Saturday, December 3, 2022

'Bankrupt - JCPenney' by Bright Sun Films, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

Instead of covering more awards shows, as I promised yesterday, I'm posting another tale of the Retail Apocalypse.* Watch Jake Williams of Bright Sun Films present Bankrupt - JCPenney.

With over 1,500 stores across the country and over 200,000 employees, the J.C. Penney Company was a mega retailer in the United States. It grew from humble beginnings with its founder James Penney and grew into an iconic retail institution in America. However those golden years only lasted until the early 2000's, when the retailer experienced a violent downturn until its eventual bankruptcy in 2020. Join me as I find out how this company went from billions to nothing.
I had mentioned that executives at JCPenney scored bonuses before declaring bankruptcy, but I hadn't followed the story beyond JCPenney having been saved two years ago. I also hadn't realized that the companies who rescued JCPenney were also among those interested in buying Kohl's. It's a good day when I learn something new.

*I have the outline of the first awards show entry already written and I plan on posting it Monday. In the meantime, stay tuned for a recap of tonight's "Saturday Night Live" episode.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Desi Lydic examines 'How Harassed Election Officials Impact Elections'

It's time for another examination of the 2022 midterm elections through comedy, beginning with Desi Lydic examining How Harassed Election Officials Impact Elections on "The Daily Show."*

Desi Lydic takes a look at the decline in election officials due to the harassment they face.
The bad news is the high level of harassment incited by The Former Guy continued into 2022 even though he was not on the ballot. The good news is that volunteers stepped up to staff the polling places so the poll worker shortage that Desi examined in the previous installment didn't materialize. Watch How Poll Worker Shortages Impact Elections.

Is being a poll worker a thankless job or an incredibly thankless job? Desi Lydic investigates the reasons behind the poll worker shortage and how it's affecting the integrity of elections.
The possibility of not enough poll workers wasn't the only potential shortage threatening the elections. Desi began the series with Desi Lydic Investigates Paper Shortages Affecting Upcoming Elections.

The most pressing issue leading up to the midterm elections is…a paper shortage? Desi Lydic investigates.
Supply chain issues affected the election, too.  As I've written many times before, everything is connected to everything else.

Watching these segments reminds me that I should view segments by Jordan Klepper, the other Emmy-nominated cast member of "The Daily Show." If I do so, it will be after I cover more awards shows and recap tomorrow night's "Saturday Night Live" episode. Stay tuned.

*It won't be "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" after the end of this month, as Trevor is leaving the show. I'll miss him, but I'm looking forward to whoever replaces him. I hope they'll be just as insightful and funny.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

World AIDS Day 2022 from France 24 English and CBS New York


I told my readers that "health coverage will continue [today] on World AIDS Day." I begin with France 24 English on World AIDS Day: Global inequalities pause years of progress on fighting epidemic.*

World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness and remembering those who lost their lives to the illness. Although the world has come a long way in terms of both destigmatising and treating HIV/AIDS, much remains to be done. The United Nations says different forms of inequality are still preventing progress in ending the epidemic. For more, Nathan Lachowsky, assistant public health professor at the University of Victoria, joined us for Perspective.
This video is a reminder that COVID-19 isn't the only pandemic raging; HIV/AIDS has been going for 40+ years. It may serve as an example of how to live with a disease instead of being able to cure and eliminate it. That's part of the message of CBS New York's World AIDS Day honors lost lives and uplifts survivors.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to uplift the lives of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, CBS2's John Dias reports.
On the one hand, Alejandro Santiago's story fulfills my wish: "Here's to World AIDS Day 2022 bringing more good news." On the other, it demonstrates that both COVID-19 and monkeypox have made living with HIV more complicated and diverted both attention and resources to more urgent, if not any more serious, health threats.

I close by hoping that World AIDS Day 2023 brings more good news.

*Once again, France provided the most readers to my blog last month with 15,625 page views to 9,319 from the United States during the past 30 days, so I'm honoring my French readers by leading off with a French news story. Thank you, and keep reading!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Michigan COVID-19 deaths pass 40,000, a pandemic update


I wrote "I'm sure I'll return to the 'tripledemic'" at the end of CNBC explains 'Why Everyone Is Getting Sick' during this year's flu season and WXYZ uploaded two videos that helped me keep my promise. Both reported "Michigan COVID-19 deaths surpass 40,000." Here is the earlier one from last night.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 8,831 new cases of COVID-19 and 113 additional deaths from the last week. That brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 40,085 since the pandemic began.
The second segment from this morning had the same prerecorded interviews, but different commentary and a more comprehensive description.

