Thursday, January 31, 2019

Zen in Germany

Let's just close January 2019 in the blog with a picture of the stunningly scenic Hintersee, a lake in Germany. It's in the German Alps (really the foothills of the main range), near Berchtesgaden, and southwest of Salzburg.

In the city with Highway 41 (and Highway 19 and 3, too)

The Streetview trek on Highway 41 is truly in Atlanta now, and it will get interesting pretty quick.  Maybe not in this post, but still, pretty quick.

I'd like to describe here, briefly, one reason that I'm doing this.  When I was much younger and considered potential adventures, one of them was riding a bike end-to-end on Highway 41 and having a magazine (I wanted it to be National Geographic) accompany me and take great pictures.  Nat Geo has done things like this before, such as following a kid around the world in a sailboat (even though he took a long break during the trip), or following U.S. Route 1, the nation's first highway, from end to end.  That latter is what inspired my idea to ride the bike on Highway 41.   (And Nat Geo would follow other adventurers, hiking long trails like the Pacific Crest trail, or exploring deep caves and climbing mountains, etc.)

This never happened, because I had to be employed, I wasn't independently wealthy, I never established a writing career, and I never was a very strong bicycle rider.  Oh Well.  I guess I could have tried it by car, but that would have been too fast, and walking would have taken way too long.

So ... if I was doing it Nat Geo style, I would get off the road and visit more historical places and sights near the road, rather than staying right on the road (though I have obviously gone off it a little).  But since I can't get too far off the road, I'll link to interesting places I mention, even if I don't find StreetViews for them.

A couple of examples are shown in this next collection of StreetView scenes in Atlanta.

I forgot to note that very near Evangeline Booth college is the Pittman Park pool. You can take a look at that if you want to. It's not on the main highway.

Crossing under Interstate 20. This definitely isn't the part of Atlanta that most tourists visit.

Just north of the Interstate 20 crossing, Highway 41/19/3 takes a northeastward jog. Unfortunately, that means we can't visit either Spelman College or Morehouse College or Clark Atlanta University. (Note that now the collective highways are also called Northside Drive.)

This is the intersection with Spelman Lane and Chapel Street.  To get to Spelman College, take Spelman Lane (the street that has a brick wall on the left side, and there's a brick building above the wall and fence, and a white house on the right).  If you click at the end of the "street" just a few times, you'll get to Spelman College.

Next post -- something big and new!

No kidding, the banana crisis is real

Ignorantly or deliberately, there is a group of people that think climate change -- which in the times we find ourselves means that increasing atmospheric temperature is causing Earth's average temperature to increase, causing a multitude of ecosystem alterations -- is a hoax.  The group that truly thinks (incorrectly)  it isn't happening or worse, that it isn't important, can be called skeptics (nicely), deniers (accurately) or deliberate liars and propagandists (some of them), but suffice it to say, this minority doesn't think that the climate situation right now is a crisis.  OK, we might not quite be at crisis level, but we, collectively as humanity, are getting close to that state.

Why did I say all that?  Because there's another crisis that no one can possibly deny, and this is serious.

It's about bananas.

Banana-killing VIRUS is threatening to wipe out the popular fruit as scientists claim gene-editing is the only thing that could save them from extinction

This is what's troubling (in part):
"Bananas across Africa are now said to be infected with the 'streak virus' which can destroy entire plantations. ...

The Cavendish banana, the main variety eaten around the world, is unaffected by the streak virus but is affected by a fungus known as Tropical Race 4.

Breakthroughs with CRISPR are encouraging signs that scientists will be able to protect the edible banana from extinction.

Cavendish fruits are sterile so the only way to incorporate resistance to diseases is through gene-editing."

I sure hope it works.

A sonnet as January ends: "if you have to ask"

if you have to ask

From middleville I view another way
to live, in contrast to my own travail;
there is profligacy indeed, but they
do not appear to ever fight or flail
against their unrelenting freedom to
enjoy such fortunate emplacement; time
for such as these is diff'rent than for you
or I; we must exist within our grime
while they do shine and preen and demonstrate
what privilege creates, the chance to bite
the upper crust, and also procreate
new royalty, legitimate by right
or not -- their altitude allows their claim
to take the mixed advantages of fame.

