Thursday, March 29, 2018

The (global) temperature of 2017

Usually, the hottest years the Earth experiences, as the globe warms (which sounds reminiscent of that famous soap opera), are when an El Niño event occurs in the Pacific Ocean. That can cause an illusion, because La Niña years, when the equatorial Pacific ocean waters get cooler instead of warmer, can look like a particular year is bucking the warming trend, though that isn't true. This plot, which I've shown before on Twitter, helps defeat the illusion.

This ends in 2015, which at the time was a record hot year - until 2016.

So after the El Niño influenced years of 2015-2016, 2017 didn't have one. There were hints of a La Niña, but nothing of significance had occurred through the end of the year. So 2017 was a non-El Niño year.

And, as would be expected with a warming world, it was the hottest non-El Niño year ever. So that is indeed scant comfort.  And in the article below, there's a version of the plot I have above, updated through 2017 - so you can see exactly what just happened.

2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming

Clara, artistically

Clare Rene is a model and dancer from Reunion Island, now Paris-based.  I got all that from the top of her Instagram page. (Be cautious, she's nude a lot.  Like nearly all the time, at least in the pictures.  I like that in a woman.)  She's also in a Playboy foreign edition (Portugal), very recently, this month in fact.

Well, anyway, her pictures are quite artistic.  And one of them taken recently inspired my artistic side.  And since I can't paint or draw, I used some fun online sites to make simulated paintings. 

So take a stroll through the one-subject, three picture  gallery.

Jupiter by Juno continues to amaze

This is a modified image of Jupiter from data acquired by Juno on December 16, 2017. David Marriott processed it.

Even though we've been aware of the swirls and eddies and spots of Jupiter for a long time, it's hard to think of Jupiter the same way again -- similar to how our perceptions changed when the Pioneers and Voyagers visited it. This is not such a big step as back then, but it's still a change in the way we view the gas giant planet.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, March 25-31, 2018: Pointe à la Renommée, Quebec, Canada

Large bodies of water tend to have lighthouses on their shores.  A couple of weeks ago, I considered Lake Huron, which is a large body of water (a Great Lake), and discovered unsurprisingly that there are several lighthouses on the shores of Lake Huron.

So I cast about for other large non-oceanic bodies of water that I had not considered very much to this point, and I came up with the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  And it was again not surprising to find out that there are many lighthouses scattered around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and also a few on the islands in the Gulf.

It didn't take long to find one to feature this week -- this one is the Pointe à la Renommée lighthouse.

When I looked for it on Google Maps, the first map didn't give me a good idea of where it was located on the Gulf -- so I zoomed out until I got to this point (click to see where it was), and found that the lighthouse is on the Gaspé Peninsula.

But it turns out, this lighthouse wasn't always there.  After it was decommissioned in 1975, it was moved to Quebec City, and spent twenty years there (after being rebuilt).  But the people of the Gaspé Peninsula wanted it back, so they bought it back and brought it back in 1997, and it's been there ever since.  There's a working light nearby, on one of those boring steel towers.

The tower next to the new lighthouse tower is the old lighthouse tower.  And there's also a historic communications connection: it was the site of the first marine "Marconi" (i.e. radio) relay station.

And on top of all that, it's a fantastic location.  I couldn't find any views of it from the ocean, so the pictures below will have to suffice.

The tower is 49 feet high, and it even has it's own Fresnel lens (as you can see in the pictures).

Some other Web sites about this place:

Pointe à la Renommée Historic Site


Historical site of Pointe-à-la-Renommée (Fame Point) [Official Web site]

Off Highway 41, St. Armand's Key

On this post we'll finish the side trip from Sarasota, and then make some progress toward Tampa. We still have a long way to go, but once we get into central Florida, we'll make more mileage progress.

Crossing the Ringling Causeway, looking at Bird Key

St. Armands Circle, fancy shopping and eating on St. Armands Key.  Looks like there was a car show in progress, or just rich people showing off their expensive cars.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, private research institution just around the corner from St. Armands Circle

Now, back to the mainland, with a couple more sights to see.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Badlands from the road

I'll get back to Highway 41 in Florida in a couple of days.  I realized I hadn't shown any StreetViews of landmarks or oddities for awhile, and I thought that would be fun to do again.  So I thought of a drive-through (at least in sections) national park, the Badlands National Park of South Dakota, which lies east of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.

And I found a couple of good views from the road, which in this case is South Dakota Highway 240.  There are a couple of drive-through views in the southern part of the park too, which I'll show in a subsequent post.

