Sunday, March 31, 2019

Another way to raise greenhouse gas concentrations

Raising greenhouse gas concentrations is not something the Earth needs, but by doing something else -- fertilizing crops and lawns and plants, etc. -- then the concentrations will rise.

The problem is that excess fertilizer gets into streams and lakes and rivers, and that increases the growth of algae.  Then the algae die, and sink, and bacteria break them down, and that uses up oxygen.  This process is called eutrophication (if you haven't heard of it before).

So ... when the oxygen gets used up, other bacteria take over.  And those bacteria produce methane.  So this study projects that as a) human population increases, b) nutrients and sewage input to lakes and rivers and streams increases, and thus c) lake and ocean temperature increases, THEN eutrophication increases, methane release from these eutrophied bodies of water will increase, and since methane is a greenhouse gas, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase.

Which, unfortunately, is not good.

The solution is to improve overall global water quality.  That, also unfortunately, won't be easy.

Eutrophication of lakes will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions

Looking down in a drone photography contest

As the small number of people who read this blog know, I'm a big big fan of photography contests.  This one is intriguing -- it is for photographs taken from the aerial platform of a drone, which offers perspectives and viewpoints ground-based humans rarely achieve.

The contest is the 2018 Sky Pixel Aerial Storytelling Contest.  Go there to see videos.

The Daily Mail article is here:

Going above and beyond: The stunning winners of a prestigious drone photography competition revealed

From the contest site, this picture of the Santuario Madonna della Corona in Italy is quite impressive.

A quote from "How contagious is Trumpism"

Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt wrote an op-ed column recently, entitled "How contagious is Trumpism?"   He made many good points in the column, but one of them made a certain large amount of sense to me.

Here's the point he made:
"If Congress modestly raised the tax on gasoline (or transitioned to a tax on vehicle-miles traveled), it could repair the nation’s roads and bridges and build new bikeways and mass transit, as Congress is forever promising and failing to do."
I have been saying that for years!  As fleet mileage increases, and as they are more hybrids and electric cars, gasoline taxes return less revenue for what they are supposed to pay for.  So the entire country (on a state-by-state basis, considering population and road/infrastructure maintenance needs) should transition to a system that is based on the miles traveled on the state's roads.  We have the technology, either GPS or toll beacons, so it's not hard to implement.  It needs to be.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, March 24-30, 2019: Corregidor Island, Phillippines

While looking for new lighthouses, I discovered that Switzerland has lighthouses.  Not many, as you might expect for a land-locked country with no saltwater coastline, but a couple on the larger lakes.  However, there are not enough pictures of them to make them worthwhile for LoTW.

So, I tried a new country, the Phillippines.  It has quite a few lighthouses, and several are historical (and attractive ruins).  I did do one previous lighthouse from the Phillippines, one that was right out in the middle of the ocean, but now I'll do some on the coast.

This one is on an island famous from World War II, the island of Corregidor. (Zoom out on the map to see where it is in relation to the larger Phillippines islands.)  Corregidor only has one lighthouse, right on the highest point of the island.  It was originally Spanish, and has been restored.   More from the Lighthouse Directory:
"1950 (station established 1835). Active; focal plane 193 m (633 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 14.5 m (48 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower with lantern and double gallery, rising from the center of 1-story stone keeper's house.

The lighthouse was heavily damaged during the war ... This historic light station was recently restored with funds from the Spanish government, and the lantern was replaced with modern equipment by the Japanese government."
So here are four pictures (one historic) and a non-professional video.

Monday, March 25, 2019

I've been saying this for a long time!

From the Washington Post op-ed article "How Contagious is Trumpism?", this bit of logic, which I believe I've said in various ways for years:
"If Congress modestly raised the tax on gasoline (or transitioned to a tax on vehicle-miles traveled), it could repair the nation’s roads and bridges and build new bikeways and mass transit, as Congress is forever promising and failing to do."
The underlined part is what I do agree with the most.  Because of the increase in availability of higher mileage vehicles, a gas tax is inequitable -- people who use more gas pay more taxes.  All that needs to be figured out is how to measure road miles traveled.  In this era of transponders and GPS, I would think that the miles a car travels on state roads and interstates.  But the computing power to process all that data would of necessity be large, and would have to be pretty robust.

