Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, July 30 - August 5, 2017: Hendricks Head, Maine

I've roamed the world for the lighthouses of the week, and found many interesting ones.  This week I decided to fall back on tradition and go to one of the U.S.A.'s lighthouse strongholds, the state of Maine.  But to keep things interesting, I looked for one of the state's lesser known lights.  After a brief search, I settled on Hendricks Head Lighthouse.

Hendricks Head is located near Boothbay Harbor, on the west side of Southport Island (Boothbay Harbor is slightly northeast of Southport Island).

Here's the Lighthouse Friends page:  Hendricks Head Lighthouse

It was built in 1829 for a princely $2,662. The Fresnel lens was installed in 1857.  On of the highlights of its history was that it was shut down for awhile in 1933 and sold, but it was reinstated in 1951 when they got electricity, even though it was still privately owned.  The new owners have completely renovated it, and it looks great.

Bye-bye Brownback

I got this from a Paul Waldman column (where he went off on Republicans):

This is what you get when you elect Republicans

It concerned the fate of Kansas governor Sam Brownback.  I had not heard this before.

"Brownback is getting the heck out of Kansas, the state he has practically run into the ground over the past few years after slashing taxes in what was trumpeted as an experiment in pure conservative governing. Because of his disastrous policies, Brownback is the second-most-unpopular governor in America, ahead of only New Jersey’s Chris Christie."
I won't miss him -- and I know a lot of Kansans won't, either.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Just an observation

Just an observation - if Caroline Wozniacki could win one darned Grand Slam title, she'd be ten times more marketable (and subsequently more wealthy) than Maria Sharapova.

Caroline Wozniacki, Sports Illustrated 2017 pictures

Don't forget that she was nude (in the not-showing-anything-manner-of-nude) in this year's ESPN Magazine Body Issue -- including on the cover.

Her Body Issue cover picture, if you missed it

More pics and a video here:
Caroline Wozniacki Graces the Cover of ESPN Magazine's Body Issue

She looks especially good faking a ... forehand.

But was his life that interesting?

I am a gigantic fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  I've read other works by Tolkien;  I admit I wasn't quite as excited by them.  Still, I admire the tremendous creative genius of Tolkien.

Other than knowing that he and C.S. Lewis were friends and friendly critics of each other's works, I know only a few other things about his life.  He was apparently deeply influenced by witnessing the horrors of World War I as a soldier.   He was an Oxford English professor (an achievement not to be taken lightly).  He worked as a codebreaker in World War II, but I don't believe he and Alan Turing ever crossed paths -- however, it would have been interesting if he did.  He invented languages as well as being acquainted with a lot of them.  He got married once when young and had a long marriage.

Is this the stuff that movies are made of?  Well, maybe.

X-Men star Nicholas Hoult set 'to play legendary writer J.R.R. Tolkien in new biopic about Hobbit author's life'

Now, biopics have been made about a lot of people who one might not have thought had interesting enough lives to merit a movie about theirs.  I imagine that they might try to merge his real life with his literary life (though I don't know how they'd do that).  It's been done with other people, like American Splendor, about cartoonist Harvey Pekar.  Another subject of a movie that might not be considered prime movie material was the recent The Man Who Knew Infinity, about mathematician Ramanujan.

According to the article, the movie (which hasn't even been written yet) will "... follow the English novelist's early years as a soldier returning from World War I, using his experiences from the battlefield to create one of the world's most cherished series."

We'll see how it works.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Don't forget about Opportunity

It might be easy to forget about, but the NASA Mars Rover Opportunity is still going.  And recently it sent back a big panoramic view of where it currently was, just a short time ago.  It isn't spectacularly scenic, but it is on Mars.
Two choices here.  I recommend going full-screen with the browser and then clicking the pic, to get it full-size.  And then you can imagine you are looking through a window at the surface of Mars.

Panorama Above Perseverance Valley on Mars (natural color)

Panorama Above Perseverance Valley on Mars (enhanced color)

Sexiest beaches, part 2

My previous post on "world's sexiest beaches" (which I subsequently discovered was from 2014) made me speculate that there might be other such lists.  I was correct;  there are.   So here is more information on this extremely important topic.