Sorry, but this bothers me

Usually, typos that are homonyms amuse me.  But there is won that I see time

and time
and time
and thyme
and time
and time

again, that just happens sew often, that I just can't take it anymore.

The homonym pair that drives me crazy?   Sea if you can figure it out:

This is from the Daily Male, which is no stranger to typos.  But the one shown above is one that is annoyingly commonplaice.   Everybody seams to think that the "peak" for "sneak peak" is correct because the last three letters are the same.

But that's wrong.

"Peak" is a mountaintop, or an ultimate experience.  "Peek" is a quick glance, sometimes furtively or cautiously.

(There's actually a third homonym -- pique -- but this one isn't a participant in the common misteak.)

Pleas get it write in the future, everybuddy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Not much closer 'til they grab a rock

The OSIRIS-REx satellite is only a MILE away from little asteroid Bennu, and it's getting some pretty detailed pictures, as one might expect.  They're going to do a lot of reconnaissance so they can decide where to bring the satellite down to the surface and acquire a little sample, which they plan to bring back to Earth.

NASA Probe Snaps 1st Photos from Just a Mile Above Asteroid Bennu and the View's AMAZING!

Here's one of the close-ups:

Gates still bullish on nuclear power

Bill Gates (you know him, the Microsoft guy, has a bit of money) is still trying to push nuclear power as a future energy source and as a way of addressing climate change.  I'm glad he is, but I think the way he's doing it is a bit dubious.

The Energy 202: Bill Gates is selling Washington on the promise of nuclear power

Here's something I find both interesting and disheartening:
"But many nuclear experts say that Gates is the wrong messenger and that his company is pursuing a flawed technology. They say that any new nuclear design is likely to come at a prohibitive economic cost and take decades to perfect, market and construct in any significant numbers."
Why not go with a proven technology - like that used on nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines - instead of something unbuilt and untried ?

But this is true:
"For all nuclear designs, both new and old, the colossal expense of nuclear construction and the absence of a carbon tax remain obstacles."

Two city sights on Highway 41

After the highway crossings in the last Highway 41 post, I thought we should look at something more interesting this time.

Passing the Jamrock Jerk Center.

The entrance to Evangeline Booth College. This is a college that trains Salvation Army officers.

Highway 41 - it'll get better

I note the many times that Highway 41 crosses over or under the interstates, because the interstates replaced the charm (and traffic jams) of the legendary highways with stretches of concrete and asphalt that had no charm, and still had traffic jams -- many times, longer and bigger ones.

The trek is nearing Atlanta, and some interesting landmarks, I promise.

Crossing Interstate 75 (Highway 41/19/3 is called Old Dixie Road in this stretch)

Crossing under I-75 this time.

Here in Hapeville, Highway 41/19/3 makes a dogleg right at Dogwood Avenue.

Here the combined highways cross under I-85.

Monday, January 28, 2019

King in parking lot; explorer under a train station

In case you've forgotten about it, a couple of years ago the remains of infamous King Richard III of England were found under a parking lot in England.  It seems like England has famous people under all sorts of things, as just recently they found the remains of English explorer Matthew Flinders, who mapped out Australia, under a train station.

The explorer who literally put Australia on the map is found buried beneath a London train station

Here's a couple of explanatory elements from the article:
On Thursday, more than 200 years since his death, archaeologists announced they believe they’ve finally found Flinders’s remains beneath a site behind Euston Station in London — almost exactly where historians, Australians and Brits believed the explorer had likely been reburied.
Archaeologists were able to identify Flinders’s remains because of a lead breastplate found on top of his casket, the inscription still legible, according to a release from HS2 on the U.K.’s transportation department website.
Flinders, a cartographer by trade, completed his two-year epic journey around the coast of Australia on the HMS Investigator in 1803.