Old Highway 41 and new Highway 41

Near Dalton, Georgia, there's an interesting situation.  Officially, Highway 41 now follows a bypass around Dalton.  But it used to go right through Dalton.  I decided to do both. 

Route 3 and the South Dalton Bypass and the Admiral Mack Gaston Parkway

Whitfield County Fire Department Station 8, off the parkway

US 76, Georgia 3, and Highway 41, which gets its number back "officially" here.

I did a little sleuthing, and it turns out that while the modern route of Highway 41 follows the bypass and is co-numbered with 76 and 3 around Dalton, "Old U.S. Highway 41" went through Dalton. I somewhat suspected that a road with the name "South Dixie Road" or "South Dixie Highway" used to be Highway 41. In Dalton, the road/highway turns into South Thornton Avenue and then North Thornton Avenue.

Even though I have some pictures of the bypass, which are above and rather boring, I figured if I was really doing the trek by car or bicycle, I'd go through Dalton on what used to be Highway 41, rather than taking the bypass (less mileage, too). So here are some StreetViews in Dalton on this stretch.

The Blunt House is the house hiding behind the tree (not the house with the two flowering trees). Zoom in to locate the historical marker.

The creek the road is crossing here is named Drowning Bear Creek.

By the Whitfield County Superior Court.

The little blue building is "Cheesecake Heaven". No kidding.

So, if you're ever driving through Dalton:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Think it's raining more in the USA?

If you think that it's raining more in the United States, especially the heaviest rains, you're right, it is.

Climate Central shows where.

Here's Where Heavy Rain is Increasing the Most in U.S.

One of the states where it's increasing the most is in Iowa.  One might wish to take note of what's currently happening in Iowa and it's neighbor state to the west, Nebraska.

Did you wonder why?  Well, that's pretty easy to explain.  From the accompanying text:
"Heavier precipitation is a signature of climate change. For every 1°F of temperature increase*, the atmosphere can effectively hold 4 percent more water vapor. So as the world warms from the increase in greenhouse gases, the amount of evaporation also increases from oceans, lakes, rivers, and soils. The extra water vapor is available to produce additional rain and snow, creating an environment ripe for heavy precipitation events ... "

* Which is primarily being caused by increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, most especially CO2.

You'd think the simple and obvious would appeal to most people. But those who are in tribes that are opposed to the consideration of science as fact, they can still not see the Occamic appeal of the simple and obvious.

(Oh yeah, Occamic.  I'm not the first to coin that.)

Christian Slater knows about Hard Rain (the 1998 movie was set in Indiana, where hard rain has actually increased, but not as much as in Illinois and particularly Iowa.)

February science pictures from Nature magazine

I promised myself to start checking Nature magazine's monthly compilation of science images every month, and I remembered (I only made that promise last month).  While there's a fish with a mouth that has growths around it that look like eggs to attract females, I decided that there was really one clear standout image in this group.

Meet Bagheera.

Actually, this is not really Bagheera.  But Bagheera was a black panther, and this is one too, the first picture of one captured in 100 years in Africa.

Isn't it strange that there was just a movie last year about the Black Panther superhero?  How in the world did Marvel Studios manage to get this bit of free product placement?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Moving northward on Highway 41, toward Tennessee

No, the Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek has not yet reached its third state.  But it is getting closer.  Here are four more spots along the way.

Crossing I-75 (again)

Crossing the Conasauga River. Note the train bridge next to the road bridge.

Resaca, Georgia.  According to the map of the Great Locomotive Chase that is shown in the Wikipedia article, the raiders dropped one of the box cars off the General near Resaca.  That's about it, but there was also a Battle of Resaca during the Civil War, near the beginning of the Atlanta campaign.

Crossing Swamp Creek, which is actually a nicer-looking creek than you would expect from the name.

Crossing Little Swamp Creek

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, March 17-23, 2019: Punta Palascia, Capo d'Otranto, Italy

As promised last week, I moved just up the coast a bit from the lighthouse at the end of the heel of Italy's boot, which was the Faro di Santa Maria di Leuca.  This week's lighthouse is the Punta Palascia light, on the Capo d'Otranto, which is the easternmost point of Italy.  These two lighthouses are about 45 km apart by road. 

