Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why and where?

Supposedly, according to this Climate Central article, the future is bleak for nuclear power.

Consider the source:

"The World Nuclear Industry Status Report, written by independent consultants in London and Paris with support from the German Green Party and the anti-nuclear Rocky Mountain Institute based in Colorado, shows that nuclear power’s share in global energy production declined to 10.8 percent in 2013, down from 17.6 percent at its peak in 1996."

Well, perhaps one thing that should be considered is that more energy is being produced now than in 1996, particularly by coal-fired plants in China (even though China is notably investing in nuclearization of the energy profile).

There are rebuttal voices quoted in the article.  Example:
"Thomas Kauffman, spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group, in Washington, D.C., said more nuclear reactors are under construction today than at any point since 1989, including five in the U.S., while U.S. nuclear power production has increased this year."

Not to mention interest in safe and simple "neighborhood nuke" size plants.

Bottom line:  some places are good for solar and wind power.  A lot of places aren't, and they need power too.  Nuclear is the only consistent night-and-day source of sufficient power for sufficient people to provide them with energy and also address climate change.

As many have stated before, in this era, we can't close the door on ANY viable sources of energy generation.  And nuclear supplies reliable baseload power -- unlike wind and solar.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the midst of all the rotten horrible news

So much rough news out there that it's a relief to see a ray of hope.  In this case, the ray of hope is improved catalysis of the conversion of CO2 to syngas (which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, not something you'd like to breathe, but potentially a good feedstock to make things like burnable hydrocarbons, aka gasoline, diesel fuel).

Now, if we could just figure out a way to economically pull it out of the atmosphere, we'd really have something.

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel  (not exactly true, but I'll let it slide)

"With this catalyst, we can directly reduce carbon dioxide to syngas without the need for a secondary, expensive gasification process," he* said. In other chemical-reduction systems, the only reaction product is carbon monoxide. The new catalyst produces syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide plus hydrogen."

* Mohammad Asadi, UIC graduate student and co-first author on the paper.

Still, if it has to be captured from stack emissions, at least it takes another step to get into the atmosphere.

But there's more than one of them

David Wasserman describes:

The most frightening candidate I’ve met in seven years interviewing congressional hopefuls

"[State Representative Lenar] Whitney’s brand of rhetoric obviously resonates with some very conservative Louisiana voters who view President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency as big-city elitists directly attacking the state’s energy industry and their own way of life. And she would hardly be the first “climate denier” elected to Congress. But it’s not unreasonable to expect candidates to explain how they arrived at their positions, and when I pressed Whitney repeatedly for the source of her claim that the earth is getting colder, she froze and was unable to cite a single scientist, journal or news source to back up her beliefs.

To change the subject, I asked whether she believed Obama was born in the United States. When she replied that it was a matter of some controversy, her two campaign consultants quickly whisked her out of the room, accusing me of conducting a “Palin-style interview.” "

Her role model is representative Michele Bachmann.

God save our Republic.  We obviously can't do it ourselves.

Two Nina Agdal links

OK, I give up.  I can't even come up with more superlatives to describe Nina Agdal.  So I'll just pass on two links featuring her near-fantastical beauty.

Nina Agdal on the runway for Leonisa lingerie

Nina Agdal in the Bebe summer catalog (courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

My favorite from the latter:

But the geckos are fine

 It's remarkable with all of the MAJOR problems in the world -- airliners getting shot out of the sky by Russian-backed  revolutionaries, Israel blasting away at Hamas on the Gaza strip (and Hamas trying to shoot ineffectually back), the worst outbreak ever of the scary Ebola virus in Africa, thousands of Central American kids invading the United States and frightening the beejeezus out of conservative Republicans, and the warmest May and June ever in temperature recorded history ...

that one of the major news concerns this last week was about four geckos sent into space to have sex.

The problem was that the controllers of the experiment (and they say that OUR space program wastes money!) lost contact with the satellite, and it was feared that the gecko sex test and the other experiments were gone.  But happily, contact was re-made, and though the satellite was in the wrong orbit, most of the goals of the mission are likely to be accomplished.  And the satellite should also be able to return safely to Earth.

