Monday, August 31, 2015

Undangerous Predictions 2015: Two-thirds evaluation

It's time to make a quick evaluation of where I stand with my 2015 Undangerous Predictions.  Let's get to it!   Scoring:   X-Y-Z;  X is right, Y is wrong, Z is undecided.


1.     The Washington Nationals will make the MLB playoffs again.

** Pitching hasn't been what it should have been, and they have been beset with injuries.  Right now, this one is not looking good.  0-0-1

2.    The Washington Capitals will be in the NHL playoffs for the 2014-2015 season.

** Yup, they did, and pushed the New York Rangers to an overtime 7th game.  The sad fact is that they were ahead in game 5, up 3-1, with 1:41 left to play.  Being the Capitals, this was the beginning of the end of that playoff series.  But I got the prediction right. 1-0-1

3.    Caroline Wozniacki will be in the semi-final round of at least one Grand Slam tennis tournament this year.

** Only has one more chance, starting this week.   She just hasn't seemed to peak at the right times.  Iffy. 1-0-2

4.    Crystal Palace FC will avoid relegation in the Barclays Premier League this season.

** Sure did, and ended up 10th!  Don't look now, but as of right now this season (well, OK, maybe you can look) they are SECOND. Really.  I doubt it will last, but they can enjoy while they've got it.  2-0-2


5.    One of these Democrats:  Hilary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, or Joe Biden;  and one of these dangerous Republicans:  Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, or Scott Walker;  will declare their candidacy for President in 2015.  I don’t consider Chris Christie or Jeb Bush dangerous.

** The least dangerous off all my undangerous predictions.  Already done.  3-0-2

6.    Either the  state of Kansas or the state of Maryland will be reported to be making “unconventional”, “unprecedented”, “draconian”, “extraordinary”  or “dramatic” steps to reduce its budget shortfall.  One of those five words will be found in an article about either state’s budget.

** Not sure on this one.  The Kansas experiment has been bad, and I know the educational sector is unhappy.  Have to research this. 3-0-3

Here's some preliminary work.  Too bad "decimated" doesn't qualify.

--- Education is Newest Target of Kansas Budget Cuts

Whoa, Brownback used the word "dramatic" himself!  But it was about increases in state education spending, not cuts.

--- Kansas school funding cuts mean summer comes uncomfortably early

Winner!  --- Kansas Schools Committed to Funding Walking School Bus Program

"The grant funded project has ended. However, to date, 11 of the 17 schools have either committed funding, or located funding, to continue the WSB. This many schools agreeing to fund the program is noteworthy on its own, but it is especially meaningful considering Kansas education is experiencing unprecedented budget cuts."
Revised score:  4-0-2

7.    The efforts of Congress to reduce Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority will be unsuccessful.

** This one merits further evaluation, but the Clean Air Rule, much as they don't like it, is in effect.  But some states are gearing up to resist it.  4-0-3


8.    Both the Mars Opportunity Rover and the Mars Curiosity Rover will still be working at the end of 2015.

As of September 1st, still going.  4-0-4  (but I'm hopeful this goes to "right", though Oppy has been having some memory problems.

9.    The New Horizons mission will find at least one more moon of Pluto during its flyby.

Not all the data on the flyby has been sent back, but I don't think it did.  However, it did get better pictures of the little moons.   Charon, of course, was covered well.  Sadly, have to call this as a  miss, even though New Horizon's didn't.  4-1-4.

10.    The Dawn mission will discover something “surprising”, “unexpected” or “unexplained” about Ceres.  One of those words will be used in an article about the discovery.

Yeah, I got this one right.   5-1-4,  read here:  

Unexpectedly, I get an Undangerous Prediction right!


11.    One celebrity couple that had a baby together, born after November 2014 and extending into 2015, will break up before the end of 2015.  This does not include Jeremy Renner, since that already happened.  (Plus, the mother of his child wasn’t really a celebrity. ) This is for at least a major-minor celeb pairing, not a major or minor celeb paired with an “ordinary” person.

Gotta do research on this one, too.  Have to check, because I think maybe the surprise breakup of Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green might qualify.   Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick may qualify as well.  5-1-5.

12.    A well-known actress/starlet will do her first bare-breasted nude scene in a movie.  It will be noted as a surprise (or words to that effect) in reporting.

Kristen Wiig in Welcome to Me.  Complete surprise -- and not only was she bare-breasted, she was full frontal. DING.  6-1-5. This Web site says it was a surprise.  

Others:  Charisma Carpenter looked fabulous and nude in the abysmal Bound;  

So,  I hit the 50% mark, and I still might get a couple more of these right.  But that's how it should be for Undangerous Predictions.  Tomorrow, I'll evaluate the Edgy Predictions for 2015.

Lighthouse of the Week, Aug. 30 - Sept. 5, 2015: Lucap Lighthouse, Alaminos City, Philippines

After visiting New Zealand for three lighthouses, I thought about other places that might have them.  I cast my thoughts upon the Philippines archipelago, which has a lot of coastline.  Turns out, not unexpectedly, that it has lighthouses large and small.  I think I'll visit here more than once, too.