Here's his statue.  It's outside the train station that he was buried under.

It includes a statue of his cat.

Robert Redford's opinion on you-know-what

Actor Robert Redford wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post.  It was pretty effective.

We must defend our democracy — and not by impeachment

An excerpt that caught my attention:
"It is painfully clear we have a president who degrades everything he touches, a person who does not understand (or care?) that his duty is to defend our democracy. Meanwhile, those who should be providing the balance our Founding Fathers intended, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are instead choosing partisan politics, blind loyalty and extreme, outdated ideologies."
Well said, and obviously I agree with that statement. 

Lighthouse of the Week, January 27-February 2, 2019: Capo Gallo, Sicily, Italy

The final lighthouse of the Five Lighthouse Regatta Series is Capo Gallo. This lighthouse is much less prominent than the tall and isolated Capo San Vito tower -- it reminds of Newport's Castle Hill light. One thing that Capo Gallo has in its favor is that it is located in a nature reserve.

Capo Gallo is on the entrance to the Gulf of Palermo. It's mostly white too, and only 8 meters high, in front of a low rectangular building that was the lighthouse keeper's abode. Even though it isn't very tall, it is 130 feet above the ocean surface, so the light covers a good distance out to sea. It's only about 8 km from Palermo, but I think you have to be careful visiting, because it's on a steep slope. And there's a big bluff right behind it, too.

This is from Wikimedia, so it's an easy picture to find, but it's a heck of a picture.

Even though this is a small and somewhat blurry picture, it puts the lighthouse in the context of the nature reserve.

This one is small too, but I like it.

This picture shows the lighthouse might need some paint, but it's a great perspective.

So we have come to the end of the Five Lighthouse Regatta lighthouses of Sicily and Ustica. Where should I go next week?

Lighthouse of the Week, January 20-26, 2019: Capo San Vito, Sicily, Italy

This week's lighthouse is a little late -- it's the fourth lighthouse of the Five Lighthouse Regatta series that takes place north of Sicily. By starting with the isolated Scoglio Porcelli, I did them out of an order in which they would be seen for either a clockwise or counter-clockwise sail. So let's assume that they sailed counter-clockwise. This is supported by the map in thefirst post of the series, as they would arrive in Mondello, i.e. "Arrivo Mondello", and they depart ("partenza") from Acqua de Corsari.

So in this case, the order of encounter would be Punta Omo Morto, Punta Cavazzi, Scoglio Porcelli, and then this week's lighthouse, Capo San Vito, with the final lighthouse the one on Capo Gallo.

Capo San Vito is quite a notable lighthouse, as it has its own Web page:

It's 43 meters high (that's pretty tall, about 130 feet), mostly white (though a bit stained by age), and it was first lighted in 1859, so it's historical, too. And according to the Web page, it's one of the symbols of San Vito lo Capo.

There are pictures on the Web page, and behind it in one of the pictures is a high bluff, so let's see what I can find.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A simple quote from "Trump is trapped and tanking"

Well, it's an opinion piece, and already current events have rendered it a historical commentary, but it's worth repeating what the Washington Post's prolific Jennifer Rubin wrote.

The irony here — or is it karma? — is that Trump’s biggest cheerleaders in the right-wing media (e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity) and his hardcore anti- immigrant adviser Stephen Miller who egged him on are now responsible for the worst political debacle of his presidency, one that has erased any residue of presidential power. He’s now trapped, waiting for a permission slip from the right-wing media chorus to capitulate — or watch his support and any hope for legislative accomplishments evaporate.

From "Trump is Trapped and Tanking", dated January 23, 2019.

Finding out about Chiapas

Very recently, I learned about the remarkable variety of scenery and archaeological history in the Mexican state of Chiapas.   So I'm going to look at a few of them in a few posts.

First up is the Agua Azul, near the ruins of Palenque (which I'll also discuss).