So, ultimately, the geckos will get to do what humans have yet to do -- which is, mate, with the proper species in space.

Well, I have speculated previously on when sex in space would take place.  At least for geckokind, it apparently has.

And the geckos will survive.

The space sex geckos are OK - Russia regains control of satellite with important biology experiment onboard

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lighthouse of the Week, July 27 - August 2, 2014: Foz do Douro, Portugal

The country of Portugal, which has a very long coastline in relation to the size of the country, likewise has a lot of lighthouses in relation to the size of the country.  So choosing which one to be the Lighthouse of the Week was difficult due to the size of the candidate pool.

But it didn't take long to select the Foz do Douro lighthouse, which stands adjacent to the mouth of the Rio Douro, just west of the city of Porto (and probably "officially" part of the city) in northern Portugal.

The only problem I had was finding a picture of this lighthouse when it wasn't getting smashed with a massive wave.   I did (first picture), but this lighthouse is famed for, and photographed frequently with, the high surf conditions that hit it with regularity.

You'll see what I mean in the pictures below.

Seems like the time is now

According to this Climate Progress article, the Feds (our government) are considering a ban on bluefin tuna fishing.

Feds Consider Ban On Bluefin Tuna Fishing As Population Dips 95 Percent

If one wonders why, one need only read this:

"After years of large-scale fishing and rising demand in the sushi industry it is estimated that as few as 40,000 adult Pacific bluefin tuna remain in the wild, around four percent of the fish’s historic average."
That's 40,000 adult bluefin tuna.

In the entire Pacific Ocean. 

Does one need another reason this is a good idea?  Well, how about this:

"As the NOAA considers banning Pacific Bluefin fishing, last week the global authority on tuna fish, the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), decided to delay discussions on fishing quotas until October after Japan, Korea, Mexico, and the U.S. could not agree on conservation measures. The WWF and the EU both expressed disappointment with the decision."
 I think that's enough reasons.  Time to ban bluefin tuna fishing and let them recover.

A perfect beach scene

Renee Somerfeld in a bikini, white sand, surf, and blue water.

Simplicity and form = perfection.

I'm in a sonneting mood

Had a chance to write a sonnet, and this one happened pretty easily.

skyrockets in flight

A single rocket rising in the black,
nearly unseen against the ebon sky --
arising, waiting, silent to the crack
of its ignition when its flight shall die
in brilliant conflagration, moments when
its splendor fills our eyes with spectral flame,
their light fulfilling what the careful men
who made it did intend. Is it the same
when I have reached my pinnacle, as my
intention nears fruition, my brief
ascension to transcendence signify-
ing why my love was launched?  If disbelief
is one emotion, then I feel it now --
amazed at what her passion will allow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I can't believe I just found this out

I've only been peripherally aware of fashion model and actress Lydia Hearst, and I only just in the last two days found out that she is the daughter of heiress, kidnap victim, brainwashed terrorist, convicted felon, released felon, totally pardoned felon, wife, mother, and now living at home (I guess) Patricia Hearst.

But lets get back to Lydia.

Girls of Maxim:  Lydia Hearst profile

I should have been paying attention.  She's got a very unique face (does resemble her mother, and also does resemble a young Jodie Foster at times).  She can have a lot of different looks.  She's slender and striking.

Further investigation ALSO indicates that she has posed topless many times, usually in the "high fashion" way, and perusal of several examples indicates that what she's got up top is quite nice to appraise visually.

I really should have been paying attention.

Here she is on the red carpet - not topless, just gorgeous.

Just another sonnet

Just whipped off this sonnet the other day.


endeared and speared

I'm sure she will forget me soon, for she
is quite accustomed to the touch and talk
that happens in the dimness when we see
and feel and find what normally we stalk

but never catch! Within the depth of my
captivity I still am free to hold --
for all the minutes given me -- her si-
lent treasures, and adore them, as she's sold

me on their own desirability.
And in our shared transaction, first I told
and then I showed my sensibility,
a sworn expression of the truth, the gold-

en standard of complacency, and she
then realized that all I was was me.

