Sunday, August 31, 2014

'Breaking Bad' goes out on top

I opened and closed Emmy Awards update from Reuters by promising more Emmy coverage.
I promised more about tonight's awards in 'Orange is the New Black' and 'Cosmos' already big Emmy winners.  I'll follow through with that promise later.  Right now, I have two updates from Reuters on the ceremony that I've included in tonight's Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.
Stay tuned for more later.
Instead of writing something original, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and repurpose a comment I left on another diarist's Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.

First, Reuters with Emmys exalt old favorites over TV's shiny newcomers By Mary Milliken and Eric Kelsey in LOS ANGELES Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:07pm EDT.
(Reuters) - For all the talk about newcomers raising the game of television, the industry on Monday chose to bestow its top Emmys on the long-running shows "Breaking Bad" and "Modern Family" and long-time television actors who held off challenges from film stars.

"Breaking Bad," AMC's unlikely tale of a teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White, won the night's biggest honor, the Emmy for best drama series, for the second year in a row while lead Bryan Cranston took best drama actor for the fourth time in that role.

It was a nostalgic vote of sorts for the series after it ended on the fifth season with widespread acclaim and devoted binge-watching fans. It held off the ballyhooed HBO anthology, "True Detective," the bayou thriller starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and fellow film star Woody Harrelson, who Cranston beat.
Tipsy Bartender celebrated the final Emmy win for the show by posting the recipe for How to make a Breaking Bad Blue Margarita - Tipsy Bartender on his Facebook page.

Here's one for all the Breaking Bad fans of the world....THE BREAKING BAD BLUE MARGARITA! Everything thing is blue to give it a truly illicit feel. This drink has some to the most unique ice ever; designed and colored to resemble meth! It's a devilishly good cocktail. It was created by Morgan from the blog "HostTheToast."
Hey, at least they talked about TV in addition to mixing the drink.

Follow over the jump for more Emmy coverage plus a sustainability-related story from the Video Music Awards.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bad and good news for gas prices over Labor Day weekend

Original at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

I concluded A great day for business as usual with an observation about local gas prices.
None of the neighborhood outlets have gone below $3.35 and the corner station actually made a brief sortie into No Man's Land, raising their price to $3.49, then dropping it within the day back to $3.35.  That reflects what I see on GasBuddy, which shows that the national average bouncing off a bottom between $3.42 and $3.43 with the Detroit average hitting $3.41 a few days ago and returning to between $3.43 and $3.44.  That makes the prediction I made last week look good.
Check back next week to see if the neighborhood outlets drop below $3.32 and head to $3.29.  I don't think it will happen next week.
So far, it hasn't happened and the retail and wholesale data indicate it isn't likely to happen this week either.
That was Tuesday night into Wednesday.  The next day, prices started rising.  My wife and I were driving around in Ruby and saw that the corner station was at $3.65.  Meanwhile the three stations down the street were still at $3.35. She now knows that she doesn't have to drive far to shop for gas.  Yesterday, the corner station was still selling regular for $3.65, so I figured that the other neighborhood outlets might have raised their price.  I got confirmation yesterday (today as I type this), as all three of them were now selling regular for $3.49.  I was right to expect that Labor Day would act as a floor on prices, in this case, one that prices would bounce off of.

That written, were the local stations too high or in line with their usual pattern of being up to a dime cheaper than the metro Detroit average?  GasBuddy indicates they are in line, as the Detroit average shot up to $3.50 yesterday.  The three stations down the street were right were just below the average, while the corner station was too high.  Sure enough, by the end of Friday, its price went down a notch to $3.59.

As for what next week holds in store, I expect prices will drop after Labor Day, just as they usually do.  For starters, the national average has barely budged, staying at $3.43.  Next, there is a local event, Arts, Beats, and Eats, that is keeping up demand and prices during the Labor Day weekend.  Once that is over, the floor will go down like a slow elevator, taking prices with it.

The combination of a gas price rise combined with the holiday weekend is exactly the kind of story local news outlets love.  Following my usual policy of "if it moves, it leads," I give WXYZ's Gas prices rising the honor of going first.

This report at least explains why Michigan is experiencing this price rise while the rest of the country seems to have avoided it.

WXYZ had plenty of company in covering this story.  Follow over the jump for the stories from MLive and the Detroit Free Press.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A billion dollar trash day

This morning, Julie Bass asked Oak Park is Rotting- Do You Think Anyone Will Plant Gardens?  She recounted her husband's visit to Oak Park (Julie and her family now live in Seattle) where he saw mountains of trash sitting on the curb after the flood.  I read that right after I hauled out the trash for what is supposed to be the first normal day of trash collecting after the flood two weeks ago.  Both of those reminded me that I had remarked on the aftermath of the flood in Heading Toward The Sidewalk at The Archdruid Report last week.
[W]hen I read the title, I thought of all of the ruined personal belongings headed to the curb and then the dump this week and last because of Detroit's latest experience with climate weirding, the record one-day rainfall that flooded out much of the metro area and made national headlines.  The mayor of Warren, Detroit's largest suburb, claimed that the city's residents had lost more than one billion dollars (Dr. Evil impression optional) in ruined personal property because of the backed up sewage.  I was lucky to have only experienced inconvenience, a tripling of my commute home to avoid the flooding and a delay of five days in my trash being picked up.  The image of ruined investors and brokers jumping out of windows didn't even occur to me until the end of the essay.  Oops!
That billion dollar figure came from the following WXYZ report: Damage estimate in Warren tops more than $1 billion.

I have an answer for the man asking what has changed over the past four years--the climate.  As I wrote in This was my drive home tonight:
I talked about climate change in both my lectures today, and pointed out how it's expressing itself as increased precipitation, including 2013 being the wettest year in Michigan history, 2013-2014 being the snowiest year in Detroit's history, or 2011 being the rainiest year in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Toledo.
In addition, this month's flood resulted from the second highest single-day rainfall in Detroit history.  Welcome to four precipitation records in four years.

The WXYZ video was from two weeks ago.  Follow over the jump for updates on the total losses from MLive.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to school today

The fall semester begins for me today.  To mark the occasion, I present this informational article from the University of Connecticut that I originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Shark Week) on Daily Kos: Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety By Carolyn Pennington on August 11, 2014.
As the summer begins to wind down and you start shopping for back-to-school supplies, don’t forget to equip your child with some good advice for making a smooth return to the classroom. Anxious feelings are common and expected during times of transition or change, and this can be especially true for children and teens going back to school or for first-timers starting kindergarten.

UConn Today asked internationally recognized child psychologist Golda Ginsburg for tips on how to handle those anxious feelings. Ginsburg, who recently joined UConn Health from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has been developing and evaluating interventions for anxious youth for more than 20 years.
I'm an adult, not a child, and a teacher, not a student, but I'm just a touch anxious anyway.  Wish me and my students a good day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Will Burger King serve poutine now that it's bought Tim Horton's?

