Sunday, May 31, 2015

Faves out at the French

I like Maria Sharapova a lot.  Let me repeat, a LOT.  And I admire Serena Willams for her sheer overwhelming dominant athleticism.  She's phenomenal, and she just keeps going and going and going...

However, I sorta wanted either Simona Halep or Caroline Wozniacki to win the French this year (or for that matter, any of the other Slam tourneys, but we haven't gotten to the Fortnight or the U.S. Open yet).  Not gonna happen, both of them got bounced.

So if I am to have someone to hope for, unlikely as it might be that they'll beat Maria or Serena, I'd have to go with Ana Ivanovic.   And I like her more now that I found out her boyfriend is German soccer defender with the amazing soccer defender name, Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Ana Ivanovic battles into French Open

Ivanovic in action.  Clearly an athlete. 

Lighthouse of the Week, May 31 - June 6, 2015: Elliðaey, Iceland

This was a little confuddling, because Iceland has two islands named Elliðaey. One of them is a neighbor to Surtsey to the south of the main island, in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. That island doesn't have a lightnouse but it does have a hunting lodge, which you can read about if you search on it.

This one is in western Iceland, on an island in the Breidafjörður, which is the big bay below the "rooster tail" of the Westfjords peninsula. It's a volcanic island (pretty much all of Iceland is), which explains the columnar basalt on the sheer wall below the lighthouse. VERY geologically situated.

Here's what Lighthouses of Western Iceland (UNC) has to say about it:

"1951. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); flash every 10 s, white, red or green depending on direction. 9 m (30 ft) triangular cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern painted red.  Elliðaey is a small island in the Breidafjörður about 5 km (3 mi) northwest of Stykkishölmur. Located on the highest point of the island, which is at the east end."

Friday, May 29, 2015

They look good, and so does Kelly

A few months ago, Kelly Brook might possibly have gotten a tad pudgy.  Well, she decided to change her nutrition plan, change boyfriends, do some new kinds of workouts with the new boyfriend, and get shaped up.

It worked.

The article has some pictures demonstrating the results.

PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Kelly Brook strips off to reveal her incredible bikini body as she celebrates 8lbs weight loss with New Atkins

Especially in the first picture;  and the one where she's coming up the ladder out of the water.  That's definitely eye-grabbing.

As for who "they" are -- well, that should be pretty easy to figure out.

But how do I get a date with her?

Big news in the world of sexual psychology:  the Finns have solved the nude body-brain problem.

I'll bet you never knew there was a nude body-brain problem.

So what is the problem, exactly?

'Tis phrased thusly, if not lustfully:
“it remains unresolved whether nude and clothed bodies are processed by same cerebral networks or whether processing of nude bodies recruits additional affective and arousal processing areas."
When I found out this had previously been unresolved, I was moderately upset.  After all, this is a problem.

To solve it, the subjects looked at pictures of a clothed woman and an unclothed woman. Not a bad job if you can get it.   Go to the article about this study to see the pictures they looked at.  Unfortunately, I can't find a bigger version (which is sometimes heard from the wives of less-than-hung spouses).

There's a reason I'd like to see a bigger version.  The Headless TorseGirl possesses one FINE set of ta-tas. I'd sure like to show her a good time,

I am the Walrus Cam

Just passing this along - the imminent shutdown of the National Zoo's naked mole rat cam means that we have to look elsewhere for wrinkly mammals with big incisors.  So if you haven't heard of the Walrus Cam, you should.  Not only does it show the hauling out of walrusii on Alaska's Round Island, it also has sound.  So you can imagine being there.

Here's what it looked like there as I was writing this:

Lazy tuskers

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Michelle Keegan & Mark Wright were married last weekend

Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention, because I actually missed the fact that Michelle Keegan (she for whom I predict world domination) was married to Mark Wright last Saturday (at least I think it was Saturday). There has not yet been one picture released of the couple in their wedding finery, though a guest reported that Michelle was the most beautiful bride ever. This would not be a surprise at all.

