Monday, September 28, 2015

Too long for a bumper sticker

Obviously there are too many words in the following to fit on a bumper sticker, but if I could, I'd put this on my car.
"The Boehner era has been one in which Republicans have accepted no responsibility for helping to govern the country, in which they have opposed anything and everything the president proposes.

What’s more, it has been an era of budget blackmail, in which threats that Republicans will shut down the government or push it into default unless they get their way have become standard operating procedure."
From Paul Krugman's op-ed entitled "The Blackmail Caucus, a.k.a. The Republican Party".

Another sonnet: "the specialest"

Another sonnet.  I have to increase my pace, because these are always fun.

the specialest

At times it seemed that my horizons were
unbounded -- possibilities immense
and beckoning, as if my strengths were far
enhanced, creating an ingrained intense
conception of my brilliance. Yet the star
I followed shone with what I knew was her
innate spectacularity -- inside
and outward, naked or engarbed, the same
to all of those who worshiped her, so when
by fortune we commingled in a flame
of passion, I engaged with what all men
desire -- an affirmation of my pride
within her joy, delivered and received,
contained between the cries that we believed.

Lighthouse of the Week, Sep. 27-Oct. 3, 2015: Sušac, Croatia

Because Croatia is chock-a-block with lighthouses, I returned there this week.  I've already seen another one for next week, too.

The Sušac lighthouse has a very prominent siting, and you can stay in the lighthouse on vacation. Just be careful when you walk out the front door for a mornings stroll.

Description, excerpted from the Lighthouse Directory:

"1878. Active; focal plane 94 m (308 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 20 m (66 ft) square cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery centered on a 2-story stone keeper's house.  Lighthouse is unpainted white stone, lantern painted white. Sušac (formerly called Cazza) is a  rugged, uninhabited island about 20 km (13 mi) west of Lastovo and a similar distance southwest  of Korčula. Located on heights at the southwestern end of the island."
First the maps:  a map of Croatia, and then a lighthouse-locator map with a few other names and places with lighthouses.  The maps are followed by three pictures.

They even put this one on a stamp!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Maybe not the best planning

Back when I heard that Morena Baccarin was sadly divorcing her husband-for-not-very-long and father of her child, I facetiously asked if I could get her phone number and ask her out on a date.  The best kind of date.

Too late for that.

Since that post was in July, it was only about two months ago.  And it turns out that she wasn't wasting anytime getting back in the romance game, as she's now three (3!) months pregnant with Gotham costar Benjamin McKenzie's baby.

Now, as a true romantic, I've got to admire the clear expression of love and passion that this coupling and conception evinces.  But with the divorce not even finalized (at least as far as I know right now), wouldn't have been a little more circumspect to wait for the pregnancy stage of the relationship until after that's completed?  I mean, heat of the moment and all that, yes, but this is the 21st century.  There are ways of keeping the boys off the girl.

Still, I hope they're happy.  And Ben, tip of the hat.  She's gorgeous.  I hope the babymaking was fun (it sure should've been).

Can Boehner seize his 'Profiles in Courage' moment?

The Washington Post editorial board is urging House Speaker John Boehner to take the steps necessary to rebuke the hard-right wing of his party.

John Boehner must rein in the GOP caucus

You should read it;  that's why I linked to it, if you enjoy reading my little corner of the Internet.

My take is this:  to do what they urge him to do -- which is, pass a budget with Democratic votes, if necessary -- takes political courage.  The Post editorialists note the risk.  He might lose his Speakership.  (I don't know who they'd get that could do better and that they'd like better, but that's their problem.)   I think the chances are remote that he would lose it, but that's the risk he has to be willing to accept.

If he does, he'll put the jerks on the right wing in their place.  As is their wont, they may throw a few hissy fits, but they deserve to be treated like pariahs.  As the editorial notes, what they've been doing and what they apparently plan to keep doing is to keep trying these futile grandstand plays, which are bad for the country and bad for the Republican Party.  I won't shed tears for the GOP, but I would like this country to be approximately functional.

So, Mr. Speaker, take the chance.  Pass a budget.  Do the right thing.

Mystics exit in first round

Welcome to Washington D.C., where teams seem capable of making the playoffs, but never seem to play for championships.


Charles, Liberty beat Mystics 79-74 to reach East finals

Two things.  One, the Mystics accomplished this without having a gen-yoo-wine superstar.  That's actually pretty good.

Two, at least the Baltimore Ravens have won a couple of Super Bowls.  Those of us living in the greater Washington-Baltimore metroplex can thus at least remember what it's like to have a championship team. But it does seem that if "Washington" is on the jersey, "Washington" is NOT on the trophy.

