Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tales of two trailers

For this week's entertainment entry, I present two trailers, both of movies that are revivals of science fiction franchises, Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

First, STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 - THE FORCE AWAKENS - Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2015) [HD].

Next, JURASSIC WORLD Trailer #1 (2015) Chris Pratt Sci-Fi Movie HD.

Follow over the jump for links to reactions from Vox, io9 and Jalopnik, Irish Examiner, and one big name fan.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Small Business Saturday 2014

Today is Small Business Saturday.  I skipped observing the day specifically last year, covering all the shopping days of the long weekend in KPBS on retail desperation.  This year, I return to KPBS with two videos.  First, Small Business Saturday Keeps Money In the Local Economy.

Next, San Diego Small Businesses Are Banking On Saturday Shoppers.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is designated Small Business Saturday, a day created by American Express to encourage shoppers to buy local. In San Diego, many businesses are hoping shoppers will spend money at their stores.
That's what the day looks like in San Diego.  Follow over the jump for how it's playing out here in Detroit.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pie drinks for Thanksgiving 2014

I concluded Food news for Thanksgiving 2014 by telling my readers to "stay tuned for more pie drinks for Thanksgiving.  Tipsy Bartender has at least three recipes to share this year."  It turns out to have been exactly three.

The first pie drink recipe posted for this year's Thanksgiving was Apple Pie Sangria.

The APPLE PIE SANGRIA is cinnamon flavored, delicious and perfect for the holidays!
Bottle of Moscato
3 1/2 oz. (105ml) Caramel Vodka
3 1/2 oz. (105ml) Apple Cider
3 1/2 oz. (105ml) Soda Water
Apple Slices
Pear Slices
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Yum.  Follow over the jump to see two more recipes for pumpkin pie drinks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Food news for Thanksgiving 2014

It's Thanksgiving, which means, like last year and the year before it's time for me to reprint all the food, farming, and nutrition news from Ovenight News Digest:Science Saturday since Food Day 2014.  Appropriately enough for the theme of this blog, I begin with some post-apocalyptic food news from Michigan Tech.

Bacterial Slime: It's what's for Dinner (After a Catastrophic Crop Failure)
by Danny Messinger
November 19, 2014
If it were the end of the world as we know it, we’d be fine, according to Michigan Technological University professor Joshua Pearce.

“People have been doing catastrophic risk research for a while,” says Pearce. “But most of what’s been done is dark, apocalyptic and dismal. It hasn’t provided any real solutions.”

Even when looking at doomsday scenarios—like super-volcanoes, abrupt climate change and nuclear winter—society’s forecast isn’t horrific. In fact, Pearce says life will still have a sunny outlook. His research is outlined in a new book, Feeding Everyone No Matter What, out this week.
The good news is that we can feed everyone, as long as people plan ahead and are willing to eat bacteria, fungi, and insects for up to five years until what passes for normal agriculture returns.  The latter part I'm not as worried about as the first part.  I'm not as optimistic about people preparing.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the food news, presented in more-or-less reverse chronological order.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gas bounces off the floor

It's time to check my predictions from Local gas now $2.77.
Yesterday, the three stations down the street lowered their price one more notch to $2.77.  That didn't take long.  It's only a matter of time before the corner station joins them.  In fact, it may have done it this morning.
It had.  Sunday and Monday, all four stations in the neighborhood were selling regular for $2.77.
Prices look they'll continue to fall, as the national average is now $2.82 and falling.
Prices dropped spectacularly during the day yesterday, as the three stations down the block were selling regular for $2.65.  That's as low as I expected prices to go this year.  However, the corner station actually raised its price to $2.95.  It was almost enough to prompt me to post the jumping over the limbo bar graphic.  Then I saw that the next prediction might just have come true.
However, the floor may be in sight, as WTI is back above $75 and Brent has climbed over $80.  Let's see if they manage to stay above these levels of support on Monday
Last night, the three stations down the block raised their prices to $2.85, while the corner station remained at $2.95.  It looks like gas prices hit the floor and bounced, making the first half of my quoted passage appear good.  The second part of the prediction didn't hold up as well.  While Oil-Price.Net shows that WTI stayed above $75 and Brent remained above $80 on Monday, both fell on Tuesday, WTI to $74.09 and Brent to $78.33.  Back to $70 and $75 as support levels for now.

