Thursday, August 29, 2019

The lessons of the grape harvest

Vineyard owners have to keep track of when they harvest their grapes, so that they get them for their wines at the perfect time.

So naturally, they keep very good records of when they harvested the grapes.

And they've done this for centuries.

Thus, another indication of how climate on Earth has changed.

The longest homogeneous series of grape harvest dates, Beaune 1354–2018, and its significance for the understanding of past and present climate

Here's the final sentence of the abstract, but I recommend perusing the full fascinating paper:
"In sum, the 664-year-long Beaune GHD series demonstrates that outstanding hot and dry years in the past were outliers, while they have become the norm since the transition to rapid warming in 1988."  [GHD stands for Grape Harvest Dates.]

The link above goes to the actual article:  here's the Daily Mail take on it --

Grapes for Burgundy red wines now ripen TWO WEEKS earlier than they did in the 80s as climate change continues to cause soaring global temperatures

"Finally, the team compared the most recent 360 years of their harvest data with detailed temperature record taken in Paris over the same period.

From this, they could estimate Beaune's April–July temperatures across the entire 664 years covered by their grape harvest records.

'The transition to a rapid global warming period after 1988 stands out very clearly,' said Professor Pfister.

'The exceptional character of the last 30 years becomes apparent to everybody."

Everybody, that is, except those who are predisposed to ignore the obvious.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Highway 41 approaches the site of a big Civil War battle

If you look back on the Highway 41 trek, it has gone by some notable Civil War sites, primarily Kennesaw Mountain outside Atlanta; several notable landmarks of the Great Locomotive Chase;  Lookout Mountain next to Chattanooga, and now, the Stones River National Battlefield adjacent to Murfreesboro.  We're going to go off-road just a little (not very much) to explore it.

This is the set-up for that, but I'm moving quickly, so you'll see it shortly.

Crossing the Stones River

Across from the Stones River National Cemetery, but still on Highway 41.

Going off-road to the Stones River National Cemetery and National Battlefield (to actually do this, the turn is at Thompson Lane just a little south of here).  You can see some of the grave markers here.

I didn't know she got married!

Just found out that Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis (ice dancing), as well as Dancing with the Stars Mirror Ball winner, got married.

I found out because I read an article that said she's getting married again, so that her grandmother could get to see it.

Meryl Davis and Fedor Andreev hold second wedding ceremony at home in Detroit for grandmother who wasn't able to travel to destination wedding

In case you're wondering who he is, he's the son of her former ice dancing coach.

And as one would probably expect, she was a lovely bride.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Highway 41, Manchester to Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The next noteworthy stop will be the Stones River National Battlefield, but we have to get there first.  So we're off.

Crossing I-24 again - this keeps happening (partly because I-24 followed the same roadway in many cases as Highway 41).


Noah, Tennessee. I don't think there's a current flood danger.

Along this stretch, Highway 41 runs exactly parallel to I-24. Here's one place you can see it.

Entering Murfreesboro by the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring

Crossing Main Street and Lytle Creek

Murfreesboro Hooters - are you hungry? We're going to tour the battlefield next time!

New names for Jupiter moons

Five little moons of Jupiter have new names.

They were named by means of a naming contest.

But they still had to be names from Greek or Roman mythology.

And all I can say is -- Zeus sure got around.

Here are the goddesses that provided their names to the moons.

1. Pandia is the daughter of Zeus and the Moon goddess Selene. Pandia is the goddess of the full moon and the sister of Ersa.

2. Ersa is the sister of Pandia and, as such, also the daughter of Zeus and the Moon goddess Selene. Ersa is the goddess of dew.

3. Eirene is the goddess of peace and the daughter of Zeus and Themis.

This is purported to be a statue of Eirene.

4. Philophrosyne is the spirit of welcome and kindness and is the granddaughter of Zeus and sister of Eupheme.

This is a modern-ish take on Philophrosyne.  Not sure if she can fly or not, but she has wings.