Fast and furious

There are some pieces of symphonic music that move FAST.  (Presto furiouso, I think the musical term is.)

Here are some of the faster pieces, with links to a YouTube video of their performance.

Five of the "fastest" symphonic pieces:

Shostakovich "Festive Overture"

Rimsky-Korsakov "Flight of the Bumblebee"

Tchaikovsky, conclusion of "1812 Overture"

Rossini, conclusion of "William Tell Overture"

Saint-Saens, Bacchanale from "Samson and Delilah"

There's more in this category; this obviously had a majority of Russian composers.

Second five:

Holst, "Mercury, the Winged Messenger" from "The Planets"

John Philip Sousa, conclusion of "The Stars and Stripes Forever"

Khachaturian, "Sabre Dance"

Offenbach, "Can Can Music"

Bizet, "Farandole" from "L'Arlesienne Suite Number 2"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is the Iran nuclear agreement a good thing, or not?

I'll say right up top here that I don't like the part of the Iran nuclear agreement where it would take 24 days to get in and make a "surprise" inspection.  In Olympic sports, when the drug testers show up at your door, you pee in the cup right away, or you get a suspension.  (When drug cheat Irish swimmer Michelle Smith DIDN'T do this, she got in trouble, rightfully.)

But overall, it seemed like the Allies were basically going to drop the sanctions on Iran, agreement or not, which would be bad if there wasn't an agreement.  So after what seemed to be arduous and difficult negotiations, an agreement was reached.

Now, I think many of the Republicans in Congress couldn't vote for anything Obama did, even if it was spectacularly good.  So their opposition is not a surprise.  But because it is a hard-fought compromise, it's bound to have some sticky points.  So I wanted to see what other people in power said about the agreement.  It seems like most of them are pretty satisfied by it.

Statement by French President Hollande about the Iran nuclear agreement
THE PRESIDENT – "A very important agreement was signed last night. The world really is moving forward. There had been negotiations for 12 years – 12 years. And now, at last, there’s a successful outcome. France was very firm in this negotiation and Laurent Fabius conducted it very rigorously and also very firmly. What was my concern? To avoid nuclear proliferation. What does nuclear proliferation mean? It means that Iran could have acquired nuclear weapons. If Iran acquired nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries would also want to acquire nuclear weapons. This would be a risk for the whole planet. So Iran had to be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons. Now, Iran has just agreed to reduce its capacities, its centrifuges.

The second important thing, second objective: we had to be able to verify, because it’s too easy to say “I’m giving up, but you can’t enter my territory to verify”. So inspections will be carried out.

The third objective I and Laurent Fabius had in this negotiation was for us to be able, certainly, to lift the sanctions – because there are sanctions against Iran –, but [also] restore them if there were the slightest breach. (…) So, Iran won’t have access to nuclear weapons – first point. We’ll be able to verify. If there are breaches, we’ll be able to restore the sanctions."

British Prime Minister David Cameron similarly praised the deal, saying that it "secures our fundamental aim -- to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon -- and that will help to make our world a safer place."

"There is a real opportunity for Iran to benefit from this agreement in terms of its economy," Cameron added, "but this will only happen if Iran delivers on all the agreed actions required to fully address international concerns about its program."

"In a joint statement, more than 70 of the world’s leading nuclear non-proliferation specialists outline why the JCPOA “is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear non-proliferation efforts.”

The non-proliferation specialists’ statement, organised by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, point out that the July 14 agreement, “ … advances the security interests of the P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, their allies and partners in the Middle East, and the international community.”

The joint statement is endorsed by former U.S. nuclear negotiators, former senior U.S. non-proliferation officials, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Iran, and leading nuclear specialists from the United States and around the globe."

None of that sounds bad. In fact, it sounds quite good. But there's something else.

A lot has been made about the fact that this agreement results in the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.  The people against that say that this will allow Iran to use its restored economic stability and revenue to foment jihad fervor against the U.S. in the Middle East.  Maybe.  But history has shown us that an oppressed, deprived population, where there is a clear economic imbalance relative to those in power, is dangerous (think French Revolution).  The people in Iran mainly want the lifting of the sanctions so that they can have a return to a much more normal (dare I say Western) lifestyle.  Now, it's possible that the Iranian leadership can maintain the jihadist fervor when their people's lives are relatively comfortable, but it's a lot harder.  That's because it's much easier to perceive as an enemy a country or group who is clearly economically advantaged (i.e. wealthy) compared to you than if the other side is on the same level, economically.  The leaders can claim they're being oppressed in the former case, but that argument does not carry nearly as much weight in the latter case.

