Friday, September 30, 2016

The stuff that fantasies are made of

Michelle Keegan hosted a roll-out of new looks in her exclusive Lipsy London line, and this occasion attracted a number of local lookers (note that I spelled that correctly) to the red carpet and the soiree.  Michelle was there with her massively lucky (and very good looking) husband, Mark Wright.

One of the attendees was the remarkable, sumptuous, Demi Rose Mawby. Demi Rose combines a cherubic visage with an insanely curvaceous figure (one that she frequently decorates with swimwear or evening wear that displays her fabulous frontside and dynamic backside quite advantageously), and elevated her fame by very briefly linking herself to rapper Tyga (Kylie Jenner's BF), which the Daily Mail has never forgotten, and which it uses to feature her frequently. I follow Demi on Snapchat and Instagram, and she is frequently visually entertaining.

Now, my praise of Michelle Keegan (and many posts disclaiming such) knows few bounds. Michelle is one of England's and the world's great beauties, and is on a trajectory to superstardom, I believe. Sadly, her most recent acting gig, Our Girl, isn't available for viewing in the States.

The reason for this introduction is that Demi and Michelle posed together for a picture. Their visual linkage in a single photographic frame threatens to overwhelm the camera's ability to capture radiant gorgeousness. Nonetheless, it was accomplished. Female beauty doesn't get much better than this.

(Well, if they were both nude, it would. But I'll take what I can get.)

Here's Demi by herself at the party, looking beyond category.  And I don't say that often.

Republicans should just give Trump up

Fareed Zakaria, writing in the Washington Post, discusses and expands upon the kind of tribal thinking that is driving the Trump voters, similar to what I discussed a few posts ago, in "Tribe Following the Shaman".

Can Republicans be rational?

Here are two great quotes from Zakaria's piece:

"These dynamics have reminded me of Jonathan Haidt’s seminal book, “The Righteous Mind.” Haidt, a social psychologist, used exhaustive evidence to explain that our political preferences are not the product of careful analytic reasoning. Instead, they spring from a combination of moral intuition (instinct) and a tribal affiliation with people who we believe share these instincts. We use reason, facts and analysis to affirm our gut decisions."
"The signs to look for in the next few weeks are whether Trump is losing any support among Republicans. That would indicate that politics is about more than tribal loyalty to a team. It would be heartening on many levels. After all, democracy depends on the ability to look at evidence and argument, to use reason and judgment, and to take seriously our roles as citizens of a great republic."
OK, everyone -- especially you, Republicans -- time to get serious.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This explains why I don't like pumpkin pie very much

I'll just put this out there -- squash is one of my least favorite foods.  Oh, I can handle zucchini if they're covered with tomato sauce and cheese, and flavored with garlic, but that's about it.  I tried spaghetti squash innards as spaghetti once, but that wasn't so great.  The other varieties?  Yuck.

And even though I've always had a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I prefer apple. Or cherry.  Or lemon meringue.  Or key lime.   I've always known that pumpkin was a variety of squash, so even with the sugar and the cinnamon and the whipped cream, the pumpkin pie was not my favorite highlight of the meal.

So it turns out that the pumpkin pie filling used for pumpkin pie ISN'T pumpkin.  It's squash!

Pass me another slice of apple pie, please.

Article on MSN.COM: I Just Found Out Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All, And My Whole Life is Basically a Lie

Quote: "Pumpkin puree: You know, the canned orange stuff that’s lining the supermarket walls right now? The stuff you use to make all your favorite fall desserts that’s labeled “100% pumpkin”?! Yes, well, it’s actually made from 100% not pumpkin. The mix is made from a variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more)."