With Thanksgiving in the rearview and Christmas around the corner, Michigan is juggling a trifecta when it comes to winter viruses. Right now the flu, RSV, and COVID are circulating around the country. According to the CDC map, Michigan is still in the green with low cases but these numbers were taken before the Thanksgiving holiday. Nonetheless, just this week, the state hit a grim milestone when it comes to COVID. According to the state, 40,000 Michiganders have lost their lives to the virus. “It makes me very sad because 40,000 is a huge, huge number," Natasha Ristovski of metro Detroit said. Ristovski lost her father to COVID two years today. “It all happened so very fast and not just to my family, but all the other families because I know how much it hurts losing someone so close to you,” she said.
That's the local picture here in Michigan. ABC News reported on the national situation, with an emphasis on the New York City area, in Health officials fear holiday 'tripledemic' surge l GMA.

Experts fear the holidays may worsen the surge of COVID, flu and RSV, with some hospitals and urgent cares already facing a crush of patients.
As I wrote in February, "the virus isn't done with us even though a lot [of people] are acting as if they're done with it."

That concludes November's blogging, but the health coverage will continue tomorrow on World AIDS Day. In the meantime, may my readers stay safe and healthy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Avoiding scams and finding good charities on Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday! I begin today's post with a note of caution from WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids telling its viewers Avoid scams this Giving Tuesday with tips from BBB.

On the eve of Giving Tuesday, you may want to take into consideration some tips to make sure your donation is going to a legitimate place. (Nov. 28, 2022)
All good advice.

NBC 10 Philadelphia (WCAU) gave more positive counsel in Tips on Finding Legit Charities on Giving Tuesday.

Donations can make a great impact on someone’s life this Giving Tuesday. NBC10 Responds reporter Valeria Aponte Feliciano has a few tips to help you be sure your money is being used for good during the holiday.
I'm a big fan of Charity Navigator and I'm pleased to see others recommend it. This includes WDIV/Click On Detroit, who posted Giving Tuesday 2022: 60+ Michigan charities who deserve your donation to its website.
Giving Tuesday is upon us and the season of charitable giving is in full swing.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

So, if you're looking to donate to a local charity, here are some options:
I like this list, which includes food banks like Forgotten Harvest, animal welfare organizations like the Michigan Humane Society, and political advocacy groups like the ACLU of Michigan. As I wrote nine years ago, Detroit has great charities.

After a week of holiday posts, it's time to return to current events. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Bill Maher says 'Make the Mall Great Again' for Cyber Monday

Happy Cyber Monday! This year, I'm posting a contrary view, in more ways than one, from "Real Time with Bill Maher" — New Rule: Make the Mall Great Again.

It's time to get back out into the world because online shopping is killing us, psychologically and environmentally.
In the middle of all the "Get off my lawn" sentiment and resentment over reactions to the pandemic, Maher makes some good environmental points, particularly about fast fashion; Americans are buying way too many clothes and throwing them in the trash after a few wearings. On the other hand, a lot of the hidden costs behind the goods we buy would be the same if we bought them in person. It's only we might be buying more online because of the convenience that the environmental costs pile up, just like the shipping boxes for recycling and disposal.

Speaking of which, it's trash and recycling pickup day and I have to take mine to the side of the road. Off to do that chore, then return to work after being at home for Thanksgiving. See you tomorrow for Giving Tuesday!

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The 2022 Environmental Media Association (EMA) Awards winners


I concluded Emmy and EMA Awards for 'Abbott Elementary' on World Television Day by telling my readers "I plan on examining the rest of my picks [at the EMA Awards] for the next Sunday entertainment feature." Read as I compare my picks to win among the 2022 EMA Awards nominees with the actual winners.

I'm glad to see two science fiction movies nominated in this category, "Don't Look Up" and "Jurassic World: Dominion." I also think these are better choices than last year's nominees. "Don't Look Up" got snubbed at the Saturn Awards while "Jurassic World: Dominion" earned two nominations, but I think "Don't Look Up" will win tonight.
And "Don't Look Up" won. Congratulations!