The one I found is a different design than the "standard", though apparently there is more than one of this design in the Philippines.  This particular one, the Lucap lighthouse, is located in Alaminos City, right adjacent to the Hundred Islands National Park.

The Lighthouse Guide doesn't have a lot to say about it;  it's pretty simple.
"Date unknown. Active; green flash every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) slender square white concrete tower, with an external concrete stairway winding around the tower. No lantern. ... Small lights of this distinctive design are common in the Philippines. Located on the waterfront at Lucap, on the west side of Lingayen Gulf about 5 km (3 mi) northeast of Alaminos."
Map (bigger if you click it):

And pictures of it:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

There are very few things...

... that could distract one's contemplation of the amazing scenery in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Nina Agdal is one of them.

The pictures I saw of Nina in the swimsuit issue showed sand dunes, so I wasn't aware she posed in Bryce Canyon.

I sure am now.

Nina Agdal's Best Moments - SI Swimsuit 2015

Spirit make the women's pro soccer playoffs

If you're following Major League Baseball, and you live round these Baltimore-Washington parts (I count Calvert County in those environs), then you may have recently noticed the somewhat epic collapse of both the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals.  Both of these teams appear poised to NOT make the playoffs this year (which impinges on my Undangerous Predictions for 2015, which I need to evaluate at the beginning of September, which is nigh).

This is not surprising. This, after all, is the Baltimore-Washington area, where major professional sports teams don't often play for championships.

However, a usually overlooked aspect of that is soccer.  DC United, though not followed nearly as much as the baseball, football, basketball, and hockey teams, has won several MLS championships.  Makes one wish that soccer was a major sport in this country, but that's at least another decade away, I'd say.    And the Washington Freedom won the women's professional soccer league, just before the league folded.  Typical.

But there is now another women's pro soccer league, the National Women's Soccer League, and the Baltimore-Washington area has a team in it, the Washington Spirit, though it plays in the 'burbs.  The first year of the NWSL, the Spirit, to put it bluntly, stunk.  But they reversed fortunes the next year and made the playoffs (didn't win, though - typical again), but hope never dies, and they needed just ONE point in their last three games to get in.  Though they were playing other playoff teams, they managed that point with the first game, garnering a draw and the point.  Now it would be nice if they could improve their playoff position, but maybe that's asking too much.

As is asking that they win the championship.  Hey, our women won the World Cup, so is it asking too much more for another Baltimore-Washington professional sports championship -- of any kind?

Here's some Washington Post coverage of the playoff run:

Washington Spirit on the bring of NWSL playoffs, but it won't be easy

Washington Spirit clinch NWSL playoff berth for second straight year

Friday, August 28, 2015

We've got to talk more about this

Just passing on a link to a paper that merits discussion, but I haven't had time to determine exactly what's going on with this.  So here's the title and opening paragraphs of the report.

Sunspot analysis questions solar-climate link

At a press conference held at the IAU General Assembly on Friday, 7 August, astronomers announced the results of an important revision to the historical record of solar activity.

The corrected version of the well-known solar-cycle graph brings homogeneity to the 400-year-long tally of sunspots, providing a trustworthy record to inform modern research on the Sun and on solar-terrestrial relations. It will provide an improved data set for ongoing studies of the solar dynamo, for predictions of space weather, and for models of climate change.

Notably the revised sunspot record shows that there has been no upward trend in solar activity since 1750 — a trend that had been suggested by previous versions of the count — which implies that there is no significant correlation between the level of solar activity and global temperature rise.

Much to ponder there.

Breathtaking, but daft

If you haven't seen this National Geographic video of the slackline world record chasm crossing, you should.  It's positively breathtaking, but I don't think I will ever really fathom the attraction to extreme sports where one misstep, or one tenth-of-a-second miscalculation, means death.

Slackline world record

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, August 23-29, 2015: Cape Palliser, New Zealand

One more trip to the islands of the Kiwis for this week's Lighthouse of the Week.  The Cape Palliser lighthouse sits on the southermmost point of the North Island.  Got that?  It's not far on a map from Wellington, but when you see how far you have to drive...

Here's what UNC's lighthouse site has to say:

"1897. Active; focal plane 78 m (256 ft); two white flashes every 20 s. 18 m (59 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The original 2nd order Fresnel lens continues in use. ... Prefabricated in Wellington, the lighthouse marks the extreme southeastern tip of the North Island and the eastern entrance to Cook Strait and Wellington. "

Worth the trip if you like photographing lighthouses, though. But to get to the top of the bluff with the lighthouse, you have to climb up 258 steps.

Sometimes black-and-white is best

Miranda Kerr looks great in color or in black-and-white.

This black-and-white glamor shot by upcoming talent Mathieu César shows she can be in black-and-white and mostly covered and still be stunningly sexy.  She's top to bottom beautiful (and as some pictures have amply demonstrated, both her top and bottom are beautiful).