The Agua Azul is a series of travertine (calcium carbonate) waterfalls.  Travertine forms when the water is high in calcium and carbonate ions, allowing precipitation of the mineral.  Unfortunately, despite the beauty of the falls, they are overexploited in the name of eco-tourism.  Sure, Mexico and its citizens need the money.  It's too bad there aren't better international programs to give countries money to preserve and conserve their natural resources naturally rather than relying on the lure of touristy eco-dollars.

Palace bests Tottenham

Not in the Premier League, but in the FA Cup, Crystal Palace defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0.  The Spurs, as they are nicknamed, were/are missing a couple of their top players due to injury, including hot with the shot Harry Kane.

Crystal Palace 2-0 Tottenham: Connor Wickham scores on long-awaited return as Andros Townsend seals win to send Eagles into FA Cup fifth round

Townsend scores!  (Note ball at right)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

After the shower (first babe of 2019)

Caitlin O'Connor, actress, model and sometimes a TV and red carpet host, also a Playboy-featured model, looks like she's just out of the shower in this moderately sexy black-and-white photo.  Even though she does appear to be apres bath, I don't know if she wore her heels while getting clean.

She's also apparently been known as Katie Carroll at times (use this information wisely), and her original last name is Purdy. No further comments about that.

Wikipedia doesn't have this in the "Personal Life" section, but she's got a devoted partner, and her  partner appears quite happy to be in this devoted relationship.  Just look through the pictures at STEVEN DUNCAN (@sduncan_art) and you'll see what I discern.

Let's get oriented on Highway 41

OK, we're back on Highway 41.  However, just as soon as we get back on it, we're going to take a short trip off of it.

Now the trek has reached Post Way in Clayton County. Here we'll go off the highway for a short little side trip to the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center. Lundquist was one of the country's great swimmers in the 1980s, and he was from this region, and in person, I saw him set a couple of national records. So here's the Aquatic Center, part of the Jim Huie Recreation Center.

Here's what it looks like inside.

Now: this is a little confusing, but for several miles Highway 41/19/3 has also been Tara Boulevard (think Gone With the Wind ). At this interesting intersection, 41 splits off of Tara and heads nearly due north, which continues as Highway 401 off to the northwest.  See the map below the Streetview view.

Next time: lots of interstate crossings.

Where Have I Been?

More importantly, did you care?  Did you miss me?

Likely the answer to that is no.  But still, someone may have wondered what happened.

Simply put, I took a break.  I could have posted lots of anti-Republican, anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-stupid (is that a thing?) posts.  But I decided to let everybody ELSE do that.

The problem with that was that I lost my posting energy.  Even though I'd collected lots of things to post about, the inspiration and creativity was at a low ebb.  So, recognizing that I was slumping, much like the Washington Capitals on a seven-game losing streak, I decided to take some time off. 

That time is over. It's time to get back to blogging on this little-read, little-known, so-minor-that-it-doesn't-matter-a-whit blog.   Partly because we still have a LONG way to go on Highway 41. 

And there a still a lot of lighthouses in the world.

As well as babes.

So, I'm back.  Strap in.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Does Trump know what's going on with the shutdown?

The answer to the question posed in the subject line is:  no, of course not.

That is emphasized in the excerpt I've extracted from the following Washington Post article:

‘In the White House waiting’: Inside Trump’s defiance on the longest shutdown ever

"Only after Christmas did administration officials begin realizing the full scale of the logistical problems a prolonged shutdown would cause. Aides said Trump has been largely uninterested in the minutiae of managing government agencies and services."
Not only that, he isn't interested in the minutiae of the millions of people being hurt by his shutdown.  And it is only going to get worse.

Indiana is pretty flat

For some reason, yesterday I was wondering how high the highest point in the state of Indiana would be.  At the time, I speculated that it might be under 1,000 feet, because Indiana is a flat prairie Midwestern state, mostly.

I was wrong.  Indiana's highest point is 1,257 feet (383 meters).  It even has a name -- HOOSIER HILL, of course.  (Click that link to see where it is.) It also happens to be about 2 miles west of the border with Ohio.