Plus, do we really think the people would accept the potential destruction of their country, and the definite re-imposition of harsh economic sanctions, if 10+ years from now the Iranian leaders start up their nuclear program?  Would they really want the danger of being attacked if they even so much as talked about dropping a nuke on Israel?   Especially after a decade of good economic conditions, and probably an improving standard of living?

I sure don't think so.  I think that in 10 years the people of Iran would not want any disruption of a stable economic situation.  I think they would resist strongly the potential imposition of sanctions again, and a return to conditions much like they've been experiencing for the past several years. Especially if their "enemies" have been helping to improve their economy, technology, and health.

So don't think it's nearly as bad as the Republicans say it is.  (In fact, I'm very sure it isn't nearly as bad as the Republicans say it is.)  I know it would be hard for them to say anything good about an Obama administration accomplishment of this significance.  But after this admittedly brief analysis, I think, as numerous much more skilled diplomats, negotiators, and nuclear proliferation specialists have stated, that it is a good, effective, useful agreement that increases the safety of the world.

I sure hope I'm right about that.

Maybe we'd pay more attention to the news

I just had to note this article about this new Albanian TV reporter, named Enki Bracaj, that apparently got her job via audition with her blouse unbuttoned.  And with what she possessed under the blouse, this apparentlyo resulted in an immediate job offer from the most-likely-male, most-likely-heterosexual news studio heads.   (According to the Daily Mail secondary headline, the bosses were "impressed" with her audition.  I'll bet they were.)

That's one way to make headlines! Wannabe TV reporter becomes a huge hit in Albania after wearing an open blouse for her screen test... and immediately gets the job

As I implied in the headline, I imagine that Albanian men will now pay a lot more attention to the TV news broadcast.  The article states that the show she appears in is a ratings hit.  I think the reasons for that are obvious.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, September 20-26, 2015: Sestrica, Croatia

I searched on "Adriatic lighthouses", and the ones that showed up first were in Croatia.  Lots of them, many of them very striking.  As for New Zealand, I think I'll feature a few from here.

First up is the Sestrica light on the long island of Dogi Otok.  I've got a map below.   But if you really want to see where it is, click this link and then zoom out.    In the map below, Dogi Otok is the longest island;  the little island where the lighthouse is located is about 2/3 of the way south, just where the thin blue line crosses it.

Here's a description of it from the Lighthouse Directory.
1876. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); white flash every 8 s. 26 m (85 ft) cast iron tower with lantern, gallery, and eight supporting struts, mounted on a stone base in front of a 2-story masonry keeper's house. Tower painted with red and white spiral stripes; lantern painted white. Staffed weather station. ... it appears to be of French design. Located on a small island off the southeastern end of Dugi Otok, marking the start of the twisting channel around the end of the island.
Here are some pictures of the Sestrica lighthouse.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Visit Pluto now

If you're into planetary astronomy, you've probably seen this by now.  If you haven't, it's pretty amazing.  And there's much more to come, apparently, as New Horizons is going to be sending back data for several weeks.  But meanwhile, using what's been sent so far, a very cool video has been made.  And Pluto is certainly not a featureless cold ice ball.

Works for me

Two-time Bachelorette runner-up Nick Viall did get a couple of things out of his two appearances as a husband candidate.  Namely, a chance to bed the Bachelorettes before they picked the other guy.  And he took those chances full-heartedly.  So even if he didn't get the girl in the end, he got the girl on the way there.  Both times.

Well, he apparently isn't one to worry about lost loves.  He had a hot date at a recent appearance at New York Fashion Week.

Bachelorette runner-up Nick Viall gets amorous at New York party as he flaunts new date... model Kelly Thomas

There are a couple of nice pictures of her in the article.  Another one is below.  Definitely a cutie.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

we cannot tell the world

A sonnet for September. 

we cannot tell the world

The truth we speak in private never needs
a test of honesty; for in the place
where we expose our hopes and trust, our deeds
reveal our nature more than words in space

could ever mean. There is no less required
to demonstrate acuity and loy-
alty; we simply give where we're desired,
displaying both the pleasure and the joy

that comes with paired totality, the bent
and lust and definition of our nights,
believing what we say and do has lent
reality enhancement -- so our sights

behold what we provide and proffer, real
because it is the height of what we feel.

Alex Ovechkin is engaged to her

The Washington Capitals hockey team may not know how to get to a Stanley Cup final, but they are definitely doing very well in the WAG (wives and girlfriends) category.

We all should know by now that Brooks Laich of the Capitals is engaged to the fabulously talented, fabulously gorgeous Julianne Hough.  And defenseman John Carlson just had a child with this lovely lass, Gina, shown on her wedding day in her wedding dress.  Defenseman Dmitry Orlov may have been out last year recovering from a broken wrist, but hopefully he hasn't broken up with his Russian girlfriend, Varvara Amosova.

