Monday, September 30, 2019

A scientific paper about where the apple came from

Science is everywhere, even in figuring out where the apple came from.  Since it's October, this seems quite appropriate.

Origins of the Apple: The Role of Megafaunal Mutualism in the Domestication of Malus and Rosaceous Trees

If that's too deep, consider the fate of Britain's Bramley apple (illustrated below), which is somewhat legendary.


Lighthouse of the Week, September 29 - October 5, 2019: Eldred Rock, Alaska

So, I'm following up on the last week and the last post with this post about the Eldred Rock Lighthouse.   The lighthouse is located in the Lynn Canal of Alaska, north of Juneau and south of Skagway.  (Here's a map.)

It's very historical.  So there's quite a bit about it online, and many pictures.

"1905. Active; focal plane 91 ft (28 m); white flash every 6 s. 56 ft (17 m) octagonal cylindrical wood tower with lantern and gallery, centered on the roof of 2-story octagonal wood keeper's house; solar-powered 250 mm lens. The original 4th order clamshell Fresnel lens was cleaned in 2001 and is on display at the Sheldon Museum in Haines. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black; the keeper's house roof is a conspicuous red."
One of the most famous events around the area was the wreck of the Clara Nevada, during the gold rush, which is described on this page.

Here are four pictures of the Eldred Rock Lighthouse, which is located in an extraordinarily beautiful wild location.

There are some videos, but not of great quality (apparently getting a drone out there is a challenge for some reason).   This one shows the current state of the lighthouse -- the preservation effort needs donations, if you're looking for a charity to donate to.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 22-28, 2019: A lighthouse article

Well, I missed (by a couple of days), the lighthouse of the week for the designated weekly period.  So instead of a featured lighthouse, I'll feature an article about lighthouses from the Daily Mail.

From California to New Zealand via England, the world's most Instagrammable lighthouses in all their windswept beauty and grandeur

So I thought what I would do is check to see which lighthouses in the article I haven't featured yet, and feature one of those next week -- basically today as I write this.

So below I will list the lighthouses in the article I haven't featured as a Lighthouse of the Week to this point:

  • Heceta Head, Oregon (hard to believe that I haven't featured it, but it's so iconic that I've apparently avoided it)
  • Eldred Rock, Alaska
  • Nauset Light, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Loggerhead Key, Florida
  • Cape Reinga, New Zealand
  • Point Loma, California
  • Point Pinos, California
  • Dyna Fyr, Sweden
  • Cape Otway, Australia
  • Burnham-on-Sea Low Lighthouse
  • Enoshima Sea Candle
  • Marshall Point, Port Clyde, Maine
  • Kjeungskjaer, Norway
  • Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
  • Ploumanac'h, Brittany, France
  • Faro de Sergipe, Brazil
  • Lindau Harbor, Lake Constance, Germany 
  • Bell Rock, Scotland 
  • Saaremaa, Estonia  
  • Porthcawl, South Wales

That surprised me, I thought I would have found a few more of these.  So I'll feature a few in coming weeks.

Here's one picture of the Enoshima Sea Candle.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Tuppence is single again

Tuppence is single.  Now, two-pence is still two pennies in Brit lingo, but scintillatious British actress Tuppence Middleton has newly split and is newly single.

Kinda makes me wish I could take a run at her.

Downton Abbey star Tuppence Middleton, 32, splits with her long-term boyfriend and artist Robert Fry

But she probably likes the artistic types.

This was an easy call

Not long ago there were some pictures taken of actress Jenna Dewan and her new boyfriend at the beach, with Jenna in a bikini.  These pictures made commentators speculate about the state of her uterus.

Specifically, whether it was occupied or not.  Most commentators opined toward the "occupied" option.  (Oh, that was good.)

Turns out she is, and they were right.

Jenna Dewan, 38, confirms she's expecting her first child with boyfriend Steve Kazee, 43... a year after splitting from Channing Tatum

Monday, September 23, 2019

Highway 41 in Nashville, at the State Capitol

Believe it or not, and I found this a bit astounding, Highway 41 goes right by the state capitol building in the state's capital city.  As we're about to see.

Traffic Circle, connection to the Korean Veterans Boulevard, next to the Music City Center.

Highway 41 is called Rosa Parks Boulevard here; this is the intersection with Broadway.

Tennessee State Capital (and a guy mowing the lawn) looking one way, the Bicentennial Capital Mall looking the other way.

Off-road, up the hill, a much better view (you know you'd do this if you were there)

Andrew Jackson statue. There's also a statue of President Andrew Johnson on the grounds. He's not quite as distinguished.