(The original is even bigger and better.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Spectacular crater on Mars

While the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers continue to gobble up the headlines as they explore the surface of Mars, we must remember that there are still working satellites in orbit around Mars.  One of them is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which carries the superbly well-designed camera system HiRISE.   For years since the MRO went into Martian orbit, HiRISE has been taking astonishing high-rez pictures of the surface.  So good, in fact, that it has occasionally captured pictures in which the roving landers can be seen.

Astronomer/planetologist David Grinspoon's Twitter alerted me to the HiRISE picture of a crater north of Hellas Planitia on Mars in which it is interpreted that the impact spewed clay minerals (phyllosilicates) all over the place.  Link

Two pictures of it, in color and black-and-white:

Michelle Keegan reminder

Michelle Keegan reminds us how gorgeous she is, despite wearing way too many clothes (the clothes look great on her fabulousness, of course).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

These wouldn't exist on a geologically uninteresting planet

Every now and then I contemplate the fact that we (humanity) live on an extraordinarily diverse planet.  Due to plate tectonics and the movement of the continents, at the root of it, the Earth has a huge variety of scenic places.  Add in erosion by ice or water or dust, and the variety of environments we have, from river deltas to deserts to icy mountains, and we have a plethora of beautiful and amazing things to see.

One of the superb things that results from the geological processes of the Earth and the interplay of our enviromental factors is waterfalls.

I thought about having a Waterfall of the Month on this blog, not that my Lighthouse of the Week has attracted any great deal of attention.  But doing that would allow me to search around the Web for superb pictures of waterfalls.

I'll still think about it. Might be fun.  But while I'm thinking about it, we (me and those rare people who are reading this) can both take a look at the pictures in this Daily Mail article about the world's great waterfalls.

Incredible pictures of the world's most breathtaking waterfalls

And here's one that's moderately famous locally, South River Falls in Shenandoah National Park:

Tethys in toto

As it winds down its spectacular mission to Saturn, the Cassini satellite is sending back some great shots of Saturn's zoo of moons.

Most recently, it focused on Tethys.

This is a big big big picture, made of 14 shots. Click on it to see what I mean.

If you want to see practically the whole moon, in color, go here:

Cassini Spots Strange Red 'Arcs' on Saturn's Moon Tethys

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What current Republican candidates stand for

Ignoring Donald Trump, because despite his appeal to the stupid he won't last (amazingly enough), the Washington Post's Katrina vanden Heuvel describes where the current plausible Republican Presidential candidates stand on the issues.

The GOP's deeply flawed field

I guess you can figure that she isn't impressed by where they are currently standing.

You may want an anti-emetic before reading the following excerpted paragraph.  Well, I bet that Republican conservatives can stomach it, but it's pretty sick stuff for liberal Democrats.
"Those are the Republican “plausible” candidates: for more wars abroad, for spending more on the military and less on vital needs at home, for doing nothing about climate change, for sustaining failed trade policies, for cutting Social Security and adding to the growing retirement crisis, for rolling back regulation of Wall Street, for reviving the conservative war on women, gays and immigrants. Galston praises Rubio as “the future of conservatism,” but like Bush and Walker, Rubio advocates a future that would drag us relentlessly back to the failed policies of the past."
Bleah.  Yuck.  Ugh.

Izabel Goulart sets fantasies on fire

Saw this picture of Victoria's Secret Angel Izabel Goulart relaxing on the bed in her suite in Paris, apparently having forgotten to take her stiletto heels off, but at least providing the impression that everything else she was wearing has been removed. This obviously engenders thoughts of lighting a fire and then letting passions heat up.

Not that there's any remote possibility of that actually happening, but one can certainly ponder such a splendid situation.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, August 16-22, 2015: Castle Point, New Zealand

Going back to incredible New Zealand again, the next lighthouse I've chosen is the no-brainer Castle Point lighthouse. It doesn't have a snow-capped volcanic cone behind it, but it does have a remarkably picturesque stretch of coast to protect. Loads of pictures of this one on the Web.

From Maritime New Zealand:

Castle Point lighthouse is situated on the Wairarapa Coast, about 70 kilometres east of Masterton. Close to the Castle Point Township, it was known as the “holiday light”.

Technical details

Location:  Latitude 40°54' south, Longitude 176°14' east
Elevation: 52 metres above sea level
Construction: cast iron tower
Tower height: 23 metres
Light configuration: 2nd order Fresnel lens, illuminated by a 1000 watt incandescent bulb
Light flash character: white light flashing 3 times every 30 seconds
Power source: mains electricity
Range: 26 nautical miles (48 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1913
Automated: 1988
Demanned: 1988
The light was originally illuminated by an incandescent oil burning lamp. This was changed to diesel-generated electricity in 1954. In 1961 the light was connected to mains electricity.

In 1988 the light station was automated and the last keeper was withdrawn.

Castle Point lighthouse is one of only two lighthouses in New Zealand that are still fitted with the original lens.