Superstar Alex Ovechkin had been engaged to a near-superstar, tennis pro Maria Kirilenko (hot enough to be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue athlete section), but they broke up and she rather quickly got engaged, married, and pregnant.  She seems just fine.

Alex didn't seem to mourn that lost relationship for long.  He found a Russian model girlfriend, and they just announced their engagement.

Her name is Nastya Shubskaya.

She's spectacular.  She might not have the Hollywood and Broadway incandescence of Julianne Hough, but she's got plenty of Russian model hotness to go around.

(I think she always tilts her head in the same direction in photographs.)

The failing oceans

It's tough being a realist.  But I am that.  And I am sadly realistic about the declining state of the world's ecosystems.  Climate change or not, the sheer numbers and dominance of humans everywhere in the world is wreaking a slow havoc with the ever-shrinking natural world.  We are deforesting, desertifying, urbanizing, industrializing, depopulating, destroying, and overconsuming.

The truth of this is everywhere, and over and over and over again there are reports that emphasize it.  We are on a slippery increasing slope, and we don't know where the edge is, over which we can fall with no hope of rescue.  It's a sad state for the world to be in.  I wish there was a world government that could make the decisions nations independently can't make.  I wish there were less people, without wanting harm to befall any of those now living.  I wish we could reverse course, much like the captain of the Titanic probably wished he would have take a more southerly route -- he likely wishing this after realizing that unsinkable in the case of his ship was unattainable.

The most recent reason for my soberment is the report on the state of the world's marine life, which simply stated is roughly half by numbers than what it was in 1970.  And that's an average -- some of the more popular and valuable denizens near the top of the food chain are down in population by 75%, or more.

What are we to do?  What is the clarion call to action?  I despair that anything can be done globally, due to the vested and commercial interests, from the sushi markets in Japan to the Catch of the Day at Red Lobster.

There are small islands of hope, like the nearly universal abandonment of shark finning, and the establishment recently of large marine reserves.  Enough?  No.  We need more, faster, and bigger, action on all fronts, universal global commitment to the health of the oceans.

I don't think it can happen.  I wish I could do more, myself, in the way of effective action.  I haven't eaten a "wild" fish in a long, long time.  But I'm only one person.

And eat more lionfish. Unfortunately, they AREN'T declining.

Failing fisheries and poor ocean health starving human food supply
"The updated study of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish shows that populations have been reduced on average by half globally in the last four decades, with some fish declining by close to 75 percent. The latest findings spell trouble for all nations, especially people in the developing world. ...

Adding to the crisis of falling fish populations, the report shows steep declines in coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses that support fish species and provide valuable services to people. Over one-third of fish tracked by the report rely on coral reefs, and these species show a dangerous decline of 34 per cent between 1979 and 2010. ...

The Living Blue Planet Report details opportunities for governments, businesses and communities to secure a living ocean. Important measures to preserve ocean resources include preserving and rebuilding natural marine capital, wiser consumption and prioritizing sustainability."

Living Blue Planet 2015 Report

I heart Analeigh Tipton

Ever since I saw her on the canceled-too-soon "Hung", I've been enamored a bit of Analeigh Tipton.  She has a winsome cuteness combined with a long lovely, just curvy enough body.  She's not classically pretty, but she's very appealing, especially her huge eyes.  And her adorability seems pretty innate.  She caught my eye in "Lucy", and she did a creditable job in the romcom "Two Night Stand", including a stirring love scene.  She also took 3rd on America's Top Model, but I think her modeling days are done.  She's a former figure skater too, lending her a leggy athleticism.

Good package.

Anyway, I saw this Daily Mail article about a new movie she's in with Ryan Reynolds.  And she looks very glam on the red carpet.  Not sure I love the hair, but I adore the dress.  And what's wearing it.

Dapper Ryan Reynolds is suited and booted as he joins glamorous co-star Analeigh Tipton at Toronto Film Festival premiere of Mississippi Grind

Below are a couple of Tipton samples.

Definitely can model

Pretty in "Two Night Stand"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, September 13-19, 2015: Port George, Nova Scotia, Canada

On Nova Scotia, the lighthouse that gets most of the publicity and most of the tourist shots is at Peggy's Point.  So I thought for a change of pace I'd go with the humble roadside Port George lighthouse.

The Marinas page for the Port George Lighthouse, which is where I got the first picture from, has basic info, including a zoomable map.  It's on the northwest side of the island (the Bay of Fundy coast), just about in the middle of the island.

