, and that's where I noticed Erriapus.

Here's a page about the lesser Saturn moons:
Outer Saturnian moons

According to the table on that page, Erriapus has a mean diameter of about 10 km.  Not big as moons go.   There's a little animated GIF on the page that shows the little dot of light that is Erriapus. 

The astronomers ran out of mythological Roman and Greek gods, demi-gods, and semi-gods, so they'e been using the names of the gods and mythical creatures of other cultures.  In this case, Erriapus is just a big giant in the tales of the Gauls.  There apparently aren't any pictures of him on the Internet, either.

Agreeing with Forbes on this

    I rarely agree with the opinions on climate and energy that I see in Forbes magazine (remind me to h8 on Larry Bell later), but in this case I did.  Closing down nuclear plants is bad long-term strategy.  And it's a reason that I am really disgusted by climate change skeptics - because they are getting in the way of a necessary transition to a more diverse energy future.  There is a place for wind and solar, and better batteries, but when leading lights like James Hansen endorse nuclear energy as one of the best ways to avoid a dangerously uncertain climate future, then we should take notice.

Thus the article:

Obama's Climate Goals Jeopardized By Shutting Working Nuclear Plants

Without a robust nuclear energy program, and without getting as much energy as possible out of each reactor, America cannot reach its ambitious climate goals. Under the President’s Climate Action Plan unwrapped last June, America would cut present emissions almost 15 percent by 2020.

Since nuclear power provides the majority of low-carbon electricity, with hydroelectric providing most of the rest and wind bringing up the rear, it is impossible to meet these goals if nuclear takes a sucker punch from a concocted market.
    Now, climate change skeptics are trying to con the public into believing that we don't need to worry about low-carbon, alternative energy sources.  Their science is bad, contrived, or both, but they have plugged themselves into the mindset of the Republican conservative majority like a male anglerfish attached to the female, streaming their propagandistic misinformation directly into the Republican body. And as long as they can make Republicans believe that climate change is not a pressing issue, that will delay or derail new nuclear technology that can get us into the future.

The author's conclusion:

   Our energy future appears to be more and more dependent on intangibles like whether or not we as a nation care about the effects of climate change, whether we accept a lot more pipeline construction, or care about energy security and reliability. Having a robust nuclear fleet, along with every other modern generating technology, are tangibles we need for a cleaner future.
 Yes.  All of the above, with a big wedge slice of the pie for nuclear.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

All the good stuff might be affected by global warming

First we heard about chocolate being adversely affected by global warming.

Then we heard about wine getting in trouble as the climate gets warmer.

After that, it was coffee.    Then beer was tabbed.

And BACON (perish the thought)!  And honey, though I don't think that the threat from global warming is on the immediate list of problems for honey production.  (Having enough bees, however, is.)

So what else?  Ponder for a moment or two
Now it's tea.

Climate change comes for your cup of tea

"According to data collected by the Tea Research Association, temperatures in Assam and Darjeeling have gone up by 2 degrees Celsius and rainfall has become erratic. While the total amount of rain in the region has not changed dramatically, the intensity of droughts and severe downpours has increased. The prolonged droughts are killing tea bushes and the intense rain events are causing erosion in tea plantations, terraced into hillsides. ...
In Sri Lanka, another major tea-producing region, new pest invasions are one of the largest sources of loss on the plantations. Pests like the shot-hole borer and live-wood termite are moving up to altitudes where they have never been seen before. The insects stress the plant and the financial resources of tea growers attempting to control them. Average temperatures in Sri Lanka have already risen nearly 1 degree Celsius during the last century and are expected to keep rising."
I mean, at what point if all these precious commodities become scarcer and more expensive does the general world population realize that this problem is SERIOUS?  (Take away the morning coffee, or the morning tea, and the honey you put in the tea, and the bacon that comes with breakfast... this could cause not just consternation, but revolt.  Car wrecks.  Murderous intentions. The eventual collapse of human civilization.)  I mean, they might call me an alarmist, but how bleak is our future if the morning cuppa is on the endangered list?

We can't let it come to that, can we?

But seriously, Leo -- Nina Agdal, too?