NHL concerned about winter ice

I've dropped this PDF on a few climate skeptics who think that the world and the Northern Hemisphere in particular isn't warming up.  Well, if it isn't warming up, it is hard to explain why winters are getting shorter, as indicated by lakes in Canada thawing earlier in the calendar year.

Changes in lake ice signal a changing climate

That's bad because not every aspiring hockey player in Canada practices at a climate-controlled indoor rink.  Even in this era of modern technology, a lot of Canadian boys still practice their sport on a frozen pond or frozen backyard.

So the NHL has committed to a course of action to address climate change.  Maybe it's symbolic, but I think they mean it.  And them meaning it might possibly convince a lot of otherwise-minded Canadians that it is happening and that it is important.  And maybe a few of those Canadians will write to their idiot Prime Minister and his political cronies that maybe they should take their national sport seriously and stop burning all the tar sands in Alberta.

So good job, NHL.  Now, how can we do a deal to get the Capitals a shot at the Stanley Cup?

On thin ice

Here's what they say:

"The NHL says “freeze thaw cycles” are growing unreliable, and that with warmer winters, there are fewer “naturally occurring frozen ponds.” 
Mitchell [NHL director of sustainability] said these changes could severely impact hockey’s growth. 
The NHL began working with the NRDC on climate issues in 2010, when it launched NHL Green, which began with a panel meeting of leading academics, business leaders and other climate experts to discus how the league could respond to climate change at the 2010 Winter Classic. 
The Winter Classic is an outdoor hockey game that takes place every New Year’s Day. It’s one of the biggest moments for the NHL on the calendar, as the event generally gets widespread media attention and showcases hockey being played at its highest level against a background (at least sometimes) of falling snow."

Monday, July 21, 2014

More proof that life is not fair

You know that guy, Mario Götze, that scored the winning goal in the World Cup final against Argentina and thus became a sports icon to all of Germany?

Yeah, him.  As if that wasn't enough, this is his girlfriend:

No, I am not kidding.

And to further prove that life is not fair, here he is on vacation after scoring the World Cup winning goal, on a yacht in Ibiza with his awesome bikini-wearing model girlfriend:

Mario Götze relaxes on boat in Ibiza with lingerie model girlfriend Ann-Kathrin Brommel after Germany World Cup glory

It's enough to make a grown man ... well, realize that some of us are more lucky than most of us.

I was thinking this, too

There's a Game of Thrones theory out there about the true parentage of Jon Snow.   I had this inkling at the end of last season.  Now, it isn't exactly what I was thinking, but I was pretty sure (minor spoiler here) that Jon is not the bastard son of Ned Stark, as has been stated.

So here's the theory:  Game of Thrones Fan Theory

Not to give too much away, because this is all researchable on the Internet, but they appear to have a pretty good idea of who his mother is (and Ned had it on his mind to tell Jon about his mother too, but he never did, yet it was clearly important to him).  The thing that is less certain is who the father is.  Because of how the character looks on the show, I was leaning toward the "B" camp.  But apparently the leading father theory gives Jon Snow some dragon blood.  But according to some other sources, there are timing problems with my theory.  And according to the books, as I've read, Jon looks like a Stark, enough at least.

(If you follow GoT, you'll know what all this means.)

I would think that either way this goes, Jon Snow is likely to come out of this smelling like roses (that's an inside joke, but only because I read it on these pages speculating about who his parents are).

He's been acting quite heroic, you know.

Lighthouse of the Week, July 20-27, 2014: New London Ledge

Returning to the U.S. after an overseas hiatus, I decided to go with the New England state about which I knew the least regarding its lighthouses.  That would be Connecticut.  I was absolutely sure that Connecticut had lighthouses, and it has quite a few.  But the uniquest looking one was definitely the New London Ledge Light.

Here's a page about it:  New London Ledge, CT

Here's one from NELights on Flickr:

And from Summer Lighthouse Weekends:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Warm Pacific, warming world, warmest ever

From Slate:

Earth Just Finished Its Warmest Quarter Year Ever

"Taken as a whole, the just-finished three-month period was about 0.68 degrees Celsius (1.22 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th-century average. That may not sound like much, but the added warmth has been enough to provide a nudge to a litany of weather and climate events worldwide."