I included an article on the possibility of Burger King buying Tim Horton's in Politics and economics from Reuters for August 25, 2014, illustrated the entry with the above image, then made the following comment.
Investors and corporations may love this idea, but I'm pretty sure rank-and-file Americans do not.  It might be enough to make me give up Burger King.  As for Tim Hortons, well, they never were a U.S. company.
Two days ago, the purchase happened, as Reuters reported in Burger King to buy Canada's Tim Hortons for $11.5 billion, Reporting by Euan Rocha and Allison Martell in Toronto and Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Lisa Von Ahn on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:38am EDT.
Aug 26 (Reuters) - Burger King Worldwide Inc (BKW.N) announced plans to buy Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc (THI.TO) for C$12.64 billion ($11.53 billion) in a cash-and-stock deal that would create the world's third-largest fast-food restaurant group.

With roughly $23 billion in combined annual sales, more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries and two strong, independent brands, the new entity would have an extensive global footprint and significant growth potential, the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The companies had said on Sunday that they were in merger talks, and shares of both soared on Monday.
Someone who supports what passes for the Left in the U.S. played a surprising role in the deal.  Reuters again: Buffett puts shareholders ahead of patriotism in Canadian deal By Luciana Lopez in NEW YORK on Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:16pm EDT.
(Reuters) - Warren Buffett may be most famous for the billions of dollars he has made from investing but he is also well known as a cheerleader for the United States. The Oracle of Omaha routinely exhorts investors to put their money in America, "the mother lode of opportunity," as he wrote in his annual letter this year.

So Buffett's participation in fast-food chain Burger King Worldwide Inc's purchase of coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc – complete with relocation of Burger King's domicile to Canada – might at first blush raise questions about his patriotism.

Investors and tax experts say Miami-based Burger King's move to Canada through a so-called tax inversion will help curb its U.S. tax bill. Similar recent moves by other U.S. companies - mainly through the purchase of European companies - have drawn the ire of President Barack Obama, who suggested they are corporate deserters lacking economic patriotism.
Americans may be displeased at the tax inversion, but Sarah Kliff of Vox thinks Canadians will be politely sad if Burger King takes over Tim Hortons.
Burger King is in the midst of a potential takeover of Canadian coffee and donut chain Tim Hortons. Canadians, while still a mild bunch, are not thrilled with the idea.

"It's our brand," Holly Cosgrey, a 60-year-old Torontonian told Bloomberg News. "Timmy's is always trying new things, adapting, they always have good service, and you always get your coffee fast no matter how long the lineup is. Burger King may screw it up."

To understand what the Tim Hortons purchase means in the United States, you need to dig into to the arcane tax policies about inversions. But understanding what a takeover of Timmy's (as the chain is known north of the border) means to a Canadian is a story about culture and pride. It's about an American fast food company taking over a beloved institution older than the Canadian flag itself.
Kliff is not kidding about what a Canadian institution Tim Horton's is.  I dated a woman who lived in Ontario for a decade,* and Tim Horton's was where everyone went for coffee and donuts (and when smoking was legal in a restaurant, "coffee and a smoke").  About the only good thing I'd see out of the deal is that people in the U.S. outside of Michigan and a few other border states might actually get to experience Tim Horton's coffee and donuts.  Other than that, well, will Burger King ever serve poutine?   Probably not.  Too bad.  After ten years of visiting Canada, I learned to like poutine.

Above modified from a comment on Daily Kos.

*She was not a Canadian, but an American living in Canada, a "landed immigrant."  I understand she's moved back to California since we broke up.

A great day for business as usual

In Politics and economics from Reuters for August 25, 2014, I made this observation on the stock market.
If one of my readers had told me a year and a half ago that the S&P 500 would break 2,000, I wouldn't have believed them.  I would have been sure that the market would have topped out by now.  By the way, the markets went up today.  No profit taking yet.
Here's the story from Reuters: S&P 500 scores first close above 2,000; data helps By Chuck Mikolajczak in NEW YORK on Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:48pm EDT.
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Tuesday to lift the S&P 500 just a hair above the 2,000 mark, its first close above that milestone, after data that pointed to a brighter future for the economy.

Energy shares, which closely track the pace of growth, led the day's gain. The S&P energy index rose 0.5 percent and ranked as the best performer of the 10 major S&P sectors.

The S&P 500 hit an intraday high of 2,005.04, climbing above the 2,000 mark for the second straight day. On Monday, though, the benchmark could not hold on to that mark and ended at 1,997.92. With Tuesday's move, both the Dow and the S&P 500 have risen in 10 of the past 13 sessions, while the Nasdaq is up for 11 of the past 13 sessions.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29.83 points or 0.17 percent, to end at 17,106.70. The S&P 500 gained 2.10 points or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,000.02, a record high. The Nasdaq Composite added 13.29 points or 0.29 percent, to finish at 4,570.64.

The Dow industrials had touched a record intraday high of 17,153.80 during Tuesday's session.
Two stories, one definitely good news and the other mixed depending on which side of the Atlantic one one lives, helped fuel this rally.  Follow over the jump for them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Politics and economics from Reuters for August 25, 2014

I wasn't done with the relevant stories from last night's Overnight News Digest: Death, Disaster, Good news for business, and the Emmys on Daily Kos with Emmy Awards update from Reuters and War, Death, and Destruction from Reuters for August 25, 2014.  I have one more themed entry left, all about economics and politics, including some business news that intersects politics and technology.

I'll begin with an article in the intersection between politics and economics, which was the third most read story on Reuters last night.

France's Hollande ejects rebel minister Montebourg from cabinet
By Ingrid Melander and Alexandria Sage
PARIS Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:45pm EDT
(Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Monday called for a cabinet reshuffle, evicting from his government rebel leftist ministers who had argued for an economic policy U-turn away from budgetary rigor.

The surprise move - which risks deepening the confrontation between Hollande and more left-wing lawmakers - came a day after outspoken Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg attacked euro zone powerhouse Germany for ruining the region's economy with what he called an "obsession" with economic austerity.

Montebourg did not wait for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to announce a new cabinet, which he is scheduled to do on Tuesday, before stepping up his attacks and declaring he and two other left-wing ministers would not seek roles in it.
I'm with the rebels--austerity is a bad idea.  There is a reason why I have an anti-austerity label on this blog.

Next, the fourth most read article on Reuters last night, which lies at the intersection of business and politics, specifically tax law.

Investors cheer Burger King-Tim Hortons 'combo deal'
By Euan Rocha and Solarina Ho
TORONTO Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:27pm EDT
(Reuters) - Investors in Burger King Worldwide Inc and Tim Hortons Inc applauded news of a potential merger between the two fast food chains, seeing both tax savings and strategic rationale for a combination.

The two companies confirmed late on Sunday that Burger King is in talks to acquire the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, and that the combined entity would be based in Canada. Shares of Tim Hortons jumped 18.9 percent to close at $74.72 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, while shares of Burger King, which is majority owned by investment firm 3G Capital, rose 19.5 percent to $32.40.

Investors and tax experts said the main reason for Burger King to move its domicile to Canada is to avoid having to pay double taxation on profits earned abroad, as the company would have to do if it remained in the United States.
Investors and corporations may love this idea, but I'm pretty sure rank-and-file Americans do not.  It might be enough to make me give up Burger King.  As for Tim Hortons, well, they never were a U.S. company.

Follow over the fold for articles on the stock market setting another record high, Amazon buying Twitch, and today's primary elections.