The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office.

by David Kerr

Michael Schwab on Flickr

by Lady Loves Cake

from Chasing Jessie blog

Jessica and Alessandra on vacation

Two scrumptious mommies, Jessica Alba and Alessandra Ambrosio, have been on vacation recently. This gives the paparazzi opportunities to take pictures of them in bikinis, the Daily Mail a chance to write about them in their bikinis, and us a chance to be amazed at how d*mn good mothers of two children can look in their bikinis.

Time to celebrate! Jessica Alba sizzles in two teeny bikinis on Mexican getaway as her Honest company is 'valued at $1.7billion' 

Beach babe! Alessandra Ambrosio reveals her stunning bikini body as she sunbathes in Greece

Jessica's husband is Cash Warren, and Alessandra's fiance (put a ring on it, dammit) is Jamie Mazur. I assume strongly that these guys know what they've got in these awesome women and they are doing the right things to keep them. Sure the heck hope so.

Picture time:

Alessandra walks on the beach with her son.  The two men behind her thank God for their timing.

Jessica gives good view, from both sides now:

I predict - that TLT will rise

I've tweeted to a few people that the denier village is clinging to a final wall against the scientific certainty that the Earth's temperature is rising. This final wall is the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT), measured by instruments on satellites, which has not shown much of a rise above the heights it reached following the 1997-1998 El Niño. It is on this basis that Denierville claims that there has been "no global warming" and that there's still a pause. If it goes higher than the 1997-1998 El Niño peak, they're done. Toast, as it were.

Well, if you haven't been paying attention, the slow-to-start El Niño  is now in full "ON" mode, and is being predicted to be one of the strongest (even perhaps THE strongest) ever observed. It's capable of becoming a definite rival to 1997-1998. I think that this is the warming that has been stored in the ocean for a few years coming back to the surface (as I thought it might) but I will wait for a more professional statement of that. Now there are some predictions it's going to last into and maybe through the Northern Hemisphere winter, and that might mean some extra needed precipitation in California.

But I keep looking around to try and figure out why the TLT hasn't moved much yet. It's frustrating, because it truly is the denier's firewall. And I have enough confidence in the way the world works that with El Niño's warmth blasting away at the atmosphere, it's going to go up.

But when? Well, I might have my answer here:

Is there a pause in the temperature of the lower troposphere?

It's a good analysis. It's also from last December, before El Nino got going for real. So here's what I found:
"The global mean TLT differs from the global mean near-surface temperature in a few key aspects. One of them is that the influence of El Niño is much larger, as can be seen from, e.g., the height of the peak in 1998, which is about 0.4 K above the trend line, against about 0.2 K in the near-surface temperature. Note that strongest effects of El Niño on temperature lag the event itself by about half a year. The 2010 peak is also higher, about 0.2 K versus only 0.1 K. On a map, this can be seen as a stronger and broader response to El Niño and La Niña in the tropics, see Fig. 2. The amplification can easily be understood due to the stronger warming at height caused by the heat of condensation of the higher rainfall. This is the upper tropospheric warming that accompanies an increase in SST in the tropics. In the deep tropics, near the equator, this causes heating well above the lower troposphere and hence is not clearly visible in the TLT, but away from the equator the warmer air descends in the Hadley circulation and enters the heights to which the TLT is more sensitive."

Note what I've underlined above. He says there's a HALF-YEAR lag. El Niño really started kicking into gear about April, and accelerated into May and June. So half a year from that is --- November. It's August now and it's really warm - the anomalies have been climbing for months. So if the half-year lag is right, then we ought to see the TLT start to climb around October, and keep going into the New Year.

And boy is that an outcome devoutly to be wished for!

I'm not a fan of global warming. It's not good for the Earth. But the discussion/debate needs this to happen. The 2015 (and possibly 2015-2016) El Niño has got to knock the TLT wall down.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Post writer: we need a miracle on climate change

I'm posting this link to Michael Gerson's recent opinion piece on climate change because I tend to agree with his basic premise.

Here's the link:

We need a miracle on climate change

Here's what I agree with:

"If climate scientists are right about the pace of global warming, and about the total amount of carbon dioxide that humans can emit in the future without potentially catastrophic consequences, then we currently do not have feasible policy responses that are adequate to the need, even if we had far greater political will."
and this:

"[Bill] Gates (matching money to mouth) has pledged to increase his personal investments in green technologies by $1 billion over the next five years. But sufficient scale only comes from government. So he has also recommended that U.S. investments in basic energy technology be more than tripled — from about $5 billion to $16 billion a year.

Even at this level, energy research funding would lag well behind defense and health research. But the increase would allow some impressive scientists to fully explore a variety of speculative options: things like flying wind turbines that collect energy from the jet stream; or reverse engineering photosynthesis to produce usable energy; or batteries with dramatically increased storage capacity; or new nuclear designs that overcome the problem of radioactive waste." "
[And I add, modularity of nuclear power plants so that they can be built much more rapidly, and in more convenient places, and be safer.]