The local jump in prices reflected larger trends, as GasBuddy shows the national average bouncing off $2.80 a couple of days ago to $2.81 and the Detroit average briefly falling to $2.83 before sharply rising to $2.86 and leveling off.  No wonder the price jumped back up so sharply; the price environment would not support it.  The neighborhood price should be no lower than $2.75.  That's where I expect all the stations should be within a week, possibly even by next Monday, when the opportunity presented by Thanksgiving travel will be over.  As for $2.65, that might just be the low for the year.  Don't expect to see limbo kitty again until prices fall to within a dime of that price.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen

When Zimmerman was acquitted, I responded by posting A picture of hope and innocence from 40 years ago. In that entry, I mentioned what I was thinking of posting instead and when I would use it.
I'd much rather have this video as my comment on the Zimmerman trial than “The law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen.”  I'll save that thought I left at Kunstler's blog for the next time the legal system disappoints me.
With the decision not to prosecute Darren Wilson, that next time has arrived.  I present "Everybody Knows."  The words are still by Leonard Cohen, even though the performance is by Concrete Blonde.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Professor Farnsworth approves of the University of Michigan's predictions

As if Good economic news for election day wasn't enough, the University of Michigan provided two more pieces of good news, or, rather, two forecasts of good news for business as usual, last week that I included in the tip jar for Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae discovers organics) on Daily Kos.

First, The US economy: Ready for takeoff on November 20, 2014.
ANN ARBOR—The U.S. economy will grow by more than 3 percent next year—its highest rate in 10 years, say economists at the University of Michigan.

Overall economic output growth (as measured by real Gross Domestic Product) will jump from 2.2 percent this year to 3.1 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent in 2016.

"We expect that 2015 will be the year when U.S. economic growth will finally accelerate meaningfully," said U-M economist Daniil Manaenkov. "This year, severe winter weather joined the list of headwinds that have prevented U.S. economic growth from picking up. Even still, both private and total payroll job gains during 2014 are on track for their best performance since 1999. And going forward, strong GDP growth supports steady employment gains."
We should be so lucky.

The very next day, the prediction was for Michigan's economy: Onward and upward.
ANN ARBOR—After five years of steady job growth, the Michigan economy will continue to move forward at a solid clip over the next two years, say University of Michigan economists.

In their annual November forecast of the Michigan economy, George Fulton and colleagues Joan Crary and Donald Grimes say the state will add more than 132,000 jobs over the next two years.

All told, Michigan will have added nearly 463,000 jobs during the economic recovery from summer 2009 through the end of 2016—returning the job count to levels posted at the end of 2006 and a little more than halfway back to job levels posted in mid-2000.
Ah, yes, good news for business as usual.  Too bad these are not business as usual times.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Real-life 'Europa Report' from JPL

I concluded Local gas now $2.77 by telling my readers to "stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry."  I'll do something different tonight by connecting two videos from NASA/JPL that I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae discovers organics) with a science fiction movie, "Europa Report," a movie about the search for extraterrestrial life.  It turns out that NASA is interested in the moon for exactly the same reason.

For an overview, watch Europa: Ocean World.

Scientists believe there is an ocean hidden beneath the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. NASA-JPL astrobiologist Kevin Hand explains why scientists are so excited about the potential of this ice-covered world to answer one of humanity's most profound questions.
For a terrestrial analogue to the oceans of Europa, Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues to Alien Life.

This extreme oasis of life deep in the Caribbean Sea may hold clues to life on other planetary bodies, including Jupiter's moon Europa.
Art imitating life imitating art.  Should humans actually ever get to Europa, or at least a robot explorer, may the results be as successful but less tragic than the finale of the film.

Speaking of finales of films about Europa, there is always this warning from the end of "2010."

Looks like both the real makers and fictional backers of "Europa Report" ignored this one.

Local gas now $2.77

Gas prices dropped to $2.79 only a few days ago.  Yesterday, the three stations down the street lowered their price one more notch to $2.77.  That didn't take long.  It's only a matter of time before the corner station joins them.  In fact, it may have done it this morning.

GasBuddy shows it was time for this move, as the Detroit average is currently $2.86.  A price drop was needed to keep the neighborhood outlets a dime below the metro average.