War, Death, and Destruction from Reuters for August 25, 2014

I titled last night's news summary on Daily Kos Overnight News Digest: Death, Disaster, Good news for business, and the Emmys.  I already passed along the Emmy Awards update from Reuters and even that couldn't escape the specter of Death with the Robin Williams tribute, so it's time for the death and destruction.

First, stories about three of the four topics that Kunstler wrote about in this week's missive of DOOM, Chill Winds, Ukraine, ISIS, and Israel-Gaza.

Slim chance of progress as Russian and Ukrainian leaders meet
By Alexei Anishchuk
MINSK Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:16pm EDT
(Reuters) - Divided by mistrust and mutual recriminations, the Russian and Ukrainian leaders will hold rare talks on Tuesday that offer only a slim hope of progress towards ending five months of separatist war in Ukraine.

Since Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko last met on June 6 in France, Ukraine has turned the tide of the conflict and largely encircled pro-Russian rebels holding out in two cities in the east of the former Soviet republic.

But the diplomatic crisis has only deepened, especially since the downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory last month with the loss of 298 lives.
This was the most read story on Reuters last night.  My Ukrainian and Russian readers can make of it what they will.  And, yes, I have lots of readers from both countries.  Ukraine and Russia are top two non-U.S. sources of readers for the blog this month, and Russia is the largest foreign portion of the audience in the history of the blog; Ukraine is in eighth, and will pass France for seventh at current rates in a few months.

Follow over the jump for the stories about war, death, and destruction from Iraq, Gaza, Congo, and elsewhere that made headlines last night.

Emmy Awards update from Reuters

I promised more about tonight's awards in 'Orange is the New Black' and 'Cosmos' already big Emmy winners.  I'll follow through with that promise later.  Right now, I have two updates from Reuters on the ceremony that I've included in tonight's Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.

'Fargo,' 'Normal Heart' win Emmys for TV miniseries, movie
By Mary Milliken and Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:22pm EDT
(Reuters) - "Fargo," the TV re-imagining of the Coen brothers' cult film, won best miniseries at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, while HBO's "The Normal Heart" earned best TV movie honors for its depiction of the early fight against AIDS.

"Fargo" gave FX Networks its first Emmy for a program, but actors from the critically acclaimed miniseries lost out on awards despite being heavy favorites, especially lead actor Billy Bob Thornton.

"Who else can I thank but Joel and Ethan Coen, who don't watch the Emmys," said "Fargo" creator Noah Hawley of the directors of the 1996 Oscar-winning film who granted him creative freedom to recreate the snowy psychological thriller.
In cosmic tribute, Emmys bid adieu to Robin Williams
Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills
LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - With a lump in his throat and a somber tremble in his voice, actor Billy Crystal paid a cosmic tribute to Robin Williams at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, two weeks after the comedian died in an apparent suicide.

Crystal, a longtime friend of Williams who rose to fame in the same 1970s comedy circuit, remembered the madcap performer as "the brightest star in a comedy galaxy".

"It is very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in our lives," said Crystal.
And that's it for tonight's update.  Stay tuned for more later.

Monday, August 25, 2014 tale of two conventions

I wrote two articles for about this weekend's elections.  First, Michigan Republicans retain incumbents at 2014 convention.
The specter of previous conventions hung over last Saturday's Michigan Republican State Convention, where an incumbent office-holder such as Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley of Portland losing his position seemed like a distinct possibility.  History was on the side of an upset.

In 2010, incumbent Michigan State University Trustee Don Nugent failed to be re-nominated at that year's convention.  Incumbents were turned out twice at conventions in 2012.  First, State Representative Dave Agema replaced Saul Anuzis as Michigan's representative to the Republican National Committee.  Then, incumbent State Board of Education Member Nancy Danhof lost her seat at the 2012 convention.  Finally, the 2013 convention featured a leadership struggle in which Michigan GOP Chair Bobby Schostak narrowly retained his office against a Tea Party insurgency led by Todd Courser.

Nothing like that came to pass at this year's convention, as Calley's rival Wes Nakagiri of Hartland moved to have Calley re-nominated for Lieutenant Governor by unanimous acclamation, so that the Michigan Republicans can “unite and defeat the Democrats” as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.  All the other incumbent office holders chosen at the convention from Attorney General and Secretary of State to Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court were also renominated unanimously.
For the first time this decade, the GOP convention didn't include a successful RINO hunt.  Darn.

The second was Michigan Democrats nominate candidates at 2014 convention.
The Michigan Democratic Party ended their two-day convention in Lansing on a high note after a first day that evoked one of Will Rogers' best remembered sayings about politics; he was not a member of any organized political party, he was a Democrat.

On Sunday, all of the candidates nominated at the convention, from Lieutenant Governor down to Supreme Court Justice, ran unopposed and were approved unanimously.

In contrast, Saturday's proceedings saw a protest of one Supreme Court Justice over his views on reproductive choice as well as a contested vote for Wayne State University Governor and a delayed and poorly attended vote for State Board of Education.
The news here was that there was an attempt to thwart the nomination of a judge whose credentials as a social liberal were suspect at the same time the party nominated someone known for defending reproductive rights, Lisa Brown.  In the end, the party proved to be a big enough tent for both of them.

Speaking of big tents, what do you see in this photo of the Democratic nominees from Sunday?

What about this analogous picture of the Republican nominees on Saturday?

I'll leave the answers as an exercise for the reader.

Ebola news from The Archdruid, Daily Kos, and campuses on the campaign trail

Greer the Archdruid made this observation in Heading Toward The Sidewalk.
I suspect that most of my readers have been paying at least some attention to the Ebola epidemic now spreading across West Africa. Over the last week, the World Health Organization has revealed that official statistics on the epidemic’s toll are significantly understated, the main nongovernmental organization fighting Ebola has admitted that the situation is out of anyone’s control, and a series of events neatly poised between absurdity and horror—a riot in one of Monrovia’s poorest slums directed at an emergency quarantine facility, in which looters made off with linens and bedding contaminated with the Ebola virus, and quarantined patients vanished into the crowd—may shortly plunge Liberia into scenes of a kind not witnessed since the heyday of the Black Death. The possibility that this outbreak may become a global pandemic, while still small, can no longer be dismissed out of hand.
I couldn't resist responding and promoting one of my entries.
As for the Ebola outbreak becoming a top story, I mentioned in a comment here that it looked concerning weeks ago.  Honestly, Ebola scares me.  I first read about it in "The Hot Zone," the very first chapter of which described the death of an Ebola patient on a plane back to the U.S.  Stephen King described that story as "the scariest thing he'd ever read--and then it got worse."  Fortunately, it's not an immediate threat to people in the developed world.  That's small comfort to the people in west Africa, who are in immediate and growing danger.
That got a direct response from Gwaiharad.
@Pinku-Sensei: I'm not at all surprised that Ebola's become a top news story. After all, Stephen King's right. Ebola is really scary stuff. And media companies thrive on selling fear.
Media companies aren't alone.  Three universities whose press releases I quoted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Shark Week) and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Bardarbunga eruption) have also been capitalizing on the outbreak, which threatens to become an epidemic, if not a pandemic.  Follow over the jump for them, as well as a frightening diary from Daily Kos.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

'Orange is the New Black' and 'Cosmos' already big Emmy winners

Last year, I posted three entries about the Prime Time Emmy Awards: Politics and fantasy at the Emmy Awards: Dramas, Funny politicians and scientists on television, and Politics, funny and dramatic, and horror in miniseries and variety shows.  I might repeat that in advance of tomorrow night's awards show, but first I'm going to write about those shows and actors that already received their awards a week ago Saturday.  CNN has the story in HBO, 'SNL,' 'Orange' win Emmys, beginning with what they think is important.
"Orange Is the New Black," "True Detective" and "Cosmos" picked up Emmys as TV's awards season began, while -- appropriately -- "Saturday Night Live" added to its four-decade-long haul with five more honors at the Creative Arts Emmys.