5. Eupheme is the spirit of praise and good omen, the granddaughter of Zeus, and the sister of Philophrosyne.

Monday, August 26, 2019

A note of hope for some marine denizens of special interest

Given the bleakness of this summer's climate change news, and the ongoing Trump administration war on nature, this unexpected news was welcome.

Extinction bites: countries agree to protect sharks and rays
"Three proposals covering the international trade of 18 types of mako sharks, wedgefishes and guitarfishes each passed with a needed two-thirds majority in a committee of the World Wildlife Conference known as CITES on Sunday."
Inexplicably, the U.S. didn't support the proposal to protect mako sharks, but enough other countries did so it didn't matter.
"Scientists warn that although warming oceans and climate change are also hurting sharks, it is the demand for shark fin soup that is threatening to drive some species to extinction. The Pew Trust estimates that between 63 million and 273 million sharks are killed every year, mostly to feed the shark fin trade centered in Hong Kong."

OK, isn't it amazing that there are still that many sharks in the ocean?

I know very little about wedgefishes;  here's what one looks like, the smoothnose wedgefish.  Strange but beautiful.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Advertising for Venus

I confess, Venus swimwear/lingerie advertisements have been appearing on my browser.

That's what I get for clicking on the ads a couple of times.  NOW THEY WON'T GO AWAY.

So I'm stuck looking at things like those shown below.  And if you go to the Web site, which I don't recommend, then if you mouse over the picture you are awarded with a magnified view.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Black Multi Strappy Back Lace Chemise

Red Multi Deep V Lace Tie Bodysuit  (yes, I'll accept the rose)

So I guess the problem is obvious. Well, it's not so much of a problem as it is a lovely distraction.

How'd they do that?

My strange fandom for the Premier League team Crystal Palace continues.

They've played three games thus far.  First, they had a boring 0-0 draw with Everton.  Then they had a disheartening 0-1 loss to newly-in-the-league this year Sheffield United.  I was not optimistic.

So somehow they went out and defeated mighty (but maybe not quite yet back to that level) Manchester United, 2-1, using a lucky breakaway, a Man U goalie flub in extra time, a missed Man U penalty kick (lucky!!) and a lot of instances of kicking the ball out from in front of their own net.

Kinda typical for this club.

But still, it was historical.

Crystal Palace make Premier League history with late win at Manchester United

(To find out why, click the link and read about it.  I'm not doing everything for you.)

This doesn't sound particularly good

First, just read the headline:

IG: NOAA, NASA Launched Next-Gen Satellite With Known Issues, Scrubbed Performance Metrics from Contract

So, basically, there were problems with the prime instruments (the Advanced Baseline Imager, ABI) on the satellite before launch.  Apparently NASA and NOAA changed the contracts so that this wouldn't affect the payment to the contractors despite knowing about the deficiencies.  And then they launched the instruments with the deficiencies.

Not good.

Let's summarize with three excerpts:
1.Testing on the ABI in March 2017 prior to launch showed issues with the cooling system. Engineers devised a workaround but only tested the changes at “ambient temperatures and pressures,” according to the IG, which did not simulate the conditions in which the satellite would be operating in space.

With the modifications tested at ground level, the risk management team labeled the issue as fixed and “did not categorize the thermal anomaly as a failure,” the IG wrote.
2.The ABI cooling system subsequently failed in April 2018, shortly after the satellite launched in March.
This should not be a surprise to anyone.
3.Engineers have since been able to get the GOES-17 satellite to deliver 97% of the data it was designed to, though it will never be able to operate at the level intended.
You can read the rest.  NASA may have "space" in its name, but this was not stellar performance.

A sonnet, and my new venue

I started posting sonnets on Instagram, with a backdrop. A couple of them I'd already posted here, a couple I haven't.  I was/am hoping that they will get noticed there.  So far, not so much.

Anyway, here's my most recent one.  It's untitled (so far). Any ideas?

First the sonnet, then what I posted on Instagram.