The only other news worth noting out of this (so far) is that from their honeymoon in Dubai, Mark Instagramed back a picture about which the mere mortals of us in this world can only dream. I took the original and applied a little post-processing magic, to bring out all the details. She's worth it. I've included both below so you can evaluate my work.


That''s more like it. Lucky hubby. 

Jessica, Jessica, Jessica!

I really enjoy these summer fitness magazine issues that roll out hot celebrity women showing off their ready-for-summer honed bods in the latest swimwear.

The astonishing mother-of-two Jessica Alba, who is an actress, businesswoman, wife, and apparently good mother too, demonstrated this thing I like in the best way in the most recent SHAPE magazine. Jessica has the right combination of shapes to make an pretty much ideal shape that many of us can admire.

Jessica Alba's Secrets for Looking Fierce in a Bikini

(Remember when you are looking at these that she's had two kids.  Repeat, TWO kids. Yowz.)

Great pictures of the Wolf volcano eruption

I've got to admit to having a warm spot in my heart for a volcano named Wolf. And there is a volcano named Wolf on Isabela island in the Galapagos chain. Wolf is occasionally active (another plus) and its very recent activity produced a few great shots from the ocean of lava flows cascading down the slopes of the cone. Shots below. Fortunately the rare pink iguanas of Isabela island are safe at this time, according to numerous reports, because the lava is flowing down the other side of the volcano from where they live.

Speaking of that, in the Indian Ocean, Piton de la Fournaise volcano erupted and still is, apparently, at this reporting. La Fournaise also produces nice lava streams, as seen in the video in this article.

Here's the action from Wolf:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A town called Helen

I just found out there's a town in Georgia named Helen.  This first made me wonder how many other towns there are in our great country with women's names, but I haven't had a chance to pursue that trivialistic inquiry.

Helen turns out to be an interesting place;  it used to be a logging town, and when that commercially ended, it reinvented itself as a pseudo-Bavarian town smack inside one of the southernest states there is.  They even have an Oktoberfest.

The other interesting thing about Helen is that its sister city is Füssen, Bavaria. That's the little town that happens to be real close to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.

Helen, Georgia on Wikipedia

The Crystal Palace finish - 10th

While Chelsea won the Premier League cup, Crystal Palace managed to finish 10th, by winning on the final day.  And that is a heck of an achievement for a team that just came up the previous season, and which struggled with poor starts both last season and this.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Swansea: Alan Pardew targets four signings after his side complete their quest to finish in the top ten with Jason Puncheon starring for the Eagles at Selhurst Park

I don't think they'll be contenders for the top spot anytime soon, given how much money the top teams command, but I think they'll be fun to watch (and not just because they might drop down into the relegation zone).

‘It’s remarkable to finish 10th. I wouldn’t believe me had you told me,’ [manager] Pardew said. ‘Our record has been phenomenal. The chairman’s got an extra £4million tonight, and I’ll be trying to take it off him. We don’t have to speculate. We can buy quality. We’ve had conversations and try to feel the market.’

Monday, May 25, 2015

Could you stop staring?

If I was at the Cannes Film Festival, and I saw Miranda Kerr wearing what she was wearing and showing what she was showing, it would take serious willpower and restraint not to stare until my eyeballs dried out.

Miranda Kerr shows off some serious cleavage and almost flashes her derriere in plunging pink thigh-split gown at Cannes

Example below.

Lighthouse of the Week, May 24-30, 2015: Hrólfssker, Iceland

I figured Iceland had lighthouses, but I had never checked before.  Boy, does it ever.  Some of the most spectacular settings for lighthouses I've ever seen.

I'm starting off with Hrólfssker. It's on a little island with a big background of the mainland (even has a waterfall descending to the sea).   Here's some detail from Lighthouse Digest.