Also on the grounds is the Alvin C. York ("Sergeant York") statue. (Not available in StreetView)

Still a few more things to see in Nashville, including the Cumberland River.

Parachutes should come with every room above the 15th floor

The Daily Mail reported that Central Park Tower topped out.  It's top deck will be higher than the top deck of One World Trade Center, but OWTC's top mast will give it the higher point.

Central Park Tower will have 112 floors, and the top penthouse list price is $63 million dollars.

Nice digs.  But I worried about one thing.  What if there's a fire, or another kind of accident that prevents the people living near the top from getting down the elevator or the stairs?

Do they get parachutes for emergency evac?  I'm actually serious about this.

I could not confirm that they do, but I can confirm other people have asked a similar  question.

Literally, it seems to me that they would have to at least offer the option to high-floor buyers.  After all, they are for sale.

And furthermore, they work. The 15th floor requirement?  That's the minimum height that it would work for, i.e., open in time.  That's not a problem on the 101st floor, but one would hope that the ride down doesn't cause a heart attack when the parachute is trying to save their life.   (But where would you practice using it?)

Friday, September 20, 2019

So at least we know it's not massless

The neutrino has a mass.

Back when they were first discovered, even that wasn't certain.  But now the scientists are sure it doesn't weigh nearly 2 electron volts (eV);  they're sure it can't weigh more than 1.1 eV.

I'm not a physicist, but I know that isn't very much. By comparison, the mass of a proton (in energy equivalence) is a little over 938 MeV, where "MeV" stands for megaelectronvolt, aka 1 million eV.  So a proton is about 938 million times heavier than a neutrino.

And a proton is not very big!

A new experiment slashes the maximum possible mass of tiny neutrinos
"To make matters more complicated, neutrinos typically don’t have a well-defined mass. Due to the intricacies of quantum mechanics, the particles are made up of three different mass states at once. What KATRIN measures is an “effective mass,” a combination of those three masses."
Oh, what's KATRIN?  It's the device that helped measure the neutrino mass.

And it's very, very, very big.  (Read about how it was shipped from where it was built to where it was installed.)

The silver thing that looks like a grounded zeppelin is KATRIN.

Oh my, Mitch is peeved

It appears that the despicable Mitch McConnell, ostensibly the majority leader of the Senate but in actuality the chief roadblock to any meaningful legislative advances in Congress, has gotten tired of the hashtag #MoscowMitch (which I have been doing my small part to keep trending).

And apparently it's having an effect, because he allowed $250 million dollars more to be spent on improving election security, especially from foreign influences.

In turnaround, McConnell backs $250 million in election security funding
"The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed by bipartisan voice vote Thursday to add the $250 million for election security grants to a spending bill covering financial services and general government operations.

A final figure would have to be negotiated with the House, which has approved $600 million, and the compromise legislation would have to be passed by both chambers.

In August 2018, Senate Republicans voted down an effort to direct an extra $250 million toward election security ahead of the midterms. At the time, only one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), voted for the additional funds.

Senate Republicans, including McConnell, have also blocked numerous Democratic efforts to bring election security legislation to the floor, including measures that would have authorized funding to update voting equipment. Congress did not agree to any election security spending in fiscal 2019."

I think I'll keep using that hashtag for awhile.  Maybe he'll actually do something else that's useful.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Lighthouse of the Week, September 15-21, 2019: Sea Girt, New Jersey, USA

Surprisingly, I've only featured one lighthouse from New Jersey in the whole time I've been doing the "Lighthouse of the Week", and I featured that one twice.  The one I featured twice was the classic Cape May lighthouse.  In my defense, in one of the two posts about it, I only had pictures of the lighthouse at sunset.

So I decided to go back to New Jersey.  There are several choices, but I went with a historical and unique one, which is no longer in service, but is still open to the public.  The lighthouse is the Sea Girt Lighthouse, and it's owned by the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizen's Committee.

So where is it, exactly?  Here's the locator map I made just for you.  I made it so you can see where it is in relation to New York City.  It's not far away.

It has a lot of history, so if you are so inclined, here are links to three pages about it.

Sea Girt Lighthouse at Lighthouse Friends

Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizen's Committee

Sea Girt Lighthouse - New Jersey Lighthouse Society

One interesting note - in 2002, they purchased a fourth-order Fresnel lens formerly in the Crowdy Head Lighthouse of Australia, and put it in the tower, and based on a couple of pictures I found, it appears that the light still works.