Stark black does lack the subtleties of dark-
ness; for if darkness is not uniform
and pure as blackness, lacking e'en a mark
of any color save for black, no warm-
ing hues or even scales of grey to break
its bleak and featureless totality,
then darkness must have light, and we can take
some comfort from the sight that purity
of blackness is quite rare, and light pervades
in nearly ev'ry darkful night across
this world. Thus so if clever light invades
its realm of animosity, the loss
is gain of luminosity, and black
can be defeated with a glimm'ring crack.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, August 18-24, 2019: Far de la Mola, Formentera, Spain

Formentera is an island south of Ibiza, off the eastern Spanish coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Ibiza is the party island, and Formentera is a bit more sedate, though it is apparently popular with artists and nude sunbathers.  It's a good place for snorkeling and day-tripping. I got all this from Wikipedia.

Rather than rely on the Lighthouse Directory, which I rely on a lot, this time I'll rely on a Web site called "What's On In Formentera".  It has a page about the Far de la Mola lighthouse, which is this week's feature.

So, let's derive some info from that page about the lighthouse.  And this is a pretty interesting one.
The lighthouse was opened on the 30th November 1861. The first light consisted of a fixed 2nd order catadioptric lens manufactured by the French firm of Henri Lepaute and a Degrand oil burning lamp.

In 1928 a rotating lens with 12 catadioptric panels from the Formentor lighthouse was installed, adapted to state of the art French technology, where the lens floated in a bath of mercury thus increasing rotation speed and reducing the interval between flashes – it is still in use today producing a light pattern of isolated flashes every five seconds."
"Catadioptric" is the optical term for what is more commonly called a Fresnel lens, the classical kind of lighthouse light.

It's a 22-meter tower on a square building.

On a cliff.

I grabbed several pictures, including an artsy black-and-white one.

Featuring the light at the top

Dunleavy backs off

There aren't many people for whom the word "despicable" applies. Governor Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, who got elected basically by simply promising every Alaskan citizen a bigger annual oil money payout when he and the state really couldn't afford it, is one of them.  (His opponent in that election, the former governor, had basically tried to be realistic about the budget and the payout.)

Because since then, he threatened massive budget cuts to the University of Alaska system, as well as pretty substantial cuts to public aid programs.  The outcry about the damage the cuts would do was major, as it should have been, and Dunleavy came under fire, including the launch of a recall effort, which is continuing.

That didn't stop Dunleavy from meeting with POTUS Trump on a plane stop and cadging him to let a mine project go forward - a mine project that could devastate a pristine natural estuarine ecosystem and all the good salmon it supports.

Great, eh?

Well, given the public outcry, the strong level of criticism, and the recall effort, Dunleavy has backed off - way off.    This recent op-ed from the Washington Post is a good commentary.

Alaska shows why budget-cutting conservatives are destined to fail
"The writing on the wall is clear: The United States has a large government because a supermajority of Americans wants it that way. That doesn’t mean the size of government can’t be cut on the margin. But it does mean the annual $1 trillion federal budget deficit will not be significantly reduced or closed without large tax increases, reductions in spending Republicans value, or both."
I've been thinking about writing a few articles describing a dead-honest Presidential platform.  This article provides a bit more motivation to do that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Liberty weeps

Ken Cuccinelli has been on my reprehensible-detecting radar for years now, ever since he tried to prosecute Michael Mann, then at the University of Virginia, for telling the basic accurate facts about global warming.  Cuccinelli was Virginia's Attorney General at the time.

Politically, Cooch hasn't done real well since, and because he's been a failure several times over, naturally the Trump administration picked him to be the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. (Note the "acting" - just about everyone in this Administration is an acting something-or-other now.)

So very recently, Cooch got moderately famous for being abysmally poetic.

Trump immigration official offers rewrite for Statue of Liberty poem

The Cooch "rewrite" went like this:

" "Give me your tired and your poor — who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge." "

Which reminded me of something -- a few things, in fact.