The top one doesn't look that spectacular until you rotate it to the left a bit.

Joe Scarborough doesn't like Donald Trump

It isn't news that former congressman, current political talk show host and pundit Joe Scarborough doesn't think very highly of Donald Trump, and he has plenty of motivation for that.  So in a recent op-ed, Scarborough provided a very good impression of his feelings.

John Bolton’s appointment is a fitting coda to conservatism’s failures

For context:
"Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind,” published in 1953, laid the foundations of a modern conservative movement that dominated the second half of the American Century. But 65 years later, Kirk’s classic work reads instead as a damning indictment against the very movement he helped launch."
That serves to put the Kirk reference in the following in context.
"Yes, the Soviet Union is in the dustbin of history, Osama bin Laden is dead and ISIS is — at least temporarily — on its heels. But the inner chaos Kirk warned of so many years ago runs rampant in a country dominated by the bloated presence of a man who embraces dictators, vilifies the free press, corrupts religious leaders, absolves white supremacists, degrades women and continues a life’s work defined by little more than the amoral pursuit of material wealth."
Like I said, Joe doesn't like Donald Trump very much.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, March 18-24, 2018: Ailsa Craig, Scotland

This week the Lighthouse of the Week was inspired by an Image of the Day from the NASA Earth Observatory.  I like taking a look at that site frequently, because it has a lot of different images, a new one each day (as you might be able to guess).

So, this one showed a small island off the coast of Scotland, named Ailsa Craig.  I fully admit I had never heard of this place before.  It appears that every four years, it briefly becomes noted, because the granite from this island is the stone from which curling stones are made, and every four years the world pays attention to curling in the Winter Olympics.  (By the way, that's not fair to curling, which is a fascinating sport.  But hey, hardly anyone plays it.)

Curling stone

From Scottish magma to Sochi ice: the geologic history of curling stones

So, here's an article about Ailsa Craig and the curling stones.  Sochi 2014:  the island providing Olympic stones of destiny

Here's a picture of the barge being loaded with the granite used for the curling stones.  They do this about every ten years or so, getting 2,000 tons at a time.

Now, it is not the reason Ailsa Craig is famous (obviously), but the island also has a lighthouse, and the lighthouse still has a Fresnel lens.

So, here are pictures of the lighthouse on Ailsa Craig, island of curling stones.

A sonnet tribute to the fallen on World Poetry Day

Although I specialize in erotic sonnets, they are not my sole theme.  A few days ago I was thinking about the many soldiers that have fallen in battles or in wars (because many deaths in wars are not from fighting) -- from Châlons to Cowpens to Chickamauga to Chosin Reservoir -- whose names have been lost to history, or those who were barely ever known.  That thought inspired this sonnet, which I offer on World Poetry Day.

those who fought and fell

They are the nameless dead who had a name,
perhaps not known to many, but indeed
a person with a life, though lacking fame
and living thus uncounted. So when greed
or lusts for power gathered them and made
their individualities into
a military force, when on parade
their army had historic lines, and through
it they were given names by soldiering;
but if they died, heroically or not,
by battle or bacterium, we sing
soft eulogies to those unknown, forgott-
en one by one yet still remembered for
what they did lose or gain in fearsome war.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Short notes about the NCAA Division I women's swimming championships

While a great majority of sports watchers are watching the first round of the NCAA basketball championships (men and women, hopefully), a few of us watched -- or will watch -- the NCAA D1 women's swimming championships.

Reviewing the results, the swimmer of the meet was either Ella Eastin of Stanford or Lilly King of Indiana.  Both of them set national records (as well as meet, pool, U.S. Open, and NCAA) in their two individual events.  Eastin did it in the 200 and 400 IM (where second place was Katie Ledecky), while King did it in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.  All of these are short-course yards records.

Ledecky won the 500 and 1650, and was also on the winning 800 freestyle relay, but no records. Considering the level at which she set the records, that's understandable.

Stanford nearly doubled the point total of the second-place team, so no drama there.

Simone Manuel of Stanford won the 50 and 100 freestyle in pool records.  Her 50 freestyle was 0.01 second off her national record, so still pretty good.

I'll see if I can find a couple of videos of the national record swims.

Eastin in action below.

So do we - if she's wearing them

Sports Illustrated states the rather obvious, with lots of pertinent illustrations (of course):

Alexis Ren loves tiny bikinis

Another op-ed about Trump lying

I'm sensing a trend here.  More and more articles about how much, and how big, our own (cough) President Trump lies.  Remember back not long ago when the media shied away from saying that any politician, let alone the Chief Executive of the USA, told lies.