If you go down the road (that StreetView skipped) about 500 meters from this location, you'll be there.   Not exactly Denali, but hey, can you say you've visited the highest point in YOUR state of residence?   (I can't, but I've been near it.)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I believe the smart guy, not the ideologue

An article from the Daily Mail was about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing former President Barack Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East with regard to terrorism by radical Islam adherents.

Pardon me, but I believe the serious consideration of Obama's policy effort over the single- and simple-minded viewpoint of Pompeo.

Pompeo slams Obama in Cairo speech for claiming 'radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology' as he takes new aim at Iran and tries to calm fears about Syria troop pullout

"Former Obama administration officials rejected Pompeo's assertions as petty, political and weak. They said the speech pandered to authoritarian leaders and ignored rights violations that Obama had called out.

'That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take potshots at an effort to identify common ground between the Arab world and the West speaks not only to the Trump administration's pettiness but also to its lack of a strategic vision for America's role in the region and its abdication of America's values,' National Security Action group, a group of former officials, said in a statement."

The perils of a shrinking winter

Winter is becoming warmer and shorter, and boy would I like to discuss sea ice cover on the Great Lakes with a couple of nasty climate change deniers right now.   The shortening of the winter season is distinctly at odds with any claims that temperature records for the past 120 years or so have been faked or manipulated, because nature shows us exactly what is happening, if we pay attention.

Here's another take on this subject, from the Los Angeles Times, with a West Coast perspective:

Winter is shrinking, study finds, posing new fire and water risks

"Climate models have predicted the snowpack would diminish earlier in the season and melt more gradually as the planet warms. [Amato] Evan affirmed those projections through an analysis of data from 1982 through 2017.

“There are theoretical models that say as the planet continues to warm, this is what should happen; snow melts earlier in the year, and doesn’t melt as fast as it does in the springtime,” he said. “We went back to the mathematics, and said, that’s actually exactly what we’re seeing.”
And the problem is, seeing it means that it's happening, and quibbling over temperature data is not going to change the FACT that it is happening.

Here's another sonnet: 'destinations and desires'

I offer another sonnet for thought and consideration.

destinations and desires 

I've been so many places, in my years,
alone, that this seems normal now; though still,
I would have liked to share some joyful tears
of awe, and talk about the stunning thrill
of merely seeing splendor, rather than
replaying it within my single mind --
and so I also wish, that as a man
in such a splendid setting I could find
the joy of sensuality, to be
exhilarated and enthralled, enhanced
by nature's wonders and their certainty
by which we know that we have been romanced
and overwhelmed, astonished by the place
that we inhabit, in ourselves and space.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Funny picture from a terrible war

The Daily Mail just had an article about colorized pictures of scenes from World War II.

There isn't a lot of carnage and gore in the pictures, so they aren't really horrific, but they do show the reality of war.  However, one picture was kind of humorous.  While the Allies were attacking in Italy (which was actually a very rugged and difficult part of WWII), Mount Vesuvius erupted.  While it certainly wasn't the same powerful outburst as the gigantic eruption that buried Pompeii, it was a strong eruption, and it produced a lava flow.

The humorous picture shows Allied Troops attempting to toast their bread using the heat from the lava flow.

A paratrooper ready to drop into Normandy, the hero crew of the Memphis Belle and troops making TOAST: WWII is brought to life in a series of colourised images

Lighthouse of the Week, January 6-12, 2019: Punta Omo Morto, Sicily, Italy

The third lighthouse of the Five Lighthouse Regatta is the other one on the little gem of an island north of Sicily, Ustica.  The lighthouse is Punta Omo Morto, which means "Deadman's Point", and when you see where it is, you'll know why.  I'm sure this is a great sight from the sea to see when sailing in the regatta.

Here's what the Lighthouse Directory has about it, and it's spelled right:

"1884. Active; focal plane 100 m (328 ft); three white flashes every 15 s; also a red light, occulting once every 5 s, is shown over a shoal to the northeast. 10 m (33 ft) tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the seaward end of a 1-story keeper's house. Tower painted white."