Prices look they'll continue to fall, as the national average is now $2.82 and falling.  However, the floor may be in sight, as WTI is back above $75 and Brent has climbed over $80.  Let's see if they manage to stay above these levels of support on Monday.

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Warmest October on record for planet, fourth warmest for U.S.

I put the U.S.-China climate deal in context in a parenthetical statement and footnote.
Given what the rest of the climate news I included in last week's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos was like, it comes not a moment too soon...Stay tuned for an entry about these stories.
It's time for that entry.

The top story comes from Brian Kahn of Climate Central via LiveScience: Earth Had Warmest October on Record.
For the third month in a row, global temperatures reached record territory according to newly available data from NASA. And if one global temperature record isn’t enough, the Japanese Meteorological Agency also provided new data on Friday that showed the warmest October on record.

Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) show this October was 1.4°F above the 1951-1980 average they use as their baseline. That didn’t set a monthly mark, as did August and September, but rather tied 2005 as the warmest October since 1880. That keeps 2014 on track to be the hottest year on record.

While individual hot years or months don’t necessarily stand out, it’s notable that all 10 of the warmest years on record have all come since 1998, one of the clearest signs that the climate is warming due in large part to greenhouse gas emissions.
As if that wasn't enough, Kahn of Climate Central also told his readers in LiveScience to Feel the Heat: Fourth-Warmest October for U.S..
It might be chilly (OK, downright Arctic) in the middle third of the U.S. these days, but if you live there, you can warm yourself with memories of October. According to new data released Thursday, October wasn’t just a little warm, it was the fourth-warmest October for the lower 48 on record and not a single state recorded below normal temperatures.

In what’s been the year of the great weather schism, October showed reconciliation is possible. Warm weather that has been the hallmark of the West this year was also seen spreading across the South and Northeast. The only spot with near-normal temperatures was the Upper Midwest, though near normal probably sounds downright balmy to folks in Detroit who just weathered overnight lows of minus-14°F.

37 of the contiguous 48 states experiencing above-normal temperatures, that put the national average temperature 3°F above normal. That makes it the fourth warmest among the past 120 Octobers according to the new data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Not a single state saw below normal temperatures, the first time that’s happened since July 2013.
If it hadn't been for Philae landing on a comet, these would have been the top stories last Saturday.

Follow over the jump for more of last week's climate stories.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Election post-mortem, a top comment

When I posted the following as the tip jar to Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae lands on comet), I didn't do anything different from all the rest of the tip jars that became election news entries here.  This time, it got recognized in Top Comments: New Jaguar Cubs Edition over at Daily Kos.
This diary-worthy personalized tip jar by Neon Vincent from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae lands on comet). That's one amazing tip jar and believe it to be the very first Tip Jar to make a Top Comment.
Honestly, it was nothing special, but I'll take the praise.

Follow over the jump for the three news items I on a common theme that I strung together to make the first tip jar to be recognized as a top comment at Daily Kos.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gas prices drop to $2.79

In Gas prices and mileage down, shopping up, I posted Professor Farnsworth to mark that the corner station had matched all the rest in the neighborhood at $3.85.  Also, the KCRA video in that entry forecast that prices would continue to drop.  Yesterday, all four outlets hit a new low in the history of this blog, $2.79.  Time for the limbo kitty to return.

Follow over the jump for what the local price environment and commodities futures say about current and future prices.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Polar vortex and the economy

With the return of cold weather this week, it's time to follow up on Weather and the economy for February 2014 with an article from Northern Illinois University that I included in last Saturday's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae lands on comet) on Daily Kos.

Sucked into the polar vortex
NIU analysis of last winter shows widespread impacts of bitter cold
November 13, 2014
With the unseasonably frigid air this week, memories resurfaced of last winter’s biting cold, brought on by the dreaded polar vortex.

But as NIU climatologist David Changnon points out, it’s not simply the cold that makes us miserable.

Changnon, who has been studying the impacts of last winter for an upcoming publication, can describe the countless ways in which the winter hurt, ranging from U.S. flight delays and Great Lakes shipping slowdowns to a plethora of potholes and water main breaks.

It all amounted to an economic punch in the nose.

“For a national economy still recovering from the damaging recession of 2008, last winter helped to create a significant setback,” says Changnon, a Board of Trustees Professor from NIU’s Department of Geography.