Lighthouse Friends page:  Port George, NS  (pretty simple)

Below are two pictures of it.  Because it so humble and unassuming, and also far from the main population centers on the island, I don't think that it's photographed nearly as much as the more famous lighthouses on Nova Scotia.

Abbott is OUT; Harper next?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia got summarily ousted from his position in an internal (to the party) leadership change, replaced by Malcolm Turnbull.

But why??  WHY??

Commentary:  A potent denier, denied

"Turnbull is expected to ratchet down his successor’s belligerence on multiple political fronts, notably Abbott’s stern resistance to acknowledge human-caused climate change."

"With Abbott on the sidelines, Canada’s Stephen Harper stands out more boldly as a head of state accused of thwarting climate action."

'Harper’s nine-year run as Prime Minister could come to an end on October 19 [not a day too soon], when federal elections will pit his Conservative Party against strong challenges from two rivals. As of Monday, polling data for CTV and the Globe and Mail showed a virtual dead heat between the Conservatives, Liberals and the New Democratic Party."

"A coalition government between the Liberals and NDP would drastically alter Canadian policy on climate and energy." ...

"The Harper legacy also includes a veritable purge on government science, slashing marine and Arctic research, forcing a pioneering freshwater research facility to seek a private/provincial bailout, and muzzling science experts from contacting the media and public. Last month, an Environment Canada scientist was suspended for putting an anti-Harper protest song on YouTube."

This turnaround might open the eyes of some of the Republican candidates. They'd be suddenly and clearly on the fringes of the climate change issue.

And if I could personally kick Stephen Harper to the curb, I'd be glad to.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chumpville response 3 - the measurement argument

Now on to Part 2.

Mr. Chumpville basically has two points. One is that the 13C/12C measurement is a very small number. Well, he cites Peedee Belemnite and he also cites mass spectrometry. That's because, due to the importance of determining isotope ratios for a wide variety of geochemical pursuits, the scientists who do this are quite specialized and the instruments they use are very, very accurate. They need to be. In fact, using mass spectrometry, it's possible to use 14C to date materials back to about 50,000 years old -- when theoretically there's only about 3 atoms of 14C left.

So, yes, it's a small number. Isotope geochemistry specializes in making very precise measurements of very small numbers.

But... do we rely on one measurement of the Suess effect, by one lab, and for one material? No, of course not. Many different labs have done it, on many different materials, and their results show the same thing. The Suess effect, starting when industrialization got going, and increasing as more and more CO2 went into the atmosphere.

Should you take my word for it? No. Look at the graphs. And I've got a few. They are below.

Also, Mr. Chumpville would like to have measurements verifying that fossil fuels are depleted in 13C. OK, let's start with the little graph below, showing where fossil fuels should fall (I assume that the range is an amalgamation of measurements that have been made).

And then I offer this abstract. Is 114 petroleum samples sufficient?

Hydrogen and carbon isotopes of petroleum and related organic matter

"D/H and 13C/12C ratios were measured for 114 petroleum samples and for several samples of related organic matter. δD of crude oil ranges from −85 to −181‰, except for one distillate (−250‰) from the Kenai gas field; δ13C of crude oil ranges from −23.3 to −32.5‰,"

So I feel pretty confident in the 13C/12C ratio for fossil fuels shown in the first plot.

So, Mr. Chumpville, take a look at the graphs below. The Suess effect is real, and well-measured, and independently verified, and it is powerful supporting evidence for the addition of large amounts of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere, which is the main/simplest/best explanation for the increasing trend of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Chumpville Response 2 - the philosophical argument

I'm going to address Mr. Chumpville two ways. The first way is to look at the issue of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations from the perspective of Occam's Razor. As a reminder, Occam's Razor indicates that if there are two (or more) differing explanations as the cause of a particular observed phenomenon, then the simplest explanation is preferable. Note one thing about Occam's Razor, though - the explanations have to cover all of the data pertaining to the phenomenon. Not just part of it, ALL of it.

So, to begin. In the mid-1800s, civilization began to industrialize in earnest. 'Industrialization' means more manufacturing, and more manufacturing means more energy usage. Fossil fuels were vital for this, powering the factories and the trains and the steamboats first, and after a couple of decades, providing power for electricity.

I seriously doubt Mr. Chumpville would dispute that industrialization accelerated in the mid-1800s, and this was accompanied by significantly increasing consumption of fossil fuels for energy production.