(Read the rest of the article. It's funny, but it's also tragic.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 25-October 1, 2016: Kylmäpihlaja, Finland

This week's lighthouse is the Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse, which is located on an island off the coast of Finland. When I reviewed previous Lighthouses OTW, I discovered I had done one, the Bengtskar lighthouse, twice. So this one is the second one for Finland. It's a neat place -- apparently a great place to eat, in addition to the views. Find some links and find some pictures below, in addition to the brief description from The Lighthouse Directory:

"1953. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); four white flashes every 45 s. 32 m (105 ft) square cylindrical brick tower, originally incorporating keeper's quarters, attached to a large 2-story coast guard building. This large lighthouse was leased or sold in 2002, and it has been converted into a hotel and restaurant operated by Suvi and Tom Lindqvist. Located on an island about 10 km (6 mi) west of Rauma; accessible during the summer months by daily passenger ferry service from Rauma."
Hotel Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse ( - lots of pictures)

Leisurely at the lighthouse (Official Travel Guide of Finland)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rosetta on slow final approach

Currently, there is a satellite orbiting the following objects in the solar system:

Venus (Venus Express)
Earth (a whole lot of them)
Earth's moon (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)
Mars (several)
Jupiter (Juno)
Ceres (Dawn)
Saturn (Cassini)
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Rosetta)

As of this Friday, that list will be reduced by one, as Rosetta makes a slow approach to a slow touchdown on its forever home, the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

On the way in, much as NEAR did several years ago, they plan to take some really high resolution pictures on final approach.

Read more about it here:

Comet crash: a guide to Rosetta’s big finale

It's done a great job and produced some really tremendous pictures, lots of data, and even some surface composition data from the bouncy baby lander, Philae.

Good night, Rosetta

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another sonnet in September

This sonnet flowed together nicely, and ended up being one with interesting aspects, some of which I didn't anticipate at the beginning.  It's only mildly erotic, too.

layers beneath layers

Unexpected wisdom can accrue
from most unlikely sources -- we don't ask
for it, but still it is received, both true
and false and in between, beneath the mask
that ev'ry person wears, because our lies
compose what we believe. It takes the stark
exposure of our body's need, the cries
of bright delight within a gloaming dark
to open full the unknown streams that we
do not suspect exist below the deep
crevasses, flowing to the broken scree
that marks the end of ice. Then as we sleep,
we learn again e'en as we dream, and hold
those sparks like varves preserved in glacial cold.

Another great volcano video

The volcano Piton de la Fournaise on the island of La Réunion had a brief eruption this month.  The eruption took place from September 11-18.  It seems like this volcano has several of these small short eruptions in between larger and more effusive ones;  during the latter, the lava can reach the sea.  Not in this case, however.

I found a really nice drone-shot video of the fire fountains during this eruption, which I've always found fascinating.   Hope you enjoy it too.  It's got music, and at two points it has what sounds like the real sounds of the eruption.  I recommend full screen.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lighthouse of the Week, September 18-24, 2016: Thomas Point Shoal, Maryland

Living in Maryland, I decided to see what popped up when I searched for "Maryland's Most Famous Lighthouse".   The basic consensus, design-wise, was the screwpile light, of which there used to be many, but now there are only four remaining -- and the only one in its original location is the Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse.

What's neat about these lighthouses is that they have a nice big house under the light (not the tiny lighthouse keeper's quarters a lot of other places).  Here's what Lighthouse Friends says about that, with regard to the Thomas Point Shoal light:
"The cottage’s first level is divided into five rooms: a mechanical room, bedroom, bathroom, dayroom, and kitchen. Although the original privy is still cantilevered over the bay from the lower gallery, the Coast Guard installed an indoor “incinomode,” an electrically superheated toilet that incinerates waste, around 1971. A central, spiral staircase leads to the second floor, where another bedroom and a room that formerly housed the fog bell striking mechanism are located. The lantern room, accessed by a ships ladder from the second level, is situated forty-three feet above mean high tide. After having been replaced by a modern beacon, the historic Fresnel lens formerly housed in the lantern room was removed to the Commander’s Office of the Coast Guard in Baltimore." "
Nice, eh?  I guess you'd get used to the bell.

The lighthouse is now owned and maintained by the Maritime Museum in Annapolis:  here's more about it, including how to reserve a tour, if you want to go see it directly.