Not anymore.

Trump is perfecting the art of the big lie

Two short quotes from this:

"Trump is signaling that he doesn’t care what the truth is. From now on the truth will be whatever he says, and he expects every loyal follower to faithfully parrot the official party line. Or else." 
"Trump is sending a signal that not only does he insist on his right to lie but that he regards telling the truth as a firing offense. Government officials, take note."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

We know Trump lies, and he even admitted it

There isn't much more I can say about this article, and Trump's admission that he ignorantly ad-libbed to Justin Trudeau about the trade surplus with Canada. He made it up on the spot and said it as if he believed it, so if the writers and pundits want to call it a lie, I will too.

As he prepares to face Mueller, Trump boasts of his ability to lie

The problem is, as the paragraph excerpted below notes, from a position of power a person can lie, and assert that their lie is the truth, which is an assertion of their power. And because of that power, people who recognize the position of power -- who respect it, even if the person in that position doesn't -- believe what that person says, and also defend it as it is incorporated into their own belief system. And though the trade surplus is not a major issue, Trump is doing this all the time with issues of considerably greater importance. That, to put it mildly, is not good. Not good at all.

"As Jacob Levy has written, these “demonstrations of power undermine the existence of shared belief in truth and facts.” The whole point of them is to assert the power to say what the truth is, or what the truth should be, even when — or especially when — easily verifiable facts dictate the contrary. The brazenness and shamelessness of Trump’s lying is not a mere by-product of Trump’s desire to mislead. It is absolutely central to the whole project of declaring the power to say what reality is."

An article about Amy Jackson, and a picture

I never heard of Amy Jackson before she showed up on Supergirl, but she immediately caught my attention. She's a looker, a Miss Teen World, a runner-up to Miss England, listed in FHM's World's Sexiest Women for 2013, and has been acting in films from India, as she has Indian parentage from British citizens. I have a strong feeling we're going to see more of her. And I personally would like to see MORE of her, but that's just me. (And maybe several thousand other guys.)

Bollywood star Amy Jackson flaunts her ample cleavage in a sultry black thigh-split gown at the Asian Awards in London

Glamorous black-and-white shot below.  Yes, she does have ample cleavage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Under the right conditions

Under the right conditions, which in this case means a moonless night at an extremely dark (no light pollution) locale, the bright band of the Milky Way can cast a shadow.

I just learned this.

And I found a picture of this unusual occurrence, too.  While I search for more, take a look at this:

A Milky Way Shadow at Loch Ard Gorge

Here's the picture, but it's bigger (and explained) at the site at the link, where it's an Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).

She went swimming too?

The Daily Mail has a pattern of fixating on certain people and writing articles about them over and over and over and over and over ... you get the idea ... and over again, especially if these people are a) really good-looking, which covers a lot of celebrities, particularly female celebrities; b) really strange; or c) royalty.  There are other categories, but for this short posting I'm interested in one from column (a).

In this particular case, the subject of the article is a remarkably fit ... make that extremely fit ... and quite lovely 50-year old woman from China, named Liu Yelin.  Because of this combination, to whit, very good-looking at an age when it's common for women to have lost the beauteous bloom of youth, Liu Yelin has been the subject of a few Daily Mail articles.  It certainly helps that she likes to pose in bikinis, which is something the Daily Mail editorial staff appears to delight in.

In this case, Liu Yelin is posing in a bikini ----- on the shores of Siberia's famous and totally unique Lake Baikal, in March.  It is not warm there.  In fact, it is about -40 degrees C.

This is different from cryotherapy, because it's windy.  I don't know how long she did this posing, but she's apparently still alive, so it couldn't have been too long.

The article also says that she went swimming in Lake Baikal, and includes a video of her doing just that. Well, if the water isn't frozen, that means its a bit above 0 degrees C.  I don't imagine she stayed in the water long, either.

Here's a nice picture of Liu Yelin posing in a bikini, in environs which appear considerably warmer than Lake Baikal in late winter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Juli Annee checks in

Julianne Kissinger, aka juli.annee on Instagram, checked in on her phone quite recently.

Don't close the windows on my account.

Now, someone else had to take this next picture, but even though the room is different, the view is still great.

Is coffee REALLY good for you, or not?

Discover magazine's blog takes on this stimulating subject.