Surprisingly for a lighthouse in such a notable location, it was abandoned in the 1970s, according to Wikipedia, but has been reclaimed and restored since then.  Here's some more information about it:

"The lighthouse was built in 1867 and abandoned in the 1970s, however, was reopened in 2008 and currently hosts the Centre on Environment and Health of the Mediterranean Ecosystems and a multimedia Museum of the Sea. The lighthouse consists of a white stone cylindrical tower, 32 metres (105 ft) high, with balcony and lantern rising from a 2-storey white building. The lantern is positioned at 60 metres (200 ft) above sea level and emits one white flash in a 5 seconds period visible at 18 nautical miles (33 km; 21 mi) of distance."
(If you think I'm not being faithful to the outstanding Lighthouse Directory, well, Wikipedia gets some of the information for their article from there.)

It's quite photogenic, as you'll see.

This last one is by Angelo Perrone, and you can get stuff with this picture on the stuff.  Order here.

March trio of sonnets III: "invited by assent"

Third of my three-sonnets-in-a-row special, this one with special inspiration.

invited by assent

She gives completely, as we see, as one
receives her all in thrall of full and deep
commitment -- they are in a realm which none
would dare compare to theirs, its breadth and sweep
encompassing the yearnings it creates
and casting all their other cares away
like windblown leaves. Where dedication mates
with gratifying urges, we can weigh
the tender purpose that we view, and yet
we cannot feel or sense the innerness
that drives external needs 'til they are met
and then reflected as her sighs impress
us with their heartfeltness. So while we stare
we always wish for more than we can bare.

(Thank you, Connie.)

March trio of sonnets II: "it's not so far away"

Second of three sonnets in a row.

it's not so far away

A journey of short distance still can cross
some fundamental boundaries, so I
must scope it carefully; a loss
of reason could allow whatever my
adventuresome imagination might
envision to be real, despite the chance
of gentle danger from illusion's bright
attractiveness -- and if some sights entrance
my vision like mirages o'er the sands
of empty quarters, then my quest might stray
away from where my resolution stands
unchallenged by my conscience, when the day
is by bewitching night beguiled, and wise
excitement is my personal disguise.

March trio of sonnets I: "aspirationally speaking"

I wrote a few sonnets recently, so I'll be posting three of them.

Here's the first:

aspirationally speaking

I wish that I could climb a mountain like
a mountain climber can, or surf a wave
of monstrous height as eas'ly as a hike
upon a vernal trail. If I could brave
such escapades with daring skill, my days
of tedium would be far less to bear
uneasily, for I would plan my ways
to joust with dragons or seek out the lair
of ancient scourges, to defeat their bane;
or I could have a diff'rent kind of dream,
of legendary love, the prized refrain
where bonding hearts and passions are the theme
which I would hope to proudly emulate
e'en though my fucking would not be so great.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Take your best shot

I just checked the leaderboard for the just completed rounds of The Players Championship (men's pro golf), and Rory McIlroy took the cup and the big check, but only by one shot over a surprising Jim Furyk.

That is great and all, but the shot of the tournament was this one, by Ryan Moore.  He finished in a tie for 20th, which should at least put food on the table for a week.

Ryan Moore slam dunks his ball straight into the cup without a bounce on Sawgrass' iconic 17th island hole during the Players

As you might expect, that's pretty rare.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

What's going down in the upper stratosphere

There are a lot of different flavors of people who profess or demonstrate that they don’t understand what science knows about climate change:  those that don’t think global warming is happening, those that take the more malevolent view that it’s not happening and there’s a global scientific conspiracy to conceal the truth, those that just think it’s happening some but it isn’t a problem, or those see it as a concern but also think that it isn’t going to be a bigger problem in the near future. 

As someone who has spent time trying to learn about the science, as various aspects have been important to my professional career, and as someone who tries to keep up with the science as more is learned, it pains me (to put it mildly) that there are people who believe that it isn’t happening, or worse, that it’s a “hoax”.   

So I have tried to explain, in simple terms, sometimes indignantly, that there is scientific data that shows conclusively that global warming is happening right now, and the cause of it Is increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the cause of that is human activities, primarily and predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.  And one of the key elements of trying to explain this is the data that shows the middle stratosphere is cooling.

Now, I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago, by request, as to why science knows that CO2 is causing this.  That post is here:

Point Number 2 is entitled:  If CO2 is absorbing longwave radiation, there must be a directly observable effect.