But this won't happen if there is a significant portion of the public that doesn't think it's necessary.  And it's pseudoscientists and deniers that are making the portion think that way.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bouncy bouncy

Charlotte McKinney, who has been in the public eye ever since a fairly provocative Carls Jr. commercial, has large breasts.

Don't click on the link below if you don't want to see them bouncing around in the Pacific Ocean off Malibu.  You've been warned.

An ample handful! Charlotte McKinney gets hands on with her assets cavorting in surf wearing thong bikini

The sargassum problem

This summer in the Caribbean the beaches are getting overloaded with a profusion of Sargassum, a floating aquatic plant that normally doesn't cause much of a problem.  But when it's too much, it gets unsightly and smelly.

This not good for normally pretty and attractive Caribbean beaches.  (This is also true of humans, particularly women, but they don't normally get covered in floating aquatic vegetation.)

Meet The Seaweed Choking The Beauty Out Of The Caribbean

Here's what it looks like on Barbados (which is not where it's been the worst):

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reality is like a movie

In the case of Comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the way that the surface acts as it heats up on approach to perihelion is looking remarkably like the movie Armageddon.  You'll recall that Armageddon was about a planet-busting, civilization-ending comet headed directly toward Earth.  To rescue our planet and its denizens, NASA enjoined a crew of oil well disaster fixers led by Bruce Willis to go up and drill a hole into which a nuclear device could be placed.  Detonating the device would turn the deadly comet into a great source of meteor showers for centuries to come.

Though Armageddon was far from scientifically accurate, two aspects of what was happening on the surface of the warming nucleus are turning out to be very similar to what Rosetta is seeing on 67P.

Those two things are the apparent formation of big sinkholes as the comet stuff blasts into space:

Comet sinkholes generate jets

The sinkholes endangered the crews in Armageddon and swallowed up at least one of their platforms, as I recall.

The second thing are the powerful jets themselves.  67P proved it could fire off a massive jet just a couple of days ago.

Comet's firework display ahead of perihelion

The jet it blasted into space was so strong that it disrupted the flow of the solar wind around the comet, and could be viewed by the Rosetta cameras without increasing the gain setting to make it brighter.

The strong jet is in the middle frame of the sequence.

In the movie, being on top of a jet when it blew was a fatal mistake to other members of the oil rig astronaut world savior crew.

Nuclear isn't gone yet: DOE wants new designs

Anyone that thinks that the nuclear power industry is going to go away soon should consult with the Department of Energy, which is ponying up a cool $40 mil for new and innovative reactor designs. The DoE can see that the USA still needs nuclear power.

US Energy Department Offers $40Mln for New Nuclear Reactor Designs

"The Energy Department noted it was issuing the funding opportunity as an early step in increasing investment in nuclear advanced reactor technologies.

The funding, the Energy Department said, would support research, development and demonstration of advanced reactor concepts in promoting clean energy technologies."
 Excellent move, DoE.


Age isn't what it used to be

Brooke Burke-Charvet (43) and Alana Hamilton (70!) show that age is just a number, it certainly doesn't define either who you are and definitely not how you look.

In the "You've Got to Be Kidding Me" category:

Ageless beauty! Alana Stewart looks far younger than her 70 years as she heads to dinner in see-through lace blouse

In the "Good Lord!" category:

Silver siren! Brooke Burke-Charvet, 43, shows off her incredibly toned figure in a shimmery bikini for Malibu photoshoot

And don't forget (which is hard to do, given the Daily Mail's penchant for reminding us) that has had FOUR kids.  Truly, supermodels are not like the rest of the women in the human race.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A sonnet for August (when one thing ends, another begins)

Contemplating the nature of profound change by simple acts.

"my river wild"

I went outside my own decisions, far
from what my norms would say to be, explor-
ing unfamiliar ranges, where my bar
had once been set and now was raised; a roar
of rushing waters flowing in me when
the headstrong current carried me beyond
a point and to the brink -- a moment then
where all dimensions changed, a broken bond
as one was forged, connecting and confirm-
ing what I am and what did make me that.
I know my genes, my life, my eyes, my sperm
are still my own, and yet what had been flat
now shows a perturbation, so my name
has all its letters yet is not the same.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Rotini vs. Rontini

Public service to avoid confusion:

Rotini is a type of pasta.

Rontini (Alessandro) was a painter.

It's obviously easy to get them confused.

Lighthouse of the Week, August 10-16, 2015: Cape Egmont, New Zealand

New Zealand has a lot of coastline; it is, after all, a country compose of two main big islands.  I expected that when I looked there I would lighthouses, and I was correct.   And from the moment I started looking, my first choice was obvious.  There aren't many lighthouses with a background like the Cape Egmont Light.

The background is Mount Egmont (also known as Mount Taranaki, which is probably the preferred native name by now).  I stuck with Mount Egmont because that explains the name of the Cape Egmont light, naturally.  By either name, the volcano is one of the most spectacularly isolated volcanic peaks on the planet.   And the lighthouse is on the coast in front of it.  So a lot of the pictures of the lighthouse have the volcano in it as well.