“Economists reported that half of the economic slowdown last winter was due to the bad weather conditions. For example, Ford attributed $100 million in losses to the winter. Because more people stayed inside due to the extremely cold conditions and reduced their spending, the national GNP shrank at an annual rate of 2.1 percent from January to March.”
That was last winter.  What about the current cold snap, which sent the thermometer in the new car down to 16F on the drive home?
Changnon says the impact of the November 2014 polar vortex should be minimal, because it’s not occurring in the heart of winter. It’s unclear whether it is a predictor of the winter to come.

“This may be the only major polar vortex event of the entire cold season,” Changnon said. “Since the complex factors that create such a scenario can change independent of one another and at different time scales, it is just hard to say.

“However, one of the main causes for last year’s frequent occurrence of the polar vortex, a large body of ocean with above average sea-surface water temperatures in the north Pacific, still exists. So many long-range winter forecasters feel like the probabilities are weighted toward a number of polar vortex events this cold season. It might not be as extreme as last year, but we might see more of the polar vortex than we typically experience.”
Ugh, brr.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

U.S.-China climate deal

I'm in the mood for some good news tonight, so here is something I mentioned at the end of U.S. home ownership rate and me, the U.S.-China climate deal.  Take it away, LiveScience!

US-China Climate Accord Gives Hope for Global Agreement
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
November 13, 2014 07:02am ET
The United States and China surprised climate-policy watchers this week by announcing a rare accord to cut carbon pollution. As details of the agreement are released, experts are hopeful that cooperation between the world's two biggest economies, and two biggest carbon emitters, bodes well for an as-yet elusive global climate pact.

"For many years, the reluctance of the U.S. and China to make strong commitments has been an oft-used excuse by other countries to not take action," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

"In fact, many in the U.S. Congress have resisted taking action because they argued that China wasn't acting," Leiserowitz told Live Science in an email. "And many Chinese leaders have long used the same argument about the United States to avoid making their own commitments. This very public and early agreement by the two largest national emitters in the world should help break the long-standing logjam in the international negotiations."
Not only is this good news, but it's exactly the kind of cooperation I was hoping for when I first called the Sino-American relationship The CoDominion in U.S.-China EcoPartnerships: The CoDominion plans for sustainability and repeated in An update on The CoDominion planning for sustainability.  Given what the rest of the climate news I included in last week's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos was like, it comes not a moment too soon.*  I should curb my enthusiasm, as the result is likely to be what Paul Krugman describes in China Deals.
[O]ne of the main arguments the usual suspects make against action — after arguing that it’s all a gigantic hoax, any limits on emissions will destroy the economy, and liberals are ugly — is that nothing the US does can matter, because China will just keep on emitting. Some of us have long argued that this is way too pessimistic — that the advanced countries, if they are willing to limit their own emissions, can have a lot of leverage via the threat of carbon tariffs. But now China is showing itself willing to deal even without that.

So you could say that a major prop of the anti-climate-action campaign has just been knocked away. But as I said, it probably won’t matter; they’ll just come up with another excuse.
I wish Krugman was wrong, but he probably isn't.  Sigh.

*Stay tuned for an entry about these stories.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Driving update for November 2014: new car

I mentioned that my wife and I bought a new car in Michigan universities on buying cars and then I gave my final update on my old car in Farewell, Yuki.  It's time to give the first driving update for the new car.

My wife and I bought the new car, the name of which I haven't settled on yet between Dez and Lapis (it will happen; it took me a couple of years to call the Tracker Ruby), on September 29th when the odometer read 43,400.  It passed 44,000 miles on Saturday, November 15th.  That's 600 miles in 48 days for an average of 12.5 miles/day or 381.25 miles/month.  That's not much more than the 11.90 miles/day and 363.10 miles/month I drove Yuki during the comparable period last year, but definitely up from the 11.36 miles/day and 346.59 miles per month I drove her between April and July this year.  Still, it's not as much as I expected would happen from the temptation of a new car making driving more fun and all the driving required to look for houses to buy and it makes for a good baseline.  Now, all I need is the next driving update on Ruby to compute the last driving update for our current address and use that to compare what the effect of moving will be on our driving habits.  I expect our miles will go up, as the new neighborhood is not as walkable and the location is farther away from one of my worksites although about the same distance from the other, while the commute is much quicker.