The main reason is this, the most reason global sea surface temperature anomaly map from NOAA (July 17). See all that orange and yellow in the Pacific?  Yeah, it's warm.  Anomalously warm. Those conditions might give rise to a true El Niño, but that's not sure yet (though the probabilities are still positive).

What is sure is that the warmth is sufficient to be raising global temperatures -- obviously, based on the title and subject of the article -- and it isn't likely to go away anytime soon.  Which means we'll likely see a few more warm months and probably a warm year.  How warm?  That can't be foreseen yet.


Four pictures (I'm sure there are thousands) of the amazing Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in the Hunan Province of China.  If it looks otherworldly, it did inspire the Hallelujah Mountains in the movie Avatar.

Who needs special effects?

I like inspiration (and writing sonnets)

I wrote the sonnet below the picture inspired by and in tribure to the picture, and also because of my continuing platonic fascination and flirtation with the lovely owner of the subject of the picture. I hope she enjoys it.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Thanks again, Audrey.

Insta-thoughts inspired by an instagram

Recumbency - tho she is calm and still,
she is dynamically displayed, reclined
to her advantage, and she steels my will
with this magnificent array. Refined

to edges in the smoothness of her frame,
(and framed with neither face nor legs) my dreams
do glide and slide a single finger's flame
upon her tendinous confections, seams

of dedication and perfection, lined
and rippling 'neath her skin, below the treats
which commonly attract my eyes, inclined
as I admit, to busts and slits and seats;

She has all those, and yet they are much more
Because of the delightment of her core.

A couple of footnotes:

1. "tendinous intersections" are the tendons between the abdominal muscles.

2.  I was clever in line 3.

Fashionably hot

Vanessa Hudgens continues to impress in her acting roles (just caught The Frozen Ground, in which she was very good), her glamor appearances on the red carpet, her product representations (you know, as a spokesmodel), and also, for just maturing into a beautiful young woman.

The picture below demonstrates both her fashion sense and her beautiful young woman hotness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oh boy, Abbey

Abbey Clancy demonstrates once again that even if God is not a heterosexual male, He still knows what is good for us and can meet our needs.

Being balanced is not being fair

The WashPost's Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote an amazing opinion piece about how false "fair and balanced" coverage is a disservice to the audience of the media and the audience of the journalist.  This is particularly applicable to the climate change discussion.

Here is some of what she wrote:
The distorting reality of false balance in the media

"Earlier this month, the BBC’s governing body issued a report assessing the BBC’s impartiality in covering scientific topics. When it comes to an issue like climate change, the report concluded, not all viewpoints share the same amount of scientific substance. Giving equal time and weight to a wide range of arguments without regard to their credibility risks creating a “false balance” in the public debate."


"As political scientists Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein have written, “A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.” And this isn’t just true when it comes to science coverage — the media has a similar tendency to issue unfiltered “he said, she said” accounts of political issues. The result is that every controversy seems to be reduced to a binary debate between two equal sides. In 2013, when congressional Republicans shut down the government over a health-care law that had been passed in Congress and upheld in the Supreme Court, many in the media continued to pretend that both sides were equally at fault.


"Gallup’s 2014 poll on the environment found that 42 percent of Americans believe that “the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated in the news.” Blinded by the veil of false equivalence, we believe global warming is happening, but that it won’t seriously affect us. As a result, we are not holding our elected leaders accountable for acting to curb the threat of climate change, which only grows more dangerous over time."

So - don't believe that there is significant doubt about what's happening to the climate.  The scientists know -- and they are very, very worried.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

60% by 2050

If we are to reign in global warming from the CO2 induced enhanced greenhouse effect, we collectively as a humanity interested in our long-term survival will have to make emissions cuts.  That means a new mix of energy sources.  It won't be a surprise to learn that I favor nuclear energy as a major player in the mix.  I think it's inevitable.