Demi Rose Mawby takes a memorable photo

I have posted several times about Britain's own Demi Rose Mawby, who has the face of an angel and the body of a seductively curvaceous enchantress.

She is, obviously, the subject of numerous photographers and thus appears in numerous photographs, from all angles (but notably the front view).   Still, this recent black-and-white capture is captivatingly remarkable.

She hasn't achieved worldwide fame yet -- despite having 9.6+ million followers on Instagram, probably only hundreds of thousands of residents of the United States (90+% of them male heterosexuals, I would guess) recognize her.  So I don't know what her breakthrough into the true global big time is going to consist of.

But I'm pretty sure there will be one.

Remarkable Ashes second Test

It's been a long while since I commented on cricket, except for the recent one where I commented on the end of the first Ashes test (England lost) before the beginning of the second.

Well, the second one got started a day late, and got interrupted by rain while underway.  So it was a four-day Test that was less than four days.  But it did not lack for drama.

England's main problem with Australia was a guy named Steve Smith, who is basically now the best cricket batsman on the planet.   He was the main reason the Aussies won the first Test.  Well, in this Test, he was cruising toward his third century (100 runs), when the new kid, Jofra Archer, launched a bouncer at him.   This is totally legal.  The wooden ball hit Smith in the next going about 90 miles an hour.  Right after it hit him, it looked like this:

Instant concussion.  So Smith was out, Australia substituted for him, and in the shortened Test, England took a lead and then dared Australia to catch them in less than a day (unlikely) while they tried to take 10 wickets in less than a day (not really likely, but more likely than Australia getting enough runs).

They didn't quite make it.  They still had a small chance (though the draw probability was over 98%) when the refs ended the Test on account of low light.   So it indeed was a draw.

Australia leads 1-0.  Australia doesn't have Smith.  England does have Archer. Three matches left -- the next one starts Thursday the 22nd, at Leeds.

This is fun.

How nature sculpts a cliff

In case you haven't seen it, shown in the video below is a cliffside at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior changing the scenery while being filmed.

It's called erosion, but rarely is it this dramatic.  Landslides, rockfalls,volcanic eruptions, flash floods -- they have a big impact, and they happen fast (most of the time, at least).

As we tragically are aware, it's just not a good idea to be in front of or under these circumstances when they happen.  Fortunately, no one here was.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Positively spriteful

Amazing picture of electrical sprites rising over a thunderstorm.  Since the instructions are "Retweet Only", you'll just have to click below on the caption:

Captured my most detailed jellyfish sprite lightning event last night over NE Oklahoma. A good 30 or so mile wide structure almost reaching to the clouds.

Below, a picture of sprites observed from above, in space.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, August 11-17, 2019: Osinovezckiy Lighthouse

Obviously, the Great Lakes dominate the world in terms of the number of lighthouses on their coasts.  I wondered which other lakes in the world had lighthouses, and a few do - Lake Garda in Italy, Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Lake Baikal in Russia, and this one, on Lake Ladoga, also in Russia.

It's also a good-looking classic lighthouse.

The Lighthouse Directory says:
" 1905. Active; focal plane 74 m (243 ft); flashing light, white, red or green depending on direction. 70 m (230 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. ... The light marks the west side of the entrance to the southernmost bay of the lake, leading to the Neva entrance. Located on a headland near the southwestern corner of the lake near Kokorevo, about 50 km (30 mi) northeast of St. Petersburg."
It's supposedly the eight-tallest "traditional" lighthouse in the world, however that is defined.  While the Lighthouse Directory says it's 243 feet, Wikipedia says it's only 230 feet tall.    It was also an important landmark for people desperate enough to escape across the lake during the Siege of Leningrad.

Here are some pictures:

Monday, August 12, 2019

Oh yeah - the Ashes

After England's crazy, unlikely to the max, victory in cricket's one-day format World Cup, expectations were high that England would do great in the Test season, especially the famed Ashes 5-Test series against Australia.

Well, maybe not so much, at least not yet.