To put my driving in perspective, I'm including the latest miles driven update from Calculated Risk: DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 0.4% year-over-year in August.
Travel on all roads and streets changed by 0.4% (1.0 billion vehicle miles) for August 2014 as compared with August 2013.

Travel for the month is estimated to be 267.8 billion vehicle miles.

Cumulative Travel for 2014 changed by 0.6% (11.1 billion vehicle miles).
Here's the graph.

Once again, I'm contributing to the trend.

Philae shoots photos before going inactive

I included both the videos from Rosetta: Philae to land on comet and other November space events and Philae lands on comet in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Philae lands on comet) on Daily Kos along with updated material from  Time to return the favor and post the new items here.  Under the "if it moves, it leads" rule, I begin with Comet Landing - Surface and Descent Pics Beamed To Earth | Video.

A soft landing on the surface of comet 67P/C-G was successfully completed on Nov. 12th, 2014. The Philae lander and its mothership Rosetta probe both snapped imagery of the descent. Also, the first image taken from the surface of a comet is snapped by the lander.
That's the good news.  Here's the bad news: Philae Comet Lander Falls Silent as Batteries Run Out.
The first spacecraft ever to land on a comet has fallen silent, entering a potentially long, cold sleep after running out of power.

The European Space Agency's Philae lander completed its last transmission Friday (Nov. 14) at 7:36 p.m. EST (0036 GMT) before settling into a hibernation state as its batteries ran out. The probe had been studying the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for 57 hours when it went to sleep, possibly for good.
Sigh.  It was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

'Prophets of Doom'

I opened U.S. home ownership rate and me with a warning of sorts:  "For those of my readers expecting an entertainment post, stay tuned; I'll get to it eventually."  After I wrote that, I went upstairs to clean the living and dining rooms for the real estate agent and turned on the television to entertain me while I straightened up.  While I was clicking through the channels, I came across "Prophets of Doom" on H2 (History Channel 2).  I read the description and wondered if any of the people I read were among those featured.  Sure enough, the first person I see interviewed was James Howard Kunstler.  Another was the late Michael Ruppert.  That was enough to keep me watching.

The rest of the subjects I didn't know, but David Ing listed them.
In the 94 minute show, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, economist Dr. Nathan Hagens, author John Cronin, investigative journalist/author James Howard Kun[st]ler, computer scientist Dr. Hugo De Garis, and executive editor Robert Gleason came together to discuss some of the greatest threats to the future of the United States, including economic collapse, water shortages/contamination, peak oil, species dominance by self-aware robots, and nuclear terrorism.
Both Kunstler and Ruppert gave their familiar peak oil perspectives on the future.  Of the rest, the one who worried about the farthest off catastrophe was De Garis, whose fear was of The Singularity, the surpassing of human intelligence by artificial intelligence.  When he discussed his take on the future, I figured that Kunstler would likely have none of it.  Sure enough, he told De Garis that he thought that the resources and finances needed to support the research for artificial intelligence would dry up before the technology reached that point.  The result was that Kunstler didn't budge, but De Garis came away convinced that the other issues were fair more pressing than his particular worry.  In particular, he became most concerned about water shortages.

All in all, I found watching the documentary time well-spent.  If you want to see it, follow over the jump for the embedded video from YouTube.

U.S. home ownership rate and me

For those of my readers expecting an entertainment post, stay tuned; I'll get to it eventually.*  Instead, I'm going to explain my part in the graph above, as I rode it both up and down, reinforcing the trends.  The story begins, like the graph, in 1995, when my ex-wife and I bought the house that later became the first house I owned by myself.  That's the year when home ownership in the U.S. started rising and more-or-less marked the beginning of the housing boom/bubble. 