Well, there is a directly observable effect, and that’s the cooling of the middle stratosphere.  If you are wondering why I emphasize the middle stratosphere and not the whole stratosphere, it’s because there are two factors that cool the entire stratosphere – one is ozone depletion, and the other is the increasing concentration of CO2 in the troposphere.  As ozone depletion has leveled off (thank you, Montreal Protocol), the cooling rate of the entire stratosphere has slowed.  More on this later.

However, the effects of ozone depletion and CO2 are somewhat separated in location in the stratosphere.  The effects of ozone depletion happen in the lower and middle stratosphere, but the effect of increasing tropospheric CO2 is mainly in the middle stratosphere.  That’s shown here:

So now let’s get briefly into why increasing tropospheric CO2 causes cooling in the middle stratosphere.  First of all, the troposphere warms and cools convectively;  as the earth’s surfaces warm up or cool down, the overlying atmosphere changes temperature accordingly, and warm air rises and cool air descends, making cells of circulation around the globe, that get moved around and stirred together by the circulation of the atmosphere (which is partly affected by the rotation of the Earth).  If you want more than that, study meteorology.  But the stratosphere warms and cools radiatively – it is warmed by infrared radiation rising from the troposphere, and it is cooled as heat radiates into space.   If you wonder about the difference between convective and radiative warming, turn on your stove and hold your hand over the burner (not too close).   The heat you feel, especially if the burner is red (speaking of an electric stove element here), is infrared radiation.  Now, if you put a pot of water on the burner, the bottom of the pan heats up, that heat gets transferred to the water, the water circulates as it gets warmer – that’s convection.

So, the simple and KEY fact is this:  as tropospheric CO2 increases, it traps more heat aka longwave IR in the troposphere, so less longwave IR is reaching the middle stratosphere over time to warm it.  And since the middle stratosphere is getting less longwave IR, and it’s still radiating to space, it cools off.   I’ll return to this point in my conclusions.

The reason I’m writing this now is that when I recently brought up the phenomenon of middle stratospheric cooling on Twitter in response to a tweet, I was challenged by a non-believer (putting it mildly) with a couple of resources from oppositional Web sites.  What was provided was not something I was unfamiliar with – in searching previously on this subject, I’ve encountered it, and I’ve also seen explanations of some of the problem embedded in it. It relates back to the problem of deconvoluting the effects of ozone depletion and increasing tropospheric CO2.

One of the problems that I’ve encountered is that there isn’t a lot of literature about this phenomenon, and sometimes what I’m trying to find isn’t the main point of a scientific paper.  But I decided now is the time to consolidate the most up-to-date papers I can find.  So I went out and found some.  And the bottom line is – it’s still happening.

So let’s get started.  One of the key figures I’ve noted and posted comes from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).  This figure shows data from the middle stratospheric channel C13 of the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU). There are AMSUs on several satellites, and some of them are still operating.  So what I don’t know is why there is no AMSU data for the middle stratosphere at RSS after mid-2013.  Maybe someone who knows will read this and understand it.

Below are the results of my reference searching.  I’m providing a link to the paper page (even though only the abstract may be available unless you're a subscriber), the title of the paper, and the relevant quotes.

Postmillennium changes in stratospheric temperature consistently resolved by GPS radio occultation and AMSU observations (2017)

“This study exploits two independent sets of satellite observations by Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) and GPS radio occultation (RO).” 
“The observations indicate a statistically significant global cooling in the middle stratosphere since 2001 at a mean rate of −0.14 to −0.36 K/decade and insignificant change in the lower stratosphere.”

Regional and seasonal stratospheric temperature trends in the last decade (2002–2014) from AMSU observations (2015)

“SSU operated on NOAA platforms from 1979 to 2006, i.e., covering more than 25 years. It provided invaluable global‐scale stratospheric temperature data; however, SSU data require special processing before it can be used in climate applications.” 
“They found that over the more than three decades coverage period the stratosphere cooled with a rate of −0.1 to −0.2 K/decade at the lower stratosphere to 0.5 to 0.6 K/decade in the middle and upper stratosphere, but the cooling slowed down in the period of 1998–2015 compared to the earlier one (1979–1997).”