And what the Lighthouse Directory doesn't say, but what one picture attests, is that Punta Omo Morto still has a Fresnel lens in the tower, which is always good to see.

Here are the pictures:

Note the Fresnel lens

Deadman's Point - not an easy stroll

And it's a long way down

Saturday, January 5, 2019

More big important science news

This breakthrough -- and that's the right term to use for this effort -- is actually pretty exciting, even while we're sending satellite probes to the farthest body in the Solar System ever visited and landing a robot explorer on the far side of the Moon.

Scientists Just Melted a Hole Through 3,500 Feet of Ice to Reach a Mysterious Antarctic Lake
"On Friday, the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) team announced they’d reached Lake Mercer after melting their way through an enormous frozen river with a high-pressure, hot-water drill. The multi-year effort to tap into the subglacial lake—one of approximately 400 scientists have detected across Antarctica—offers a rare opportunity to study the biology and chemistry of the most isolated ecosystems on Earth."

So where's Lake Mercer located, I am wondering (as I am sure you are as well)?

At least, what point on the Antarctic continent is it located under?  So let's go find a map:

On the map below, SLM is subglacial Lake Mercer (right under the text reading "Mercer Ice Stream").

The unusual childhoods of DC Comics superheroes

After seeing Aquaman a few days ago (which I liked, though with caveats, which I will hopefully describe in a subsequent post), I started thinking about the unusual childhood lives of the DC Comics superheroes (at least the ones in the Justice League). Now, I will freely admit that some of the following discussion is from the manifestations of the superheroes in recent movies and TV shows - but when you try to get into the convoluted lives and rebirths and reboots and relaunches and reconfigurations in the comics dating back to the 1940s, it's a little hard to keep track of everybody.

So let's run through them.

Superman - Superman's childhood is pretty well established; he was sent to Earth in a spaceship shortly before the destruction of the planet Krypton, which killed his mother and father. So the space orphan was brought up on a Midwest farm by the Kents, even though he did get some beyond-the-grave guidance from Mom and Dad via the memories stored in the Fortress of Solitude.

Batman - another well-established childhood story has Bruce Wayne's mother and father getting gunned down in a street robbery which young Bruce witnessed. This traumatic event led to Bruce's alternate career as a black-clad avenging angel of the night with a lot of cool expensive technology. So Bruce too was orphaned at a young age, though obviously not as young as Kal-El.

Wonder Woman - here's a case where I'm going to go conveniently with Diana's parentage in the movie version, since the comic character has had a couple of different transformations. So we know that Diana was raised entirely by the Amazonian women of Themyscira, but according to the movie story at least, her father just happened to be the number one god Zeus. And we also know that based on the stories of Greek mythology, Zeus was a god that liked the ladies, fathering kids with both lesser goddesses and lovely human women. So Diana was raised entirely by the feminine gender and had a womanizing lightning bolt-slinger absentee father.

Aquaman - I did a little Wikipedia research on this one, and in Aquaman's earliest version, his father raised him after his mother died young. There seemed to have been some convergence on his origin story in the next versions, with Arthur Curry having a human father and an Atlantean mother, the latter who may or may not have been around as Arthur grew up. So it appears that Aquaman had a strong father figure, but less influence from the maternal side.

The Flash - Both the movie and the TV version of "The Flash" as Barry Allen (there have been other Flashes, like Jay Garrick) have Barry's father in jail and mother dead. In the TV version, Barry's father was unjustly accused of murdering Barry's mother. And at least in the TV version, Barry witnessed the murder (and later went after who really did it). So, deprived of his parents, Barry was raised by Uncle Joe West, who has a daughter, Iris West, who is Barry's long-time love (again, this is the story on TV, I didn't research Flash on Wikipedia).