On the other hand, I had not heard of any of the Documentary Film nominees before. "Eating Our Way to Extinction" has the kind of star power that might sway the EMA voters. "Fin" has a more focused subject. I like the subjects of "Youth Unstoppable," but IMDB has a 2018 date for it, so what's it doing being nominated this year? Speaking of IMDB, I can't find an entry there for "Burning." I think it's a good field, but other than all the celebrities involved with "Eating Our Way to Extinction" and the two festival awards for "Youth Unstoppable," I have no good way to handicap their prospects. Any of them could win tonight.
"Eating Our Way to Extinction" indeed had the star power to sway the EMA voters, so it won. Congratulations!

Follow over the jump for the television nominees.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Shop small and local on Small Business Saturday from National Day Calendar, Yahoo Finance, and WDIV

Happy Small Business Saturday! I begin today's celebration of shopping small and local with National Day Calendar's Small Business Saturday | Saturday After Thanksgiving.

Small Business Saturday reminds us of the prime shopping opportunities right in our own communities. Not only do the small businesses where we work, live, and play offer numerous gift-giving possibilities, they are hands-on and ready to complete your shopping list with quality, thoughtful gifts.
National Day Calendar is nearly always a good place to start with a holiday and seeing the first 2018 post on Small Business Saturday lead off with the site inspired me to see if Marlo Anderson had a video for today. He did.

Next, Yahoo Finance examined the day in more detail as it reported Small Business Saturday goes a long way in 'spurring local economies': SBA Administrator.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the expectations for Small Business Saturday, inflation, and the outlook for small businesses this holiday season.
Despite all the talk the pandemic, inflation, and the next recession, the economy is supporting a lot of retail activity and job growth and I'm glad to hear someone in power discuss that.

Since I live in Metro Detroit and today is all about empowering local businesses, I'm closing with Click on Detroit/WDIV's Survey: Nearly 60% of Americans plan to shop small on Small Business Saturday.

A recent study finds that 60% of Americans say they will shop small this Small Business Saturday. Shoppers appear to be considering more and more just where they spend their money, especially younger shoppers.
That's good news, even including the role of TikTok getting young people to show local. It's another area besides dance where TikTok's influence has been positive. I'm still not sold on the service.

I might return to shopping on Cyber Monday. In the meantime, stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature. More awards shows!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Company Man asks 'The Decline of Macy's...What Happened?' for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

Happy Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day! As I promised yesterday, today's entry is a tale of the Retail Apocalypse. Watch as Company Man asks and answers The Decline of Macy's...What Happened?

Macy's is one of the country's oldest, most iconic retailers. This video examines their history while highlighting some of their most dramatic rises and falls.
My only complaint is that Company Man Mike gave the other chains owned by Federated Department Stores, which became Macy's, Inc., short shrift. In particular, a lot of commenters noted the rebranding of Marshall Field's in Chicago as Macy's as unpopular. This also happened to all the stores formerly known as Hudson's, like the ones in Northland Mall and Briarwood Mall. I considered the change from Hudson's to Marshall Field's to be a step up. My wife, who grew up in Chicagoland, and I both think the change to Macy's was not.

Company Man noted that Toys R Us has opened glorified pop-up stores inside Macy's. Erik of Retail Archaeology looked at two of them in Toys R Us Is Back! (Kind of...).

Toys R Us Is Back! (Kind of...). Let's take a look at the new Toys R Us pop up stores inside Macy's department stores.
Erik was not impressed. Just the same, he was able to connect a second tale of the Retail Apocalypse to Company Man's. That impressed me.

Stay tuned for Small Business Saturday. Shop local!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

PBS Digital's 'Be Smart' explains 'The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods'

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers! Yesterday, I celebrated the day early with marching bands. Today, I'm observing the holiday with science and history from PBS Digital's "Be Smart" explaining The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods.

I’m thankful for science. And also pie.
...
When it comes to interesting science, I always go back for seconds!

Also, I am thankful for all of you this year.
I echo all of Joe's sentiments.


The capsule history of corn reminded me that tomorrow is National Maize Day. Watch National Maize Day is celebrated a day after Thanksgiving by On This Day.


That's great narration; only the pause after the U in U.S. made me think a computer synthesized it instead of a human speaking it.

Stay tuned for Buy Nothing Day, which should be another tale of the Retail Apocalypse.