Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lighthouse of the Week, Oct. 30 - Nov. 5, 2016: Hwawon Bando, Mokpo, South Korea

I've been featuring a few of the non-traditional lighthouses of South Korea the past two weeks, and this is the third.  The Hwawon Bando (also known as Mokpugu) lighthouse replaced the smaller, more traditional Mokpogu light in 2003.   Mokpo is near the southwesternmost point of South Korea (you can click here to see where it is on Google Maps).  There is a lot of water around this city;  it is somewhat reminiscent of either Charleston S.C. or Seattle in the USA.

The Mokpo waterway light has a traditional tower, but is buttressed for the administration building below it.  (I got that from the Lighthouse Directory, which describes all the lighthouses of the Mokpo area of South Korea.)  The tower is 118 feet high.

Here's three pictures (the one with the motorcycle was a little bit of a surprise to find).

Friday, October 28, 2016

More on the coming banana crisis

While we know from a recent report that the world's vertebrate populations are declining markedly, a more pressing need is still a potential crisis: the banana.

Can science save the banana?

(The article above has lots of links to other articles and info; the links have been excised in the text below.)
Cavendish is also now under attack from a recently emerged strain of Fusarium oxysporum, known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4). First identified in the early 1990s in Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia, TR4 has since spread to many Southeast Asian countries and on into the Middle East and Africa. If TR4 makes it to Latin America and the Caribbean region, the export banana industry in that part of the world could be in big trouble.

Cavendish varieties have shown little if any resistance against TR4. Growers are relying on temporary solutions – trying to prevent it from entering new regions, using clean planting materials and limiting the transfer of potentially infected soil between farms.
So now we look to science -- in this case, finding disease resistant genes in wild bananas, and splicing them into the commercial varieties, studying how the disease is transferred, and studying how it infects plants. Will it work?  Time will tell.

Science to the rescue. So why can't we give science full rein to attack the climate change crisis?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dissolved carbon inventory for the Atlantic Ocean

Just read about an interesting new paper on a study designed to estimate the amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the surface oceans.

UM [Univ. of Miami] researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life

They compared measurements of DOC with a model of DOC production:
"The researchers discovered that the production of dissolved organic carbon at the ocean's surface could be accurately predicted by measuring the amount of nutrients arriving into the euphotic, or sunlit, zone.

The nutrients arrive there mostly by winter mixing and upwelling, and in turn support the growth of ocean plant life. From the arrival of nutrients to the surface ocean, they estimated the resulting plant growth and the production of residue, the DOC, from that growth. From those estimates, they built a map of DOC at the surface of the entire Atlantic Ocean."
Here's an image of the results.  Chlorophyll concentration on the left, DOC on the right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reality check on hurricane strikes

From the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang:

Why the major hurricane drought is the most overblown statistic in meteorology

An excerpt:
"Climate-change doubters point to the lack of major-hurricane landfalls as evidence that global warming is not affecting the storms. But, in reality, nine of the last 11 Atlantic hurricane seasons have produced more storms than normal. It’s just that those with the strongest winds have remained over the ocean — something researchers have ascribed to dumb luck."
And I wish to point out -- dumb luck has sent those same storms over Bermuda, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Yucatan Peninsula (just some of the locations that have been hit hard), causing tremendous damage and loss of life.

We've been lucky. And it won't last forever.

Have to agree here

Yes, I am in strong agreement with this editorial.

Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp


"If Republicans truly want to save the Republican Party, they need to go to war with right-wing media. That is, they need to dismantle the media machine persuading their base to believe completely bonkers, bigoted garbage.
Half [of Republicans] believe global warming is possibly or definitely a myth concocted by scientists."

That's totally true, and it has been for years. Ever since Rush Limbaugh said that one volcano puts as much CO2 into the atmosphere as lots of power plants (which is orders of magnitude incorrect), it has been repeated incorrectly by thousands of conservatives about climate change. It's just one of myriad possible examples of how they have made their listeners and followers a horde of "unthinkers" -- a group that is incapable of thinking for itself, preferring instead to follow the tribal warpath on these matters. They get their biased news from biased sources, and it influences the way they view the world and the decisions they make.