So what would be a result of this? Well, it's again obvious that burning of fossil fuels produces CO2. Given that this byproduct was released to the atmosphere, a simple prediction would be that an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations would accompany industrialization. Since industrialization picked up steam (so to speak) in the mid-1800s, it would be expected that if it were possible to measure atmospheric CO2 concentrations from about that time, and to regularly sample the atmosphere and measure the CO2 concentration, an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be observable due to the increasing amounts of CO2 released to the atmosphere by the increasing amount of industrial activity.

Since atmospheric air is trapped in bubbles in ice sheets and glaciers, and because it is possible to accurately date the location of the ice layers in such formations, the bubbles trapped in ice provide regular samples of the atmosphere. So, when the concentrations of CO2 in the air trapped in the bubbles are measured, and then the concentrations are plotted over time, the results show an increasing trend in atmospheric CO2 concentrations commencing essentially simultaneously with the rapidly increasing industrialization in the mid-1800s. Which is simple. And which is what was expected.

Famously, starting about 1958, atmospheric CO2 concentrations began to be measured directly at Mauna Loa (but also note that there are other locations where this has been done, just not for as long as at Mauna Loa). Mr. Chumpville objects to this because he says that the ice cores and the Mauna Loa station are at two different altitudes. But remarkably, the scientists don't have a problem with this. A good way to check to see if your method works is to compare it to something else done a different way. So when the ice core bubble air CO2 concentrations from 1958 are compared to the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 measurement from 1958, the two values are very close. This kind of double checking makes scientists happy.

But still - how do they know for sure that the increasing atmospheric CO2 is from fossil fuels? Well, they looked at the isotopes of carbon in the fossil fuels (yes, they did) and they discovered a couple of things. One, there isn't any radioactive 14C, because the fossil fuels are much too old for there to be any 14C left. Two, the amount of the stable isotope 13C is less in the fossil fuels than in modern carbon reservoirs on Earth.

Sooo... the next prediction is that the Suess effect would be observed, essentially that there would be a reduction in the atmospheric 14C concentration, and a change in the ratio of 13C/12C (12C being the common C isotope) due to the burning of fossil fuels and the increasing amount of CO2 from them in the atmosphere, differing from the natural cycle.

And the Suess effect is observed. And not in just one material, but in many different ones: tree rings, corals, marine sponges, and carbonate cave formations. (Scientists like to make independent observations that can either add supporting evidence or provide countering evidence to a prevailing hypothesis.)

And guess what? Not only is the Suess effect observed, it observably commences at just about the same time as the industrialization of the world, and at just about the same time that atmospheric CO2 concetrations trapped in ice bubbles are also observed as starting to increase.

In the most basic terms:

1. The world industrializes.

2. As the world industrializes, more fossil fuels are burned for energy.

3. Increasing fossil fuel consumption releases increasing amounts of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere.

4. Samples of the atmosphere collected over time show atmospheric CO2 increasing, and the increase begins at the same time that industrialization rapidly accelerated.

5. The Suess effect, resulting from isotopic dilution of both 14C and 13C in Earth's atmosphere, is observed in different materials, and the Suess effect is also observed commencing at the same time as rapid industrialization and and at the same time that ice bubble air shows increasing CO2 concentrations.

Philosophically, the way that scientific evidence is used to support the validity of a particular explanation, and with the addition of Occam's Razor: to whit, that this cause-and-effect is fundamentally the simplest way to explain it -- it is a nearly irrefutable reality that increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations are caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Part II will be about what Mr. Chumpville said regarding the Suess effect.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Best picture of Occator Crater yet

Don't know what Occator Crater is?  Think that it's a rule about simplicity and explanatory power in scientific analyses?  No, it's the crater on Ceres with the very bright white spots that still possess a composition unidentified by science.  Not for long, though.   The chemical measurements from Dawn will arrive soon.  So take a look at the amazing picture and then read the article, and it's possible to make the final predictions before we find out.

Ceres' bright spots seen in striking new detail:

Halep gets past Azarenka at U.S. Open

Yes, Serena vs. Venus got all the headlines, and it was a pretty good match, but it was never really in doubt. (OK, well maybe at the end of the second set it was.)   But still, Serena did what Serena does -- she won.  She's two matches away from the calendar Slam, and her next opponent isn't even seeded.  That doesn't mean a great upset couldn't happen, but I sure wouldn't put much money on it happening.

On the other hand, Victoria Azarenka vs. Simona Halep was very much in doubt.  I couldn't watch live, so the next best thing was to read the recap in the Guardian.  Start at the bottom !