First I read that Nina Agdal and Leonardo DiCaprio were spotted leaving a NY night spot early in the AM.

 Leonardo DiCaprio and Nina Agdal leave club at 5 AM in the same car

Then I read that Nina Agdal broke up with Max George, her short-term boyfriend, previously engaged to the marvelous Michelle Keegan.

Max George split confirmed from gorgeous Nina Agdal (after she was spotted leaving club with Leonardo Dicaprio)

Now, Leo has already been linked, and not unlinked (yet), with Victoria's Secret model Toni Garrn.  So we hope, given Leo's surfeit of supermodel squeezes -- notably Gisele Bundchen and Bar Refaeli -- that Leo was just being a gentleman and giving the lass a ride home when the taxis were hard to find.   I mean, one man with Gisele, Bar, and Nina (and a few other highly comely ladies like Erin Heatherton and Madalina Ghenea in between the longer-term arm candies) -- the mind truly boggles.  It can't be true - I mean seriously Leo?  Seriously?

The Palace rolls again

Crystal Palace had another Barclays Premier League win this weekend, 3-1 over West Bromwich.  So West Bromwich is in the relegation zone now, and Palace is three points ahead of it.  There's still a lot of soccer yet to be played, but Palace is playing well.  They're also ahead of West Ham, Norwich, and Sunderland, who aren't in the relegation zone either, at this juncture.

The next four games aren't against the top tier, but they aren't picnics.  In order, they'll play Everton, Man United, Southampton, and Swansea next, who are currently 6th, 7th, 10th, and 9th.  This next stretch might determine the course of the season for them.

Crystal Palace 3-1 West Brom

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Smart guys say nuclear is smart power

Andy Revkin, environmental blogger, formerly ace environmental reporter for the New York Times, practices even-handedness.   In this recent entry, he lets some good representatives for the nuclear power industry make a case for it.

More views on nuclear power waste, safety, and cost

It's a recommended read.   They summarize the arguments FOR quite well, and do a good job addressing the arguments AGAINST.

What does vanillin look like?

Vanilla is one of those things that we could contemplate as proof of God's existence (Nina Agdal is, of course, another).   I mean, it's something that doesn't have to exist, but  the fact that it does enhances our existence and our enjoyment of our existence.

Now, natural vanilla probably has a lot of taste molecules that give it a full flavor profile.  But chiefest of the flavor molecules is vanillin.   Below is a diagram of the vanillin molecule:

Pretty simple for something that enhances our existences so much.

More and more of Kelly Brook

This post features two articles with a surfeit of Kelly Brook in lingerie and bikini.  It also shows her muscular new boyfriend.  I don't know if this guy has a day job;  I think being Kelly's boyfriend would be enough of a job.  I guess she's put her difficulties with Danny Cipriani (the dummie) and Thom Evans (not sure what went wrong there) behind her, and has moved on to a relationship that's strong on the physical with this guy.  But that might sell him short, he's probably a very nice and intelligent bloke.

Still, why am I talking about him?  It's Kelly's curvesome curvaceousness that is the subject here.  And lots of it.

Kelly Brook reveals racy lacy Valentine's Day (New Look) lingerie collection

Kelly Brook on romantic holiday on the beach, in a bikini (I may have adjusted the title of the article a little)

Lots and lots of pictures of Kelly Brook in a black and white striped bikini, and there's a big guy with her (I adjusted this one too)

 Kelly put the picture below on her Instagram of the lingerie, so I figure it's OK to show it here, too.  The weird thing is, the New Look Web site doesn't have any pictures of her wearing their stuff.  Ultimo had the sense to show Luisana Lopilato's incredibleness in their little flimsies.

Lighthouse of the Week, February 9-15, 2014: San Felipe

This week's lighthouse is on the Sea of Cortez, the body of water between Baja California and mainland Mexico.  It's a modern design, bright white, and quite striking.   San Felipe is way up at the north end of the Sea of Cortez -- I'm not sure how many boats go up there that need a lighthouse.  But it's still pretty.