Coffee:  A Most Enigmatic, Ubiquitous Beverage

Sounds like it's mostly a good thing.
"Two umbrella reviews were published last year (here and here), and their findings flew in the face of centuries of coffee gossip. The verdict was that coffee drinking is linked to lowered risk of myriad diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, a few types of cancer, liver disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and depression—not too shabby.  
Above all, coffee drinkers were less likely to die early from any cause. And with the possible exception of drinking it while pregnant, there were no negative effects to speak of. “The key message is that with the evidence that we have up to date, we can say that coffee can be part of a healthy diet,” says nutritional epidemiologist Giuseppe Grosse at the University of Catania in Italy and lead author of one of the umbrella reviews."

Lighthouse of the Week, March 11-17, 2018: Tawas Point, Michigan

After visiting several lighthouses around the world, I return to the U.S.A. this week and to the Great  Lakes in particular.   And the Great Lake I've selected is the middle child, Lake Huron.  This week's lighthouse is Tawas Point Light in Michigan.

Here is a LOT about it, from Lighthouse Friends:

Tawas Point, Michigan

It's pretty classical, though the red roof of the keeper's house is notable.  The white tower is 67 feet high.

Here's where it is -- scroll out further to see where that is in Michigan.  I'm not sure if it's active;  the Lighthouse Friends article indicates that the Coast Guard was planning to shut it down in October 2015.  The Lighthouse Directory says it was inactivated in 2016.  So now I'm sure it's not active.

Four pictures and a video below.

Monday, March 12, 2018

I'd carry a couple of these

After there were several terrorist attacks in which the primary weapon was a vehicle, and as they took place by targeting large crowds, and this mainly happened in Europe, I decided that if I travel to Europe again in the summer, I'm bringing a couple of items that can puncture car tires.

Just in case.

So I read this article in the Daily Mail about a device that can do the same thing.

Could this device prevent future terror attacks? CatClaw gives cars that mount kerbs FLAT TYRES by puncturing them with a sharp steel spike

Apparently it's not quite ready for wide sales yet.  But if I can't get that, I could get these.

They're called caltrops.  They are what police use to stop cars involved in vehicle pursuits.

And they are easy to buy.  I'd be useless with a gun, and I don't want one, but if there was a vehicle attacking a crowd and I had these, I'd try to puncture the vehicle's tires with them.  Because vehicles don't drive very far or very fast on flat tires.

Get yours here. (You can get them a lot of different places.)

ASR Tactical Laser Etched Road Stars - Tire Puncturing Personal Security Device

Let's keep traveling in Sarasota

Our Highway 41 trek continues with some sight-seeing around Sarasota.

From Siesta Key, we head north and then back to the mainland on the Siesta Drive Bridge.

Siesta Drive Bridge

But we won't stay on the mainland long - we head north briefly on Highway 41, then turn back toward the water on Mound Street.

Mound Street by Lukewood Park

Mound Street goes by the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Mound Street swings around the waterfront, then we'll turn onto the John Ringling Causeway toward St. Armands Key.

I told you Sarasota would be interesting.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, March 4-10, 2018: Skellig Michael, Ireland

It's very likely that you've seen the island that hosts this lighthouse.

However, you may not have known there was a lighthouse on this island. Neither did I.

I actually found this lighthouse searching with the phrase "hidden lighthouse".  Even though I had looked up this place not long ago, for another reason, I didn't see the lighthouse.

The other reason, and also the reason I think many of you have seen this place before, is that this is the location for the retreat/exile of Luke Skywalker in the most recent main Star Wars storyline movie, The Last Jedi.   I looked up the location, which is Skellig Michael island, off the western coast of Ireland.  Here, in fact.

So let's learn a little about Skellig Michael lighthouse.

This site will tell you everything you might ever want to know:

Skelligs History - Lighthouse Timeline

Here are the basics from the Lighthouse Directory:
"1967 (station established 1826). Active; focal plane 53 m (175 ft); three white flashes, separated by 2.5 s, every 15 s. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical (concrete?) tower attached to a 2-story keeper's house. Entire station painted white."
There are actually two lighthouses on Skellig Michael;  the low one is the active one, and the high one is now inactive.

Enough of all that:  here are the pictures. In the history of my Lighthouses of the Week, I've seen and shown a number of impressively sited lighthouses;  this one ranks up there with the best of them.

The Skellig Islands - Skellig Michael in front

Up to Sarasota on Highway 41

Two more stops on Highway 41 as we approach Sarasota.

The intersection of US 41 and State Route 72. We'll take a short side trip to Siesta Key.

Here's Siesta Key and Columbus Road.

Back to the mainland next.