And below are three nice shots of this iconic structure.

Breasts as fashion accessories

Throughout history, women's breasts have been utilized as fashion accessories.  Displays of cleavage have always had a fashionable appeal, particularly if they are adorned with jewelry.  Fashion designers highlight the breast in many different ways -- now not just cleavage, but side boob and underboob are also used to fashionable advantage.

And occasionally, most delightfully, they just use the entire bosom.

This was on display -- nicely so -- by the currently supremely in-demand Gigi Hadid (who I must note had a great elbow to the face of her hugging prankster, and the guy deserved a broken nose for his effrontery).

But back to Gigi and fashionable breasts - read about it (and get plenty of visual examples) here:

Gigi Hadid flashes her bare breasts in a sheer floral dress as she and sister Bella walk the runway for Fendi during Milan Fashion Week... hours after furiously lashing out at tactile prankster

Example (and let me just note that the glittery lips detracted substantially from the overall effect by making them look artificial):

So he can lie with impunity?

For next week's Presidential debate, the Clinton campaign has suggested that the assembled media and the moderator (Lester Holt) do something unusual -- check to see if the candidates, notably the Republican candidate, are telling the truth.  And if they aren't telling the truth, tell them that they aren't telling the truth.

Clinton campaign prods media to hold Trump accountable for his debate lies

One of the campaigns is asking the media in unusually pointed terms to hold the opposition accountable against a simple, minimal baseline standard: the truth.

This turn of events both embodies and reflects one of the things that makes this election so unique: Donald Trump has conquered exciting and truly unprecedented new frontiers when it comes to the frequency, effortlessness, audacity, and recidivism of his lying.
Not surprisingly, the Republican candidate doesn't think this is a good idea.

'We don't want another Candy Crowley': Trump says Lester Holt should not be a debate 'fact-checker' – and accuses Hillary of putting 'Bobby Knight-type' pressure on the refs

(Regarding that latter part:  most of us do want the refs to call the fouls when they see em, don't we?)

"'I really don't think you want that,' Trump said of a more active moderator. 'That was a very pivotal moment in that debate. And it really threw the debate off and it was unfair. So I don't think you want that. No, I think you have to have somebody that's just — let them argue it out.' "
But here's the problem with THAT -- if it just turns into an argument, then there's little way for the watching public to really know who;s correct and who isn't -- and bluster can get past a lot of lies and inaccuracies.  We know that's the Donald's modus operandi -- and if Hillary tries to argue with him on a factual basis and the fact are on her side, Donald is likely to a) accuse her of being unfair, b) try to change the subject, c) attack her personally, and d) keep claiming he's right.  Rather than his supporters (and more importantly, the small number of voters who for some reason haven't made up their minds yet) being shown he's an empty gasbag when it comes to facts and rationality, they'll eat this up like chocolate ice cream.

What I really wish is that there was a fact-checking scorecard shown like the scores of a sporting event on TV.   Let Lester Holt moderate - but show the folks at home how many Pinocchios each candidate has generated in the course of the debate, as it's happening.  While Hillary might get a few -- it's hard to be 100% correct -- I think Donald could easily go for a century, i.e., at least one hundred Pinocchios.  Maybe that would have an impact.

For example, this might be The Donald's "score" after the first three questions:

Tribe following the shaman

In The Republican Brain:  The Science of Why They Deny Science, author Chris Mooney delved deeply into the psychological methods of how rational people can (and do) stand steadfast in their inaccurate, incorrect, and at times nonsensical beliefs when faced with accurate evidence and truthful, fact-based arguments.

One of the things that is highlighted in his book, as has been discussed elsewhere, is that when a person is wedded politically, socially, and tribally to an incorrect belief or belief structure, arguing with them using facts and logic that demonstrates unequivocally they are wrong usually only serves to make them cling even more strongly to that incorrect belief or belief structure.