The 11 Sexiest Beaches in the World (from the Huffington Post)

I've been within driving distance of one of these.

Here's a video!

I've been to only one of these. Not hard to figure out which one.

And finally, many men like me appreciate the sexiness of a good-looking babe in a bikini on the beach.  And there's a list for that, too.

15 Beaches in the World with the Hottest Women

I've been to four of these and near another two.  And I did see some good-looking women on the ones I've been to.  Not as much as their reputation might indicate, but they were there.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sexiest beaches, part 1

A two-part series on the world's sexiest beaches.  This is about the beaches.

The World's Sexiest Beaches, by the Weather Channel

I've been on one of them and near another one.  Can you guess which ones fit my personal experience?

Two articles about recent gold finds

Seems that some treasure hunters may have found some German gold on a shipwreck near Iceland.

Treasure chest with £100MILLION of Nazi gold is found by a British crew in the wreck of a ship deliberately sunk by Hitler to avoid being captured

Actually, they don't know if they found the gold yet. They found a box that might have the gold in it, and now they're working to get permission to remove the box from the wreck.  Presumably they explored the wreck with AUVs, like the survey of the Titanic.

The next article is about REAL gold.

Gold Nuggets Being Found In Rivers After Oroville Dam Crisis

(includes video showing how much they're finding, but they are finding a little more gold due to the erosion caused by the spillway release a couple of months ago)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Funny thought

"After a self-pardon, Trump could wipe out the Islamic State, trigger an economic golden age and solve global warming with a carbon-eating border wall — and no one would notice. He would simply go down in history as the man who not only pardoned his family members but himself."

From:  Yes, Trump can legally pardon himself or his family. No, he shouldn’t. by Jonathan Turley

When statistics don't tell the story you want to tell

On Friday, climate change propagandist extraordinaire and one of the world's most dislikable and obnoxious people, Marc Morano, tweeted something on his Twitter feed that caught my eye.  Here, take a look:

Here's what it said:

Climate Change Causes Less Natural Disasters in 2017 Than 10 Years Ago: Munich Re

Now, it was necessary to connect the dots from the Climate Depot article to this:

Cost of Natural Disasters Declined in Recent Years:  Munich Re

(Not exactly the same tone, is it?  This is from the Global Warming Policy Forum, a climate-denier friendly site and group;  since they call standard climate science "alarmism", you can tell.)

Back to the article.  Here's how it starts:
Frankfurt am Main (AFP) – Natural catastrophes worldwide were less devastating in the first half of 2017 than the average over the past 10 years, reinsurer Munich Re said Tuesday, while highlighting the role of climate change in severe US storms.
Interesting how the Climate Depot headline says that climate change is causing less natural disasters, while the actual article highlights the role of climate change in severe storms.  At which point I add, there's a statistically significant trend in increasing extreme 1-day rainfall events -- ascribed to climate change -- which can cause disasters like flash floods and landslides.

But here's what caught my suspicious eye, and this the wording of the Agence France Presse (AFP) article:
"Some 3,200 people lost their lives to disasters between January and June, the German group found — well short of the 10-year average of 47,000 for the period or the 5,100 deaths in the first half of 2016. "
WAIT A MINUTE.  (Deaths caused by disasters are always tragic, by the way.)  A year ago, in the first half of the year, 5100 people died in natural disasters.  This year, 3200.   But the 10-year average is 47,000.

At first I thought that was simply a factor of 10 mistake, an extra zero.  But after searching down to the actual article, and even the Munich Re numbers (Natural catastrophes in the first half of 2017), I realized it was a real number.

At which point I suspected that most of these tragic deaths weren't related to climate change at all.

Turns out I was only partially right about that.  Here's the breakdown.

Why is the 10-year average of fatalities due to natural disasters, January-June, equal to 47,000?

Two main reasons: the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, with over 220,000 fatalities, and  Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, with just under 140,000 fatalities. Add to that the Japanese tsunami, about 20,000, in March 2011, and

the total is about 400,000 fatalities. So, if without those three events the "baseline" average is around 7,000, which still seems high (the number of fatalities in the first half of 2016 was 5,100), then that gets to a 10-year average of 47,000 fatalities.