The woes of Crystal Palace

It seemed, not quite two months ago, that Crystal Palace was going to manage to climb out of the hole that they had dug themselves into at the beginning of the Premier League season, and avoid relegation another year.

Now, their fate is less clear.  Right now they are in the relegation zone, but had they managed a win against Manchester United (which seemed possible with a 2-0 lead), they would have been 13th instead of 18th.  But they gave up the lead, and then gave up the game in the 90th minute, so now they are, as the Brits say, in danger, with 27 points

However, so are a lot of other teams.  13th through 15th place has 30 points, which is one win difference when a win is worth 3 points.  12th place has 33 points (two wins) and both 10th and 11th place have 34 points (two wins and 1-point draw).

So it's not over.  In their next five games, they have to play Chelsea and Liverpool, which won't be likely wins (even though Chelsea is off-form right now), but they also play Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, and Brighton-Hove Albion, which are 15th, 12th, and 10th respectively.  It doesn't help Crystal Palace that their likely best player, Wilfried Zaha, has been hurt, but the current news is that he might be able to play against Chelsea.  If I was the coach, I'd give him one more week to get better and take my chances in that game, and hopefully have him healthy for Huddersfield Town in one more week, which is much more critical.

I guess they'll just have to play them one game at a time.

This sonnet is about something simple

commonplace yet not so much

There is no simpler act to contemplate,
and yet one given such importance we
connect our ruling wills to what each mate
through partnership desires. The mystery
of physiology requires that thrill
accompanies a moment which from books
of plain description would not seem to fill
our thoughts with oxytocin, yet the hooks
of loving lusts embed their barbs intract-
ably and unavoidably, to hold
our lives suspended just as if 'twere stacked
as times where each connection is enrolled
and our excitements vaulted -- so the core
we strive to cherish is both less and more.

That'll make 'em think for awhile.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Will Caeleb Dressel break :40?

Last year at the NCAA Division I Swimming Championships, Caeleb Dressel of the University of Florida went 40.00 seconds for the 100-yard freestyle.

The question for this year's championships is if he can go at least 0.01 second faster.

Here's last year's swim.  Don't blink.

Dressel isn't done.  He just set the NCAA and American record in the 100-yard breaststroke at the SEC Championships -- and that's not his best event.   He went 41.01 in the 100 free -- so can he drop 1.02 at the NCAAs? 

We'll see.

Scientists just found about 1.5 million penguins

This is good news for penguins, because there have been, and still are, concerns about declining numbers due to combined effects of climate change and food sources.  Adelie penguins, which live on the Antarctic continent, have been one of the main areas of concern.

Well, there's a few more of them than we thought.  1.5 million more or so, in fact.

Previously unknown 'super colony' of 1.5 MILLION penguins in Antarctica's remote Danger Islands is discovered from space

Here's some of them.  Now admit it, you didn't know there was a place called the 'Danger Islands' any more than I did up until now, did you?

Sheer political cowardice

When it was determined that members of the House Intelligence Committee had shared private texts between Senator Mark Warner and a Russian lawyer, the Senate Intelligence Committee complained to Speaker Paul Ryan.  Here's what happened next, as described by E.J. Dionne Jr.:

"Both Warner and Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) complained to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) about the irresponsibility of their House counterparts, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif). Ryan said he did not run the committee, thus pushing away an obligation to act. Imagine that: A House speaker who uses all of his prerogatives to push through his own priorities claims utter powerlessness in the face of a runaway committee chairman."
This is the Republican version of leadership.  Which is to say, not leading.

From The cost of our war on public life

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Trump gets slammed HARD by a Republican consultant

This article:

When you let a closet Democrat like Trump lead the GOP, this is what you get

by Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant and a Daily Beast columnist,

has this lovely paragraph:
"As a longtime GOP consultant, I’ve always had a half-joking, half-serious rule about political candidates and elected officials: They can be tough, smart, decent or talented, but of those traits, they realistically only get to choose two. Trump, entirely sui generis* in our politics, is a successful politician embodying none of those. He’s poorly briefed, malleable, crass and dishonest, and all he cares about is how he comes across in the press. Which makes it damn-near impossible for any self-respecting conservative to understand him, anticipate his positions or trust him on policy."
It's really hard to improve on artistry like that.

* unique

Kelly Brook in bed

Seriously, a lot of Britons have imagined this. But only a few extremely lucky guys have been there in person.

Kelly has changed a bit with the years. But she is still curvaceously attractive, with a spectacular smile, great hair, big eyes -- one of the world's true beauties.

And she's in bed.