Here's an excerpt of the description at The Lighthouse Directory (which I had been calling UNC, because that's where it is based). Full description at  Lighthouses of New Zealand:  North Island.
"1865 (relocated to this site in 1881). Active; focal plane 33 m (109 ft); white flash every 8 s. 20 m (65 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern roof is black. The original 1st order Fresnel lens, removed in 2000, is now displayed in a 2/3 replica of the lighthouse at Warea. ... Prefabricated in England by McLean, Simpson and Co., the lighthouse was first constructed on Mana Island near Wellington, but its light was confused with that of the Pencarrow Head Light. The tower was relocated to Cape Egmont in 1877, but it was not activated there until 1881."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

England wins the Ashes in astounding fashion (cricket)

Well, after losing the last cricket Ashes Test match series against Australia (in Australia) 5-0, which means they didn't win a single match, England came back and won it this time. They haven't played the last match yet, but England has one three, which means they get the little urn back.

This last match featured the first innings with Australia batting first.  England bowlers were masterful, and there were also some fantastic catches.  End result:  Australia was out with only 60 runs.

That is truly astounding.  There aren't many sports equivalents to getting beat that bad.  Maybe losing a set of tennis 6-0.   It's almost like a no-hitter in baseball.  When the normal amount of runs in an innings is like 250-400 (that's a range), 60 is fantastically low.

So, England grabbed the lead and the momentum there in a big way, and completed the match in three days (they can go 5 if necessary).   And so they won the Ashes.

England win the Ashes as Ben Stokes and Mark Wood clean up Australia tail to send sorry tourists home empty handed

Chumpville response 1 - on CO2

So this is the first of a few items devoted to the content at

Let me say at the outset I hold no ill will toward the author.  He has some obvious conceptual errors on the site, and I am providing information that addresses these errors.

As it stands, the thesis presented on has three main points.

They are:

1. That atmospheric water vapor rose in the 1970s, and this increase is the cause of observed climatic warming continuing to present.

2. The cause of the increased water vapor is increased solar activity, resulting in increased insolation and incoming shortwave radiation to the Earth's surface.

3. One result of the warming is warming ocean surface waters, which causes the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations currently observed.

I'm going to address these in reverse order, because the third claim is the simplest to show as erroneous.

There are several ways to show that the CO2 increase in the atmosphere is due to human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels for energy production.  I'm going to list just a few which I think are interconnectedly supporting;  there are more.  I expect to find a couple of Web sites that also show this and add them as links below.

Point 1:  The CO2 increase, as measured in samples of the atmosphere trapped in ice cores, begins in the mid-1800s, at the same time that the pace of industrialization (and consequently the burning of oil and coal) rapidly intensified.  There was no significant warming during the mid-1800s, and in fact the era was cool.  This was due to the tail end of the Little Ice Age, as well as a couple of major eruptions (Tambora and Krakatoa).  For the latter, the effects probably only lasted a decade at most, with effects fading with further time elapsed from the event.  But still, they did help keep things cool.

Point 2:  Oceanographers have made detailed measurements of CO2 fluxes in and out of the ocean around the world.  They generate maps like this:

The summation of these measurements is that the oceans are absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere than they are releasing.  Warm waters release CO2, cold waters absorb CO2.  This is also tied in within upwelling along the Pacific Equatorial Upwelling Zone, and downwelling and deepwater formation in both the North Atlantic and in the Southern Ocean.

Thus, the oceans are a sink and not a source for atmospheric CO2.  Ironically, were mankind not involved, this would mean a very slow reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, eventually resulting in cooler climate conditions.  Conditions have to be very special for continental glaciations, so this wouldn't necessarily be the outcome, but still, the world would be cooling off a little.  Concomitant with the absorption of atmospheric CO2 is the consequence of decreasing global ocean pH and desaturation with respect to calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

Point 3:  Without mankind, the world's carbon cycle would be approximately in balance.  I posted this on  Twitter, but it's worth looking at again. There are quite a few others, all with basically the same numbers.

If you do the math (and if you want to check the numbers, feel free to dig into the literature), the reason atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing is the human contribution.  Otherwise they'd be decreasing.  The natural fluxes are much bigger, but they're nearly balanced.  This has been used many times, but it's as if you had a big bathtub, with the drain open and the faucet on full, such that the level of the water in the tub isn't changing.  If you then added water a tablespoon at a time from the sink, the water level would increase, even though the addition by tablespoons is much, much less than the input from the tub faucet and the outgo down the drain.

Point 4:  Given all that, is there definitive evidence showing that the CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing due to fossil fuel burning?

Yes, there sure is.  It's called the Suess effect.  It's not named after the Dr. Suess that wrote those great kid's books, it's named after Hans Suess.

Let's just state it first, as given in Wikipedia:

"The Suess effect is a change in the ratio of the atmospheric concentrations of heavy isotopes of carbon (13C and 14C) by the admixture of large amounts of fossil-fuel derived CO2, which is depleted in 13CO2 and contains no 14CO2."