But wait! There's one more:

Russian heatwaves in June 2010: 55,000. So those four events push the total to 455,000. Bingo!

Here's where it gets interesting:

The point of Morano's tweet, and the GWPF post, was to use the Munich Re numbers to contend that climate change is causing less deaths and destruction over the past 10 years (and not, ahem, the number of deaths from disasters 10 years ago!!) But there's a lot wrong with that effort.

A. The main causes of death from natural disasters didn't have a climate element at all.  The biggest one was an earthquake, as was the fourth-largest. The second one, a cyclone, was bad because of where it hit, a low-lying highly-populated river delta. It might be possible to talk about the potential increasing strength of tropical storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones with warmer sea surface temperatures, but I don't think that is fruitful right now. Neither is a discussion of how rising sea level will make storm surges worse. So, as we've always known, these types of storms happen and they can be bad.

But there's those Russian heat waves.  Heat waves are expected to get worse and more intense with climate change (i.e., global warming).  Current Extreme Weather and Climate Change  (see quote at end)

So, buried in these statistics of tragic natural disasters is a natural disaster that climate change likely made worse, and killed about 55,000 people.  That isn't exactly the story that Climate Depot and the GWPF wanted to tell, is it?

This is the story that needs to be told:
"Natural variation alone cannot explain the increase in hot weather. Only with the inclusion of human influences can computer models of the climate reproduce the observed changes in frost days, growing season length, the number of warm nights in a year, warming on the warmest night of the year, warming on the coldest nights and days of the year, warming on the hottest day of the year, unusually hot days throughout the year, and heat waves. The increase in hot weather is a direct result of climate change, and human influence is estimated to have more than doubled the likelihood of the warming trends experienced recently in virtually every region of the globe."

Lighthouse of the Week, July 23-29, 2017: Godrevy, Cornwall, UK

Since the last lighthouse of the week was in Wales, I decided to slide over to England this week.  Did a quick look around, and settled on the Godrevy Lighthouse, in Cornwall.  It has a literary claim to fame.

Godrevy Lighthouse from the Cornwall Guide

Here's the literary claim to fame from the site above:

"The white 26-metre octagonal tower of Godrevy lighthouse was made famous by Virginia Woolfe in her novel 'To the Lighthouse', though she places it elsewhere in the book."

Godrevy Lighthouse from Trinity House

A very comprehensive historical description of the Godrevy Lighthouse, including geology.  Here's where it is:

"Godrevy Island, actually two barely separated rock masses, is situated 3½ miles across St. Ives Bay, stands nearest the headland and beyond it lie the Stones." (The Stones is the dangerous reef that led to the establishment of the lighthouse.)

So here's the basic lighthouse description:

"On 30 November 1854, the iron screw steamer Nile was wrecked with the loss of all passengers and crew; Trinity House decided to provide an aid to navigation to mark the hazard, erecting a lighthouse in 1859 to the design of consultant engineer James Walker. Its light was exhibited from 1 March. The white octagonal tower, 26 metres high, is made from rubble stone bedded in mortar, and is sited together with its adjoining keepers' cottages almost in the centre of the largest of the rocks."

Now that we've done all that, pictures and a video:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

El Niño is over (for now), but warming isn't

It seems that even with the Pacific Ocean in a normal state (and not in an El Niño state), the year 2017 is going to be quite warm.  Even though there are still months to go, it could end up being one of the top three warmest years ever (measured instrumentally, that is).  Because 2017 hasn't received the El Niño temperature kick, this is somewhat unusual -- and unnerving.

The reason for the unnervingness is that it could indicate that some of the factors which have held back warming (for whatever cause) aren't in play now.  So the heat could be on -- for real.

2017 is so unexpectedly warm it is freaking out climate scientists

"Usually we see global records in years when the short-term El Niño warming adds to the long-term global warming trend (see chart below). As NOAA noted in its March report, without an El Niño, no month before March 2017 had ever exceeded the “normal” temperature (the 1981–2010 average) by a full 1.8°F (1.0°C)."