Towards a physical understanding of stratospheric cooling under global warming through a process-based decomposition method (2016)

“... this study demonstrates that the changes of radiative radiation due to CO2, ozone and water vapor are the main drivers of stratospheric cooling in both winter and summer. They contribute to the cooling changes by reducing the net radiative energy (mainly downward radiation) received by the stratospheric layer.”

Attributing the forced components of observed stratospheric temperature variability to external drivers (2015)

“Finally, the anthropogenic response in the upper stratosphere gives rise to a cooling of 23 K over the 27year period, with two thirds of this attributed to GHGs, and one third to ozone depletion.”

Stratospheric Temperature Trends Inferred from the Merged SSU and AMSU-A Observations (2017)

“The total decreases in global mean temperatures found from the merged dataset were from 1.8K in the middle stratosphere to 2.4K in the upper stratosphere during 1979-2015.”

The Stratospheric Changes Inferred from 10 Years of AIRS and AMSU-A Radiances (2017)

“The results show a cooling rate of 0.65 ± 0.11 (2σ) K decade−1 in the upper stratosphere above 6 hPa, approximately 0.46 ± 0.24 K decade−1 in two midstratospheric layers between 6 and 30 hPa, and 0.39 ± 0.32 K decade−1 in the lower stratosphere (30–60 hPa).”

Stratospheric Temperature Trends over 1979–2015 Derived from Combined SSU, MLS, and SABER Satellite Observations (2016)

“Linear trends over 1979–2015 show that cooling increases with altitude from the lower stratosphere (from ~−0.1 to −0.2 K decade−1) to the middle and upper stratosphere (from ~−0.5 to −0.6 K decade−1).

So, as can be seen, through 2015 there is a clear mid-stratospheric cooling trend in different data sets, using different data instruments, using different methods, and consistent with what was previously known about how stratospheric cooling should occur and what causes it.  There some variability in the actual numbers, but that's to be expected with the different instruments/measurements/reporting periods.

But why is there a discrepancy in some of the papers that have been repeatedly cited on oppositional Web sites?

The basic problem with those papers is not in the science, it’s in the instruments used.  The SSU was imperfect, as one of my references notes, and the methods used to look at SSU data had to integrate over most of the stratosphere.  So they couldn’t distinguish well between the lower and mid-stratosphere, so when they report the cooling of the whole stratosphere, the interpretation includes the effects of both ozone depletion and increasing tropospheric CO2.  So using these instruments and data, over the time period available, there’s a strong cooling trend caused by both ozone depletion and increasing CO2, which slows down near the end of the data set because of the cessation of ozone depletion.   Combining that trend with the imprecision of the SSU (plus the fact that there were multiple SSUs and merging their data was challenging) means that it’s possible to say that the cooling signal integrated over the entire stratosphere, into the period when ozone depletion had leveled off, became much smaller in the SSU data.

But let’s sum up to this point, before my conclusions, with a quote from the RSS Web site:
“The plot shows the that middle stratosphere cooled during the most recent 15 years, even as the lower stratosphere ceased cooling.”   See?  It’s simple. 

CONCLUSIONS:   Now that it’s been pretty well established that the middle stratosphere continues to cool, here’s an evaluation of the implications.  This is a case where Occam’s Razor cuts pretty sharply.  The CO2 molecule absorbs and re-radiates IR radiation (heat); that’s basic physics (actually physical chemistry).  The stratosphere warms and cools radiatively;  that’s basic (atmospheric) physics.  The effect of increasing CO2 in the troposphere is to trap more IR in the troposphere, causing less to reach the stratosphere;  again, basic physics and atmospheric dynamics.  And because less IR reaches the stratosphere, especially the mid-stratosphere, it will cool.  Basic physics again.   So to insist that this isn’t happening is to not be in opposition to “global warming”, it’s to be in opposition to basic physics.

The implications of this are in my previously posted article (linked above), but here it is in a nutshell.  Since mid-stratosphere cooling is happening, then the effects of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere are also happening.  That means that the troposphere should be warming, and the additional heat will be transferred into the Earth climate system;  melting ice, warming the oceans, changing atmospheric circulation patterns, etc.  That also means that paleoclimate events make sense, so an abrupt increase in Earth’s temperature should accompany the massive and rapid addition of CO2 to the atmosphere during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum;  increasing CO2 should drive the temperature change at the end of a glacial period, as Shakun et al. 2012 showed;  decreasing atmospheric CO2 should cause the temperature of the Earth to decrease, as happened in the late Ordovician.  Essentially, as Dr. Richard Alley said, “But an increasing body of science indicates that CO2 has been the most important controller of global average climate of the Earth."