There are many other corollaries, such as people with certain beliefs employing strong psychological filters that only allow them to process and remember the inaccurate, incorrect, and nonsensical pieces of information that support their belief system, while ignoring and discarding the accurate and correct information that refutes or undermines their belief system.

These basic psychological tenets apply to a lot of things:  Biblical Creationism, Velikovskianism, Obama birtherism, anti-fluoridation, and anti-vaccination. The most notable scientific issue on which this is applicable now is climate change skepticism/denialism.

And this year, in the political realm, it applies to people who are going to vote for Donald Trump for President in November, in the face of overwhelming evidence that most of the time he opens his mouth and talks, he's lying.

The press is banging the drum on this  now, mightily.  But the Trump voters (those who are voting because they really want him to be President, not necessarily those who are merely voting against Hillary Clinton) are not budging from their voting preference.  This is troubling, because the future of our good country is at stake.  But because of their tribalism, they are going to vote for this shaman no matter what they know about him, and sometimes, even because they know what they know about him.

Why the media blitz on Trump isn't working

"What must be going on is that people — an alarmingly large number of people, it seems — back Trump even though they know, or could easily learn, that he is a charlatan, clueless about policy, bizarrely sympathetic to Russia’s dictator, disturbingly prone to offending women and minorities, and a serial liar to boot."
Yes, that IS alarming.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bendtner returns with Nottingham Forest

Niklas Bendtner is playing soccer again.   His first game with his new team, Nottingham Forest (in the English Football League Championship, one level down from the Premier League), was a game in the EFL Cup competition.  It was against Arsenal, his Premier League team.

It didn't go well for him or the Forest, as Arsenal won 4-0.   But hey, at least he's back playing.  The future will tell if he's still got a future in the game.

About Bendtner:

Nicklas Bendtner faces Arsenal again as something of a running joke... but there were good times as well as bad at his old club

About the game:

Nottingham Forest 0 Arsenal 4: Lucas Perez scores two and sets up another in dominant EFL Cup win

On the side of I-90/94

Once when I was a kid my family and I drove through Wisconsin.  Just south of Tomah and next to Camp Douglas, there's a sandstone formation called Castle Rock.  Now, there are many rock formations around the country and world called Castle Rock, but this one is conveniently situated right next to the interstate, well-situated for geological tourism at driving speeds.  

Further down the road there's another sandstone formation called Bee Bluff, near a natural area called the Mill Bluff Natural Area which has more of these ancient islands.

Since these are so nicely placed by the interstate, I used Google StreetView to show what it looks like from the road, same way I remembered it.  And it pretty much looks the same as I remembered it.

Bee Bluff

Castle Rock

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trump vs. Hillary in 'The Lying Game'

From the Washington Post, op-ed entitled "Spiro Agnew's ghost lives on in the 2016 campaign":

The theme is that the conservative media have made it very difficult for the regular media to criticize conservative political figures, lest they demonstrate liberal bias.    I recommend a full read.  But this paragraph was a standout:

"The issue is not asking the media to shy away from holding Clinton accountable. But journalists need to ask whether they have created a narrative about Clinton that paints her as less trustworthy than Trump even though the factual evidence is overwhelming that he lies far more than she does."
I underlined that last part.

Republicans seeking to elect inveterate liar to Presidency:  News at 11.

We need a space tug for this one

According to a recent distressing report, the Chinese have lost control of their space station. Which means that it's drifting downward, and will eventually re-enter Earth's atmosphere.  Most of it will likely burn up during the heat of re-entry, but some of it won't.  Some parts of it are bound to make it to the surface.

And the problem is, because the Chinese can't control the thing anymore, they don't know where it's going to come down.  It could come down into the ocean (the likeliest scenario), but it also could come down in remote deserts, or downtown Albuquerque, or on top of Ayers Rock.  (Well, I guess remote deserts and the top of Ayers Rock are basically the same category.)

They (and we, the collective global population) just don't know.

So it would be nice if we had a space tugboat that could latch onto it and tow it downward in a controlled re-entry, preferably into deep ocean water.