They looked OK in a warm-up test against Ireland, but they lost their top bowler, Jimmy Anderson, to injury early in the first Ashes Test and they aren't sure when they're getting him back. England proceeded to lose that first Test, and it wasn't real close.

The next Ashes Test starts on August 14.  According to the articles, England is thinking over their batting order and adding a hot bowler, Jofra Archer.

Could be interesting.

One article, 50 beaches

I saw this article on the Daily Mail Web site, of course, and I expected that of the 50 top beaches in the world that it lists, I would not have been to any of them.  Now, I am not someone that seeks out new beach experiences on every vacation (I look for different things to do, and especially breathtaking scenery if I can find it), but I have been to a few beaches.

So it turns out that I've been near a couple of them (but not actually on them), and I've actually been on three of them.    Given that I haven't visited any really exotic places, I wonder if you can figure out which ones.

Have you been to any of them?

The 50 best beaches in the world for 2019 revealed, from a horn-shaped bay in Croatia to paradise in Australia and CORNWALL - so does YOUR favourite make the cut?

I haven't been to this one, but it's one I'd like to visit - in the Seychelles.  (This is a different picture than the one in the article.)

Julia Lescova has a baby, too

A couple of posts ago I noted that Eliza Dushku, Julia Lescova, and Amy Jackson were all very close to giving birth.  Well, soon after, Eliza reported she'd graduated to motherhood, and Lescova shared her first baby picture 5 days ago as I write this.  She put hearts over the baby's face but she had a girl, if you want to check out her Instagram.  Be warned - there are also pictures of a very pregnant, very pretty woman.  That's definitely not a bad thing, but it's not appealing to everyone.

Next on the list of very pretty, very pregnant women:  Joanna Krupa.

On Highway 41 - Manchester, TN's archaeological park

Manchester, Tennessee, has a nice park adjacent to it. So that's where we'll explore next.

Entrance to Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park. This place is a bit interesting, so in addition to the entrance here, I'll include a couple of panoramas. After all, if I was making this trip for real, I'd want to see what was here.

By the river

Big Falls

Little Falls

Remains of a building

Just past the park entrance, Highway 41 crosses the Duck River that runs through the park. The Little Duck River joins the Duck River in the park. Glad we cleared that up.

Next time we'll get to Murfreesboro.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Bianca Kmiec continues to amaze

She's from California and she's extraordinary.  There should be no limit on what this young woman can accomplish.

I don't know what her breakthrough into major fame is going to be, but I'm still certain there will be one.

Recent contributions from the social mediasphere:

Lighthouse of the Week, August 4-10, 2019: La Caravelle, Martinique

I've always been a bit fascinated with the Caribbean island of Martinique.  This is mainly because of the stunning tragedy of the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902, which killed about 30,000 people or so, and also introduced the world to the term nuée ardente, now more commonly (and properly) called "pyroclastic flows".

However, there's a lot more to Martinique than that.  It's got beaches and resorts and scenery and French flair.  Plus, it's got Presqu'île de la Caravelle (click there to see where that is), which sounds like an island but is actually a peninsula, and on this peninsula is the best lighthouse on the island, La Caravelle.

Most of the other lighthouses are just towers, but this is a nice cute building, and it's high on a hill, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Specifications from the Lighthouse Directory:
"1862. Active; focal plane 129 m (423 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 14 m (46 ft) square cylindrical tower, painted red with white trim; lantern white. Clamshell Fresnel lens in use."
Cool, another lighthouse still using a Fresnel lens.  I like that.

Pictures and drone-shot video below.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Catching up on Nature's best science images - April 2019

Second one of my catch-up posts, so here's what Nature featured for April.

Hippos, haloes and black holes — April’s best science images

Just about everyone scientifically-minded in the world saw the image of the black hole, and muddy hippos are always amusing, but I have to go with this fairly remarkable image of hydrothermal mineral towers in the depths of the Gulf of California.

This could be taken in the depths of an ocean on Europa and Enceladus - and it might even look like this down below the icy crust of the moons.