So, I’m not going to try to affect your opinion about what might happen in the future as Earth’s climate warms.  But there is very little doubt that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (the troposphere, really) is causing Earth’s climate to warm, and mid-stratospheric cooling is a key observation showing that it is.   In fact, if it could somehow possibly be shown that middle stratospheric cooling ISN’T happening, that would be an almost fatal blow to the entire scientific framework of CO2-influenced climate change.

I’m not losing any sleep over that possibility.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's almost time

Alexis Ren reminds us that it is almost time for the Weights, Measures, and Esoterica Spring Break Babe Week!

Highway 41, north to Calhoun

Between Adairsville and Calhoun, there is not a lot.  So our next stop below is just south of Calhoun, Georgia.

By the Tom B. David Airport

Downtown Calhoun, Highway 41 and Maple Street.  Not massively exciting.

One block off the highway - the railroad tracks again!

Calhoun Depot

Since we were on the subject of the Great Locomotive Chase in the Civil War, let's see what Wikipedia says happened in this vicinity:

"Beyond the damaged section, he [conductor Fuller] took command of the southbound locomotive Texas south of Calhoun, where Andrews had passed it, running it backwards. The Texas train crew had been bluffed by Andrews at Calhoun into taking the station siding, thereby allowing the General to continue northward along the single-track main line. Fuller, when he met the Texas, took command of her, picked up eleven Confederate troops at Calhoun, and continued his pursuit. tender-first, northward."

The tender is the car behind the locomotive engine, which holds the coal that is being burned to give the steam-powered trains their power.

Here's the Texas (currently on display at the Atlanta History Center, along with the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama).  The tender is behind the engine with the large gold "12" on it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The last panorama from Opportunity

As you probably know, the Mars Opportunity Rover was overcome by a massive dust storm, that apparently drained its batteries beyond recharge capability.  In other words, it passed out and couldn't come back to computer consciousness.  It had an amazing long run, and as has been noted in many many articles, it far surpassed the 90-day warranty that would have marked a "successful" mission.

But it did leave a pretty good parting shot.

The parting shot from Opportunity

Here's an excerpt from the last shot:

Took me awhile

I looked at this picture for a considerable time, and ultimately I was unable to identify the woman in the tux, though I knew she was famous and that I'd seen her before.

I finally had to search for information, and found it, and this information allowed me to identify the model as actress Jessica Chastain.

Jessica Chastain Is The Face of Ralph Lauren's New Fragrance 'Woman'
(has a nice short video)

I think there are two reasons I didn't recognize her here.  One, her distinctive chin cleft is barely visible (if it's visible at all) in this picture. It's kind of like Cindy Crawford without her beauty mark.  Two, she's very commonly been a redhead, but in this black-and-white picture that's not apparent. 

It's a striking picture, though.  And she's a treat for the eyes, too.

Lighthouse of the Week, March 10-16, 2019: Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy

In case you didn't know, the "heel" of the boot shape of Italy is a region known as Apulia, or Puglia (I prefer Puglia). It's where about 40% of Italy's olive oil is produced (as I hope the olive oil tree disease doesn't affect that too much).   I suspected that the southern end of Puglia would have a lighthouse on it.

I was right. (That wasn't a difficult prediction to be correct on.)

The lighthouse at the southern tip of Puglia is Santa Maria di Leuca.  It's obviously not the southernmost lighthouse, because the foot and toe of the boot extend further south.  Here's a locator map.  The easternmost lighthouse is just up the coast, perhaps we'll look at that next week, and then move to another country.

Here are some specifications, excerpted from the Lighthouse Directory.
"1866. Active; focal plane 102 m (335 ft); three white flashes every 15 s; also a red light, occulting once every 4 s, is shown over shoals to the east. 48 m (158 ft) octagonal brick tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story keeper's house. ... The original first order lantern was replaced in 1954. Capo Santa Maria di Leuca is the tip of the Salento peninsula, so this historic lighthouse marks the western entrance to the Strait of Otranto and the Adriatic Sea."
Four pictures are below.  There are many pictures of it from the sea, but I couldn't find one that wasn't a stock photo.