Another:  It was the last "live-in" lighthouse built on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Quick specifications:

Built in 1896, and the light was lit in December 1896.  It operated until 1955.  The tower is 44 feet high.

So, four pictures.  Some day I might want to visit here, if I find myself in the neighborhood.

by Jason Icker

Lighthouse in winter

Monday, September 16, 2019

More black-and-white glamour

Previously on this blog I've featured black and white glamour photography, gleaned from Instagram.

Here's more of that.

Antje Utgaard

The incredible Demi Rose Mawby

Heather Monique

Marissa Everhart

Unknown model (sadly) 

That seems obvious

The Washington Post wrote an article about how the National Football League has a quarterback problem.

Meaning, that they get hurt.  A lot.  And they're also the most important player on the team.

So apparently Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Nick Foles all got hurt, and some of the other quarterbacks have quit (Andrew Luck) or don't look like they used to look, athletically (Cam Newton). All because they get hurt and got hurt.  A lot.

Here's the article about that.

The NFL has a quarterbacks problem; it needs to figure out how to better protect them

Yet seriously, what could they do to better protect them?
"It’s too reactionary to suggest that such quarterback trepidation will become the norm soon, but the position is changing. So is acceptance of that change. It leaves the NFL teeming with intriguing possibilities and greater risk at quarterback. And that’s just the nature of football."

So that's not much.  One thing I thought of was a greater use of backup quarterbacks when a game is locked up, win or loss. That would save some wear and tear.

Highway 41 cruises by Nashville's airport

At the end of the last post on Highway 41, I noted that there wasn't much to see until the trek arrives at the airport.

Well, it has arrived.   I wonder if we'll see any airplanes?

Approaching the tunnel under the taxiway.

Monell's at the Manor restaurant - all-you-can-eat Southern style in a historic mansion!  Right next to the AIRPORT!

Guess what - Interstate 24!

Purity Dairies

Interstate 40 - don't worry, it gets better on the other side.

Next stop - the state capitol !!!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Norwich City pulls the upset of the season

The basics (which are in many articles about this) are that Norwich City moved up to the Premier League this year, and they've had a lot of injuries.  And Manchester City won the Premier League last year.

Nine fixtures out of 10 (maybe more than that, actually) Manchester City beast Norwich City.

This was their fixture.

Norwich 3-2 Manchester City: Daniel Farke's injury-hit Canaries claim huge scalp as in-form Teemu Pukki stars in famous win over Pep Guardiola's champions

It must have been because Man City was wearing black. That's not their color.  (Seriously, they usually wear light blue.  That's not why they lost - but they probably won't be wearing their black kits for a few games, I bet.)

This header is going in (it did)

Nature Conservancy 2019 photography contest

Yee-haw, another photography contest.  This one's about nature (from the Nature Conservancy).  The problem is, nature isn't what it used to be. But these photographers still found some great shots of what's left.

A fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge and a magical shot of a sea lion: The jaw-dropping winning images chosen from 120,000 entries to a prestigious nature photo contest

This image of a waterfall in West Papua was the People's Choice Award winner.

All of the winners are here:  2019 Nature Conservancy Photo Contest Winners

Climate change article of note

Because I can't debunk all of the climate change denier propaganda and misinformation out there.

From The Conversation Web site:

Five climate change science myths debunked

And a bonus:

Why carbon dioxide has such an outsized influence on Earth's climate

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Get away from most of it in Italy - and get paid for it

There's a place in Italy that's uncrowded, underpopulated, and under-monetized.

In other words, it might be an opportunity.

In the Italian region of Molise, which extends from the mountains of central Italy to the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the regional president is offering people about $800 a month to move in and start a business.

(Given that the region is very rural with many natural parks, doesn't have a big population, and there's a good distance between villages, I don't know what kind of business would be viable, but hey, that's not my problem.)

Campobasso, capital of the region, is quite scenic.  And despite being in southern Italy, it looks like it gets some snow.  The structure at the top of the central peak is the Castello Monforte.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 8-14, 2019: Yeosu New Port North, South Korea

Since I mentioned South Korea last week, this week I'm revisiting the southern end of the Korean Peninsula.

Searching for images of lighthouses, I found this bright red one, which is called the Yeosu New Port North lighthouse.  There's also a New Port East lighthouse, more on that later.  The Yeosu region has so many lighthouses that it has it's own page in the vaunted Lighthouse Directory, from where I have derived much information.

So, here are the simple main specifications:
Active; built in 2010.
Height of the tower: 10 meters
Light: Flashing, 4 second cycle, red.