I think that's significant.

Sonnet: "what we can accomplish"

what we can accomplish

Unreachable — what once was thought of peaks
surmounting icy mountains, or of shores
across a vicious sea, these quests of weeks
and years — requiring lives and loves and stores
to be abandoned — taxed the hearts and minds
of those for whom these goals must be achieved
to prove that will surpassed their range. The binds
on our endeavors make what we've conceived
mere hills among the mountains, yet their height
permits us to describe our small success
as being that, and we can also cite
repeatability, for what is less
than what the journals write as history
becomes an often-practiced mystery.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, June 16-22, 2017: Nash Point, Wales, UK

As I promised in my notes in this very recent blog post: "I'll be back", I would be returning to Nash Point, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, this time to present its lighthouse as Lighthouse of the Week.  So here we are.   But where is here?

Let me illustrate.

As you can see, Nash Point is on the coast (naturally), just a bit south of Cardiff.  The body of water upon whose coast it sits is the Bristol Channel, which becomes the Mouth of the Severn (River) as it narrows.

So now that we know about where Nash Point is, let's find out a bit more about the lighthouse.

It is famous enough to have it's own Web site:  Nash Point Lighthouse Visitor Centre

It says this:
"The station was built between 1831 -1832 using “Blue Lias” stone quarried from the beach below the station which was then winched up the cliff and dressed on site by very skilled masons and with the assistance of what must have been many, many labourers.

"The foundations for both the low (west) tower and the high (east tower) were laid in the week before 1st October 1831 and the whole station was completed and exhibited its light for the first time on 1st September 1832., just 11 months after work commenced, what an achievement! (Source; archives of the Cambrian Newspaper and Notices to Mariners)."
That's great, but what about the vital statistics?
"Active; focal plane 56 m (154 ft); two white or red flashes, depending on direction, separated by 3.7 s, every 15 s. 37 m (122 ft) round stone tower with gallery attached to 1-story keeper's house." (from The Lighthouse Directory, Lighthouses of Wales)
There's a recording of the Fog Signal here, which is still authentic when operated.

Now that all of that has been accomplished, it's time for pictures (and a drone video).  The middle picture is quite spectacular.

The moral rot of the GOP

The real title of Jennifer Rubin's Washington Post op-ed is "The GOP's moral rot is the problem, not Donald Trump Jr.", but because I'm pulling out a particular paragraph, I titled it this way.

Here's the paragraph:
"Indeed, for decades now, demonization — of gays, immigrants, Democrats, the media, feminists, etc. — has been the animating spirit behind much of the right. It has distorted its assessment of reality, giving us anti-immigrant hysteria, promulgating disrespect for the law (how many “respectable” conservatives suggested disregarding the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage?), elevating Fox News hosts’ blatantly false propaganda as the counterweight to liberal media bias and preventing serious policy debate. For seven years, the party vilified Obamacare without an accurate assessment of its faults and feasible alternative plans. “Obama bad” or “Clinton bad” became the only credo — leaving the party, as Brooks said of the Trump clan, with “no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code” — and no coherent policies for governing."
And right now, we're seeing this in action in Congress every day.  The Trump administration is simply a slow train wreck dragging the country along with it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What makes a picture sexy?

As you might surmise from reviewing many of the posts on my blog, I have a predilection for pretty, sexy women.  (Many other men do, in fact -- amazing, right?)   Something else I like is a very sexy picture of a pretty woman.  As you also might surmise, the less she's wearing, the sexier the picture might be.  I say that because certainly not all nude photography is sexy, and it isn't necessary for a woman to be nude for a picture to be sexy.  It takes a good photographer, a good model, and setting and composition to be a really sexy picture.

The picture below is indeed sexy -- one of the sexiest I've seen in a long time.  The model is Jocelyn Binder, who's been featured in Playboy and its affiliates, and a lot of other places (here's her Model Mayhem page). I follow Jocelyn on Instagram, and she provides a lot of sexy pictures.