HBO won the most awards of any network, with 15. The cable channel is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.
In keeping with my interest in Crime and injustice among the Oscar nominees, I found "Orange is the New Black" great entertainment, despite the grim setting.  My wife and I found that we enjoyed far more than the second season of "House of Cards," which made us feel dirty (It's too difficult to root for that scum Frank Underwood, as much as I like Kevin Spacey, but more on that later).  It has an outstanding ensemble cast, one of whom won her category.
Uzo Aduba, who plays "Crazy Eyes" Warren in "Orange Is the New Black," won for guest actress in a comedy series.
She was up against two other actresses from the series, Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols and Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset, which means that she had a clear win over two other people who could have split the vote and handed it over to Tina Fey or Melissa McCarthy for their stints as host of Saturday Night Live or Joan Cusack on Shameless.  I was enough that Jimmy Fallon won for hosting SNL.  However, the ensemble can take indirect credit for their strength, as the show won Best Casting for a Comedy.  It was well deserved, something I'll say more about in a future post about comedies.

ON the subject of crime, HBO's "True Detective" was and still is up for a number of awards and won several at the early awards.
HBO's "True Detective," which earned eight nominations, received four awards, including wins for makeup and credit design.
I'll have more to say about this show when I cover the nominees for Drama.

Enough of crime.  Follow over the jump for shows about science and food, along with the theme song of one series I listed in the title that also won an award.

The science of tear gas from Discovery News

Bardarbunga erupts, maybe was the topic I picked as last night's top story for Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday at Daily Kos, but it wasn't the one that got the most attention from the readers.  Instead, it was this video from Discovery News: How Tear Gas Affects Your Body.

The use of tear gas on crowds by police in Ferguson, Missouri has made recent headlines. SourceFed’s Reina Scully explains what tear gas does to your body and how treatment works after tear gas exposure.
That spawned two threads.  The first thread was about how using tear gas would a violation of the laws of war, but it's OK to use on your own population for riot control, while the second was about how to protect oneself from tear gas.  I'd reproduce them, except that in the spirit of a picture being worth 1000 words, I posted the image from Occupy Wall Street instead.  The only difference was that the person starting the second thread recommended Milk of Magnesia instead of Maalox.  Both threads combined had 12 comments.  The entire diary only received 30 comments, so tear gas was the subject of 40% of the comments.  Looks like I hit a nerve, just like I did when I posted The science of sarin gas from Discovery News.

I might have more about the issues raised by Ferguson later this week, after my Sunday entertainment entry and something about the Ebola epidemic.  Stay tuned.

Bardarbunga erupts, maybe

Tonight's top story in my Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday at Daily Kos is Bardarbunga eruption, or at least what most people think is one.  Take it away, LiveScience!

Subglacial Eruption Begins at Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano (Updated)
By Becky Oskin, Senior Writer
August 23, 2014 01:25pm ET
One week after an earthquake swarm first warned of magma on the rise, a volcanic eruption has started near Iceland's Barðarbunga volcano, the Icelandic Met Office announced today (Aug. 23).

The small-scale eruption is taking place northeast of Barðarbunga, underneath the Dyngjujökull glacier. Scientists estimate 492 to 1,312 feet of ice (150 to 400 meters) covers the emerging lava, the Met Office said in a statement. Even though no one can see the eruption, seismic signals indicate that ice is flashing into steam. This suggests lava has broken through to the surface, beneath the glacier.

Update at 9:30 p.m. ET: Volcano experts in Iceland are not convinced that an eruption is underway. Earthquakes continue, including a magnitude-5.3 this evening, but the tremors that signaled steam blasts from lava have decreased, the Met Office said. Nor is meltwater draining from the glacier. "Presently there are no signs of ongoing volcanic activity," the Met Office said in an update. "The aviation color code for the Barðarbunga volcano remains red as an imminent eruption can not be excluded."
Several diaries on Daily Kos also covered the eruption, including This week in science: fire and ice-land by DarkSyde, Bárðarbunga: Eruption! by Rei, and Code Red: Bárðarbunga Volcano Erupts? Updated M5.3 Quake Confirmed, Largest Quake Yet by FishOutofWater.  In addition, Vox asks Is Iceland's volcano erupting? Scientists are still waiting to see.  The event has attracted a lot of attention, so stay tuned for further developments.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shark attacks for Shark Week 2014

Last week was Shark Week, even on Daily Kos.  Here are the two stories I received about the Discovery Channel promotional event that I used as the lead stories last week.

First, Mary Landers of Savannah Now reported Shark-bitten turtle rescued on Ossabaw.
This loggerhead's story is one of bad luck turned good.

First the bad: She was bitten by a shark. That's clear from the telltale semi-lunar chunk missing from her shell behind her right front leg, said naturalist John "Crawfish" Crawford.

A shark bite is a bit unusual for a big girl like Phoenix, an adult sea turtle who weighs in at 190 pounds. Sharks aren't known to be discriminating diners, but Georgia's adult loggerheads are too large and spend too much time feeding on the ocean floor to be much of a target for these predators, said Mark Dodd, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and the state's sea turtle coordinator.
Next, Tanya Lewis of LiveScience asked Shark Attack … In a Lake?!
The idea of a shark attacking someone in the ocean is scary enough, but this week, a 7-year-old boy was bitten by one of these fearsome fish in a lake.

The boy was swimming in Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, when something bumped into him in the water and chomped down on his foot, USA Today reported. The bite's appearance suggests it was probably a bull shark measuring about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, experts say. The boy is expected to recover from the incident.
I figured it would be a bull shark. I mentioned it as one species of shark most likely to venture into freshwater to my biodiversity class this summer.  If I remember this story, I can give it as an example to my biodiversity students next summer.

That's it for this year's Shark Week.  It's less attention than I paid to it last year, when I posted A week of sharks, hurricanes, and geeks.  I'm OK with that.

First data from Orbiting Carbon Observatory

Not all space news is about space.  Some of the most important missions are about looking back at Earth.  One of those is the Orbiting Carbon Observatory or OCO-2, which I mentioned in National Climate Assessment 2014 and Gliese 832c and other space and astronomy news, then featured in Orbiting Carbon Observatory launches and space news video extravaganza.  NASA gave it first billing in last week's news digest video Carbon Observatory’s First Data on This Week @NASA.