Nearest Town or City:
Olafsfjordhur, , Iceland

Location: On small island (Rolf's Skerry) at entrance to Eyjafjordhur.
Managing Organization:
Icelandic Maritime Administration

Tower Height: 51
Height of Focal Plane: 65
Characteristic and Range: White flash every 3 seconds; range 8 nautical miles.
Description of Tower: Yellow round concrete tower.
This light is operational
Date Established: 1951
Date Present Tower Built: 1951
Current Use: Active aid to navigation.
Open To Public? Grounds only.

Four nice pictures of it below. The last one is great.

I thought this had stabilized

I thought the honeybee crisis had stabilized, in a not good, but a not-dire state.

Turns out I was wrong.  And after I found this article, the Presidential administration announced steps to Help the Honeybees.

Article:  U.S. honeybees are disappearing very quickly, USDA finds

Losses of managed honey bee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014, and the second-highest annual loss seen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report issued on Wednesday.

"Such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," Jeff Pettis, a USDA senior entomologist, said in a statement.

The 2014-15 yearly loss was down slightly from the 45 percent annual loss for 2012-2013 but well above the prior two years of annual measurements and above the benchmark of 18.7 percent that is considered economically unsustainable, USDA said.

Yeah, they need help. I like fruit.

Climate denial's new tactic; stop science

How low can they go in Congress?  We haven't found the bottom yet.

Climate denialists in Congress acting as NASA's kryptonite

An extremely good excerpted quote from this article:
"If you are intent on convincing people there is no climate change, then the last thing you want is NASA — with all its heroism and accuracy — telling folks climate change is real. So, faced with this dilemma, climate denialist's have come up with a clever solution: Get NASA out of climate change science."
Read the rest.  It's scary.

The problem is, it's hard to see how to stop those idiots in Congress from doing this.

Be careful what you fish for

A new sonnet.

Be careful what you fish for

You are a tempting mermaid -- will you swim
into my net? I cast it in the sea
with just a wish to catch a fish, but whim
and wisdom brought me here, where playfully
aquatic jewels cavort. Yet I did not
expect to find a piscine miss of myth
within this cove; just perch or grunt or spot
or octopus; however, with
a glimpse of naked skin and scaly tail
I feared that I had seen a fateful sight
from love and legend, sought beneath the sail
for centuries, and now she swims in bright-
lit waves beside my boat. So could we mate?
Or am I just to her a tasty bait?

Closest view yet of the Ceres spots

JPL's Dawn mission posted a bright spot update on May 20. I'm just getting to it now, but nothing has changed since then.   Here are the current conclusions from the scientists:

1)   They still don't know what they are.

2)  Somebody still thinks that they're ice.  No surprise there -- so do I.

3)  They admit that the spots are highly reflective.

4)  Even if they do identify what they are, the bigger questions will be why they are there, and why they are so bright.

Ceres Bright Spots Seen Closer Than Ever

Whatever they are, they're going to be interesting

This break is over

Well, I took a several day break, and also had a tech refresh.  I'm sure that news will be greeted with wild acclaim by my dozens of fans.

I've built up quite a bit of material to get to in my next posts, so I'll get right to it.

Thanks for your patience!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Brownback replies to the waitress

Gov. Sam Brownback, archangel in the Republican Paradise of Kansas, took the high road in his reply to the waitress who criticized his massive cuts to education when she returned his bill for a meal.  But Clay Barker, the GOP Executive Director, got down and dirty.

Brownback:  "“That’s the person’s opportunity to say what they’d like to. I hear it both ways different times and different places,” said Brownback."

Barker:  “So you are publicizing her arrogant stupidity and utter ignorance. Typical liberal KS media,” and “Why would the Kansas media, well-known for its frequent liberal, anti-Brownback disposition, go to such lengths to highlight a rude comment from a single individual?”

I have an answer for you, Mr. Barker:  because what the governor is doing is really bad for your state, and the liberal media has every right to illustrate in different ways that it doesn't sit welll with the citizens of your state.  Your unthinking adherence to the tenets of Republicanism in Kansas, and the similar thought processes of its GOP citizenry, will drive the state to ruin the same way that the captain's adherence to course and speed drove the Titanic into an iceberg.