Catching up on Nature's best science images

A few months ago I said I'd take a look at the images that Nature magazine picked as the best science images of the month - every month.

I somewhat forgot to do this for a few months.

So I'm catching up, starting with March and April 2019.

This post features March 2019:

Squid, spacedust and sonic boom — March’s best science images

The sonic boom image made the rounds on the various science news and social media outlets, so I won't show that one.

Instead, I'll show the lightning over Santa Barbara.  There were some storms in California.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Eliza Dushku is unpregnanted

Or something like that.

Actress Eliza Dushku and her husband became the proud parents of a bouncing bundle of baby boy joy, who they named Philip Bourne (and actually released the name fairly soon after the kid entered the world, too).  Happened around the end of July/early August.

Eliza Dushku Gives Birth to Baby Boy Philip Bourne

Lighthouse of the Week, July 28-August 3, 2019: Screw-pile Lighthouses

A thematic week (a little late).  Here are examples of screw-pile lighthouses:  real, replica, and historical.

Choptank River Lighthouse, Cambridge, MD (Replica)

Middle Bay Lighthouse, Mobile Bay, AL (active)

Roanoke River Lighthouse, NC (historical photo)

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Baltimore, MD (historical exhibit)

Thomas Point Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, MD (active)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

I found out "porge" is a word

Every now and then I'll type a word that my imagination conjures up into the Google search box.  A lot of time this random created word ends up being an entry in the Urban Dictionary (which has some really strange, and that's putting it mildly, entries), but every now and then my creativity comes up with an actual real English word.

The most recent example of this is porge.

This is what porge means, from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

transitive verb
Definition of porge -
-- to make (a slaughtered animal) ceremonially clean by removal of the forbidden fat, veins, and sinews according to Jewish ritual

If you want to know more, and I mean a LOT more, here's a link to the article on porging from the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).   Not for the squeamish.

PORGING (Hebrew, בורחה, lit. "incision"; Judæo-German, "treibern" 

Who were the Polovtsians?

It occurred to me the other day, while listening (again) to Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from his opera Prince Igor, that I did not know who the Polovtsians were or are.

So this being an era when such questions can be answered, I addressed my lack of knowledge on this topic by looking it up.

Turns out that the Polovtsians are more commonly known as Cumans, because that's what the entry explaining who they were -- yes, past tense -- is entitled on Wikipedia.

It starts like this:
"The Cumans, also known as Polovtsians, were a Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman–Kipchak confederation. After the Mongol invasion (1237), many sought asylum in the Kingdom of Hungary, as many Cumans had settled in Hungary, the Second Bulgarian Empire, and Anatolia before the invasion. 
Related to the Pecheneg, they inhabited a shifting area north of the Black Sea and along the Volga River known as Cumania, where the Cuman–Kipchaks meddled in the politics of the Caucasus and the Khwarezm Empire. The Cumans were fierce and formidable nomadic warriors of the Eurasian steppe who exerted an enduring impact on the medieval Balkans. They were numerous, culturally sophisticated, and militarily powerful."
Here's a picture of two Cuman warriors on horseback, from this article about the Cumani (which is another way to pluralize their name, I guess).

A sonnet in early August: "the difference between images and life"

the difference between images and life

In all her views — at all her sites — each time
that she provides the glory of her sheer
existence, she is never less than prime
and fine and effortless in grace and mere
perfection, so much that we might be led
to integrate this normalcy as part
of daily life if we did share a bed
with her — and if 'twas true, would we be smart
enough to recognize our fortune? I
am sorry to believe her excellence
might become seen as commonplace if eye
and mind dissolved the awesome awestruck sense
she should at all such times engender; then
I would not be so tempted with this ken.

Highway 41 near Manchester

I promised candy on Highway 41, so here it is!

Russell Stover Candy Store, Manchester, Tennessee

Crossing the Little Duck River the first time

Manchester, Tennessee downtown, by City Hall

Crossing the Little Duck River again - there's a sign that says so

Next stop, an interesting park with some pleasing sights.