A month after its launch, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide – has reached its final operating orbit and returned its first science data. “First light” test data were collected on August 6 as OCO-2 flew over central New Guinea, confirming the health of the spacecraft’s science instrument’s. Also, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station, Super Celestial Show, Black Hole Blurs X-ray Light, Million Pound Move and more! has more in NASA Satellite Takes First Look at Earth's Carbon Dioxide By Mike Wall, Senior Writer, on August 13, 2014 05:42pm ET.
NASA's newest satellite has arrived in its final orbit and begun tracking levels of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2), which blasted off July 2, arrived in its final orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) above the Earth on Aug. 3. The satellite then collected its first test data three days later while flying over Papua New Guinea, agency officials said.

"The initial data from OCO-2 appear exactly as expected — the spectral lines are well resolved, sharp and deep," OCO-2's chief architect and calibration lead, Randy Pollock, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Monday (Aug. 11). "We still have a lot of work to do to go from having a working instrument to having a well-calibrated and scientifically useful instrument, but this was an important milestone on this journey."
Here's to years of data from this mission to understand the 400 ppm world.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Leaving California

Twenty-five years ago today, I left California with my son and ex-wife as we moved to Michigan so that I could attend the University of Michigan to earn a Ph.D. in Biology.  That happened.  However, the original plan was to move back to the west.  That never came to pass.  All of us, plus my younger daughter, are still here.  I repeated that with my second wife, who moved here from Wisconsin to marry me.  Looks like I've been doing my part to reverse the trend of people leaving the state during the past few decades.  The result has been something like the image below, except that the heart in Michigan should be in Detroit, not Grand Rapids.

While people moving into Michigan, particularly from California, has not been much of a trend* people moving out of California during the time I've lived here has been.  Follow over the jump for the relevant excerpts from two entries on The New York Times' The Upshot blog that give the details.

Books selling space exploration and exploitation

We may live in a digital age, but books still matter.  Because of that, books are a medium used to convince and inform people, even sell them on an idea.  I present two stories from about books that sell space exploration and exploitation that orginally appeared in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Shark Week) on Daily Kos.

First, the exploitation: 'Make Your Own SpaceShipTwo,' Other Books Part of New Virgin Galactic Deal By Robert Z. Pearlman,, August 06, 2014 09:05pm ET.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo will soon launch onto — and, in at least one example, out of — the pages of seven books thanks to a partnership between the private spaceflight company and DK, a global publisher of illustrated reference books.

Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, announced on Tuesday (Aug. 5) the collaboration with DK as its latest merchandising and marketing deal intended to document and promote its commercial space tourism services.

"Human space flight has a universal capability to inspire and educate," George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's CEO, stated. "Through Virgin Galactic's partnership with DK, we can creatively bring this powerful experience to life and to a global audience with an emphasis on beautiful images and one-of-a-kind storytelling."
Next, a historical artifact of exploration: Marketing the Moon: How Space Collectors Retold the Story of Apollo's Success By Robert Z. Pearlman,, August 01, 2014 07:36am ET.
At an upcoming space artifact auction, among the selection of astronauts' autographs, spacecraft parts and mission patches, is a 45-year-old press kit from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. Its 250 pages browned with age, it isn't the auction's star lot, but it still could bring in hundreds of dollars.

As memorabilia of the lunar landings, the documents and other materials originally created to sell the public on the idea of sending astronauts to the moon are now on sale as prized collectibles.

But as valuable as the press kits, pamphlets, posters and other ephemera might be on the collector's market today, their significance as a shining example of effective brand marketing may be their true worth.
Isn't there a Heinlein book about this?  Yes, there is.

We live in science fiction times.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Music from space--gamma ray bursts and planetary magnetospheres

When I concluded Curiosity and other Mars news from the past two weeks by saying to stay tuned for more space news, I forgot that I wasn't done with space music when I posted 2001 music for the 2001st post.  I have some more from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday to share.  Tanya Lewis of LiveScience brought Distant Galaxies' Explosions Become Psychedelic Songs via Yahoo! News two weeks ago.
An astronomer and a graphic artist have teamed up to turn powerful explosions in distant galaxies into spellbinding music and animations. The unique celestial compositions are psychedelic and strangely beautiful.

Known as gamma-ray bursts, these explosions of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation are the brightest events known to occur in the universe. Sylvia Zhu, a graduate student in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, studies gamma-ray bursts at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
In addition to an embed of the video of the latest composition at the link, it's also available on Vimeo.  Here it is.

GRB suite from Turner Gillespie on Vimeo.

Follow over the jump for an older video converting gamma rays bursts into music and a bonus video of near-Earth space sounds that also sound musical.

Curiosity and other Mars news from the past two weeks

I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle my opening from Rosetta and Siding Spring--comets in the news.
I opened Jupiter-Venus conjunction by musing about how to handle my backlog of space and astronomy stories.
I have all kinds of space news from the past two weeks of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday, enough for a post every day this week.  In fact, I might just do that.
Tonight, the subject is NASA's exploration of Mars both now and in the future.  Follow over the jump for the latest from Curiosity and video of a test of the LDSD.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fear premium a dead cat bounce as price falls three times in five days

I began Fear premium stalls out in time for Dream Cruise last Thursday evening by noting a short episode of price stability.
Monday, the corner station matched the rest at $3.45, which is where all the neighborhood stations have remained since.  The fear premium stalled out, but prices still haven't returned to where they were a week ago.
I ended it by making two predictions in one.  Here's the first forecast.
Gas prices should drop.  Unless something dramatic happens to either make the fear premium return or reduce supplies, I expect gas to resume falling.
That's exactly what happened.  The three stations down the block reduced their price to $3.42 on Friday.  They dropped it again to $3.39 on Sunday and the corner station matched them.  Monday, at least one of the stations down the street lowered its price to $3.35 (the rest were closed and their signs were off, so I couldn't check).  Finally, the corner station matched that price last night.  The corner station is exactly where it was before it jumped over the limbo bar then the fear premium returned as U.S. bombed the Sith Jihad.  That minor price spike is now a dead cat bounce, hence the image I used.

What about that second prediction?
However, even though wholesale prices are even weaker than when gas was $3.32, I don't expect retail prices to test that floor again until after Labor Day.  Not only is that particular last blast of summer going to increase demand and put a floor under prices, this week is Dream Cruise.  That's a captive customer base that will keep demand up through the weekend.
Dream Cruise kept the price above $3.40 until it ended, as the fall below that level happened after the event ended.  As for that second prediction, the neighborhood outlets are only three cents above the $3.32 of two weeks ago.  It's time to check the retail and wholesale price environment to see if they could go to $3.29 before Labor Day.  Follow over the jump.

'2001' music for the 2001st post

When I wrote "Crazy Eddie's Motie News resumes its regular programming, whatever that is" at the end of Mole people and meth chemicals: Student sustainability video festival 26, I was speaking too soon.  It turned out that was the 2000th post on the blog, which means I wasn't paying attention.  It also means that it's time for either a retrospective or a music post to celebrate.  I choose the music post.  Since this is now the 2001st entry on this blog and this blog has a science fiction theme, my choice is obvious--"Also Sprach Zarathustra" AKA 2001 A Space Odyssey Opening Theme.

Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterpiece.
2001 A Space Odyssey.
[Spoilers]: Its 2014 and we're still here.
Now I return you to the blog's regular programming.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mole people and meth chemicals: student sustainability video festival 26

I just finished submitting my grades for the semester, which means it's time for the last installment of the Student sustainability video festival until December.  Normally, I'd post the students' favorite video, like I did in Student sustainability video festival 21: Extreme weather in May.  It turns out that "Face Your Food" was the video from the favorite talk, so I already posted it.  Instead, I'll post videos from the two talks that vied for runner-up.  Both of them, coincidentally enough, are old segments from news shows.

First, NewsPoliticsInfo hosts this CBS News segment Homeless People Living Underneath Las Vegas.

The student used this segment in a talk about "Mole People."  On a fantastical note, she passed along an anecdote that a friend of hers thinks they would be the first to become zombies in case of the zombie apocalypse.  I think her friend should worry about disasters that actually will happen and not the metaphors for them.  Besides, these people might actually be better candidates for surviving the apocalypse, even if they are among the first surviving victims of collapse.

One of the Las Vegas tunnel dwellers was a meth addict.  That just happens to lead into the next video, in which KCRA News reported Meth Chemicals Wreak Havoc On Environment.

From corrosive acids to lighter fluid, the ingredients to make methamphetamine often end up in the ground or flushed down the drain.
Ugh, nasty.  While I'm on the subject, it so happens that I have a bunch of stories about Meth from KPBS from earlier this year.  Follow over the jump for them.

Rosetta and Siding Spring--comets in the news

I opened Jupiter-Venus conjunction by musing about how to handle my backlog of space and astronomy stories.
I have all kinds of space news from the past two weeks of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday, enough for a post every day this week.  In fact, I might just do that.
Follow over the jump for the next installment, comets in the news.

'Water Facts': Student sustainability video festival 25

Here is another video one of my students included in a presentation.  Unlike Face Your Food, which I won't use because it's a duplicate what my students see in "Food Inc." and because I don't want to give PETA any more attention than I already do, I plan on adding this to my lectures on water.  It will make for a great introduction to the chapter and complements perfectly the diagram above, which it will accompany.

Water Facts


Monday, August 18, 2014

'Face Your Food': Student sustainability video festival 24

After featuring trailers for two films, "No Impact Man" and "Tapped," that my students reviewed for extra credit, I'm returning to videos that they used in their presentations.  Here is the first video used in a presentation this semester, Peter Dinklage: Face Your Food.

"Game of Thrones" actor and longtime vegetarian Peter Dinklage narrates "Face Your Food," revealing the ugly truth about that meal on your table and how it got there.
It's no secret that I don't take PETA seriously, but I will give them credit when they have a point, especially when it reinforces one of mine.  In this case, it's one of Commoner's Laws, "There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch."  As I wrote in my worksheet to Food Inc., I mean it quite literally.

Jupiter-Venus conjunction

I have all kinds of space news from the past two weeks of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday, enough for a post every day this week.  In fact, I might just do that.  The most time-sensitive item probably comes from Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: Beautiful Conjunction.

Wake up early in mid-August to see Venus and Jupiter shining side-by-side.
You all have a good time waking up early.  I'm going to sleep in until Kunstler posts the next installment of his Monday blog.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Michigan Senate approves pro-wolf-hunt initiative

I described the first shoe dropping in article on wolf hunt and minimum wage proposals.
Board of State Canvassers approves wolf hunt, denies minimum wage
On Thursday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers decided the fates of two ballot initiatives that had their petitions submitted at the end of May.

The Board unanimously approved the initiative from Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management that would allow the wolf hunt to continue along with funding measures to combat Asian Carp and continue offering free hunting and fishing licenses to active-duty members of the armed services.

They also denied the initiative from Raise Michigan to put a measure on the ballot that would allow voters to vote for an increase in the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on a 3-1 bipartisan vote, citing not enough valid signatures.
Much more about both decisions and the reaction to them at the link.

As I told the readers of Join the Coffee Party Michigan, it's possible that neither will be on the ballot, as the minimum wage measure was turned down, while the pro-hunting measure may be voted into law by the state legislature, bypassing the voters entirely.  Welcome to life in a republic, not a democracy.
That's exactly what appears to be happening, as Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press reported in Wolf hunt can continue after Michigan Senate passes law on August 13, 2014.
LANSING — The issue of hunting wolves in the Upper Peninsula intersected with the historic flooding in Detroit today as the state Senate passed a citizen-initiated law that will allow the hunt to continue.

But the fact that the Senate dealt with the wolf hunt on its only day of the session in August, instead of issues like improving Michigan’s roads and other crucial infrastructure in the wake of the flooding this week, drew the ire of Democrats.

“Democracy is one of the founding principles of our nation, but you continue to treat people like your subjects, rather than your bosses,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “It’s not as if we don’t have serious work we could be doing here today. Metro Detroit is literally under water. Our roads are still falling apart. But on the one day you bother to show up for work this month, you ignore all that and come here to take away the rights of the people to vote again.”
The measure is not law yet, but it could happen this month.
The bill still has to go to the House of Representatives, which expects to take it up on Aug. 27. If lawmakers pass the legislation, it will automatically become law. If they reject it or do nothing, the issue will go on the November general election ballot. The last time the House took up the issue of allowing the hunt, it passed with bipartisan support.
The other shoe has been released.  The only question is whether it hits the floor or is caught in mid-air.  Pay attention to what happens at the major party nominating conventions next week.  The Democrats are likely to consider a resolution against the pro-hunting measure, or at least in favor of allowing the voters to make the decision.  I have no idea what the Republicans are going to do about it.  I suspect that they may be too busy with the credentials of the delegates sent by the district/county conventions to put together a formal motion.  If they do, I'm sure they'll support its passage into law.  In either event, stay tuned.

'End of Suburbia' for Geology

I've posted a lot about "The End of Suburbia," including two entries that made the 20 most read lists for the second and third year of this blog, Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End of Suburbia' and Showing my students "End of Suburbia" again tonight.  However, those posts refer to the version of the worksheet that I use for my environmental science course, not the version I've adapted as an extra credit assignment for my geology class.  Follow over the jump for that worksheet, along with a guide to which questions they correspond to in the original environmental science version.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

'Tapped': Student sustainability video festival 23

I promised an entry about "Tapped" in 'No Impact Man': Student sustainability video festival 22 and a conversation with The Archdruid.*  I'm a day late, but here it is, another trailer and review of a movie one of my students viewed and summarized for extra credit.

First, the Tapped Trailer.

Tapped is a film that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.
I'm glad to see Charles Moore, who plays a starring role in the videos included in Student sustainability video festival 11: Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Student sustainability video festival 18: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, again.  Without him, the story of plastic water bottles would be incomplete.  Also, one of the points the movie makes is that bottled water is just filtered tap water.  That's something I tell my students every semester.  If they're drinking Daisani or Aquafina, they're drinking filtered Detroit City water.  The joke's on them, they've paid for it twice.

Next, Discovery News presents its review in Screening Room: Is Bottled Water Better Than 'Tapped'?

If you buy bottled water, the expectation is that you're getting the purest water out there-- far better than what comes out of your tap. In this week's DNews Screening Room, Trace reviews "Tapped," answering once and for all- is bottled water any better?
Michigan has a 97% return rate on bottles and cans.  That's a fun fact I can share with my students to show that what they do does matter.