Good luck with that.

Other royal babies in the News

The twin prince and princess of Monaco, Jacque and Gabriella, were just christened at five months old.  Princess Charlene looked both good and happy.  I'm happy that she's good.

Smiles in the sunshine as Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene christen their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella in Monaco


Murray beat Nadal ... on CLAY??

Rafael Nadal is the undisputed king of clay court tennis, with a record of French Open wins that is very unlikely to ever be challenged.   Injuries have taken a bit of a toll on him though, and every player has a poor outing.  Still, it's a surprise to hear about Nadal losing on clay, but it seems that Andy Murray is learning to play better on the slippery, slow surface.   He had a surprisingly easy time beating Nadal in the Madrid Open this past weekend.

Could Murray win the French?  Well, I'd still think it somewhat unlikely, given that Djokovic still looms, but with this most recent victory, Murray put himself in the discussion of contenders.

As the article says, Murray now genuine contender.

Closer, but no answers

The Dawn mission has just sent back new and closer images of Ceres, and the bright spots now have additional detail.  There is still very little that can be discerned regarding their identity, but at least one person on the mission agrees with me that they are likely to be ice.    They seem to have remarkably smooth borders, and they are inside a crater.  The brightness reminded me of Jupiter's moon Callisto, which has very bright spots, but not so seemingly remarkable because it has so many of them. 

Surface of Callisto

My money is still on ice, but the real questions regard how they formed, if they are maintained/refreshed, and why they are in those locations.

Ceres animation shows bright spots

Ceres RC3 animation

New images show many bright spots

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Another hard-hitting commentary on the House Science Committee

There is a major outcry in the media about the House Science Committee budget - the one that eviscerates science that the GOP doesn't like.  Here's the most recent I've seen, from The New Yorker:

GOP's War on Science Gets Worse

Pithy quotes:

"Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; some potentially useful data won’t even be collected."


"The vote on the NASA bill came just a week after the same House committee approved major funding cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, as well as cuts to Department of Energy programs that support research into new energy sources. As Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted, the committee is “living down to our worst expectations.”  [ The link goes to another report on how bad this budget is. ]


"Cutting NASA and the N.S.F.’s climate-science budgets isn’t going to alter the basic realities of climate change. No one needs an advanced degree to understand this. Indeed, the idea that ignoring a problem isn’t going to make it go away is one that kids should grasp by the time they’re six or seven. But ignoring a problem does often make it more difficult to solve."

Dumbasses, every single one of them.  And some of them are probably actually happy to be known as such, if it serves their campaign contributor masters well.

Lighthouse of the Week, May 10-16, 2015: Jupiter Inlet, Florida

Three pictures of the easy to see and easy to visit, and well-situated, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Florida.

Jupiter Inlet History

History of the Lighthouse

Elisabetta Canalis is pregnant

Elisabetta Canalis, who was one of George Clooney's more outstanding flings in the beauty department prior to Amal Alamuddin, got married afterward and is now pregnant.  Good for her, and likely happy baby-making for the both of them.

Elisabetta Canalis reveals she is pregnant with her first child with husband Brian Perri

She was a gorgeous bride.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Just keeps rolling along

Like Old Man River, the Opportunity Rover just keeps on rolling along.  And it sent back a great image from the "Spirit of St. Louis" crater:

Click to see the whole thing, which is quite impressive.

Here's a description, with a map and picture of where Opportunity is now:

Rock Spire in "Spirit of St. Louis Crater" on Mars

If you click on the picture in the article, you can see an even BIGGER version of the picture.

Pretty, but BIG

Continuing on the pregnancy theme of the past few posts, I had to make a short comment on the semi-nude pictures of an eight-month-pregnant Milla Jovovich.  (She had the baby on April 1.)

To whit - the female body is amazing.  She's gorgeous (always has been), and at eight months, she is gorgeously big.