From Blad Plumer on Vox:  Here's what the world would look like if we took global warming seriously

"The United States eventually gets 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like hydro, wind, and solar by 2050. Electric vehicles would handle about 75 percent of all trips. Large trucks would get switched over to natural gas. The coal plants that remained would all capture their carbon-dioxide emissions and bury them underground. Every single building would adopt LEDs for lighting."

like this

"In the scenario above, for instance, the researchers assume that technology to capture coal emissions and bury them underground (known as "CCS") would become commercially viable by 2025. They also assumed long-range electric vehicles would be widely available by 2025. And that hydrogen fuel cells would be available by 2035. And that nuclear power is allowed to expand in many countries."

But then there's THIS:

"But if any of those technologies are slow coming to market, then countries would need to find other ways to cut emissions. For instance, if carbon capture is slow to develop, the researchers found, then the United States might have to rely on nuclear power for up to 60 percent of its electricity needs by 2050 to make those cuts. And if, on top of that, there's resistance to nuclear power — say, due to local opposition or safety concerns — then renewables would have to supply 75 percent of US electricity needs, an even tougher task."

So, two things: one, the know-nothing skeptics and the do-nothing skeptics (there are two flavors like that) need to get out of the way of the science and the needs of the global populace.  Two, a lot more energy people need to acknowledge in the U.S. what many other countries in the world are realizing, and thus planning and building more nuclear power capacity -- we NEED nuclear power as the bridge technology to slow down the pace of global warming and get our world off of its addiction to fossil fuels.

It's not too late.  But every year we get closer to too late.

But WHY?

I will be brief.  There's a possibility that the young, nubile, talented, and hot singer/actress Selena Gomez has received breast implants.

She's a youthful, beautiful woman with a lovely figure.  She looked fabulous entirely natural.  So why (if in fact she did, which at least one expert thinks is a pretty sure thing) did she have to go bigger?

Well, I guess there was something about her happiness and sense of well-being and comfort with herself and her body image involved.  But it seems totally unnecessary.  So let me be on the record to say that I hope she didn't pump up the volume on her sweater puppies.

Selena Gomez steps out in revealing top:  sparks speculation of recent boob job

(that was their headline, not mine)

Lighthouse of the Week, July 13-20, 2014: Pilsum, Germany

After a one-week break, my pick for Lighthouse of the Week this week is inspired by the World Cup winner, Germany.   Germany may not have a lot of coastline, but it has quite a few lighthouses on that short length of coastline.  And it was a very quick pick - I went with the Pilsum Lighthouse, which is striped in Deutschland's colors.

Info about the Pilsum Lighthouse (Wikipedia):

The Pilsum Lighthouse (German: Pilsumer Leuchtturm) was built in 1889 in order to provide a beacon for the Emshörn channel on Germany's North Sea coast. It is located on a dyke near the village of Pilsum in the municipality of Krummhörn. It has guided ships through the narrow channel until 1915. In the First World War its light was extinguished in order that enemy ships could not navigate the route. After that it was no longer needed, because the channel was changed. The height of the structure is 11 metres; the height of the light about sea level is 15 metres. Today the tower is one of the best-known symbols of East Frisia.

And some other info, from Google Earth Hacks:

This is one of the most famous lighthouses in Germany, but fame came through a german movie from 1989 "Otto – Der Ausserfriesische" by and with the frisian cemedian Otto Waalkes. In the movie the lighthouse was his home. The lighthouse was built 1888-1889 to secure ships sailing the Emshorn channel and was in use until 1915. After the war the channel wasn't in use anymore and it was the end of the lighthouse.
In 1962 it was sold to the Lower Saxon Bauamt für Küstenschutz and 1972 it got the famous yellow-red striped coloration.

And some pictures of it:

by Joerg Johann Mueller

by Gene Inman

by Michael Blaser

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bendtner might go to Aston Villa

Following up on an earlier post I made, this article says that former Arsenal striker Niklas Bendtner might go to Aston Villa.

Aston Villa in talks with Niklas Bendtner

I guess I care because of my interest in the love child he had with one of the world's richest women, in an older woman affair that was partly interesting because said woman is extraordinarily good-looking.  Their relationship didn't last.

So where's Ashley Cole going to end up playing next, I wonder?

Roma, I find out. I hope he has a good time.