As for the movie Trace says is up next "How to Survive a Plague," I embedded it in AIDS: The pandemic in our midst along with videos and stories from KPBS about World AIDS Day.  Happy surfing and viewing!

Stay tuned for videos from previous semesters as well as top videos from this semester.

*This became a hit with 180 page views in 24 hours and nearly 200 page views now.  It's still the most read entry during the past 24 hours.  May this entry be so popular.

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Green Cruise and Ferndale Dream Cruise

I concluded WXYZ on Thursday at the 2014 Dream Cruise with this promise.
Stay tuned for more, including coverage of the Green Cruise from Crystal Proxmire of Oakland County One-Fifteen.
Time to make good on that promise, beginning with this video 2014 Green Cruise from Crystal Proxmire.

For more, read Crystal's story 2014 Green Cruise Encourages People to Think About the Planet.  Also read her announcement of Dream Cruise proper, Ferndale Dream Cruise Celebrate 20 Years, Aug. 14-16.  As for the promise I made last year to participate in this year's Green Cruise, that didn't happen because I thought Dream Cruise was next week.  Oops.  I'll see if I can make the third time the charm in 2015.

WXYZ on Thursday at the 2014 Dream Cruise

I already mentioned Dream Cruise earlier tonight, so it's time to cut to the chase and post WXYZ's coverage of the preparations for the event that I once called dopamine returned on gasoline invested.  Take it away WXYZ!

First, Dream Cruise pre-shows popping up from the Noon newscast.

As we approach the Woodward Dream Cruise this weekend, pre-shows are popping up along the Avenue.
Next, Gearing up for the Dream Cruise from 5 PM.

Finally, Dream Cruise this Saturday from 6 PM.

Dream Cruise lovers are already out on Woodward, even though the event isn't until Saturday.
Yes, every single afternoon and evening news show got in on the action.

Stay tuned for more, including coverage of the Green Cruise from Crystal Proxmire of Oakland County One-Fifteen.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fear premium stalls out in time for Dream Cruise

Here's where the combatants in the local gas price war stood when I wrote Fear premium returns as U.S. bombs Sith Jihad.
[The corner station] won't match them at $3.32, as all of the stations down the street raised their price to $3.45 today.  It isn't yet matching them at that price either, as it is still at $3.65.
That was last Friday.  Monday, the corner station matched the rest at $3.45, which is where all the neighborhood stations have remained since.  The fear premium stalled out, but prices still haven't returned to where they were a week ago.

So, are the neighborhood outlets overpriced, as they were last week when the Detroit average was $3.41, and are they going to go down soon?  To answer that question, I defer to A HREF="">GasBuddy
, which shows that the national average is retreating from a high of $3.47 a few days ago and is now at $3.46.  The Detroit average is higher, but starting to show signs of easing as well.  The metro area mean continued rising from last Friday's $3.41 to $3.50 on Sunday, where it remained except for a brief bump to $3.51 yesterday then a return to $3.50 today.  Based on the usual pattern of the local stations being up to a dime below the Detroit average, they are a bit overpriced.  They should be at $3.41 or $3.40.

That's not the only indicator that prices should be lower.  Follow over the jump for the latest from the Wall Street Journal on the prices of oil and wholesale gasoline.

'No Impact Man': Student sustainability video festival 22 and a conversation with The Archdruid

I gave my first final exam of the semester, which means that it's time to resume my ongoing series of videos from students that I left off at Student sustainability video festival 21: Extreme weather.  For a change of pace, instead of including videos that my students used in their presentations, I'm posting trailers and reviews of two movies that a couple of my students watched and summarized for extra credit, "No Impact Man" today and "Tapped" tomorrow.

First, "No Impact Man" - Official Trailer.

Author Colin Beavan, in research for his new book, began the No Impact Project in November 2006. A newly self-proclaimed environmentalist who could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself, Colin leaves behind his liberal complacency for a vow to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year. No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material consumption no problem. That is, until his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two year-old daughter are dragged into the fray. Laura Gabbert and Justin Scheins film provides a front row seat into the familial strains and strengthened bonds that result from Colins and Michelles struggle with this radical lifestyle change.
Next, a promotional segment on CBS News: The "No Impact Man."

Author Colin Beavan spoke to Harry Smith about his new documentary and book "No-Impact Man" based on a one year experiment to live life with his family with as little environmental impact as possible.
I'm impressed.  I now have a good example to follow, a film to recommend to my students, and an answer to Greer the Archdruid, who wrote in Dark Age America: Climate, "Until the people who claim to be concerned about climate change start showing a willingness to burn much less carbon, it’s unlikely that anyone else will do so..."  Follow over the jump for my response and Greer's reply.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An update on growing shrimp in Detroit

A little over three years ago during the first full month of this blog, I featured a Detroit Free Press article about a proposal to raise freshwater shrimp in Detroit, Indoor shrimp farming could grow into big industry for Michigan which includes a photo gallery.
To ramp up the automotive industry in Michigan, Henry Ford built the Rouge Plant -- a manufacturing infrastructure that could produce everything needed, from glass to steel, to make cars.

Today, Russ Allen is looking for a way to build a shrimp Rouge Plant -- a pollution-free, recirculating facility that could breed, grow, process and ship a million pounds of shrimp a year.

It's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Allen, who spent 23 years establishing outdoor shrimp farming in Central and South America, has been raising shrimp indoors in Okemos since 1994 at his Seafood Systems research facility.
"This could be the start of an entirely new industry for Michigan, a clean industry, with new jobs," he said -- if he can find the $10 million he needs to build a commercial plant.
That was published on April 4, 2011.  Here's what I had to say about the idea at the time.
People talk a lot about Detroit as a center for urban agriculture, but this is the first story I've seen about urban aquaculture here. Honestly, I have to say I find this one to be a complete surprise to me. As for his idea, it will most likely work (he already raises 25,000 pounds of shrimp a year in Okemos), although I wonder how sustainable it really is. Shrimp are tropical and require a lot of heat.
As far as I know, Allen didn't get his $10 million.  However, his idea still lives, as the University of Michigan reports in U-M student growing seafood in vacant Detroit house from August 6, 2014.
ANN ARBOR—There is something fishy going on in a vacant house in Detroit's North End, and University of Michigan graduate student Elizabeth "Lizzie" Grobbel takes full responsibility.

That's because Grobbel, an environmental engineering master's student and a Dow Sustainability Fellow at U-M, is pursuing a pilot project called "Urban revitalization through sustainable small-scale aquaculture."

With seed funding from U-M's Dow Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Program, Grobbel is using a vacant house in Detroit to cultivate approximately 400 shrimp from larvae, distribute the mature shrimp within the city, and demonstrate aquaculture as a viable way to address the scarcity of locally grown seafood, while simultaneously finding productive uses for vacant property in the city.