Milla Jovovich admits 'eating like a giant' caused her to gain 75lbs during her first pregnancy - and inspired her to keep a public 'food diary' the second time around

This is a significant contrast to the somewhat controversial model who barely had a bump before she gave birth, and tightened right up a few weeks after.

Not that there's anything wrong with that -- big or small.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Why it's been cold East, warm West

The basic story, as I glean from this article, is that the Pacific is in a positive phase of what is being termed the "North Pacific Mode".  The warmest waters make a big horseshoe pattern, opening toward Japan.  This warm water area shifts the position of the jet stream.

That's part of the story.  The other, more contested part of the story is that melting Arctic sea ice -- something the denier crowd keeps saying is either a) not happening or b) not important -- may be involved, too.

"That study, also detailed in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that while the Pacific heat set the atmospheric pattern in motion, Arctic sea ice loss in a particular region made the warm/cold difference so extreme, said Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University."  (Francis wasn't an author, she was just commenting).

Abstract (of the second paper)

"Unprecedented atmospheric circulations with extreme weather were observed in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere during the winter of 2013–2014. The anomalous circulations were the manifestation of the Pacific pattern or the North Pacific Oscillation/Western Pacific pattern but with extremely large amplitude. Simulation results suggest that the anomalous atmospheric circulations were constructively induced by anomalous sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific and extratropical North Pacific, as well as the low sea ice concentration in the Arctic. Natural variability played a major role in inducing the anomaly pattern, whereas the anomalously warm sea surface temperature and low Arctic sea ice concentration in the Bering Sea contributed to the intensity. If the anthropogenic warming has a significant impact on causing the synchronization of the aforementioned anomalies in sea surface temperature and sea ice concentration and this trend continues, severe winters similar to that in 2013–2014 may occur more frequently in the future."

Here's the pattern that's being caused, we just need agreement on what the cause(s) are.

Average February 2015 temperatures.

Oh yeah, Abbey's pregnant too

Well, now that Princess Kate has birthed Princess Charlotte, we must recall that other members of the British population are pregnant, too. 

Namely, model and soccer WAG Abbey Clancy (married to lanky Peter Crouch).

Based on the photographic evidence, she'll be carrying a newborn tyke pretty soon, too.

"Can't even see my feet anymore"

A short followup on the Kansas budget meltdown

Yesterday I wrote a post about the funding mess in Kansas, particularly as regards to education.  Well, the HuffingtonPost had an article today about a waitress who was serving Kansas Governor and Republican Angel (because he's trying to make Kansas into a Republican heaven) Sam Brownback.

Rather than accept a tip from the ideologically committed, intellectually misguided governor, the waitress took the opportunity to give him a piece of her correctly-aligned mind.

Waitress gives Governor Sam Brownback a tip

She wrote back on the check (after crossing out the tip line), "Tip the Schools".

Her explanation:  "“He and his followers are robbing Kansas of equal opportunity," she said."

Good girl.  Bad governor.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, May 3-9, 2015: Obrestad, Hå, Norway

This Norwegian lighthouse caught my eye because of its eye-catching paint job.

Here's some more about it.  It's in a pretty important location, geographically and historically.

Lighthouses of Norway:  Obrestad, Norway

Here's the historical part from the above:

  • Local landowner Eirik Bjodaskalle, (circa 950 A.D.), is said to have had his large farm at Obrestad. Eirik Bjodaskalle was the father of Queen Astrid, the mother of the famous Viking King Olaf Tryggvason. Snorri Sturluson chronicles this in the Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason which is part of Heimskringla. Obrestad was the place where Astrid and Olaf had to seek refuge before heading east.
  • In 950 Erik the Red, founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland was born nearby. Erik the Red was also the father of the famous Viking explorer Leiv Erikson, who was the first European to set foot on the American mainland in 1003.
  • In 968 Olaf Trygvason, king of Norway from 995 to 1000 was born in Obrestad just outside the village of Nærbø. Olaf Trygvason played a big part in bringing Christianity to Norway and is believed to have built the first church in Norway in 995. He also founded the city of Trondheim in 997.
The art piece was painted by Lucy McLauchlan. 