Can it be measured?  Yes, by looking at carbon isotope ratios in living matter and the atmosphere.

Both 14C and 13C can be examined.

Note how in all of these plots, the values start to change in the mid-1800s, at the same time as rapid industrialization and markedly increased fossil fuel consumption.

And to top it off, I just saw this plot.  It's the best illustration of the Suess effect I've ever seen. The data are again from bubbles in ice cores from the Antarctic ice cap.

Giving credit:

So, the CO2 is from human activities. It's not from the warming surface waters of the oceans.

Next up:  solar activity.

Supporting Web sites:

The IPCC Explains... Human Responsibility for Increases in CO2 and GHG Concentrations

How do we know the CO2 increase is caused by human activities?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Is that really achievable?

France, a leader in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, has decided to take drastic steps.  I doubt these goals can be achieved.  But what surprises me, given how they've shown how easy it is to have nuclear power a major part of the country's energy portfolio, is how they're moving away from it.

Doesn't make sense.

French MPs vote to halve energy use, slash nuclear dependence

"Under the new law approved by the National Assembly, nuclear energy will provide only 50 percent of France's electricity by 2025, down from 75 percent currently.

Six months ahead of the global climate conference in Paris, the legislation also calls for a 30-percent drop in the use of fossil fuels by 2030 (compared with 2012 levels), and 40-percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1990.

Renewable energy will increasingly take up the slack -- accounting for 32 percent of France's energy mix by 2030, compared with 13.7 percent three years ago.

In a bid to meet the tough new targets, parliament must produce "carbon budgets" every five years, setting emission limits for each sector of the economy.

Polluters will also face major hikes in the "carbon tax", first introduced last year, which will go up in stages from 22 euros per tonne of CO2 in 2016 to 100 euros in 2030."

Two thoughts on this.

1.  Well, a carbon tax.  We'll see how that goes.

2.  What about Areva, the world's leading nuclear energy company?

The article partly addresses that:

"Only a month ago, Hollande's office said the government would spend "as much as necessary" to save troubled nuclear group Areva, which posted a record net loss of 4.8 billion euros ($5.2 billion) last year.

Areva has faced reduced global demand since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and been hit by cost overruns and construction difficulties in the building of new reactors in Flamanville, northwestern France and in Finland."
Areva definitely needs to get back on track.

It's Premier League WAG time

Oh, thank you, Daily Mail Sports.

This guide to this year's top WAGs  (Wives And Girlfriends) of Premier League players is a very valuable research guide.

Premier League WAGS: How English football's finest other halves line up ahead of the 2015-16 season

I was already aware of several of them;  even mentioned that Ana Ivanovic was with Schweinsteiger in a recent post.  And I had resolved to say something about Ludovine Sagna (I probably still will).

Two revelations here for me:

Edurne Garcia Almagro  (David de Gea - note; reports have him at Real Madrid next week, though he was on Manchester United.  She's a major entertainment personality, singer, in Spain.)  There are other sexier pictures of her available, but I restrained myself.

Alexandra Helga Ivarsdottir (Gylfi Sigurdsson)

She's a former Miss Iceland, and very pretty.

Now, this picture is identified as her, thought I can't be sure it's her.  What the heck, it might be her.  Gylfi would know if it's her or not.  At least I hope so.

(Couldn't restrain myself.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When was the last time I posted about Miranda Kerr?

I don't think I've posted about Miranda Kerr for awhile.  That doesn't mean she's any less of an amazingly attractive and desirable woman.   So I thought this article would be a good opportunity to make amends.

In bed with Miranda! Swarovski model Kerr shows off her cheeky side as she goes braless in jewellery line's latest advertisement

She looks great, but the revelation here is her co-model, Margaret Zhang. She has got some LONG legs.  She's apparently only a part-time model (she's also a blogger and law student) so it's not nearly as easy to find pictures of her as it is of Miranda, especially those long legs, but I found one.

Sea ice extent drops below 2013 and 2014

Both climate change experts and climate change deniers (few of whom are anything close to experts) watch the Arctic sea ice extent numbers every summer with trepidation.

The experts fear, rightly, that the decline in Arctic sea ice extent is both irreversible and an unmistakable indication of a warming Earth.   There are lots of feedbacks (loss of albedo, warming waters that sunlight penetrates into, warmer land releasing methane from permafrost) that this sea ice decline can exacerbate.  Now, sea ice volume, which is also going down a lot, is probably a better indicator, but sea ice extent can be easily seen with satellites.

Well, here's what the sea ice extent looks like as of right now:

As you can see, it's now below 2013 and 2014 because of a warm July.

Now, climate change deniers fear Arctic sea ice extent precisely because of what it shows -- that the world, particularly the Arctic, is getting warmer.  It's one of the clearest indicators of that.  So that's why they loudly cheer any slight increase over the minimums that have been seen just a couple of years ago, and downplay any proximity to those minima -- which this year is approaching.  It probably won't be a new minimum, but it'll be close, and that means that nothing up north is really getting any better.