"Detroit has an estimated 79,000 vacant homes, many of which the city wants to demolish," said Grobbel, who started working with shrimp in a research project with professor Lut Raskin of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "I started to question what a good alternative might be for some of the houses, and—given the lack of locally produced protein in the city—figured shrimp aquaculture was worth a try."
There is a lot more at the link.  Read it.  Also, Grobbel also has a blog, Detroit Shrimp on Wordpress, about the project.  It turns out that she's not growing the same shrimp Allen was.  He was raising Tiger Shrimp.  She's working with Pacific White Shrimp.  She may not be doing the same thing Allen wanted to do, but she's demonstrating that more than one kind of shrimp can be raised here.  That's a good thing.  Now to see if other people can continue the work, make money off of it, and, most importantly, feed Detroit's residents affordably.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Detroit's flooding made national headlines

I gave a very personal account of yesterday's record rainfall in This was my drive home tonight.  It's time to look at the bigger picture, beginning with News Wrap: Record rains soak Detroit suburbs from PBS NewsHour.

In our news wrap Tuesday, major Michigan interstates were closed after record-breaking rains caused flooding, shutting down General Motor’s tech center near Detroit. Also, the government of Russia dispatched a miles-long convoy of trucks toward the Ukrainian border under the auspices of a humanitarian aid mission to pro-Russian rebels.
Yes, metro Detroit's flooding and rains got top billing over Ukraine, Iraq, and a bunch of other stories.

Speaking of flooding being a top story, it was half of the 11 PM newscast over at WXYZ, who posted their coverage on YouTube as Flooding disaster in metro Detroit.

I was really venting last night, but this video shows that I got off easy.  At least I got home with a working car.

WXYZ has a lot more about the flooding and its aftermath, but I'll save them for later.  Instead, I'll share a link to WDIV's story Historic rain event slams metro Detroit.  It shows that yesterday was the second heaviest single-day rainfall in Detroit history, with 4.54 inches at Detroit Metro.  Earlier editions of this story listed totals of more than 5 inches in Warren and a Detroit Free Press infographic shows Berkley with 6 inches.  Those are the municipalities to my east and west, so no wonder I had such trouble yesterday!

This was my drive home tonight

Seriously, just watch the videos, beginning with WXYZ's raw footage of Flooding on the streets of Royal Oak.

Yes, it was that bad.  I saw at least ten cars that had stalled out on the way home.  I haven't seen that many cars stranded by weather since I lived out in Whitmore Lake more than four years ago and saw that many cars that had spun out because of ice on the road.  That was on a a thirty-mile drive, not on what was supposed to be a seven-mile drive that normally takes 20 minutes, but ended up being a 16 mile drive that took an hour.

When I tried to find another route home, this is what I saw: Woman tells drivers to turn around in flooded neighborhood.

Street after street was closed off, so I had few options to get home.  I eventually made it by driving several miles out of my way to the next town to the north to bypass the low spots under the railway bridges and find an area that didn't have water over the curbs.

At least all this rain came in handy at work as a teachable moment.  I talked about climate change in both my lectures today, and pointed out how it's expressing itself as increased precipitation, including 2013 being the wettest year in Michigan history, 2013-2014 being the snowiest year in Detroit's history, and 2011 being the rainiest year in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Toledo.  With a steady downpour all day long outside the windows, the students got the point.

Now excuse me while I vacuum up some more water from my basement.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Energy news from Michigan universities

During the past month, I've featured science, space, health, environment, and technology stories from Michigan's universities on Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos as part of an ongoing project to "highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having primary or special elections for federal or state office this year."  Now that Michigan's primary is over, I'm moving on.  In the meantime, I've collected some fun, interesting, hopeful, and even distressing energy news from the University of Michigan and Michigan State.  I'll start with a fun one.

University of Michigan: Michigan Solar Car Team defends national title in hard-fought win
July 28, 2014
ANN ARBOR—After a series of setbacks including a motor problem that sidelined their vehicle in the first 10 minutes of an eight-day race, the University of Michigan's national champion Solar Car Team has won the American Solar Challenge, according to this afternoon's unofficial results.

The team crossed the finish line in Minneapolis at 1:50 p.m. ET today, earning its fifth consecutive first place in the 1,700-mile contest. The race, which happens every other year on a different course, began in Austin, Texas, on July 20. Michigan raced against 22 other teams of college students that had built their own solar-powered electric vehicles.
That's good news.  Here's something distressing that the University of Michigan discovered: When it comes to energy's environmental impact, Southerners think differently.
ANN ARBOR—Southerners are less likely than Americans in other parts of the country to believe that energy affects the environment by at least a fair amount, according to the latest findings of the University of Michigan Energy Survey.

A joint effort of the U-M Energy Institute and Institute for Social Research, the quarterly survey gauges consumer perceptions and beliefs about key energy-related concerns including affordability, reliability and impact on the environment.

When asked if energy affects the environment, "not at all," "a little," "a fair amount" or "a lot," 69 percent of Southerners chose the latter two answers. The choices of "a fair amount" or "a lot" were given by 77 percent of consumers in the Midwest, 79 percent in the West and 82 percent in the Northeast.
Somehow, I'm not surprised.  I can't even say I'm disappointed, as that would require me to say that the finding didn't conform to expectations.

Follow over the jump for more news, all of which can be considered good.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Darth Vader for President and other entertainment leftovers

I promised Sunday's usual entertainment-themed entry at the conclusion of More Perseids vs. Supermoon and I'm delivering.  However, I have the same level of motivation I had when I wrote Hunger Games, Leftovers, and Transformers--other bloggers' perspectives.  So instead of building a coherent entry around a single theme, as I did in last week's Science fiction speaks to our current anxieties, I'm going to heat up and serve some leftovers I've been saving for the past month.

First, FiveThirtyEight wrote about America's Favorite 'Star Wars' Movies (And Least Favorite Characters).  That led Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post to note that Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates.
Hillary Clinton currently has the highest net favorability of any 2016 White House contender. But to put her 19 percent favorable rating in context, she's tied with Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who froze Harrison Ford in carbonite.

None of the 2016 hopefuls is polling higher than Darth Vader... These numbers suggest that if "Star Wars" were real and Darth Vader decided to enter the 2016 presidential race, he'd be the immediate front-runner.
Ingraham shouldn't laugh too hard.  After all, someone posing as Darth Vader ran for President of Ukraine on the Internet Party ticket this spring before his candidacy was rejected.  Too bad about that.  His campaign would have been more fun to report on that what actually happened in Ukraine this summer.

Follow over the jump for the rest of this meal of leftovers.

More Perseids vs. Supermoon

It looks like I'm not done with Perseids vs. Supermoon.  Here are some serious and silly articles about the two phenomena from tonight's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Tropical Storm Iselle) on Daily Kos.

First, Life Hacker (Australia): Supermoon 101: What You Need to Know
Technically yes: by the definition that’s fallen into common usage, it will be a supermoon. By this I mean that the full moon will coincide with the moon being slightly closer to us, as it travels along its elliptical orbit around the Earth.

Will we notice that this moon is bigger and brighter than any other full moons to be seen this year? It might be nice to think so, but in all honesty it’s not really possible to spot the effect.
Next, Christian Science Monitor: How you can watch the Perseid meteor shower, even with the full moon
For Northern Hemisphere observers, August is usually regarded as "meteor month" with one of the best displays of the year reaching its peak near midmonth. That display is, of course, the annual Perseid meteor shower beloved by everyone from meteor enthusiasts to summer campers.

Earth's natural satellite could stand in the way of your enjoyment this year's Perseid meteor shower, unless you know where – and when – to look.
Those are the serious stories.  Follow over the jump for a really weird one.