And the pictures:

Without art

With art

From a distance

Rhymes with stucks

The shenanigans regarding the NASA budget pulled by the House Science Committee (actually the Committee on Science, Space, and Technolgy are phenomenally disgusting, disreputable, and dishonest.  The reason they are dishonest is that they are doing something for one reason that they are stating ("restoring balance to NASA's budget"), but they're really doing it for another reason that they aren't stating (cutting research and technology investment related -- in their viewpoint -- to climate change).

And that, put simply, sucks.

Here's a couple articles about that:

Massive cuts proposed to NASA earth science budget draw protest

The article linked above had this:
"On Tuesday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), introduced a new spending bill that would slash NASA’s earth science programs by more than $300 million. Advocates for earth science monitoring and research have voiced strong objections to this proposal.

“[W]e are extremely concerned that the reauthorization significantly cuts funding for NASA’s Earth Science Division – with cuts ranging from 18 percent, if budget caps are lifted, to 32 percent, if the caps are kept in place,” wrote Christine W. McEntee, executive director of the American Geophysical Union, in a letter to the Committee."
and also this:

"But Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-Tex.), the House committee’s ranking member, published an op-ed in the Hill distancing herself from the bill – which she said Republicans introduced without bipartisan negotiation. She suggested the bill is an attack on NASA’s climate science activities and fails to appreciate other critical aspects of NASA’s earth science mission, which includes supporting weather prediction, monitoring ice in the Arctic and tracking wildfires."
She got it right.

Cutting NASA’s earth science budget is short-sighted and a threat

In this article, Marshall Shepherd, former President of the American Meteorological Society and a world-reknowned scientist, addresses the same issue.


"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, one of the few people that has actually seen our home planet from the vantage point of space, issued a statement noting that proposed cuts, “gut our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate, and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events…” This statement is measured and appropriate, but I am writing to amplify this statement."

and he follows with this:

"The vast majority of people don’t realize that one of the reasons the European and U.S. weather models have improved is that they integrate atmospheric, land, and ocean conditions. NASA and various U.S. aerospace companies have a close relationship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellite program. However, I want to emphasize that the data that goes into the weather models are not just NOAA data. A host of NASA datasets are included too. Harming our weather forecasting ability has direct impact on our economy, agricultural productive, commercial aviation, military operations, and more."
He got that right, too.

Which is why I can see with assurance, what the Republicans on the House Science Committee are doing,



Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's coming; meaning good things are happening

The Entourage movie opens on June 3.  That means that we'll be seeing a lot more of Emmanuelle Chriqui.

That is good.   That is very, very good.

Here is an example.

What Emmanuelle Chriqui Thinks of the 'Entourage' Movie & Her Character

Here's a reminder of why this is a good thing:

Republicans gut schools in Kansas due to lack of revenue

We knew this would happen... and it's happening.

Kansas shows us what could happen if Republicans win in 2016

Here are a couple of excerpts:

"At least eight Kansas school districts recently announced that they’re starting summer break early this year, and not because kids have already learned so much that they deserve a few extra days off. It’s because these schools ran out of money, thanks to state leaders’ decision to ax education spending midyear to plug an ever-widening hole in their budget."


"In balancing the budget on the backs of children, Kansas politicians are behaving shamefully. But they may also be doing the rest of the country a favor, by giving us a preview of what might happen if Republicans control the White House and Congress after the 2016 ­election."

And finally this:

"But rather than acknowledging that this tax “experiment,” as it’s been white-washed, has failed and needs to be reversed, Brownback and Republican legislators have mostly doubled down. To make up for the shortfalls, the state has hacked away at core services, from roads to welfare."

We shouldn't be surprised.  This is what Republicans do.  Even it is stupid.  Which it is.