I moved into the house in 1999 and got it in the divorce settlement in 2000.  I enjoyed living there, but eventually it became a burden as my work moved farther and farther away from me.  As I recounted most recently in a meta update on driving:
From 2000-2004, I regularly put 40,000 miles on my car. In 2005, I began driving 1000 miles a week when school was in session to three different colleges and a tutoring service. Then on the weekends, I'd judge marching bands or cover drum and bugle corps shows. From May 2005 to May 2006, I drove 48,000 miles. That was the year I put my house up for sale, stopped seeing my long-distance girlfriend, and eventually sold my house. In June, I moved to the middle of my jobs and cut my driving down to 700 miles a week. Then I changed one of my jobsites and cut it down to 500 miles a week. Then I got a full-time job and quit my part-time jobs and dropped to 300 miles a week. Finally, we moved and I now drive 70 miles a week. I'm so close to work I could ride a bike on a good day.
I included a more detailed account of the sale in The Archdruid and I talk real estate.
The news on the radio in June 2005 trumpeted record home sales and prices.  I took it as a sign of the market top I'd been looking for since 2001 and immediately drove to the nearest real estate office to my home in the Irish Hills of Michigan and listed my house for sale.  The house sold in April 2006 and closed in May 2006, just as the bottom was about to fall out.

That was not only good for me, but good for the deer.  That winter, the deer ate my shrubs up to the seven foot level. Good thing they were eight feet tall at the time. I vowed that if I were still in my house the next firearms deer season, I'd finally break down and buy a rifle and a deer hunting license.  I never got the chance.  Lucky deer.
The result was that I got out of the market just in time, as the graph shows that home ownership began its steady slide immediately afterwards, then rented from 2006 until now, eight years of riding the real estate market down by staying out of it.

I showed my hand to Greer later in the entry, when I wrote, "Now to see about buying property as it struggles off the bottom."  Well, that time has arrived.  We've made an offer on a house and it's been accepted.  Wish my wife and me luck as we both get on board, just in time for the housing market to go back up.  Yes, it's a business as usual decision and I know these are not business as usual times, but as I'm fond of saying, I can't be all DOOM all the time.

Finally, speaking of trends in real estate, my wife and I are part of another trend.

Yes, we're in one of the markets where home ownership is increasing.  I shouldn't be reassured by moving with the herd, but in in this case, I am.

*Along with entries about raising fuel taxes to maintain Michigan's roads and the U.S.-China climate deal, both of which are old business being revisited.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Discovery News on mammoth de-extinction, the sequel

I have yet another installment of DNews on mammoth de-extinction.  Last time, they were wondering Are We Finally Ready To Clone A Mammoth?  This time, the question being asked is Woolly Mammoth Brain Found: Time To Clone?

In 2010, a woolly mammoth was discovered near Russia. New research says describes her brain as the best specimen in history! Catie Wayne is here to discuss what this could mean for the future of cloning.
The answer is still no.  Darn.

Friday, November 14, 2014

'Food Machine' from 'America Revealed'--two videos I show my students

It looks like I'm not done with corn, even after Corn for fuel, a story I tell my studentsCorn questions from 'Food, Inc.' worksheet, and Discovery News on high-fructose corn syrup.  Here is another video about America's number one crop from PBS that I show my students: AMERICA REVEALED | The Key Ingredient of the US Food Machine | PBS.

Discover just how large a role corn plays in the American food machine.
That's not the only video from the series I include in my lectures.  Follow over the jump for another and links to where I've blogged about the rest.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gas prices and mileage down, shopping up

It's time to make good on two promises.  First, I concluded The corner station jumps over the limbo bar as it is lowered with "I'll refrain from posting Professor Farnsworth until the corner station drops to $2.85."  I just posted another in the comments to Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End of Suburbia'.*
Nebris: The low gas prices must be driving Jimmy fucking nuts. =D

Me: No. He's pointing to it as a likely cause of the bursting of the fracking bubble, which will result in more chaos in the financial markets. He likes that. Speaking of low gas prices, that's up next.
The "Jimmy" Nebris referred to is James Howard Kunstler, who Nebs knows.  I'll get to Kunstler's comments later.  Right now, I'll concentrate on the lower gas prices.

First, the corner station matched the rest of the neighborhood outlets over the weekend, so all the nearby stations are selling at $2.85.  Hence, Professor Farnsworth, as promised.

Next, KCRA in Sacramento has noticed the low gas prices, too, and reported on them in Gas prices down shopping up.

With gas prices continuing to drop experts are predicting that holiday shopping will robust in 2014.
$2.60/gallon in California?  Oh, my!  If the experts the KCRA reporters are quoting are right, this will be a good year for those giving off the stink of retail desperation.