Let's break down why this picture is so sexy.  First of all, she's nude -- though you don't see more here than you would on any woman in a small bikini, so it's not explicit.  It's clear she's nude because of the outstanding tan lines, particularly the reflection in the mirror, with a tantalizing glimpse of derriere cleavage. She's fit -- her abs and waist show that. The reflection enhances the picture because it seems accidental, giving the picture a more intimate feeling.  Jocelyn's gaze is strongly come-hither, her visible eye is heavy and sensual, and she's tousled enough to make one think that she just came off the beach, took off her swimwear, and has just showered, and is now ready for a siesta with all the perks with the man she's looking at, a gaze directed from her at us.  She looks amorous and desirous. (Jocelyn's eyes are mesmerizing, too -- she's got cat eyes, with glow.)  She also seems to be aware that someone is looking at her with desire.  Add to all this the setting: jumbled sheets, sunny lighting, and the hotel room appearance, and so it seems that sex is on her mind and on the menu.  Finally, because the picture is black-and-white, it appears to be an artistic sexy picture, rather than simply a nude-woman-on-a-bed sexy picture, which would be more of the feeling if it were in color.

Now, I confess that I was so moved and inspired by this picture that I wrote a sonnet about it, which I do sometimes.  The sonnet is below the picture.   Thanks for the inspiration, Jocelyn.

(By the way, it's purely accidental that both the subject of this post and the previous one have a first name starting with 'Jo' and a last name starting with 'Bi'.  Weird, huh?)

The pic:

The sonnet:

Meditation on a black-and-white nude

A basic stark simplicity exudes
from this depiction -- taken with an eye
for venue and for palette, it includes
a centered subject in a place I'd try
to go if fortune smiled upon my plight;
and were I there, the promise that I see
directly and reflected makes delight
a goal I'd strive to share responsively
with her (and it would be in color, too);
it is the sense of my imagining
to help my mind to think this should be true
despite the comprehension that I bring
which does distinguish thoughts and certainties
just as I grope in hope, but never seize.

Josie Bissett marries again

Only once before (in 2009, actually - have I been doing this that long?) have I written about Josie Bissett of the original Melrose Place.   That was here:  Josie Bissett is still really, really, really cute

In that article, I noted that she had just recently divorced actor Rob Estes.  Well, hope and love spring eternal, and Josie just got married again:

'Happily Ever After!': Melrose Place alum Josie Bissett, 46, marries Thomas Doig at a charming winery in Washington

The pictures in the article aren't that great.  And all we know about Mr. Doig is that he's in construction, in Seattle (which happens to be pretty active right now -- as Seattle has the most skyline construction cranes in the USA for the second straight year).

So I think he can provide for the family household.

Since the pictures aren't that great, I am obligated to provide one of Josie looking really pretty.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I'll be back

Just found out about this place - Nash Point, the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.  The picture below is by John Soliven, from the British Landscape Photographer of the Year contest in 2015.

Nash Point also has a lighthouse.  So I'll be coming back here soon. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer is here; cricket is on

I'm sorry;  I don't really follow all of the cricket world, but I do pay attention when the Daily Mail writes about the English cricket team playing Test cricket.  And they just did that, with a new captain (Joe Root), and they easily handled South Africa.

This is a recap of the last day.  After a high-scoring first innings (where Joe Root helped his cause with 190 runs), the second innings for both teams were relatively low in runs;  England only had 233, but they were able to keep South Africa to 119 to get the win.  Moeen Ali took 4 wickets in the first innings and 6 in the second - impressive.

Moeen Ali takes a South African wicket

Wimbledon women's final 8

No predictions here (and I've learned to try not to have favorites), but the last 8 left in the women's draw at Wimbledon 2017 makes for an interesting quarterfinal round.

I realize the hazard of posting something that will likely be irrelevant in two days, but that's the fun of sports -- it keeps moving on.

So here's the final 8: Halep, Konta, Vandeweghe, V. Williams, Ostapenko, Muguruza, Kuznetsova, & Rybáriková.