Stay tuned.  This could turn into an international incident.  At the least, it'll be a bright spectacle in the sky.

China Confirms Its Space Station Is Falling Back to Earth

Thursday, September 15, 2016

There once were glaciers here

I just found out about this place via the amazing Internet.  It's called Clew Bay, Ireland.  The myriad little emerald isles are the tops of drumlins, rising above the North Sea waters.

This site has plenty of information, including a video on how the place was formed.

Clew Bay and the islands

Another Trump lie

Donald Trump lies and gets away with it.  Why isn't there more media brouhaha about this?  I think it's because it is EXPECTED of him.  He just lies, and the press knows it.  So they just let him make his lies, and since he isn't called to task, he just keeps doing it.

Donald Trump's child care plan

Last year, [an] Iowa voter asked Donald Trump how he'd help make childcare more affordable for struggling families. Trump said it was cheap for businesses to provide facilities themselves, citing in great detail programs he provides for his own employees, adorably named "Trump Kids" and "Trumpeteers."

Last month, the Associated Press investigated Trump's claims, and it turns out he was lying. The programs he described are for guests at his clubs and hotels – not his employees. The AP couldn't find a single example of onsite childcare for employees at any of Trump's properties. "If they have child care, they should at least tell us," a housekeeper at a Trump hotel said.
Another note about that 'ground-breaking' child care plan:
"But Trump's tax deduction would replace the current tax credit, which means low-income families who don't pay much (or nothing) in income taxes would lose out. (Trump would boost the earned-income tax credit for some to make up for this, but the current child care credit would go from a maximum $2,100 to an EITC of up to $1,200 -- a 43 percent drop.)"
Gee, what a surprise.

A 'mistake'? Yeah, right

The $25,000 donation Donald Trump's charity made the campaign of Florida attorney general Pam Bondi was characterized as a 'mistake'.

Trump camp issues rare admission of error:  charity donation to Florida AG was a 'mistake'

"Aides to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said this week that his charitable foundation made a mistake when it donated $25,000 to a political committee backing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a potential violation of federal rules prohibiting charities from aiding political candidates.
The donation to Bondi’s group by Trump’s foundation, a charity that the billionaire businessman created in the 1980s, was controversial because it came as Bondi was reviewing whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University, a real-estate-seminar business affiliated with the front-runner..
Jordan Libowitz, a CREW spokeswoman, said that the IRS “needs to investigate and determine where the truth lies.” “It appears they gave an illegal political donation, told the IRS they didn’t give a political donation, claimed it was made to a similarly named permissible group instead — and now they’re saying it’s an error?” Libowitz said."

Florida AG asked Trump for donation before nixing fraud case

"Florida's attorney general personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates

The new disclosure from Attorney General Pam Bondi's spokesman to The Associated Press on Monday provides additional details around the unusual circumstances of Trump's $25,000 donation to Bondi.

The money came from a Trump family foundation in apparent violation of rules surrounding political activities by charities. A political group backing Bondi's re-election, called And Justice for All, reported receiving the check Sept. 17, 2013 — four days after Bondi's office publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University's activities, according to a 2013 report in the Orlando Sentinel.

After the check came in, Bondi's office nixed suing Trump, citing insufficient grounds to proceed."

Calling this a 'mistake' is simply not credible.

Back story:

Trump and the Republican Party are doing Big Oil's bidding

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lighthouse of the Week, September 11-17, 2016: Utvær Lighthouse, Norway

Utvær Lighthouse is the westernmost coastal lighthouse in Norway. It is located in the western part of Solund municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county. It was first lit in 1900 and it was listed as a protected site in 1999. The surrounding area is protected as a nature reserve.

More historical info here:

Utvær lighthouse - the landmark furthest to the west

And three pictures below:

Dana Milbank's racism test for Trump supporters

Dana Milbank, opinionating in the Washington Post:

"Few people embrace the “racist” label, so let’s help them. If you are “very enthusiastic” about a candidate who has based his campaign on scapegoating immigrants, Latinos and African Americans, talked of banning Muslims from the country, hesitated to disown the Ku Klux Klan and employed anti-Semitic imagery — well, you might be a racist. But if you are holding your nose and supporting Trump only because you think him better than Clinton, that doesn’t put you in the basket.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the two groups roughly equal: Forty-six percent of Trump supporters say they are “very enthusiastic” about his candidacy. The rest were “somewhat” or not terribly enthusiastic."

See? That was simple.

From Clinton Wasn't Wrong About the Deplorables Among Trump's Supporters

Friday, September 9, 2016

Yes, it went there

Time for a September sonnet.  There's a fine line in erotic poetry between being too poetic and too explicit.  I think this sonnet walks the line.

the extraordinary commonplace

It might seem far too common even to
deserve a notice or remark -- yet still,
to be there was unusual, and through
her auspices I felt the wondrous thrill
that comes with special accolade. Indeed,
this deed is honorary, as it serves
no procreative purpose, for the seed
goes unfulfilled -- and yet it gave my nerves
refreshment and excitement; thus it means
far more than just release, and makes a bond
beyond mere words, e'en though within these scenes
her tongue was certainly involved. A fond
remembrance only, now, but then my soul
was held within her mouth, upright and whole.

We're tired of hearing about Hillary's emails

The Washington Post had a very strong editorial about the ongoing issue of Hillary Clinton's private email server.   I provide the link to the editorial and a couple of excerpts below.

The Hillary Clinton email scandal is out of control

Excerpt 1:

"In fact, Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story. First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence."

Excerpt 2:

"Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of . . . a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton’s wrongs and Mr. Trump’s manifest unfitness for office."

There aren't any ways to say that better.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

OSIRIS-REx heads out

I've written a few articles on the this blog about asteroids that might take a piece out of us (Earth, really).   Well, turnabout is fair play, so today NASA launched a mission to take a piece out of an asteroid named Bennu.

It's about time.

Here's the video of the launch.   They're always exciting, especially when nothing blows up.

The NY Times sounds a sea level rise alarm

Eye-opening and sobering (and well-written) article in the New York Times about sea level rise.  Read the whole thing if you can.

The flooding of the coast caused by global warming has already begun

I've excerpted some of the more eye-opening stuff from it below.

"But the local leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.

Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”

Are you KIDDING me?
“When we distract our military with a radical climate change agenda, we detract from their main purpose of defending America from enemies” like the Islamic State, said Mr. Buck of Colorado, the Republican congressman who sponsored the measure. His amendment passed the House 216 to 205, though the Senate has yet to agree to it.

Many people in Congress, almost all of them Republicans, express doubt about climate science, with some of them promulgating conspiracy theories claiming that researchers have invented the issue to justify greater governmental control over people’s lives. So far, this ideological position has been immune to the rising evidence of harm from human-induced climate change."
Are you KIDDING me?
"The region has one mayor, Philip K. Stoddard of South Miami, who is a scientist himself — he studies animal communication at Florida International University — and has been a close reader of scientific papers about climate change since the 1990s.

“I remember lying in bed at night thinking, ‘I hope this isn’t real,’” Dr. Stoddard, a Democrat, recalled. “I hope other data comes in that contradicts it. It took me several years to get my head around it and say, ‘Oh, God, it is real.’”
He's NOT kidding.

There are a lot of reasons to wish for the GOP to lose control of Congress (and especially the House of Representatives) this November.  Rep. Buck of Colorado is one of them.

We have got to, collectively and globally, get serious about this.  (And keep building nuclear power plants for baseload stable energy.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Found a fine woman from Bulgaria

I'm sure you've asked yourself one time or another, or maybe a few times, "I wonder if there are any beautiful women from Bulgaria other than Nina Dobrev?"

Well, yes, there are.  I asked myself that question and in my quest for an answer, I discovered Svetoslava Simeonova.

Here are some safe pictures.

There's also this one, which is borderline NSFW.  That also holds true for this one.

Personal life:  She is, or was, dating Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini.

There's stuff out there

Further evidence that the Earth is surrounded by a growing cloud of space debris:  a solar panel on a European satellite now has a hole (still works, though).

Tiny Particle Blows Hole in European Satellite's Solar Panel

It's not just any satellite, either;  its one of the new class of Earth observation satellites.  This one is called the Copernicus Sentinel 1A.

Here are the before-and-after pictures from the European Space Agency (and their article about the event).

Lighthouse of the Week, September 4-10, 2016: Peninsula Point, Michigan

There are many lighthouses situated on and particularly near the end of peninsulas.  It just seems to work out that way.

So this week I chose a lighthouse named for being on a peninsula -- Michigan's Peninsula Point lighthouse.

It's located at the northern end of Green Bay, on a peninsula extended southward from the Upper Peninsula (there's that word again) of Michigan, and it's also in the Hiawatha National Forest, which extends from the Lake Superior coast to the Lake Michigan coast (Green Bay).

If you want to see where that is, just click here.

Now for the history:

Peninsula Point, MI

It hasn't been a functioning lighthouse for a long time, because not much shipping goes by it anymore.  All that remains of it is the brick tower.  The first picture shows what it used to look like, and the second two pictures show what's left.  Despite the fact that it is now a historical relic, it still offers fine views of the lake (according to the Web site).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Celebrating NPS 100

The beleaguered but valiant National Park Service just celebrated its 100th anniversary.  To commemorate it, here's a Streetview scene of Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico.  The cinder cone sure dominates the surrounding flat landscape.

NASA's Earth Observatory had the view from above of Capulin Volcano NM a few days ago:

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Friday, September 2, 2016

Quick U.S. Tennis Open 2016 check-in

Just about mid-way through the U.S. Tennis Open 2016, let me do a quick check-in on the current situation.

Djokovic had it almost too easy, with Youzhny retiring in the first set.  Nadal advanced in straight sets over Kuznetsov (the tennis player), finishing the match with a second-to-last point that was quite entertaining, including a between-the-legs shot by Nadal followed immediately by a backwards-over-the-head shot by Kuznetsov, both of which landed in.

I expect/hope Murray will advance easily, too.   Lurking somewhere in the middle is Stan Wawrinka. I'll be surprised if the winner isn't one of those four (Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka).

So now over to the women's side.

If Serena's playing (and she is), you have to expect she'll win.  It's nice to see Caro Wozniacki (unseeded) into the fourth round against Madison Keys, but I don't think she's sharp enough to win that.  Also in the third round, Halep will face the 31st-seeded player (Babos of Hungary) -- ought to get through.   Kerber zipped into the fourth round, but faces a potentially troublesome Kvitova there.

Biggest surprise is 3rd-seed, French Open champion Muguruza getting knocked out.

So, given what we know right now, I'll rank the top five (in order) of who I think might have a chance.

1.  Serena Williams
2.  Angelique Kerber
3.  Roberta Vinci
4.  Madison Keys
5.  Simona Halep (my heart is probably making this pick, more than my head)

Surprising Ceres

Ceres has been quite fascinating even on long approach by the Dawn satellite.  For months astronomers -- and me, too -- speculated on the composition of the really really bright spots in Occator Crater.   When first espied, astronomers and satellite operators didn't even know they were in a crater.

It turns out they are probably made of a magnesium salt, left behind when a salty brine inside Ceres came up to the surface, and the water evapo/sublimated away, leaving behind the salt.

Another thing that astronomers saw when Dawn finally made it to Ceres was a very big bump.  In fact, on the surface of Ceres, it was a mountain.  But they didn't know what it was made of or how it was made.

Now they think they do.  It's our old pal ice -- this time in the form of an ice volcano.

The article below talks about it.  One thing I find interesting -- which I found interesting when I first saw it -- is that it has hardly any craters.  That means it's a very young (recently formed) feature.  

Read more about it here:  Ice volcano spotted on Ceres, the asteroid belt's dwarf planet