The last one is available here, if you want to hang it on your wall.

Let's swim to the lighthouse!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A sonnet with a meaning

But the reader has to figure out what the meaning is.

mouse over

She once was sworn to someone other than
myself, before I ever knew her name
or contemplated an unlikely plan
to capture her by heart and then to claim
her loveliness in ev'ry aspect I
could entertain -- yet thwarted by a small
yet major distance I could never try
to find an honest way to make her fall
for charms that I would offer her; for thrills
which we could mutually create; for lies
that I might tell as my seductive skills
go far beyond what I can exercise
in pure reality -- so would it be
as good for her as it would be for me?

I wouldn't put this in my backyard

Well, sure you can steal it, but what are you going to DO with it?   Wait -- don't answer that.

Giant clitoris sculpture is stolen from French university - for the second time

According to the article, the stolen sexual sculpture was erected ...

on campus in response to the fact that the campus already had a hard ...

piece of sculpture depicting a penis.

As for the clitoris sculpture, I'd recommend having women detectives on the case, because men are likely to have a difficult time finding it. 

I wonder who fingered the piece, anyway? 

I suspect that there are already a lot of tips ...

so many that their phones are probably constantly vibrating ...

OK, I'm done. 

A real silverback

In my earlier years on this blog, I noted ocurrences of what I called "silverbacks", i.e. wealthy and accomplished older men who date, marry, or impregnate (or all three) comely young women.

My term never caught on, but there are still plenty of examples of this type of behavior.  Maybe I'll write more about that later.  Pete Davidson listed a lot of names on last week's Saturday Night Live.

This post, however, is not about that.  It's about a picture of a real silverback gorilla.  So I invite you to read the article below:

Finally got the monkey off his back: British photographer, 53, captures a stunning image of an alpha male silverback gorilla after 10 painstaking years of trying

Losing (politically, on climate change)

This caught my eye on Twitter.

Slow, but headed in the right direction.

Those who think that climate change is not a major global issue, or who think it's a hoax, or who think we should keep up our profligate consumption of fossil fuels, are LOSING the conversation.  Change takes time, and we don't have a lot of it.  But we're getting there.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Marilyn, is that you?

Leggy and tall model Karlie Kloss was in a yellow dress with a LONG section in the back, and with the help of some assistants, made it look like it was blowin' in the wind.

Karlie Kloss commands attention in a bold yellow gown with a HUGE train as she poses backstage at Off-White Paris Fashion Week show

Editorial: moderate Democrats underestimate the tribe of conservative Republicans

From Paul Waldman, in the Washington Post:

Hickenlooper’s entry reveals how moderates fatally misunderstand today’s GOP

"When Barack Obama was elected (another Democrat who said he wanted to bring people together), McConnell and his colleagues made a decision that they would work to deny Obama any victories, even if it meant doing demonstrable harm to the country. They would filibuster everything, slow confirmation of appointees to a crawl, shut down the government, threaten to default on America's debts, and find any legislative maneuver they could to throw sand in the gears. They were neither shy nor subtle in making clear that this is what they were doing."

Waldman is right; they (the GOP) can't be negotiated with. As McConnell has shown repeatedly, they won't do anything they should do, but don't want to do, unless they're forced to do it, usually kicking and screaming and blaming Democrats for being reasonable.

Following the trains on Highway 41

There's a reason that I titled this Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek post that way.  It's because many of the next stops and sights on this part of the ride run right next to one of the Civil War's most unique events, the Great Locomotive Chase.

You can click on that link to get the full story, but the quick summary is that a Union agent (could be termed a spy) recruited a few soldiers and commandeered a train while the train passengers and crew we're having breakfast.  He took it north, intending to break tracks and burn bridges, but due to timing, weather, and some ineptitude (if they'd had better tools, they might have pulled it off), and also a really determined conductor from the train he'd taken (William Fuller), the escapade was thwarted, and the agent, James Andrews, was captured and later hanged for his spy-like exploit.

So, here we go.

Off the highway slightly - Cartersville, Georgia court house

"Drink Coca-Cola" sign on Young Brothers Pharmacy building (remember that nearby Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola)

Adairsville, Georgia public square (off the highway again)

Crossing the railroad tracks in Adairsville.  During the Great Locomotive Chase, the raiders (the Union troops led by Andrews) had managed to break a track, forcing the pursuers to get off the train they were using and pursue on foot until they found another train, the Texas.  (The train that the raiders commandeered was the General.)