Let's all learn about the science of cheese

Cheese is so fascinating.  There are so many varieties, tastes, so many different ways to make it, things to make it from, animals to get the milk from to make it from.   And a vast multitude of ways to serve it.

So here's a video about the science of cheese.  Let's hope it mentions the word "enzyme".  (It has to, doesn't it?)

As a bonus, here's a fun article about Roquefort, one of the world's great cheeses:

The secrets of Roquefort

I promise, ewe will be impressed.

Watch the World Cup final from SPACE!

Well, not really.  But this feature from the European Space Agency shows Rio de Janeiro, where the final will be played on July 13, from space, and explains all about the image.

And the presenter is quite comely, too.

Earth from Space:  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Oh, my prediction, you ask?  Well, I'm not going to predict the winner, only the final score:  2-1.  And we will see if fate is kind.

Is this serious or not?

According to reports, such as this one, the Earth's magnetic field is getting weaker 10 times faster than was previously thought.
"Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought. As such, rather than the full flip occurring in about 2,000 years, as was predicted, the new data suggest it could happen sooner."
Is this a "Day After Tomorrow plus Godzilla" scenario?  Are tsunamis going to swamp New York and gigantic beings from out of the ocean going to stomp on Tokyo?

Probably not.  But still, it will be momentous for a generation of humans to be witnesses to a magnetic field switch.  I'm probably not in that generation.  But it could be soon, very soon in geological terms.  200 years?  Really?

But I don't think there's much to worry about, at least according to NASA:

Magnetic pole reversal happens all the (geologic) time

Yet the power grid could possibly be at risk. There wasn't a power grid the last time this happened.

Want to just stare in awe for awhile?

Michelle Keegan:  The Lipsy collection

Just watch and enjoy.

And if you want to listen to her while watching more of her, go here.

You can thank me now.

Only one question -- all of that is great.  Now where's the lingerie section of the collection?

Opportunity is still looking around

The Mars Curiosity rover, holes in the wheels and all, is still getting more press and attention than the long-lived Mars Opportunity rover.   But Oppy is still rolling and still taking great pictures.  A few days ago it took a superb panorama at "Pillinger Point".

Here's where it is.  Make sure you click on the small picture to see the Big Picture.  The detail is phenomenal.  Almost like being there.

'Pillinger Point' Overlooking Endeavour Crater on Mars


The Wimbledon 2014 wrap-up

One of the things I didn't get to do during my break was to make a timely comment on Wimbledon.  With Sharapova out to Kerber, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard had a chance to definitively make herself "the next Sharapova", with a win in the final.  Unfortunately that didn't happen, as veteran savvy and strength from Kvitova prevailed.  Nonetheless, we can still assess Bouchard's claim to the throne:

She definitely has a chance.  Now she has to win a major.

On the men's side, I didn't expect Murray to lose short of the final.  And nobody (including me) expected Nadal to lose short of the final.  And thus, when the final came down to Djokovic v. Federer, I expected youth and determination to prevail over the elegance of the incredible veteran.  And in fact I was pulling for Federer, unlike the times (like against Roddick) when I wanted his perfection to slip a gear.  And in the 4th set, it looked like his time had come to bow out gracefully from what would probably be his last realistic chance at a Grand Slam title -- not that he needs any more of them.

But his comeback in the 4th set showed why he was great, and how close he is to still being great.  Djokovic managed to get ahead and stay ahead in the 5th, resulting in his win (well-deserved, and showing a significant amount of mental fortitude), but Federer reminded everyone of how remarkable a player he is.  (And his serving was from another planet.)

Great tournament, lots of surprises.  And perhaps signals of the guard changing to a new and unpredictable period.

Now, if we could just revive the U.S. tennis professional program...

I have returned

I just took one of the longest breaks from writing on this blog that I've taken in a long time.  I recalibrated my thoughts and made some plans for the future.  I've maintained some communications on Twitter, and I still have to write the definitive blog post on why Antarctic sea ice is growing due to global warming.

As one might expect if you're one of the few regulars on my blog, I have a few babe-related commentaries in readiness as well.