And as the standard saying goes, GIGO -- Garbage In, Garbage Out. So if the input information on which personal beliefs are formulated is garbage, then the decisions based on that information are likely to be garbage, too -- and that's how so many of the nutty Republican Congresspeople have gotten elected.

It truly has reached the level of close-to-crisis: and it would be a crisis if Trump were elected. As I write this, that appears highly unlikely, but we have definitely been staring over the side of the abyss these past few months contemplating the possibility.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I've been trying to get around to this

The Daily Mail had an article about former Miss Universe Australia Natalie Roser being photographed on the beach.

 She's flawless! Natalie Roser flaunts her VERY pert derrière and busty cleavage in a skimpy pink bikini for a beach photo shoot in Sydney

She's got a great figure, and thus the shoot appears quite worthwhile.

Here's another example from a different shoot:

Does Trump have a chance to win? Likely... not

Here's an article I'll just pass along about the chances that Donald Trump still has a chance to win the election.

His chances are pretty slim, basically.

A Donald Trump Win Would Signal The Biggest Poll Failure Ever

"On the national level, polls have been very consistent in indicating that Clinton is the frontrunner in the presidential race. Only 2 of the 40 national Trump versus Clinton polls over the past month in the HuffPost Pollster database have shown Trump leading ― and we’d expect about that many to be wrong overall simply because of errors in the sampling and survey processes.

There is more variance in poll results some of the states. Clinton and Trump are duking it out for the polling lead in Ohio, for example. But according to the HuffPost presidential forecast model, Clinton’s advantage in the states she needs to win the Electoral College is consistent and strong ― she doesn’t need any tossup states in order to win."

All of that is good.

If wishes were unicorns

Now that it appears mightily that HRC is set to be POTUS, because her nasty opponent has been successfully self- torpedoing his own campaign (and I still think that might be intentional), the consideration is now whether or not the Dems can retake the Senate.

This Huffington Post article thinks there's a chance.

Republicans could lose the Senate majority

Obviously, it's going to be close. But I fondly, fondly wish that it happens. And then, sadly for Merrick Garland, I hope Obama withdraws his name and lets HRC nominate a very liberal judge. Because that would make the sourpuss on Leader Mitch McConnell, the absolute horrific excuse for a Senator that refused to consider Garland, even more sour. Which would be absolutely GREAT!

In fact, Jeff Flake has seen the train coming, and wants to confirm Garland before Obama has a chance to pull the good judge from consideration.

Report: Flake is ready to move forward with Garland's nomination

My guess is that one of these Senate races will be so close there will have to be a recount, so we won't know for certain until weeks after November 8.

Lighthouse of the Week, October 23-30, 2016: Seoam South Breakwater Light, South Korea

OK, simply put -- this one looks like a baby bottle.

And apparently, it's supposed to, because this excerpt from The Lighthouse Directory says: "2010. Active; focal plane 4 m (13 ft); red flash every 6 s. 4 m (13 ft) round concrete tower, shaped like a baby's bottle."

No kidding!

(Note the thematic garbage can.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A new October sonnet

Here's a recent sonnet for your consideration.

past times

For ev'ry day there is a span of twen-
ty-four in hours; and ev'ry year does hold
three-hundred sixty-five of days -- so when
there is a special time, perhaps enrolled
in less than e'en a single hour, our thought
converts those moments into memory,
to be enshrined where treasured scenes are caught
and well-preserved within our minds. We see
with lover's eyes and hear with lover's ears
and touch with loving hands, caressing and
possessing all we share when sighs and tears
give testament to rapture. We expand
the place where these are kept, and I review,
to feel again these wondrous times with you.

The mastodon in the backyard

Every now and then I find a bird feather or a deer hoofprint in my backyard (the hoofprint in the mud, of course).  That's moderately exciting.

Imagine how much more exciting it would be to find a mastodon skeleton in your backyard.

That's what happened recently in Michigan.  While this is apparently a very complete mastodon, apparently finding mastodon fossils is not an uncommon thing to happen in Michigan.