ALEC helps campaign to undermine Clean Air Rule

Damn ALEC (American Legislative Council).  They think they're so clever.

But what they're really doing is standing in the way of modern cleaner energy sources, innovation, and investment in the future.  It's what they do.  But damn them anyway.

Opponents lay groundwork for state-by-state fight over pollution curbs

"The effort by ALEC to fire up state-level resistance to the EPA’s plan was approved July 24 at a meeting in San Diego of the group’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. Members representing some of the nation’s biggest utilities, oil and gas companies and energy trade associations voted to support model legislation that brings states into the fight against the regulation."

Move to fight Obama's climate plan started early

"At a July meeting in San Diego, ALEC’s energy committee — which includes Mr. Duncan, the coal lobbyist who also worked closely with Mr. McConnell on his tactics — enacted a model bill designed to directly support state attorneys general who legally challenge the climate change plan. According to a person present at that July meeting, the bill would allow states to create funds, which could be funded by corporate donations, to support legal challenges to the climate change rules.

While it is not unusual for major corporations to sue the federal government over environmental regulations, people involved in the effort to craft a legal strategy against the climate change rules said the time, labor and coordination of the effort were unusual."

Damn ALEC.

Why was Efimova on drug suspension?

I missed that cute Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova (who I wrote about in this post), served a drug suspension.  I wondered why, as I hadn't heard about it.  Turns out she truly did take a supplement she shouldn't have, that had a banned substance in it.  I know it's tough being a world-class athlete, but as the ruling said, when you're a world-class athlete, you have to be real careful.  She lost some medals and world records, too.

Well, she's back, and she won the World Championships women's 100 meter breaststroke in an upset, catching the favorite Meilutyte in the second half of the race. Definitely made the Russian crowd happy.  And she's still real cute.  (Just about everything is Getty Images, so if you want to see her in and out of the water, click this link for a lot of pictures.)

One of my favorite swimmers, Alia Atkinson of Jamaica, was third, first swimming World Championship medal for a Jamaican ever.

Now THAT's pregnant

Model (Victoria's Secret) Anne V. (the V is for Vyalitsyna), former paramour of Maroon 5's Adam Levine, had a baby five weeks ago fathered by her current paramour Adam Cahan, and looks great post-partum, according to this Daily Mail article.

But what got me was her baby bump.  Rarely do you see the momma-to-be on the day she becomes momma, but Anne V. wasn't shy about showing us.  (I'll just link to the pic;  don't want to shock anyone).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Laughing through the tears about Republican climate stances

Sad but terrifyingly true -- and funny while being tragic.

This does NOT mean I'm entirely comfortable with Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign. But it's a pretty great parody of the level of idiocy demonstrated by many of the Republican candidate clowns.

and they are climate a**holes

While President Obama is revealing a plan to address climate change -- and yes, we can be one of the international leaders on addressing this critical issue -- the Republicans, as is their usual way, are being, well,

A**HOLES.  Stupid moronic A**HOLES, as it were.

As reported by Greg Sargent:

Get ready for another ideological death struggle, this time over climate

This is why:
"Indeed, Congressional Republicans are encouraging GOP governors to resist the new rule with the explicit purpose of undermining the chances of getting an international climate deal by sowing doubts as to whether the U.S. can meet its own pledges."

Sickening, nauseating, and distressing.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


This is Alena Shishkova, and she's quite a sight.

There's more to this sight to be revealed shortly.

Something's missing

On the first day of the FINA World Swimming Champions in Kazan (hence their moniker, Kazan 2015 -- Kazan happens to be in Russia, in Tartarstan, to be exact), the audience was looking for something in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay.  Here are the team's in the final, from Lanes 1-8:


What's missing?  Well, the USA, obviously.  (But Germany is missing, too.)  It looks like the days of swimming a couple of alternates in the prelims are over.

Happily, Jeanette Ottesen, who got hurt in a road rage incident (I wrote about that here, in this article) is still swimming fast, but not fast enough to catch Sara Sjostrom, it looks like.  Sjostrom set a WR in the semifinals, with Ottesen about 1.5 seconds back.  So Ottesen looks in decent shape for a medal in this event, just not of the golden color.

Hopefully the USA can get gold out of swimmers that are not named Ledecky (she won the 400 rather handily).

Lighthouse of the Week, August 2-8, 2015: Faro di Piave, Italy

On the coast of the Adriatic Sea, near Venice, is the Lido Beach.  North of the famous Lido is the Lido di Jesolo,  There are lighthouses on the Lido di Jesolo.  One of them is the Faro di Piave.

Click on this to see where it is.

It's a black-and-white stripe tower, quite tall, and quite prominent.

UNC says:

"1950 (station established 1853). Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 48 m (157 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 3-story harbor control building. Lighthouse painted with gray and white horizontal bands.

The building at the base of the lighthouse is the harbor master's office for Venice. The original lighthouse was destroyed by German troops during World War II. Located on the west side of the Sile River entrance, about 11 km (7 mi) east of the Porto di Lido."
Here are four good pictures of it:

by Giacomo Lazzarini