Now, if Halep defeats Konta & Ostapenko defeats Williams, then it will be a Halep-Ostapenko semifinal. On a surface that favors Ostapenko, and we saw what she did to Halep on a surface that favored Halep. But the teen has to get past Venus Williams, who knows how to play on grass, and despite her age and health problems (which appear to be under control right now), she's going to give it everything she has.

Ain't sports great?  It's like they planned it that way.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Did you hear about the Roman concrete?

This was one of those fascinating science news stories that just shows up every now and then.  The question that was being addressed was why seaside structures built by the ancient Romans (piers, jetties, harbor breakwaters, etc.) have lasted thousands of years, while modern concrete structures, presumably made with better "modern" construction methods, fall apart a lot faster.

Good question!

The answer, apparently, is in the recipe that the Romans used.  It leads to some fascinating chemistry.  They combined volcanic ash (available all around Italy), quicklime, volcanic rock -- and the key ingredient, seawater.  The dissolved ions in seawater fostered the growth of a crystal, aluminous tobermorite.  I have to admit, that's a new one for me.

The growth of the crystals strengthen the Roman concrete structures, and they continued to get stronger as the crystals grew.

Like I said, fascinating.

Why ancient Roman concrete lasts for millenia, but ours crumbles in decades (2017)

So you must be wondering what aluminous tobermorite looks like, right?  So was I, in fact.  So I have a picture below.  It comes from this article:  To improve today's concrete, do as the Romans did. (2013)

Now, I admit I was wondering why if they knew in 2013 that Al-tobermorite was what held the Roman concrete together, why there was another article in 2017 about it.  It looks like the researchers went a long way in four years in determining the reaction pathways (there's more than one) that lead to Al-tobermorite crystallization, rather than just knowing what the end product was.

If you want to get right to it, here's the 2017 article in American Mineralogist (it's also linked in the first article link I have above). Phillipsite and Al-tobermorite mineral cements produced through low-temperature water-rock reactions in Roman marine concrete

Lighthouse of the Week, July 9-15, 2017: Stonington Harbor Lighthouse CT

Connecticut is a small state with a lot of lighthouses per mile of coastline.  And to this point I've only featured one of them.  So now I'll double that number with a classic, the Stonington Harbor Lighthouse.  As you might suspect, it's located on a point (Stonington Point, of course) just outside the city of Stonington.

This one has been here awhile -- 1840, according to the history.  It's no longer a working lighthouse; now it's a museum, housing the Stonington Historical Society.  That's appropriate, because the building under the light used to be a house.

It's not very tall;  only 29 steps up a circular staircase to the top.  It really only operated until 1889, and went through a few owners before the historical society got it.

So here's the link where I got that from:  The Old Lighthouse Museum

And I went crazy with pictures;  here are five (well, one of them is a model).  One question remains:  is the lighthouse stone a light brown or a light gray?

I like this one quite a lot

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Another great cover

On several occasions I've featured a magazine cover with a lovely lady featured prominently on it.

Well, I'm going to do that again. The lovely lady (actually, she could be called a "girl" or "young woman" as well) is Alexis Ren, who I wrote about recently here.

In this case, she's on the cover of Maxim (see below).  The article, entitled "Alexis Ren is Maxim's August Cover Girl", is worth checking out for more.

She's definitely a hot commodity. It will be interesting to see how she (and other Instababes -- Demi Rose Mawby, notably, also a recent cover girl) expand their portfolios by marketing their remarkable assets.

Friday, July 7, 2017

How the whale lost its legs, and back again

Watch the video. It won't last 50 million years, I promise.

From this:  50 Million Years of Whale Evolution in 1 Minute

Yes, but how does it TASTE?

Here's the news about agricultural scientists, or food technologists, or banana hackers, from Australia that have developed a new variety that could have a major impact on malnutrition.

Scientists develop the world's first GOLDEN bananas which have orange-coloured flesh and could save thousands of lives

Now, the color isn't really what's important.  It's the vitamins that are now in the bananas.