I'd sure like to find one.  I have found a couple of nice trilobites, though.

Huge 13,000 year old mastodon is found in a field a couple of years after students found some mystery bones

"Students at an outdoor learning camp were exploring the grounds when they stumbled across huge bones, exposed by the eroding soil.

[ The Fowler Center - Mastodon Excavation
During a four-day excavation last week, the team was able to recover the rest of the animal, unearthing most of the beast’s huge limb bones along with its skull and enormous shoulder blades and hip bone. It is believed to be one of less than 10 near-complete specimens found in the state."

The survival of U.S. democracy is at stake

I participate quite a bit in discussions of climate change.  It's because the deniers are holding  back the implementation of a new and better energy strategy for the country, which includes more nuclear power.  (It has to.)  I used to do it elsewhere, but the participants there started to get too incensed when I continually showed they were incorrect.  At least they were taking it seriously.  Nowadays, I do most of my discussing on Twitter, which is mercifully limited in how much information and invective can be exchanged.  I got A+ class jerk SteveSGoddard aka Tony Heller so mad that he blocked me.  Couldn't take the heat, ha ha.

One of the problems with the deniers, climate change and otherwise, is their dismissal of the practice of science as a way to establish a basis of evidence for making decisions.  Note that I did not say "truth".  Science doesn't ever establish or prove truth, it mainly lends support to that which is mostly likely to be true.  Now, one could argue that on some subjects, the support is so overwhelming that what is being supported could be considered as true, but even then, further adjustments might be necessary.  For a long time, the world pretty much felt that Isaac Newton had closed the book on gravity ... and then Einstein came along.

In any case, there needs to be an accepted and rigorous process that determines that which is more likely to be true and that which is less likely so.  (It's called science.)  But deniers have tossed this out the window.  Deniers think along the lines of whatever lends support to what they believe is useful to be true must be correct.  And they'll argue to the death for their belief -- even if facts and evidence that are undoubtedly accurate demonstrate their position to have little actual evidential support.

That's where this article comes in.  I've only excerpted one paragraph, but it's the paragraph I want to show.

When the facts don't matter, how can democracy survive?

Here's the paragraph:
"But this anti-intellectual, ignore-the-data attitude mostly owes its growth to a careless, conspiracy-theorizing league of (mostly) conservative politicians and pundits. They elevated themselves by sowing distrust in traditional institutions and sources of authority, from the media to civil servants to scientists. They presented themselves as the sole truth-tellers, system de-riggers and messianic statistics unskewers, while maintaining that everyone else was feeding the public lies."
So there is no standard of truth for them, no standard by which even approximations of the truth can be ascertained.  And that's why this climate change discussion is so difficult, because the deniers roll out so many ill-reasoned and unsupported arguments and downright fallacies, and hew to them as their version of reality, that the preponderance of data and the systematic edifice that is built from the data means nothing to them.  And that negates a decision-making process based on consideration of the evidence, dispassionate analysis of the evidence and the connections between the pieces of the evidence, and the reasoned conclusions that are drawn from that analysis.  So if we can't establish for everyone's benefit what is likely to be the correct conclusion, how can we ever decide to do anything?

Especially, how can we elect leaders who know how to make good decisions?

It's easy to despair.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Actual title: "How to make a vortex of semen"

Yeah, you read that right.


"Depositing a fresh semen sample in an annular shaped microfluidic chip leads to a spontaneous vortex state of the fluid at sufficiently large sperm concentration. The rotation occurs unpredictably clockwise or counterclockwise and is robust and stable."

How to make a vortex of semen

The next thing I'm thinking we're going to see is a porn Web site entitled "The Vortex of Semen".

A step, a veritable step

While I advocate nuclear FISSION power, I dream about nuclear FUSION power. That's the long term solution to a lot of societal and global ills. And it's definitely long term. But in the news right now is an incremental step forward. It sure would be nice to get this technology actually going in the 2020s.