When I looked at it, I figured it was just a modern design, but apparently it's supposed to be emulating a flame.

About the Yeosu New Port East lighthouse - it's the same design, but it's painted white.  According to the Lighthouse Directory: "These two decorative breakwater lighthouses were built as part of the upgrades to the waterfront prior to the 2012 World's Fair in Yeosu."  OK, I didn't even know there was a 2012 World's Fair in Yeosu until I read that.

Below are 3 pictures.  One of them has cute kids in it.'

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2019 iPhone Photography Contest

Welp, another month, another photography contest.  This one is for iPhone photography.

When smartphone pictures become works of art: The jaw-dropping winning shots from the 2019 iPhone Photography Awards

While the picture of Annapurna (the mountain) is great, the one below was the one I found most eye-grabbing. It's by Deena Berton, taken in the Bahamas.  The fish were in a tank/aquarium, and I hope this one wasn't on Grand Bahama or Great Abaco Island.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Highway 41 on the approach to Nashville

Back to the Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek.  We've seen the Stones River National Battlefield, so now it's on to Nashville.   Three stops in this post.  (And I just realized that the letters in the word "posts" can be rearranged to spell "stops".  Try it yourself!)

Back on Highway 41 - going under Interstate 840. Interstate 840 goes east of Nashville.

Hotshotz Bar and Grill. I like the name.  If  you want something healthier than pub grub, there's a farm stand on the other side of the highway.

Entering Davidson County (Nashville).  Home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Not a lot to see for awhile after this until the airport.

What's worth more than Tuppence?

"Tuppence" means "two pence" (two pennies), which isn't a lot, but when that Tuppence is the name of Tuppence Middleton, it means a lot more.

Tuppence Middleton (no relation to Kate) is a British actress, perhaps most remembered (at least by me) for an unforgettable bath scene in the otherwise mostly forgettable Jupiter Ascending.  OK, I liked it, not just because of the lovely backside of Miss Middleton, but it was escapist fun and fair space opera fantasy.  Popcorn enjoyment with little deep meaning.

But back to Tuppence.  She is in the movie version of Downton Abbey, due in theaters in 10 days, and that might lure me theaterward.

Here's the article that got me thinking about Tuppence.  Not real fond of the severe hairstyle, though.

Downton Abbey movie: Tuppence Middleton exudes glamour in black ruffled gown as she attends star-studded film premiere

And here's the scene that keeps me thinking about Tuppence.

But let's give her loverly face a chance, too.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

This is going to wreck the triathlon community

The banana crisis continues -- and it really could become a crisis.

The banana as we know it is doomed.

(Stockpiling supplies of this won't help, either.)

Get 'em while they're yellow

You could've fooled me on that one

When Anak Krakatau (the little active growing volcanic island in the near-center of the Krakatoa volcano caldera) had a larger-than-normal eruption and an accompanying flank collapse, it caused a tsunami that killed some people on the nearby islands.

Scientists studying the event are trying to figure out why the tsunami waves were so big when the amount of the volcano that fell into the sea was apparently not very much.

That's what science is for -- figuring things out.

Anak Krakatau: Volcano's tsunami trigger was 'relatively small'

During the eruptive phase:

Thursday, September 5, 2019

News about Spaceguard

Actually, Spaceguard is an imaginary international organization created by Arthur C. Clarke in the novel Rendesvous with Rama.  It's job was to protect Earth from potential global existence threats posed by hazardous asteroids.

But there is international discussion going on about how to protect the Earth from potential global existence threats posed by hazardous asteroids.

NASA and ESA will team up to deflect Earth-bound asteroids

That's a short blurb at Yahoo.   Here's the longer article at Engadget.

By the way, there is a Spaceguard Centre in the UK.  It could use a bit more funding.  Because the possibility is real, even though the odds against it happening anytime soon are high.

Mount Rainier from directly above

NASA's Earth Observatory had an Image of the Day a couple of days ago, looking directly down at Washington State's famous volcano Mount Rainier from the International Space Station.

Here's a link directly to the full-size image:  Mount Rainier from above

Here's a link to the article:   Mount Rainier

Below is a picture of Gibraltar Rock, which is shown in the labeled photograph in the article.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 1-7, 2019: West Sister Rock, Ontario, Canada

Last week I featured a lighthouse on a little rock in the Gulf of Bothnia, and this week I'm featuring a lighthouse in the North Channel that connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron that's on an even smaller rock.

This week's lighthouse is the West Sister Rock light.  It truly is a lighthouse on a rock.  But in an important place, where there are rocks that could threaten a ship, and ships do use the channel. 