U.S. Open quarterfinals:  Simona Halep v. Victoria Azarenka

Halep next faces Panetta, who is seeded.  Not sure what could happen there, but if Halep feels OK, it will probably be fine to get her through to the finals, likely where she'll meet up with Serena.  That's a daunting challenge, but as I noted in an earlier post, Halep trounced Serena in the group stage of the WTA championships late last year (but not the final, even though the final was pretty close).  So, if Serena is off a bit and Halep is totally on, it could be interesting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Whatever happened to Kelly Packard?

I actually thought I might have done this before; but it turns out I didn't. Anyway, as is my wont, I got to wondering (wontering?) what sweet little Baywatch babe Kelly Packard was doing now. It turns out I missed her last two TV appearances, which were on Celebrity Wife Swap last year, and just this year a Lifetime movie ("Stalked by My Neighbor", of course). Turns out she also converted to Mormonism. And her main occupation apparently has been raising four children. From what I can tell, she's a very good-looking mother of four kids.

Kelly Packard (Hollywood Pro podcast)

Some pics from Celebrity Wife Swap:

And as is also my wont, I must note that baby-making with Kelly is likely to have been a masculinely enjoyable activity for her fortunate spouse.  Which could explain the four kids.

Remember: it's Republicans that shut down the government

As we approach the end of FY 2015, we are also approaching another potential (and useless) government shutdown. It's looming now because of conflict over Planned Parenthood funding or not (totally a Republican schmissue), ending sequester cuts (which they caused in the first place because they wouldn't budge on a debt ceiling rise), and pissed-offedness about not being able to stop the Iran nuclear weapons pact. The last is particularly galling because they've made it an issue mainly because it would mark a major Obama foreign policy success. The other alternative is WAR, people. The allies were part of this, and if we didn't go along, they were just going to go ahead and lift sanctions anyway, and they probably would have done that with no nuclear deal in place. The ally diplomats have told several Senators that there's no point in even thinking a better deal could be negotiated by returning to the table, because there's no table to go back to. And one measure of how decent this deal is: conservative Iranians don't like it either!

So, as we approach Shutdown Eve, remember and repeat:

It's the Republicans' fault. Always is, every time.

Supporting links:

Meet the Donald Trump of the House of Representatives
"That sentiment could make for a messy fall on Capitol Hill. Conservatives in recent weeks have made their demands of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Oppose the Iran deal by any means necessary. Don’t capitulate to Democratic demands to boost federal spending. And, above all, don’t fund Planned Parenthood past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year."
Countdown to shutdown begins
“Many of us who were here in 2013 believe that the shutdown was a disaster for our country and have no desire to see that repeated,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a key Senate GOP moderate, said Tuesday. “There obviously are new members and quite a few new members who didn’t go through that learning experience but for those of us who did, I think it has an impact on how people approach the prospect of a shutdown.”

Obama Vows Not To Sign A Budget Bill That Doesn't Fix Sequestration
"The federal budget plan is ultimately just a set of guidelines within which congressional appropriators are asked to operate. But considering the vast differences in approach, it is difficult to see the pathway for bipartisan agreement. Lack of agreement on a future path raises the likelihood that lawmakers would simply pass a continuing resolution in order to keep the government open. Should that happen, sequestration would return on Oct. 1. Since the president has now said he won't sign a bill that allows sequestration to return, it would raise the possibility of another government shutdown."
Yikes. Put on your hard hats, rocks will be flyin'.

Halep survives vs. Lisicki

Just a couple of days ago, while posting about Caroline Wozniacki, I noted that Simona Halep at her best might be able to challenge Serena if they meet up at this year's U.S. Open. Well, after yesterday (Labor Day) in her match against Sabine Lisicki, Halep was not at her best and barely got through, and also was fighting injuries, she got her thigh taped and her ankle didn't seem too happy, either. Next up for her is the formidable Victoria Azarenka. Simona is going to have to recover quickly and play significantly better to beat her and move on.

Here she is, trying hard, but also taped, vs. Lisicki :

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, September 6-12, 2015: Point Atkinson Light, British Columbia, Canada

I think the Port Atkinson Light is very similar to the famous Portland Head Light of Portland, Maine.  That would be, a famous lighthouse easy to access and seen by numerous visitors, because of its visibility and nearness to the great city of Vancouver.

Also, it's located in Lighthouse Park, which makes it very easy to find.

Here's what Lighthouse Friends has to say about it in the historical sense:

Point Atkinson, BC

I'm sure it has been photographed thousands of times, but below are four different views of it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A little late, but she still won

I didn't have a chance to note that my favorite track-and-field athlete still running, Allyson Felix, won the 400-meter at the World Championships convincingly.  It was also notable because she became the first women to win both the 200m and 400m at the Worlds.

The article linked below has a video of the event, in case you missed it.

Allyson Felix wins 400m, breaks U.S. record for Worlds medals; Rio preview?