The bananas are enriched in Vitamin A, and since bananas low in Vitamin A are a major part of the diet in Uganda, many people in Uganda have Vitamin A deficiency.  This is also true of populations in neighboring countries.  According to the article, the bananas are the East African cooking banana, not the Cavendish banana that's in U.S. grocery stores.  So as these bananas become more widely available, the problems of Vitamin A deficiency should decline.  (Thank you, Bill and Melinda Gates, for funding this.)

OK, that's great.  What I was wondering is, while they're at it, could they figure out how to get the Gros Michel banana taste genes into a different banana?  The Gros Michel nearly disappeared because of a blight, and the Cavendish is in danger of a similar fate (as I've written about before). And by all accounts, the Gros Michel tasted quite a bit better than the Cavendish.  Since there are still some Gros Michel bananas around in isolated spots, couldn't the food bio-engineers come up with a banana that is both more nutritious and tastes great?  (Sounds like a protein-rich light beer, but seriously, how hard could this be?  Don't answer that.)

Actually, there's a chance the Gros Michel could come back, as agriculturalists have been working on disease-resistant hybrid.  Guess we have to wait and see if that works.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Deep into the red

Stand by -- on July 10, about three days from now as I write this -- NASA's Juno probe will get the closest look mankind has ever had of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

NASA's Juno spacecraft is about to peer into the depths of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Ever since man first looked at Jove with sufficient magnification to see it, the Great Red Spot has been there.  It has gotten ruddier and paler, larger and smaller, but it has never gone away.  Now we have a chance to find out how and why it exists ... and persists.

I expect some spectacular pictures to come from this flyby.  Stay tuned.  The pictures might be even more amazing than this reprocessed image from Voyager 1.  (Full-size original here.)

Can you see the caterpillar?

I have to admit, I was dumbfounded by the remarkable adaptive camouflage of the Baron caterpillar, brought to my attention in this Daily Mail article.   Look down to see what I mean.

Here's what it looks like off-leaf.  It still kind of looks like a collection of pine needles.

Nature has a large capacity to surprise us. And this one definitely surprised me.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

So I'd like to know her name is a good place to shop for lingerie. It's also a good place to look at women wearing lingerie, some of it on the more daring side of the lingerie section.

I happened to notice this lovely lass wearing a bra and garter set (thigh-highs not included). She's got the body type that appeals to me -- long and tall, with nice-size, but not really large, breasts. And she happens to be both gorgeous and has great hair.

And I have no idea what her name is. Some of the models I recognize (Tiffany Toth, Leanna Bartlett, Julianne Kissinger, aka juli.annee). But not this one.

I thought I recognized that name

I was looking at the early results of the 2017 USA Swimming Summer Nationals, which also served to cho0se the World Championships team, and I noticed a familiar name in the final of the women's 50-meter backstroke.

The name was Katharine Berkoff. I suspected that she was the daughter of Olympian David Berkoff, the originator of the "Berkoff Blastoff" extended underwater fly kick pushoff  (he was the most notable of several swimmers that developed this technique), which I think has been a major influence on swimming since, and required rules changes to prevent races from being conducted entirely underwater and to help avoid swimmers drowning.

This article confirmed that her father was who I thought he was:

Up & Comer: Katharine Berkoff

She finished seventh and didn't make the Worlds team, but I don't think she's done yet. She's in the Class of 2019 -- high school class, that is.

And she did pretty good for not making the team:

Missoula's Katharine Berkoff breaks U.S. backstroke swimming record

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, July 2-8, 2017: Marblehead Neck, Massachusetts (& fireworks)

Last year for the week including the 4th of July Independence Day celebration, I provided two pictures of different lighthouses with fireworks displays in the background.  This time I'm doing the same thing, but with one featured lighthouse.

This week's featured lighthouse is the Marblehead Neck Light, at Marblehead, Massachusetts.  It's not the prettiest, most creative, or most picturesque lighthouse in the world.  In fact, it's quite utilitarian.  But it's in a notable location.  Marblehead is on the coast northeast of Boston and east of Salem.