I did learn one thing on my break.  The words of the song are entirely true.  "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need".  I got what I needed and I am ready to roll.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2014 undangerous prediction status update

Some events have transpired recently that have affected the status of my Undangerous Predictions for 2014.

Specifically, numbers 1 and 9.

Number 1 was about the U.S. men's national (soccer) team making it out of the group play round at the World Cup.   Because a lot of experts predicted that they wouldn't make it out of the group, so did I.

They were wrong.  So was I.   So why did they make it out of the group round?

Blame Portugal.  Portugal had a bad first game against Germany, got in a goal-differential hole, and couldn't dig out.  And the U.S.A. did what it had to do, defeating Ghana in the first game.  And because Portugal only managed to tie the U.S.A. in their game, that was enough to get them out of the group and invalidate the prediction.   BUT... it's one that I wanted to be wrong.  Unfortunately, they couldn't get lucky and defeat Belgium.

On to number 9.  Number 9 was a prediction that the U.S.A. would experience two land-falling hurricanes this Atlantic hurricane season.   I just checked, and though it hasn't yet, I'm pretty sure that Hurricane Arthur's eyewall will touch some part of the North Carolina beaches.  And then that prediction will be 50% correct.

I'll update that one this weekend.

The newest Archie

A new fossil of Archaeopteryx has been described.  A picture of it (with a key) is shown below.

Here's a National Geographic article explaining more (and it also has a reconstruction):

Dinosaur-era fossil shows birds' feathers evolved before flight

About 150 million years old, the new fossil disclosed Wednesday in the journal Nature reveals the iconic birdlike dinosaur sported long feathers from head to foot. Earlier fossils showed such feathers on only its wings and tail.

These so-called pennaceous feathers are the long-shafted ones birds use to fly today, distinct from the downy ones that act as insulation. The new Archaeopteryx fossil, says the study's senior author, Oliver Rauhut of Germany's Bavarian State Collections of Palaeontology and Geology in Munich, gives scientists a glimpse into the evolution of flight.

Abbreviations: bp, body plumage; ft, feather ‘trousers’; hf, hackle feathers; lh, left hindlimb; n, neck; rf, right forelimb; rh, right hindlimb; rw, right wing; s, skull remains; t, tail; tf, tail feathers. Scale bar, 5 cm.

Rest in peace, Wayne Curry

Thanks for your accomplishments and your leadership. You made a difference in a lot of lives, including mine.

Wayne K. Curry dies at 63:  former Prince Georges County executive

Mr. Curry, a real estate and corporate lawyer, was one of the country’s first black popularly elected county leaders. The Democrat served two terms as county executive in the first major city or county in the nation to go from majority white to majority black with income and education levels rising instead of falling. 
Caption to the picture in the article:  "Mr. Curry helped bring FedEx Field and National Harbor to Prince George’s County."


Alvin Thornton, senior academic adviser to the president of Howard University and a former political science professor, said Mr. Curry is likely to be remembered less for a building that was constructed or law that was passed during his tenure than for the social and political role he played at a critical juncture in county history.
Thornton said Mr. Curry “played the role that had to be played . . . with a presence and sophistication. . . . If you fail at that, leadership of other communities won’t listen to you, they won’t follow you, they will caricature you. I think Wayne avoided all that. He was very capable and very able to articulate the interests of the emerging black community.”

He was a very influential man in this community, and he meant a lot to me.  I wish I could have told him. 

It's getting worse in Kansas

Governor Sam Brownback has made the state of Kansas a grand social, economic, and political experiment.

It's not going well at all.  Which is to be expected, from how radical the experiment is.  But some lessons have to be learned the hard way, and the people of Kansas are learning this one.

Can't afford more tax cuts


In a new poll taken by KSN News, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is behind likely Democratic Party nominee and Kansas Rep. Paul Davis by six points. 
Republicans across the state fare better in their races. 

In the gubernatorial race, Davis has an advantage in Kansas City and Wichita. At this time, he's beating Brownback by 15 percent in the Wichita area and leads Brownback by three percent among voters in the Kansas City metro area. Brownback's strength comes from Western Kansas, where he leads Davis by 16 points. 