Undangerous Prediction doesn't work for Woz

I tried to help Caroline Wozniacki this year with an Undangerous Prediction that she would make the semifinals in at least one Grand Slam tournament this year.

With her loss in the second round at the U.S. Open (and she had four match points to boot), she didn't make this Undangerous Prediction come true.  Better luck next year, Caro.  I think that you've still got a Grand Slam title in your future.   It would help if Serena Williams reaches the end of her career soon.

Meanwhile, back at the U.S. Open, I am hoping that Simona Halep plays another match of her life in the finals -- against Serena.  She did this once before when she walloped Serena 6-0, 6-2 in the group round of the WTA last year -- and only a couple of weeks ago went to 7-6 (i.e. in a tiebreaker) in the second set of the Western and Southern Open.  So at times Halep is capable of giving Serena trouble.  If Halep makes the finals against Serena, that would be a great time to give her a LOAD of trouble.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Equal population states?

I found out about the map at the link below from this Washington Post article:

How so many of the world's people live in so little of its space

The map of interest, totally speculative, was a map in which each of the 50 states has the same population.   I wish I could see a closeup of the East Coast;  I can't figure out where Washington, Baltimore, and the Washington/Baltimore suburban areas shake out.   The names of the states are pretty cool. (But from whence deriveth "Firelands"?  It says historical/ecological regions.)

Electoral college reform (fifty states with equal population)

Sequel to a legend

Found out there's going to be a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, coming out in December.  I checked out IMdB's page on it:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - The Green Legend

Interesting casting tidbits here:  Michelle Yeoh returns in the same role she played in the first movie.  And Jason Scott Lee, who acted as both Bruce Lee and Mowgli, and who for awhile was living a somewhat hermetic life on the Big Island of Hawaii, is also in it.

MK magic

I realized the other day that three of the world's current most outstanding beauties (Caucasian category) all have the initials "MK".

That would be:

- Michelle Keegan

- Miranda Kerr

- Minka Kelly  (see here for more on her recently)

So I contemplated other "MKs" that might support this particular set of initials as being particularly noteworthy.  Now, I also realized that this particular exercise could be done with just about any set of initials, but because the aforementioned trio are three of my favorites, I'm going with MK.

Here's some others:

Mollie King
Most famous for being a member of the group The Saturdays.   And a looker.

Mila Kunis

Actress, hottie, married to Ashton Kutcher, they had a child together recently.

Maria Kirilenko (
Pretty good tennis player, was Alex Ovechkin's girlfriend, but they broke up, she got married, just had a baby.  Also in Sports Illustrated as an athlete in a swimsuit.

Mia Kirshner

Canadian actress:  L Word, Vampire Diaries, 24, Defiance

Megyn Kelly

Fox News anchorwoman.  I don't agree with her politics and certainly not those of her network, but she is pretty.

Addendum: I checked to see if there were any Playboy Playmates with the initials "MK". My assessment didn't find any. There were two high quality ones with the initials "KM" -- Kym Malin and Kelly Monaco. Also, some fine MJs: Marketa Janska, Mardi Jacquet, Marlene Janssen;  and a few MLs, like Marilyn Lange, Monica Leigh, and Mei-Ling Lam.

And there were several with the initials MC, which made me wonder what the most common (ha) set of Playmate initials is.  That's a bit of research I'll have to save for later.

But no MKs.  Strange.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Deal set for new UK nuke plant

According to Nuclear Power Daily, the French nuclear energy company EDF is set for a $25 billion dollar deal to build a new nuclear power station in the UK.

That's a good chunk of money.  But it is essentially a long-term investment, and an important one, as the world moves toward a low-carbon, then a no-carbon, energy generating future.

EDF deal for new UK nuclear plant to be signed in October: press

"Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has reached an agreement with EDF to develop the Hinkley nuclear power plant in southwest England, and politicians are set to approve the deal when parliament reconvenes in September, according to The Guardian."

China is going to have about a 40% stake in the plant, and it's set to generate about 7% of Britain's total electricity requirements (which is impressive).

OK, now just get into the semis

Caroline Wozniacki looks great in her new fashion/glamor shoot, and yes, she and her fellow women tennis players do deserve to play on the big courts more often.

Now, Caro, just get into the semi-finals at this year's U.S. Open so I can get another Undangerous Prediction right!

Tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki details her fight against sexism in sport - and her battle to beat her friend and fiercest rival Serena Williams - as she stars in stunning shoot

New scenery to me

I literally just found out this place existed yesterday.  Spectacular geology.  This is the "Schrammsteine" in the Elbe Mountains of Germany.

Spectacular in winter, too.