MIT's fusion reactor sets a new record for plasma pressure

Lighthouse of the Week, October 16-22, 2016: Changpomal, South Korea

I keep trying to find new countries with lighthouses that I haven't featured yet, before going back to some of the countries that have lots of lighthouses and featuring more of those. So I thought to myself, "What's a coastal country that I might not have looked at yet?" And I came up with South Korea. And then I Google Image-searched lighthouses of South Korea.

Holy cow. It appears that South Korea is dominating the world in new and unusual lighthouse designs. I think I'm going to spend a couple of weeks on this country.

The first one that I'm featuring is the Changpomal lighthouse, one that looks like the tower is being consumed by a green slime monster.

So what is with this one? Rowlett's Lighthouse Directory has this:

"Active; focal plane 61 m (200 ft); white flash every 6 s. 12 m (39 ft) round white concrete tower with a spherical lantern and an open observation gallery. Lantern painted red; wrapped around one side of the tower is a blue "crab claw" sculpture."

OK, so that's what that thing is. Still, it's not your run-of-the-mill lighthouse, is it?

And that's really all I could find about it. It's located on the eastern coast of South Korea, across from southern Japan.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Footprints in the ash

Even though they were discovered in 2008, scientists have just published descriptions of footprints of ancient humans found in mud near Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in Ethiopia.

They aren't nearly as old as the australopithecine tracks found near Laetoli.  The article says they're between 5,800 and 19,100 years old.  There's a lot of specificity lacking there.

Here's an informational excerpt:

By identifying the youngest crystals buried in the mud using geochronological techniques, the team found the tracks could have been deposited as far back as 19,100 years ago, with a margin of error of a few thousand years.

Now that the timeframe has been narrowed, the researchers want to move on to studying more about how these people lived and socialised. There are still plenty of mysteries left to solve.

"It's a very complicated site," one of the team, William Harcourt-Smith from the City University of New York, told National Geographic. "There's one area where there are so many prints, we've nicknamed it the 'dance hall', because I've never seen so many prints in one place. It's completely nuts."
Hundreds of human footprints discovered near African volcano

(Make sure to click the link in the article to the National Geographic article.  There's also a link to the actual science journal paper article.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I can see why there were lots of pictures

Wonderful actress Amy Adams put on a gorgeous red carpet appearance at the premiere of Arrival in London.

The Daily Mail article has lots of pictures, and there was a good reason -- she looked great.

Here's an example.

Candice Swanepoel had her baby

News just in that Candice Swanepoel, who has been the unofficial lead model for Victoria's Secret for a few years, just had her baby (the father is Hermann Nicoli).

'My little man!' Candice Swanepoel's fiance Hermann Nicoli bonds with their sleeping newborn Anacan

So we can all relax -- Candice will soon be back to modeling lingerie, and the world can look a little more normal.

Never knew about this

The Daily Mail had an article about a place just a bit north of here in Pennsylvania that I never knew about before.

The main feature of this state park, named Hickory Run State Park, is a huge boulder field.   The article has a few pictures of it;  I found another one.

Now THAT'S a tourist attraction that rocks: The incredible field of boulders that covers 720,000 square feet

It also appears to have some nice waterfalls, like Hawk Falls.

Good read from The Atlantic on climate change denial

Insightful article from The Atlantic:

Republicans Can Understand Science and Still Deny Climate Change

"The report also confirms that Republicans and Democrats—especially on the parties’ respective right and left wings—hold differing views on climate change. But it finds that, especially on the left, these views are modestly moderated by someone’s understanding of general science. In other words, a Democrat with a high amount of science knowledge (including on health and biological concepts) is more likely to correctly state that humans are causing climate change than a Democrat with low science knowledge. Whereas being highly educated or having a high amount of science knowledge doesn’t make Republicans any more likely to say the same."
"About 60 percent of those polled predict that climate change will force Americans to make major changes to their “ways of life” in the next 50 years."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bad harvest for Italian olive oil

If you love real olive oil (make sure you don't get the fake stuff), you'll worry along with me about this year's harvest.

Olive oil price set to soar after crops fail: Production falls to less than half of last year in some areas after infestation by pests

"The current Italian crop has been affected by pests, in particular the olive fly.