So, in the next post, we'll be moving on down the line!  And if you're worried that the trek is off Highway 41, the train tracks here are roughly 2,000 feet from the highway, which in this location runs parallel to the tracks.

Monday, March 4, 2019

A March sonnet, "wishing I could help"

Inspired by recent events.  No, I won't tell you what those events were. That's why I write poetry.

wishing I could help

To say what I would like for her to do
would partly be what I would thereby hope
for her to do with me; but from my view
I cannot change her track upon the slope
of isolated fate, no more than I
could change a boulder's path from cracking peak
to talus wreck. Yet when her anguished cry
of heartbreak rises, I would seek
to give her what she'd lost, the full release
of ecstasy that she deserves from one
she loves, and with it find the centered peace
that bathes and satisfies a soul undone
until a certain justice shall apply,
and she would always have what I'd supply.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, March 3-9, 2019: Punta Ferraione, Capraia Island, Italy

As one might expect, Italy has a lot of lighthouses.  I just featured five of them on Sicily or adjacent to it.  While there are a lot of lighthouses on the mainland, I just happened to find one on another Italian island.

According to Wikipedia, which I'll get back to in a moment, there are seven islands in the Tuscan archipelago.  They are in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the province of   The biggest one is Elba, famous as the place that couldn't hold Napoleon the first time he was exiled.  The second one (by size) is Giglio, the third is Capraia, which is where the lighthouse for this week is located.  The fourth is Montecristo, which is where a certain count of fictional literary was from. There's three more, as well as some marine rocks, but I don't need that much detail.

So back to Capraia.  About 400 people live there. There's one harbor, and the lighthouse is located on a small peninsula (Punta Ferraione) that partially defines the harbor.  Here's a map.  Zoom in or out to get a feel for the features.

For a change of pace, here's some information on this lighthouse from Wikipedia:
"The lighthouse, built in 1868 and refurbished in 1908, consists of a quadrangular tower, 12 metres (39 ft) high, attached to the northern corner of the 2-storey keeper's house; both are painted white. The lantern and the lantern roof have an octagonal shape and are painted grey metallic. Though the lighthouse is automated and there is no keeper in service, the building accommodate the local office of the Guardia Costiera.

The light is positioned at 30 metres (98 ft) above sea level and emits a long white flash in a 6 seconds period, visible up to a distance of 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi)."
Below are three pictures of the lighthouse. Here's a link to a short commercial video -- I can't embed the video here.

Final thought:  doesn't 'quadrangular' mean 'square'?

'Tis the season for photography contest winners

I've got a couple of backed-up posts about photography contests. The Daily Mail does a lot of articles on a lot of different things, and one of the best things they do is article about photography contests.

And this one is one of the best I've ever seen.

The article is about the winners of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year contest (Britain-based, I believe). And the images in the article are truly stunning.

Here's one example - in the ice caves of Lake Baikal.

You can see all the winners, and runners-up, in full size glory on the Web site.

Wait - Abbey Clancy (Crouch) is having ANOTHER baby?

OK, if I was Peter Crouch, and married to Abbey Clancy, and in love (as I suspect they are), then I think the practice of marital sexual rights would be quite appealing.

But still ... birth control?  Ever heard of it?

In this article, in which Abbey confesses she's pregnant, and also demonstrates that it's hard-to-believe she's had three kids so far (and one only about a year ago), she also indicates that getting pregnant again wasn't something they were exactly planning.

"The pair celebrated Johnny's first birthday on January 3, with the model admitting as recently as September 2018 that she wasn't sure if she would have more children.

She told MailOnline: 'I think I’m so lucky, I have three healthy kids and I’ve got two girls and one boy, but no I don’t want another one...

'If it happens it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but going through what I went through being pregnant with Johnny it definitely does put me off a bit. It was quite a bad time but worth it in the end.' "
In the article, she also models a lot of clothes and swimsuits. Which is just fine.

This is a nice dress, and her eyes are great too.

Well, nature happens, I guess. I wish her the best of luck, and congratulations, too.

Oh yeah. Peter -- I don't want to covet my neighbor's wife, but still, you did draw a good hand in this life.