Here's where it is.  You'll have to look close.  If you switch to the satellite view, there's at least one ship wake visible south of the lighthouse.

Lighthouse Friends has a good page on the history of this one, with additional pictures:  West Sister Rock Lighthouse

So, basically, it was built in 1885 (on North Sister Rock - they moved it to West Sister in 1905) and it's 9 meters tall.  And it's hexagonal.

Here are some pictures I found:


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Either a great idea or a disaster in waiting

The Russians have a floating nuclear reactor.

Russia's 'Chernobyl on ice' floating nuclear reactor begins its 3,000-mile voyage to northern Siberia, despite fears it could become an environmental disaster

TIME magazine had a pretty decent story on this:

After a String of Nuclear Incidents, Russia Just Launched a Floating Nuclear Power Plant. Is It Safe?

Here's what it looks like:

A quote from the article:
"In fact, putting nuclear reactors on ships is not new. Nuclear reactors have been placed on ships, including to provide propulsion, for more than 50 years. A World War II-era cargo ship, the SS Charles H. Cugle, was converted into a nuclear power plant in the 1960s. It was used to provide the U.S. Army with power. The vessel was stationed at the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1976, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
If it works, it's brilliant.  If it f*cks up, we could have a problem.

I hope it works.

Peter does take care of the kids

A few posts ago I commented on British soccer player Peter Crouch's retirement, which I felt his dutiful, fertile, and outrageously gorgeous wife Abbey Clancy might appreciate since he could stay home and help take care of the kids he fathered with her.

Well, guess what - it appears that he is indeed helping out with the kidwork.

Abbey Clancy shares sweet snap of husband Peter Crouch cuddling baby son Jack as she jokes 'I've got no idea where he gets those legs from'

Just off Highway 41 - Stones River National Battlefield

So, Highway 41 goes past the Stones River National Battlefield outside Murfreesboro, and that's what we'll see next.  The Battle of Stones River was the largest winter battle of the Civil War, and if I'm wrong about that, I'd be surprised. 

Battlefield Map

A short summary of the battle

Let's look around!

First cannon I could find on the battlefield - guarding a "Do Not Enter" sign.

Lone rifleman in a field - I do not know what this represents. (Pan to the right)

More cannons near the Visitor Center.

Artillery Monument - the white obelisk - this is in a separate section from the largest part of the battlefield park.  Spin around the image to find it.

McFadden's Ford.  Here's what happened there:  "4:45 p.m. Jan. 2, 1863. Mendenhall saves the day. Capt. John Mendenhall of Gen. T.L. Crittenden's division is asked to provide artillery support for Union troops under attack on the riverfront. He responds by quickly massing 58 cannons, which open fire on Breckinridge's Confederates as they crest a hill at McFaddens Ford. More than 1,800 Confederate soldiers are killed or wounded in the conflagration."

Bridge over the West Fork of the Stones River.

General Rosecrans Headquarters site - now marked with a pyramid of cannonballs.

On the road again ...

Lighthouse of the Week, August 25-31, 2019: Märket, Finland (and Sweden)

This is one of the more unusual lighthouses of the week I've done. OK, yes, I had a lighthouse with a crab climbing on it, and a lighthouse that looked like a baseball and a bat, and a lighthouse that was distinctly phallic (and I think all of them were in South Korea). But while I've featured lighthouses of unusual design, and many different classic designs, and many in striking, very picturesque settings, I've never featured a particularly ugly lighthouse.

This may be the first one.

This is also an unusual lighthouse for a different reason.  It's on an island shared by two different countries -- Finland and Sweden.  And it was built by Russia.

Here's more about the island.  The unusual border of Märket Island

The summary is that the Russians built the lighthouse (in 1885) on the Swedish side of the island by accident (but in their defense, it was on the highest point on the little rock). So the border on the island is drawn now such that the lighthouse is on the Finnish side.

If you want to read more about all that, I recommend the Lighthouse Directory's summary, which is on this page:  Lighthouses of the Åland Islands  (scroll down)

Here are some extracted specs:
"Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 5 s. 14 m (46 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story stone keeper's house. Entire structure painted with red and white horizontal bands."
Oh, where is it?  Here - but you'll have to zoom in further to actually see it.

Now, as for how it looks.  Like I said, it doesn't look that great, partly because the site is cluttered with other buildings.  The island itself is pretty wild and rocky and isolated.

So ... judge for yourself.  The pictures:

So -- agreed?  An ugly lighthouse?  But still, the location is impressive (and it's a long way from anywhere).