Green Arrow - I was curious about this one, and the Green Arrow / Arrow has had a lot of different personas in the comics. To their credit, the Arrow TV producers/writers have kept a lot of this history in the TV show in some form. However, it didn't seem that Oliver Queen's father in the comics shared the fate of his father on TV, to whit, after the Queen yacht sank, Oliver's father committed suicide so Oliver could survive. Now, we will note that Oliver was older than Bruce Wayne or Barry Allen when his father died, and knew how to party and hook up. So having parents around doesn't necessarily guarantee a well-adjusted youth.

Green Lantern - of all the Justice Leaguers, the Green Lantern has had the most different "lives" and histories, as I found in the Wikipedia summary. So we'll just stick with Hal Jordan, the movie Green Lantern, and one of the main comic Green Lantern identities. In both the movie and at least one character history, young Hal watches as his test-pilot father crashes an experimental plane, which would figure to be traumatic. Not much mention of his mother.

So, as you can see from my brief and totally non-comprehensive discussion, the youth and childhood of the DC Comics superheroes was never ordinary. Obviously, neither are the superhero characters, but its interesting that these heroes apparently had to learn self-reliance and independence early in their lives. Whether or not that was an influence the writers considered (other than the obvious motivations, such as the for Flash and Batman), is not something I have any knowledge of.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

First nature photography contest of 2019

Here's a Daily Mail article about a nature photography contest, the Wild World competition, held by the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers.

DM does this frequently, and it's frequently fascinating.

Here's an example of an osprey with the catch of the day.

First, way out there. Now, the Dark Side.

So, the New Horizons space probe successfully flewed-by the way far out there Kuiper Belt object Ultimate Thule, which even this early into the data receiving process we now know is two nearly spherical and very cold chunks of primordial Solar System matter stuck together.

And now, the Chinese have landed mankind's first-ever mooncraft (Chang'e) on the far side of the Moon, the one that always faces away from Earth.

Not a bad start, science-wise, for the first three days of 2019.

China Makes Historic 1st Landing on Mysterious Far Side of the Moon

One thing I confirmed from this article was something I suspected had to have happened -- they put a communications satellite at a Lagrange point so that they could communicate with the moon landing spacecraft.  Now the little robot, which has wheels, can start exploring while staying on the line with Earth.

Republican response to Romney

If this slipped by you, Mitt Romney, the new senator from Utah, wrote an op-ed piece in which he criticized President Donald Trump's character.

As if that was a big deal. Anybody with a moderately functional brain knows that Trump is an AAA-class jerk -- and I'm being real nice saying just that.

But the thing is, Mitt is still a very conservative Republican, and despite his criticism of Trump as a person, he didn't really take on Trump's multitude of policy failings as a President.  So I can't muster much admiration for Mitt here, despite being somewhat principled.  He's still a Republican.

Now, other Republicans have reacted to his op-ed piece by basically saying he shouldn't have done that.  As the article linked below points out, they really don't say he was wrong -- see the second paragraph.  They just basically admit that character doesn't matter as long as they get what they want, politically.
"Those very logical arguments aren’t countenanced by the most prominent defenses of Trump. Instead, leading voices in the GOP seem to be arguing that tribalism is the end goal — that the ends justify the means. The party of values and morality is increasingly arguing that such ideals are mere speed bumps on the way to conservative policy goals. And they’re saying it publicly."

The GOP’s amoral response to Mitt Romney’s op-ed

Seriously, though -- character does matter.  Who would want to work for someone who belittles them when they leave his "employ" (or that of his administration)?  What allies can believe anything he says when he lies all the time and betrays them, both supportively and morally?  And it's been shown multiple times that he can't give up his own greed and vices for the good of the country, which makes those of us with moderately functional brains wonder if push came to shove (like a deal that would substantially enrich him yet cause economic or security problems for the country), what would determine his decision?  How do evangelicals support him when he's committed documented and publicized adultery?  (Oh yeah, King Cyrus. Sure.) 

For those over that deep end, there's nothing that can be done.  But for the rest of us, we have to hope that the end of the Trump disaster of a Presidential administration happens sooner rather than later.