'In our region, Tuscany, forecasts are for less than 50 per cent of normal crop,' Mr Zanre [managing director of Filippo Berio] told The Grocer.

Olive oil production is also struggling in other areas of the world, with Greece, which has had similar pest problems to Italy, forecast to produce 220,000 tonnes of oil for 2016-17, compared with 300,000 tonnes the previous year."
Get yours now, before prices go up even higher.

Lighthouse of the Week, October 9-15, 2016: Cape Forchu, Nova Scotia, Canada

I went to the Canadian province/island of Nova Scotia for this week's lighthouse.  By far the most famous and most photographed lighthouse on Nova Scotia is Peggy's Cove, which is also only a short drive from Halifax.  Cape Forchu is near Yarmouth, which (though visited by a ferry from Portland, Maine) is a considerable distance from the main city hub.

The lighthouse itself is not classic -- my quick look has it called an "apple core" design.  The setting is quite dramatic, nearly as rocky as Peggy's Cove.

The lighthouse has it's own Web site:   Cape Forchu Lighthouse

The one thing that the history section of the Web site doesn't say is when the older, more traditional design lighthouse was replaced by the concrete "apple core" tower.  Wikipedia informed me that the switch took place in 1961-62.

I grabbed several pictures, including the attributed heavy wave shot.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Beyond absurd, into crazy

I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh for a long time.  I used to, for amusement and to keep tabs on what the far right was thinking.  (They've gone beyond him now, I think.)  But the drug addict blowhard is still on the air somewhere, I guess, and maybe he needs to make increasingly crazy statements just so his listeners will pay attention and he can get the occasional news story mention.

Well, that's what happened with this doozy -- his claim (along with Matt Drudge) that the National Hurricane Center is fudging storm data to make it appear worse, to support the "bad effects" predicted for climate change.

What he doesn't realize is that hurricanes are way too finicky and flaky to be a good indicator of anything.  Better look at extreme rainfall statistics, for one thing.

But here's the article about it in the Daily Mail, along with an excerpt;  judge for yourself if this is absurd, totally ridiculous, or downright crazy nuts.

Is Hurricane Matthew a conspiracy? Rush Limbaugh claims extreme weather is 'in the interest of the Left' because they exaggerate the danger to draw attention to climate change

The conservative talk show host said the reports from the National Hurricane Center were 'tainted', because it was part of the federal administration which was answerable to President Barack Obama. 
'It's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change, which they can desperately continue trying to sell,' he said on his show.
"Limbaugh claimed 'hurricanes hitting a swamp is worthless to the climate change crowd' and he accused hurricane trackers of being responsible for exaggerating the danger to population centers."
Maybe he could tell that to the million+ people in Florida (and probably Georgia by now, too) who don't have power.

Geology and erotology in a sonnet

I've done this before, but this sonnet uses geology pretty directly in an erotic sonnet.

an obvious metaphor

Precursory activity -- we look,
we wonder when the remnants of a past
tremendous cataclysmic heat will cook
the rivers of the underworld, to cast
their steaming fountains upward to the air,
in celebration of geology.
And I am similar -- for in the bare
necessities of physiology
I moan and gasp and sigh and shake, as my
internal premonitions gain in strength;
I voice my hopes as I solidify
and feel the urgent bliss along my length
until eruption, as our passions merge
and we exist where loving streams converge.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lighthouse of the Week, October 2-8, 2016: Fanad Head, Ireland

I wondered this week if I had featured any lighthouses from Ireland.  Turns out that I did, the famous Fastnet Light, which is on the southernmost point of Ireland.  So this time I went way north, to the strikingly located Fanad Head Lighthouse in North Donegal.