Small picture:

Links to a larger scenic picture:

San Felipe Lighthouse

View of the lighthouse from the water

Closeup of just the light tower

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Just plain amazing volcano video

This video of a recent pyroclastic flow on Sinabung, followed by hot-air tornados over the new pyroclastic flow deposit, amazed me.  So I'm providing it here for others to be amazed by.  I recommend full-screen viewing.

Can we see that again?

Today I saw a Daily Mail article that claimed Haley Giraldo, daughter of rockers Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, was having some squeeze time with One Direction's Harry Styles, who is reportedly but not officially confirmedly dating Kendall Jenner (one of the Kardashian sibs).  When I checked later today, the Daily Mail article had disappeared, and there are strong and adamant denials about this from Haley Giraldo (who happens to be 7-9 years older than Harry;  I'm not sure because the article disappeared and I'm too blogger lazy to figure it out now).

Anyway, what most caught my eye and the eye of some of the commenters was the remarkably tight waist of Haley Giraldo, as illustrated by a self-shot bikini shot.  Though the article is gone, the shot was still findable.  And it's still remarkable.  Unfortunately there isn't much visual confirmation of the reality of this remarkableness.   She does have a Twitter account that can be monitored (on which she has made statements about the Styles rumor):

And there are some pictures there she's posted that indicate that this picture don't lie. Nice. I'm thinking that she might get some more face time in the public eye after this little incident.

Two views of Pieterson's release

News came down that England's cricket establishment had released the gifted but mercurial Kevin Pieterson from any further efforts in English Test cricket.   Views are divided on whether or not this is a good thing.

Kevin Pieterson:  Batsman's England career over

The ECB said that the England management, which includes Giles, Downton and national selector James Whitaker, agreed "unanimously" that Pietersen would not be part of their plans for those trips or beyond.

Downton, who took over from Hugh Morris on 1 February, added: "Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England, as the fact that he is the country's leading run-scorer in international cricket demonstrates.

"However, everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long-term planning after the Australia tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future."
 The Red Sledging:  the end of Kevin Pieterson

[the title is an allusion to Game of Thrones' Red Wedding]

All pundits seem to agree, however, that for a great of the game to be dispatched so unceremoniously is an unprecedented action in English cricket history. There has always been a high degree of pragmatism on the part of both Pietersen and the ECB  in their relationship. When the final account of events emerge it will be surprising if the letters I, P and L don't feature somewhere. All the same, the ECB saw Pietersen as a gun for hire when they invited him into the English team and have dispatched him in the same way. It's inconceivable that a home-grown player of comparable stature would have been treated the same way.
 Ultimately, all good careers come to an end -- and unfortunately, most sportsmen and women don't go out on a winning note.  Pieterson provided some amazing highs and few miserable lows in his career. The highs are what most will remember.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reasons to watch the Olympics besides winter sports

OK, this one knocked my socks off.   Daily Mail article with boudoir shots (and other glamor-type shot) of Russian Olympic winter athletes of the female type.

The curling team is hotter than the Swedish curling team at the last Olympics (and maybe this one, too).  If they meet in the competition, who's going to worry about where the stones go?  My TOES will be curling.  Especially watching Alexandra Saitova.

But what's even more remarkable is the two hockey players in the article.  You just wouldn't think Russia would have babes on the hockey rink, but they do. (Canada has some hot Olympic hockey players, too.)

Enough of that.  Just read the article.

Off-piste with Russia's female Olympians: Russia goes on the Sochi charm offensive with scantily clad photo-call of its athletes as you've never seen them before

Really? I mean, seriously?

Christie Brinkley is looking real good at 60, but Dame Joan Collins is still attractive in the sexual sense at, actually, 80.  And she says that sex with her 48-year-old husband is a very important part of their married relationship.

With like 99.99% of 80-year old women, this would be like a bit yucky.  But when you see what Dame Joan looks like at 80, you'll realize that OK -- it's possible.

Joan Collins reveals 'sex, sex, sex' are the three most important factors in her marriage to husband Percy Gibson

But just reading the article title, I bet most of you, male or female, will have the same titular response that I had.

Volcanic vents on Mercury

MESSENGER sent back this picture showing bright orange volcanic deposits on Mercury.  Apparently before the little planet cooled off from its formation heat, it spewed some volcanic material onto its warm surface. 

More information can be found by clicking on this title: 
After Fire

But here's the main info on the image:

The fiery yellow spots that stand out against the lower reflectance plains in this image are a series of pyroclastic vents stretching from roughly -60° latitude, within the crater Hesiod, to about -51° latitude. These vents are believed to have been the origins of explosive eruptions, driven by volcanic gases. Though they can be found across Mercury, this region contains one of the largest clusters of vents on the planet.

Expressing admiration of Michelle Monaghan

If you have caught the first three episodes of  HBO's "True Detective", you might have noticed the nude scene done by "Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief's" Alexandra Daddario.  Roughly half of the male population of the United States did, in fact.  But despite that, actress Michelle Monaghan is showing sexy too, particularly in a nightshirt and little else that ended up coming off after she and Woody Harrelson discussed domestic issues.   Michelle was impressively sensual, and coming (ahem) a week after Daddario's showcase, gutsy too. has a slightly-NSFW page on this.  But they don't show enough of the nightshirt to demonstrate its enticingness.

The thing is, Michelle recently had a child, and to look this good so soon after that is impressive indeed.  And she's also looking good in her public appearances, as reported in the Daily Mail.

Michelle Monaghan shows off her post-baby-body at magazine party

Saturday, February 1, 2014

And I just found out about...

... Latin singer Mayra Veronica.


Here's her Web site:

Here's a video with some Latin heat:

And here's herself, in four pictures below.  There's a lot more where these came from;  it's hard to choose from such a surfeit of comely Latina curvature.

Like I said. Wow.

Did you hear? Giantess erupted!

Yellowstone geysers have various intervals.  Some erupt every few second or minutes;  some have intervals on the order of hours;  some take a few days between performances, and some are totally unpredictable, but they do go off with enough frequency to be observed.

Then there are the prima donnas;  the big stars that only give an occasional show.  Chiefest among these are Steamboat, in the Norris Geyser basin, which recently erupted for the first time in eight years;  Giant, in the Lower Geyser basin, which apparently goes decades before taunting the public with an active period of a couple years or so (during which it is maddeningly interesting to wait for);  and the fickle Giantess, also in the Lower Geyser Basin which can erupt several times a year -- or not at all.  "Not at all" was the theme for the last couple of years, apparently, until it finally awakened from one of its longest periods of quiescence and fired off some fountains.

Yellowstone's Giantess Geyser erupts for more than 40 hours

At least it had the decency to get started during the day.

Seriously great timing

I was very, very impressed when the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter got a shot of the Mars Curiosity rover on its parachute as it descended (successfully, despite my misgivings) to the surface of Mars.  But it was moving relatively slowly.

But it's even more impressive when a satellite in orbit around the Moon gets a picture of another satellite in orbit around the Moon passing under it in a lower orbit.   Because the satellite in orbit is moving pretty darned fast.

But that's exactly what happened.  Now, I'm just providing the link there, because you have to go to full size on the image to see the little blur of the LADEE satellite under the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite.  But it is there.   Another impressive demonstration of imaging technology.

The three hottest Grammy dresses

The Grammys did not really distinguish themselves in the va-va-VOOM department, or even in the outlandishly crazy department, fashion-wise.  However, Chrissy Teigen showed off why John Legend is in the very lucky category (darn those singers);  Taylor Swift showed off her length to statuesque advantage in shiny silver;  and Anna Kendrick gave us a nice glimpse of the attractions that accentuate the bang on her bangin' little bod. (Anna really know how to accentuate the positives of herself;  I'll have to do an in-depth on that soon.)

Supermodel (left). Legend (right).  Don't get them confused.

Taylor Swift.  Next stop, the Louvre.

Anna Kendrick shows just enough for the sake of fashion.

Lighthouse of the Week, February 2-8, 2014

Not all lighthouses are situated on picturesque rocky coasts or amidst the sandy dunes of coastal beaches.   The Matagorda Light in Texas is right in the middle of Matagorda Island, and it's set amidst some dune grass and lowlying beach swamp.  But it is one of the more unusually-shaped light towers in the lighthouse genre.

Here's the story of it.

And it is still near the beach.

And it can be reasonably picturesque from some angles.