Another factor: The female vote. Davis is leading Brownback by 14 points among women, while Brownback leads by one percent among men. Davis also has made a sizable dent among Brownback's Republican support, according to the poll. Davis receives 26 percent of support from registered Republican voters. On the other hand, Brownback received six percent of support from Democrats in the poll.

So I wonder how it's going for Governor Sam?

Kansas voting poll results (as of June 25th):
The state reported this week that its tax collections for June were $28 million less than estimates. Counting the huge revenue drops in April and May, the state has collected $338 million less than expected (and $726 million less than it collected the previous fiscal year). 

The drop in collections wipes out nearly all the cash reserves that Brownback and the Legislature were counting on for this new fiscal year. So unless the state’s revenue collections for the next 12 months are on target, which seems unlikely, the state could be forced to make midyear spending cuts, which can be painful. 

But that’s not the worst of it. Because this fiscal year’s budget was already projected to spend about $320 million more than the estimated revenue, the loss of the cash reserves means that the next fiscal year’s budget (which the Legislature will draft next session) would need major spending cuts or tax increases just to get to zero, let alone return the cash reserves to the statutorily required level of about $500 million. 
This growing imbalance, along with the state’s sluggish economic recovery compared with its peers, was why Moody’s Investors Service downgraded both the state’s and the Kansas Department of Transportation’s bond ratings.

Sooo... it might appear that Kansans, at least some of them (the women, those interested in education, the ones interested in the future of the state as a viable entity) are coming to their senses.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wimbledon 2014 is wide open

With the top seeds getting tossed out early (Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Rafael Nadal), we can take a quick look at who would be favored now.

On the women's side, it's the surprising and still improving Simona Halep, seeded 3rd, who would be favored to go the final against sixth-seed Petra Kvitova.

On the men's side, with the brackets set up to create a Djokovic-Murray clash in the semifinals, then the final has to be one of those two (impossible to pick) vs. GASP - Roger Federer.  But Roger the Great has to overcome Wawrinka next.

Murray would probably feel comfortable against Federer, considering his Olympic success.  But they both have to get to the final for that to happen.

Whatever happened to Terry Farrell?

Apparently not much showbiz-wise since 'Becker' ended. She did get married and have a child, and apparently is still married, which is an accomplishment in itself. From what I can figure out from pictures on Google, she has been making occasional appearances at Star Trek conventions. Remember, she was Jadzia Dax for five years on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 

From IMDB: "Retired from acting and moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania in 2003 following her marriage and the birth of her son. She resides in New York City as a stay-at-home mom and housewife." (According to Wikipedia, she and her family are still in Hershey.)

Oh yeah - in her modeling prime and in the blush of youth, she was a looker.  Despite the big 80s hair you can find in some of her pictures.

The end of Cassini, 2016-2017

NASA has announced how the spectacular, and spectacularly successful, Cassini mission to Saturn will end.

They will move in closer to the planet, make some in-close measurements and pictures from unique angles (including the rings), and then burn up in the atmosphere, partly so they don't possibly contaminate either Titan or Enceladus with Earth bacteria due to an unplanned crash landing.

But we still have a couple of years before that happens, as they're going to do the final tour in 2016-2017.

Here's a description of it:
The Cassini "Grand Finale"

Superb nature photography

There's a contest for the best wildlife photographer of the year.  You have from now until September 5 to vote, but you can only vote once.

I read about it in this article in the HuffingtonPost.

But all of the pictures are here (this is where you vote for the winner):
Wildlife Photographer of the Year

I'm not sure which one I'm going to vote for, but I'm leaning toward this one right now:

Caiman Night

There's also a few of them with humor.  Take a look and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Starting off July with a sonnet

This one's a tribute.  And it also has a sense of humor.

I hope she gets it

How often do they fuck? To see them, one
would think that their connecting should be more
than once a day; if I were he, my sun
could shine upon her daily, and keep score
upon a calendar each time I found
the place that I should be. And as my fate
is just to cherish her, I wish the sound
of her delight would ring his ears, create
the ever-present hope to hear the same
for each tomorrow when he has that chance,
the opportunity to stake his claim
within her womb, to prance a mating dance --
because I want her so, I want this to
be simply true; that they do often screw!