So, as one might expect, it has a long history.  Here's the Lighthouse Friends page for it:

Marblehead Lighthouse

Here's an excerpt with some details about the current brown tower.
"Instead of the proposed brick tower, a 100-foot-tall, pyramidal, iron skeleton tower, to be manufactured by Chamblin, Delaney, and Scott of Richmond, Virginia, was approved for Marblehead in 1895. This design, which had been used elsewhere in the country, was likely selected due to its cost of just $8,786 versus the $45,000 estimate for a brick tower. A temporary wooden tower exhibited a light at Marblehead while the iron tower was assembled on the site of the original lighthouse, which had been demolished to make way for its successor. The new tower, the only one of its kind in New England, first exhibited its light on April 17, 1896.

The core of the tower is an iron cylinder that houses a 127-step spiral staircase that leads to the landing below the lantern room, while eight cast-iron pilings, seated atop concrete foundation disks and connected by a network of braces, provide the necessary support. A covered way linked the new tower to the keeper’s dwelling. A brick oil house was added to the station in 1907."
Here's a couple of pictures of the lighthouse in daylight:

And here are three pictures of the lighted lighthouse with the bright lights of fireworks behind it:

Samenow tees off

Did you miss this editorial from the Washington Post's weather writer, Jason Samenow?

I worked on the EPA’s climate change website. Its removal is a declaration of war.

Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

"To me, a scientist who managed this [climate change] website for more than five years, its removal signifies a declaration of war on climate science by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. There can be no other interpretation. I draw this conclusion as a meteorologist with a specialization in climate science and as an independent voter who strives to keep my political and scientific views separate."
"To be perfectly clear, it is any administration’s prerogative to revise or archive Web pages that relate to policies and programs it is no longer pursuing. For example, Pruitt’s move to archive material on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan was totally justified; the Trump administration has shelved the policy.

But there is no justification for political interference with authoritative, carefully vetted scientific information. Neither the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration nor NASA has altered its online climate science content — which is not substantively different than material on the EPA’s site. They are not currently run by political appointees."
Exactly right.  The scummy Trumpies haven't gone gunning for the climate change info at NASA or NOAA -- yet.  But I think they will eventually.

So who is Abby Hornacek?

I accidentally saw a new show about drone racing, in the Drone Racing League (DRL), of course.  It appeared to be a bunch of guys racing drones.  I did not pay much attention until the host appeared on screen.  Her name was Abby Hornacek, and even though there were drones racing, Abby was the reason to watch the show.

The name seemed familiar, and it turns out that she's the daughter of former NBA player and current New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.  As you'll probably figure out, she attended the University of Southern California and played volleyball -- on their beach volleyball team.

She's got pure California girl looks. This has not gone unnoticed by other blogs and Web sites, which does not surprise me.  What does surprise me is that the DRL Web site does not have a picture of Abby on it.  This is a mistake, in my opinion, because I think something else guys that race drones might be interested in is Abby Hornacek.

See if you agree.

With dad Jeff Hornacek

Drone Racing League host

Swimsuit feature, NBA daughters

The lava falls of Mars

NASA entitled this new picture the "Niagara Falls of Mars", but I think that gives the misleading impression that this had something to do with water.  It didn't -- the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired a remarkable picture of a solidified lava falls, where the lava flow breached a crater wall and flowed into it.

There are lots of versions of this, including 3D, which I haven't looked at yet, here:

Lava Spilling into Crater (which is a much more accurate description)

Here's a direct link to one of the larger images:

Now, one might be tempted to ask, has anything like this happened on Earth?  Well, of course it has. One of the most notable instances happened when lava from the Mauna Ulu eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano flowed into Alae Crater.  Seeing this in person must have been sublime.

Sonnet: "More than just ... "

I humbly admit that this sonnet came out pretty close to how I wanted it to.

More than just ...

Within her luscious cave of warm desire
my questing rite continues, seeking to
discover where the source that may inspire
the lines of poets, and strong hopes that brew
in our desirous minds, exists -- this search
is simple and repeated, yet it finds
a treasured and revered and ancient church,
the sanctuary where the tie that binds
each body to its spirit is enshrined;
And as the name of God becomes profane
in ecstasies, it looks to be designed
for an exclusive christening -- we gain
a universal knowing beyond sight,
transcending our voluptuous delight.