Let's learn some more:

Great Lighthouses of Ireland:  Fanad Head

The Unforgettable Fanad Lighthouse Experience (you can bunk there)

Here's a little bit of info about the lighthouse from the second site:

  • The light is 39 metres above sea level and there are 79 steps in the tower.Fanad Lighthouse now offers guests the opportunity to stay in our newly refurbished self catering cottages. There are three cottages available at the Lighthouse for a truly unique holiday experience.
  • The Tower is 22 metres high from foundation to the top of the tower not including the lantern.
  • This light is classified as a sea light as distinct from a harbour light although it does mark the entrance to Lough Swilly which is a natural harbour of refuge.
  • The original building was commissioned following the Saldanha wreck. Building commenced in 1815 and was completed in 2 years by the Commissioners of the Ballast Board. It is of granite and was sent from the North hall , Dublin, ready prepared.
  • The building was designed by the corporation’s inspector Mr George Halpin and the building work was overseen by a Mr.Carpenter of Dublin and cost £2,000. The light was first lit on St. Patrick’s day 17th March 1817.

And here's three pictures of this Irish light:


I for one think this is good news.  Others may disagree, but Al Gore has stuck to his guns and continued his message about the human exploitation of the Earth and the onrushing dangers of climate change.

Al Gore to hit campaign trail for Clinton

Here's a couple of the reasons why:

"Clinton and aides have recently been pointing to Gore's 2000 experience as a warning to young voters who are considering voting for third-party candidates. Gore also is a notable spokesman for the issue of climate change — a topic President Barack Obama has also been using to try to energize young voters."

So, kids;  climate change is real and a current global concern that must be addressed;  voting for third party candidates could lead to very unpleasant outcomes to elections;  and vote for Hillary.

So Long!  Good Night Everybody!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Gigi Hadid has a few moles

A lot of times, photographs of gorgeous Gigi Hadid is photoshopped and airbrushed, so her moles are not visible. She has a few. I think that they add naturally to her uniqueness. And I'm sure she's smart with the sunscreen.

In a recent article about Gigi on one of the Paris Fashion Week runways, Gigi's moles weren't airbrushed out, which is the first time I've noticed them.

Gigi Hadid flashes her cleavage and shows a serious amount of skin as she rules the runway at Giambattista Valli's Paris Fashion Week SS17 show

A fabulous waterfall

Thanks to former Playboy Playmate of the Year Sara Underwood, who has taken a couple of trips recently with photographer Steve Bitanga to be photographed in the Great Outdoors while in a state of Nearly Undressed (I have no problem with that), I found out about this fabulous waterfall in Washington State, Lower Lewis Falls. If you go to Sara's Instagram, you can see a picture of the bikini-wearing beauty in front of the falls. Below are three pictures of the falls without Sara, which are still pretty spectacular.

by Blanca Braun

by Andrew Kumler

A championship? Unheard of in these parts

The Washington Spirit, which in the first year of the National Women's Soccer League only won three games, yet which persevered to make the playoffs the next two (in which they where semi-finally eliminated), got the semifinal monkey off their back to make it into the championship game, October 9.

They should justly be celebrated for their accomplishment. Even better would be winning it. But one step at a time, please.

A Washington area pro sports team is going to play for a championship

Oh, I think she is

Rumors have been FLYING that somewhat unlucky-in-love Cheryl (sometimes and once known as Cheryl Cole) might be pregnant courtesy of her most recent young buck boyfriend, One Direction's Liam Payne. And the Daily Mail article most recently published in which Cheryl is both pictured and discussed makes me think that these rumors are founded in reality.

Is Cheryl pregnant? Singer, 33, reveals stunning new curves at L'Oreal Paris party for PFW amid claims she is 'expecting baby with Liam Payne, 23' 

Unfortunately, her short-term recent husband (last name Fernandez-Versini) apparently is not cooperating with the steps necessary to end their marriage. Oh well.

JB 'WON'T SIGN' Cheryl’s divorce from Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini stalls as he ‘refuses to sign no-talk order’

New Mars images

Two Web sites featured some new images taken from orbit of Mars. The first one has a good explanation of why there is an optimum time to get high-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter, which continues to work in Martian orbit since arriving there over a decade ago. Sometimes NASA builds 'em right.

NASA just released 1000 new images from Mars

NASA's Newly Released Images of Mars Are the Next Best Thing to Space Travel

Here are two pictures of dunes in Nirgal Vallis: