Saturday, December 30, 2017

If it's going to happen, it's going to happen here

In case you thought you'd heard of everything, I have to ask if you heard about the new luxury hotel that Russia is planning to build.

In space.

According to the article I've linked below, the Russians are planning to build an add-on module for the International Space Station, that is going to be a luxury hotel.

Russia's plan to build a luxury hotel on the ISS

"UNDERNEATH" the ISS in the picture above is the NEM-1 Science and Power Module, at left.  At right, looking a lot like the NEM-1, is the new hotel module.

I just love this idea.  The problem is, the timetable is kinda tight. The end of the article states:
"Currently, the launch of the NEM-1 module is planned for 2021. In the meantime, the retirement of the ISS is looming in 2028.

RKK Energia estimates that it would take at least five years to build the tourist module, which means that if the work began right away, it would make it to the station in 2022 or later. Hence, the project might not have those seven years required to pay off the investments. Also the project will be vulnerable to currency exchange fluctuations and cost overruns, the authors of the study said."
Now, in case you haven't been reading my other blog posts on the particular subject about which I am going to speculate right now, for years I have been contemplating the question of what human couple is going to accomplish the first human coupling in the environment of outer space.  To state it more succinctly, who is going to be the first man and woman to have sex in Earth orbit?  Now, I don't know who it's going to be, but I will tell you right now, if this Russian ISS hotel actually gets off the ground and attached to the ISS, that's where it will occur.  GUARANTEED.  It's too "juicy" an opportunity to pass up.

If you want to read other of my posts on this subject, just use the words "sex" and "space" in the search box.  Or click right here.  (There are a couple of other post not on that subject included, but you'll get several of my previous musings on the topic.)

And with that, I conclude the 2017 blogging year.  See you in 2018, and look for my predictions!

The Premier League table on the last day of 2017

At the top of the Premier League table, it's very very hard to see how Manchester City will allow any drama regarding who's going to win the league this year.  Oh sure, there are several months left in the season, but they are way out in front and appear to have completely forgotten how to lose a game.

Which is not good news for Crystal Palace, who as I write this will play Manchester City tomorrow morning (morning on this side of the Atlantic pond, that is).

Which brings us to the bottom of the table, where there is a massive pile-up of teams that could be relegated.  And yes, there are a lot of months left in the season, and that will get sorted out, to an extent.

Crystal Palace is back in danger, though on tie-breakers (whatever they are), they are still ahead of West Ham United.  Both of them have 18 points, ahead of Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion.  The problem with that is, while CP is extraordinarily unlikely to defeat MC, the match between WHU and WBA on Tuesday could very well produce a winner.  If WHU wins, then they'd go ahead of CP by three points. If WBA wins, then they'd be tied on points with CP and WHU.  (On New Year's Eve, while CP faces MC, WBA is playing Arsenal, and they aren't likely to win that.  So that Tuesday game is pretty critical.)

But that's not all.  Again, as I write this, Newcastle has 19 points, and Southampton, Bournemouth, and Stoke City are all at 20. 

And to top all of this off, CP plays Southampton on Tuesday, too, and they might have a chance to win or draw that, provided that they can recover from Sunday's Manchester City match.  A good manager will have to decide who to rest and who to play.

It's a happy mess.   Have a Happy New Year!

Making the case for Mitt

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post thinks Mitt Romney should run for the Senate from Utah.  Mitt probably will if Orrin Hatch decides not to run again.

Let's all hope that happens, even though Mitt is a Republican.  Because it's extremely unlikely Utah would elect a Democrat.

Run, Mitt, Run (the column)

Two excerpts are below. In the article, the first one has links to all the examples listed.
"And Hatch wants colleagues to “get behind him [Trump] in every way we can.” That would include backing Trump’s defense of white supremacists, his vulgar tweets, his endless attacks on the rule of law and the institutions of democracy, and, yes, his embrace of a credibly accused child molester for the Senate. Hatch, after enjoying a ride on Air Force One this month, excused Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore and said the alleged offenses “were decades ago.”

"The lapsed CHIP program now hangs by a thread, and while Hatch says he favors renewing the program, he frets that “we don’t have money anymore.” This as he helped push through a $1.5 trillion tax cut paid for with debt."
May I now add something to "Run, Mitt, Run"?

"Begone, Orrin, Begone".

Let us all hope, indeed.

A short announcement

Coming up next week, the first week of 2018:

Undangerous Predictions for 2018

Edgy Predictions for 2018

I haven't done this for a couple of years (I skipped 2016 and 2017), but I'm going to chance it again this year.  As before for the years that I did this, I expect to get at least 6 of my Undangerous Predictions right.  For the Edgy Predictions, if I get two of them right, I'll be pleased.  Four of them, and I'll be shocked.

Stay tuned.

Lighthouse of the Week, December 24-30, 2017: Galloo Island, New York, USA

It's the end of the year 2017, and I thought I'd offer everyone a present (but you'll have to pay for it yourself).  In this case, it's a private island for sale in Lake Ontario.  Now, according to the Web site about it, it's under contract, but that could still potentially fall through (I guess).  According to Lighthouse Friends, you can have the lighthouse for around $295,000, and the rest of the island, including the lodge-style main house and an air strip, for just under $13 million.

Galloo Island - look at that beach!

You can thank me later.

If you buy it or not, the island is Galloo Island, in eastern Lake Ontario.  And of course it has a lighthouse.  Given that it's been there awhile, there's a current lighthouse and there was a previous lighthouse.   Read the complete history at Lighthouse Friends.

Here are a couple of excerpts from there about the current lighthouse.
"Work on a new sixty-foot-tall tower and dwelling began late in 1866 and was completed the following year. Gray limestone, quarried on the island, was used to build the new structures, which were linked by a covered passageway. Theo Stevens, the head keeper, moved into the new residence, while the old dwelling was retained for an assistant, a position which was added to the station in 1867."
"Despite protests from boaters, Galloo Island Lighthouse was automated in 1963, when the power source was changed from direct to alternating current, and a communication line was installed to the Coast Guard boat station on the island to permit the personnel there to operate the light and fog horn by remote control. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and in 1997 the Coast Guard, who didn’t want to spend the money to maintain the aging buildings, declared the station surplus."
So it's historical, and a bargain.  Buy now!

Oh, I wouldn't be a good real estate agent if I didn't offer some pictures of the property. The second is from an old postcard.

Aerial view

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Where the eruptions were in 2017

It didn't seem like there were any massive and dangerous, or gorgeous and breathtaking and awe-inspiring, volcanic eruptions this year.  The lack of disasters is good, of course, and the lower level of activity didn't mean there wasn't any activity.  The Atlantic had a fine photographic recap of the year in molten magmatic extrusions.

2017:  The Year in Volcanic Activity

I grabbed a picture of what Bogoslof in the Aleutians looks like when it isn't blasting out massive ash clouds.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

GREAT news from Virginia

After the startling election results in Virgina, where a Democratic governor was elected (again) in a stern rebuke to Trumpist style politics, something else happened of further significance.  That was the big shift in the House of Delegates, which went from a 66-34 Redumblican majority to a 51-49 majority for the repugnant GOP.

Until the recounts, that is.

Because after the recounts, in Newport News, where the R guy led by 10 votes, the new count put the D girl into office -- by one vote.

I love it when something like that happens.  Couldn't happen to bunch of scummier politicians.

(Now, I know that I'm amalgamating the Virginia Republicans with the rest of the national party, but given what has happened since Trump took office, I'm pretty much nauseated by the entire lot of them.)

A recount just knocked Virginia’s statehouse out of Republicans’ hands — by a single vote

Another celeb gets pregnant

This time, the pregnant lady (for the first time, too) is the lovely and luscious Eva Longoria.

Oh boy! Eva Longoria, 42, confirms she is four months PREGNANT with her first child with husband Jose Baston

Congratulations and best wishes, of course.

Lighthouse of the Week, December 17-23, 2017: Donkin Reserve, South Africa

One more lighthouse from South Africa in this three-peat;  this one intrigued me because of the pyramid next to the lighthouse.  This is the Donkin Reserve lighthouse in Port Elizabeth, and the pyramid and the city are connected.

First, about the lighthouse:
"1861 (rebuilt in 1930). Inactive since 1973 (a decorative light is shone during evening hours). 26 m (86 ft) octagonal tower with lantern, gallery, and four ribs, rising from a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, lantern dome red. Near the lighthouse is a sandstone pyramid built as a memorial to the wife of Sir Rufane Donkin, the city's founder; the city is named for her. The original lighthouse had a height of 17 m (55 ft); in or about 1930 the lighthouse was raised to its present height and substantially rebuilt; the buttresses were added at that time, giving the tower an Art Deco design. Built high on a hill behind the harbor, the light was replaced in 1973 by the Deal Light."
(And let me note that the Deal Light is boring.)

So now you know the story behind the pyramid next to the lighthouse.  Apparently Rufane was extremely in love with Lady Elizabeth;  you can read more about that here.'

So now for some pictures of the Donkin Reserve lighthouse.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Abbey Clancy is DEFINITELY pregnant

She may be pregnant now, but I can guess that's not going to be her state much longer.

Abbey is one of my favorite English models, and I've posted about her many times.  She's married to the extremely tall soccer league player Peter Crouch, who plays for Stoke City, and I believe this is their third child together.  There was a spot of infidelity a couple years back (technically they weren't married, but she was pregnant with their first)  but they appear to have gotten over that just fine, because they proceeded to get married and have more kids (obviously).  She's modeled, done TV, done the British version of DWTS (called "Strictly Come Dancing"), been an Ultimo lingerie feature model (which they apparently don't do anymore), so she's accomplished quite a bit on her own and hasn't relied on Peter's compensation for soccer kicks entirely.

So Abbey posed in her highly pregnant state, wearing barely anything, and showing how very pregnant she currently is.

Hey Peter -- good job, as usual.  Remember that you're a very lucky guy. 

No Ashes (cricket) drama

Australia hammered England in the third Ashes test, and by so doing they have regained the Ashes urn.

 The key to this Test series and each match is not hard to determine -- it's the sublime batting of captain Steve Smith. In the first Test, he had 141 runs in the first innings and didn't have to bat in the second. In the second Test, he had a surprisingly tough match, with only 40 in the first innings and six in the second -- which was one reason this was the only close match. In the third Test, they never got him out in the first innings; he was on 239 when they declared the end of their first inning batting, and didn't need to bat a second innings because England couldn't make the Australian first innings score.  Major ouch there.

It's funny, because I had thought Australia was declining in the cricket rankings. Apparently they're pretty good at home, at least.

And Smith is incredible.

The actual Ashes urn is the little one on the right.  The crystal vase on the left is awarded to the winner of each Ashes Test series.  So Australia gets that one too, this time.

Crystal Palace is WHERE in the Premier League table? (i.e., the standings)

Currently as I'm looking at the table, 14th, but over the Christmas holidays when there are lots of games, that can change pretty rapidly. CP has 17 points, and above them by one point are Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion. I would say that any team in the bottom 12 is in potential danger of relegation, because there is still a lot of the season to be played.

CP needs at least a point (three would be better) against the current bottom-dweller Swansea City, their next opponent, because after that they play Arsenal.

Friday, December 15, 2017

OK, this is crazy

I like optical illusions.  I'm not an expert on them or anything, but I've seen many examples of them.

This one is absolutely mind-boggling.

The remarkable "curvature blindness" illusion

After you see it, your world will be forever changed.  Not a big change, mind you, but it'll be changed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Actor (partner), actress, and dancer pregnancy news

The news was positively aglow with pregnant celebs today.

John Stamos, who didn't manage the feat with his then-wife Rebecca Romijn, now has a pregnant fiancée.

'I always wanted to be a dad!' John Stamos, 54, is to be a father for the first time as he announces his fiancée Caitlin McHugh, 31, is pregnant

Kirsten Dunst, who got married and indicated that having a tyke or two had become one of her top priorities, has gotten busy and gotten impregnated, according to the rumor mill.

Kirsten Dunst 'is pregnant with her first child with fiancé Jesse Plemons'... after revealing it's 'time to have babies and chill'

Robert Herjavec and the athletically and artistically delectable Aussie dancer Kym Johnson announced she was pregnant, and then did some multiplication on that announcement by announcing she was gravid with twins.

'We decided to double up!' DWTS' Kym Johnson and Robert Herjavec confirm they are expecting TWINS

'Tis the fertile season, apparently.

Is this really going to happen?

Apparently the reality of space tourism is a little bit closer to a starting date.

If tourists in space become routine, will sex in space be far behind?  After all, a daring couple would only have to book a flight in the six-seater capsule for two.  I can believe there are a significant number of multi-millionaires willing to take that one small schtup for mankind, given how the bidding goes when a comely young lady puts her virginity up for auction to pay for college.

But that's a way in the future, but maybe not quite so far away as yesterday.

Here's the article that inspired my incredulity, about a successful launch and test of the Blue Origin.  I spelled that right, I think.

A holiday in space? Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin successfully test flies its 6-seater capsule that could take tourists into orbit next year using its reusable rocket

The test dummy in the capsule was nicknamed 'Mannequin Skywalker'.  Cute.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, December 10-16, 2017: Robben Island, South Africa

South African lighthouses were so appealing last week, ending up with the Cape Agulhas light as the featured location, that I figured I might as well go back there this week.

I was going to go with Donkin Hill, but after I saw one image from Robben Island, I decided Donkin Hill has to wait a week.

The reason I chose Robben Hill is the amazing view of Cape Town across the water that it possesses.

(And the fact that this island is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many long years.)

(And the fact that this was the first location of a coastal light signal in all of South Africa.)

Cape Town Heritage:  Robben Island Lighthouse
"The Robben Island lighthouse was built in 1864 by Joseph Flack. It is 18 metres (59 ft) high and was converted to electricity in 1938. It is the only South African lighthouse to utilise a flashing light instead of a revolving light. The light is visible for 24 nautical miles."

More info:
Robben Island (from Lighthouses of South Africa, a relatively ancient Web site)

The classic shot

Just the lighthouse

The lighthouse, the island, and Cape Town, all on a book cover

Just the view

Fossils (not volcanoes) under the City of Angels

We know from what's gotten trapped and then recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits that there were lots of Ice Age animals wandering around what is now the environs of greater Los Angeles.

Now, as the subway gets extended, they're finding even more Ice Age fossil specimens underground. Fortunately, not hot molten magma, no matter what Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones think. Of course, that's geologically impossible.  LA has enough trouble with regular fires anyway.

Los Angeles subway work uncovers array of Ice Age fossils (Update)

That's cool. For the record, I am not planning to ride that subway. Ever.

That one missed us by a few seconds

Asteroid 2017 VL2 zoomed terrifyingly close to Earth and NASA didn’t see it coming

NASA Fails To Spot Whale-Sized Asteroid That Skimmed Past Earth

It's never comforting when we find out about a big-enough-to-cause-problems asteroid that missed Earth, after it missed Earth -- and didn't miss by much.

And as a wise sage once said, "The one that's going to get us is the one we don't see coming."

Sobering thought, that.

(Unfortunately, after what Donald Trump did with respect to Jerusalem, our general chances of getting killed in a random lone-wolf terror attack, or an organized automatic weapon gunning-down, have gone up, and that's far more likely than an asteroid strike, even if it would kill fewer people.)

'Tis the season for foxy lingerie

Play on words there -- Megan Fox shows off lingerie, and the benefits of having both a personal trainer (I'm pretty sure) and the dedication to get in shape after multiple childbirths.

Pretty darned amazing, and just in time for the holidays.

 Article: (includes a video!)

'Tis the season! Megan Fox shows off her incredible figure in lacy lingerie as she smolders in new holiday campaign for Frederick's Of Hollywood

Megan's Frederick's of Hollywood collection

Megan Fox Spotlight from Frederick's of Hollywood

And you would be expecting a picture, too, I believe.

The danger of investigating Mueller

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post really lays it on the line here.

The attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice
"Only recently, it was widely assumed that if Trump fired Mueller, many Republicans would rise up to defend our institutions. Now, many in the party are laying the groundwork for justifying a coverup. This is a recipe for lawlessness."
And terror.

Not terrorism. The kind of terror where normal people are scared out of their wits.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Supergirl" borrows a line from "Superman II"

In the four-part superhero crossover saga called "Crisis on Earth X" just aired on the CW network (which was very well done and had several moments of believable peril, as well as emotional drama), many of the characters had to confront their lookalike alter-egos (or doppelgangers, if you prefer) from the alternate universe.  And there were a ton of "Easter eggs" and homages to movies and TV shows from the past.

This one was my favorite.

England crashes in the Ashes (2nd Test)

On Day 5 of the second Ashes Test match, this being the famous five-match cricket series regularly played between Australia and England, England was poised for a heroic offensive attack that would be the stuff of legend, scoring a record number of runs in a massive comeback to turn the tables on the Aussies and take the match.

Instead, they got stuffed.  Needing 176 runs, they only got 51, and Australia celebrated going up 2-0.  If they win the next Test match, the Ashes urn will be theirs, and there will be a lot less interest in the last two matches.  So I hope England wins the next one, to keep things interesting for a longer time.  But England just doesn't seem to have offensive depth.

I'll bet we see a couple of personnel changes for the Brits in the next match.

Mitchell Starc takes five wickets as Australia blow England away on day five of second Test to secure 120-run victory and move into 2-0 series lead

Screw the Freedom Caucus

The Freedom Caucus, the ultra-arch, know-nothing, unthinking conservatives in the House of Representatives, just like to gum up the works of the government.  And we have an example right now of their useless intransigence.

Trump again elevates shutdown threat, even as tensions ease on Capitol Hill

Here's a prime demonstration of why they are such troublemakers:
"They [the Freedom Caucus] want GOP leaders to take a firmer stance in negotiations with Democrats — including opposing efforts to link an increase in defense spending, supported by most Republicans, to an increase in nondefense spending, favored by Democrats.  
 Meadows and fellow Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said they are seeking to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to oppose spending bills that hike spending on the military but not on other domestic programs."
Translation: don't spend on what citizens of this country need, just spend money on military hardware so contractors in our districts get paid.

Now, we do need to build up our military, which is experiencing both materiel and morale problems.  But all the Freedom Caucus dumbasses have to accept is as much spending on the home front as on the military operations.  But since they've just passed a ridiculous and unneeded tax cut, they have to try and control spending somewhere, which means not giving the people of this country programs that they need.

Of course.

It's time for a sonnet

Haven't practiced sonnetry for a short while, so here's a recent contribution.

"many times before and still to come"

She comes to me within a dream that I
have entertained for years, and I again
react as I connect, my inner sigh
fixated on her form just as I then
did first conceive her for my personal
delightment -- based upon a certainty
as real as rock and not unusual,
but which could be transformed especially
into enraptured realms where my impress-
iveness attunes to her exotic skills,
and we create a center of excess
combining lust and love and wondrous thrills
until my own reality compelled
becomes a liquid joyousness expelled.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, December 3-9, 2017: Cape Agulhas, South Africa

In my search for the Lighthouse of the Week, I strive to find them in many different places. Now, I know that I likely haven't featured two-thirds or so of the lighthouses in the United States yet. But I like to keep it diverse. So I contemplated where in the world I had not yet considered for lighthouse locations, thinking coastally, and I came up with South Africa.

And as I expected, South Africa has lighthouses. In fact, it has a lot of lighthouses -- so many that the amazing Lighthouse Directory has to have separate pages for western and eastern South Africa.

I quickly decided to feature the Cape Agulhas lighthouse, which has as its most prominent talking point that it is located on the southernmost point of continental Africa. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out where that is, but if you want to see it, I have a Google map link right here.

It was easy to find out that Cape Agulhas is the second oldest lighthouse still operating in South Africa. It's a well-designed and symmetrical structure. Here's a bit more about it:
"1849. Reactivated (inactive 1968-1988); focal plane 31 m (102 ft); white flash every 5 s. 27 m (89 ft) sandstone tower with lantern and gallery, rising through the center of a 1-story keeper's house. Rotating 1st order Fresnel lens in use. Building painted white with two red horizontal bands on the tower.

This is South Africa's third oldest light station and second oldest surviving lighthouse (after Green Point). The lighthouse marks the southernmost point of Africa at latitude 34°50' S and the junction of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at longtitude 20°01' E; the ultimate tip of the continent is 1 km (0.6 mi) west southwest of the lighthouse. This historic light, surely one of the world's great lighthouses, was deactivated in 1968 when deterioration of the sandstone walls made the tower appear unsafe. Twenty years of public effort led by the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum secured a complete restoration and reactivation in 1988."

Not a bad choice for Lighthouse of the Week, I think.

But what really determines it are the pictures. Here they are:

by Eduan Hayman

Click on this for a larger image, it's worth it

by Tony Whitehead

As long as we know what side you're on

Judge Roy Moore, Republican candidate for Senate from Alabama, at a recent public appearance.

(No, not really. But isn't this what he represents?)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Demi's red dress

Not much to say, but much to gawk at.  The 'Demi' in the title is curvy model and up-and-coming gossip favorite, Demi Rose Mawby.

Read more about this dress, and the woman wearing it, here:

Demi Rose flaunts her ample cleavage in a plunging red silk dress with a VERY daring thigh-high split as she attends Beauty Awards in style

It's almost time to chase

I didn't say much about the first Ashes Test in Australia, which the Aussies won handily, and without a lot of drama.

As I write this, the second Test could get more interesting.  What happened was this:

The English captain chose to bowl first.  This gave Australia a chance to get a big lead, which they basically did.  Then England batted, and didn't do real well.  This meant that Australia could force them to bat again, right away, rather than taking their turn (which is called "enforcing the follow-on").  That way, Australia could win outright without ever batting again, if England didn't get enough runs to exceed Australia's score in the first innings, or Australia can see exactly how many runs they'd need to get when they batted after England.

But it hasn't worked out that way.  Australia didn't enforce the follow-on, and apparently due to some changes in the way that the ball behaved late in the day, England started taking wickets.  And today their star bowler, Jimmy Anderson, caught fire and took five wickets (which is a lot because the innings is over when 10 are taken).  So now, literally now, England needs one more and then it's their turn to bat -- and they have to "chase" a total of around 350 runs.   Not easy, but not impossible.

Chases can be fun.  We'll see how much fun this one is for the English side.

The Ashes, Second Test, Day Four update

Really? They might want to figure out how to stay in the PL first

I read today that Crystal Palace, which is no longer in last place in the 20 team Premier League (they're in 19th), is going to have a dramatic makeover of their stadium, called Selhurst Park.

Here's one artist's conception of it; it's pretty amazing.

Crystal Palace reveal plans for stunning £100m redevelopment of Selhurst Park main stand that will boost ground's capacity to 34,000 in three years

There's one little problem, though.

If the season ended now, Crystal Palace is in the relegation zone.  Which means they'd get sent 'down', out of the Premier League, to the next level of English soccer, the "Championship".  If that happened, they'd lose a lot of money and prestige, both of which I think are useful when building a new palace for your team named Crystal Palace.

So before I made extensive plans, I'd make sure you were going to stay in the top flight.  While they've shown promising signs, they're still in danger (though yes, it's still a long season).

Side of the road, part 2

I've been to this next place.  Route 28 in California, also known as Tahoe Boulevard, follows the coast of Lake Tahoe around Crystal Bay and through Lake Tahoe State Park.  It also goes near "Bonsai Rock".

Side of the road, part 1

I'll bet most of you have never wondered where Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was born and raised.  It happens to be the Franklin Pierce Homestead, which is definitely is where he grew up and might be where he was born.  It's in New Hampshire, somewhat near Manchester.

And you can see it when you drive by on the road.  It's the white house (ha), not the gray house on the other side of the street.

Cool, eh?  I can tell you're excited.