As for what consumers are spending that money on, it's not all good news from my perspective, as KCRA also reported With lower gas prices, demand up is up for bigger vehicles.

With gas prices falling, the demand for big cars is up.
Don't let the lack of a preview image (so far) deter you from playing the video; it plays.  As for the content, it's evidence in support of the drop in gas mileage I reported in Michigan universities on buying cars.  I guess that's the flipside of the good economic news lately.

*I'm showing "The End of Suburbia" to my students again this week, so I shared the link for Throwback Thursday on Facebook, attracting Nebs' attention.

Speaking of Facebook, this blog has a Facebook page.  If you have a Facebook account, please like it

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae lands on comet

Last night, the story was Rosetta: Philae to land on comet.  Now, Philae has landed.  Discovery News has the story in We Just Landed On A Comet!

Earlier this morning, the Rosetta satellite successfully landed a probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! Trace is here to explain how the European Space Agency managed to do this.
Hey, new opening music!  Love the beat!

Seriously, this is a great explanation of the orbital mechanics of arriving at the comet, although not much of an explanation of the landing itself, its significance, or any data so far.  Follow over the jump to see if WXYZ does a better job with those aspects of the mission.

Rosetta: Philae to land on comet and other November space events

I last wrote about Rosetta in August.  Now it's time to update the progress of the mission, as the Rosetta's probe Philae is scheduled to land on the comet today.

Science at NASA leads off with ScienceCasts: How to Land on a Comet.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is about to attempt something "ridiculously difficult" - landing a probe on the surface of a speeding comet.
Follow over the jump for more from JPL and Hubble Space Telescope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A drum corps Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day to you.  In the spirit of A drum corps 4th of July, I take advantage of my unique position as the only doomer blogger to write about drum and bugle corps to put my own spin on a patriotic holiday.

Up first is the "The Commandant's Own" performance at the 2014 DCI Finals.

The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, known as "The Commandant's Own," opened DCI Finals night.
The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps wasn't done.  Rise and remain standing for "The Star Spangled Bannner."

DCI Finals Night National Anthem performed by "The Commandant's Own" United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps.
Play ball!

The Marines do not have the only drum and bugle corps among the armed services, just the most famous.  Follow over the fold for performances from corps from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Election stories from Discovery News and University of California

This should be the last update of election news from campuses on the campaign trail.  I begin with three stories from Discovery News.

First, Eric Niiler asks Why the Rural-Urban Political Divide?
The red-blue map of the United States got a lot redder this week, as large swatches of the country voted Republican during mid-term elections for the House, Senate and state governorships. Some of this can be explained by swings of the political pendulum, dislike for the sitting president or a low turnout that favored the GOP.

All that is true, but observers also note that the nation’s political and social divisions are also split by residence: How you vote is determined by where you live. The rural vote is solidly Republican, the urban centers remain Democrat.
This is one of many reasons why I'm glad I no longer live in the country; I'm around people with similar politics now.

Follow over the jump for the other two stories from Discovery News plus election news from the University of California, both UCLA and Berkeley.

Hottest year ever in California

Climate continues to make the news.  As an example, I present the lead story from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (California on track for hottest year ever).

Climate Central via Discovery News: 2014 Will Go Down As Hottest In California’s History
by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central
Nov 5, 2014 02:15 PM ET
Book it: This year will go down as the hottest in California’s history.

With just two months left in the year, there’s a better than 99 percent chance that 2014 will be the warmest year on record for California, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

The state has been baking in above-average temperatures all year — setting a record for the warmest first six months of any year this June — thanks to a persistent atmospheric pattern that has also mired California in a major drought. The heat has only exacerbated the drought’s effects, and the state is in dire need of a really wet winter, an uncertain prospect right now.
I talked to my sister in Los Angeles yesterday, and she was complaining about how temperatures were in the 90s in November.  That's right up there with the fire season starting in May last year and ending in January, then the new fire season starting in April, as a sign of how the climate has changed since I moved out of the state 25 years ago.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Detroit media covers Youmacon

I'm in another "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, so for the Sunday collapse-related entertainment entry, I'm dispensing with the collapse and going directly for the entertainment, albeit one with a personal connection.

Youmacon, the major Detroit anime and video game convention, was held last weekend at Cobo Center.  I've never attended, but I know the person who organizes it, Morgan Kollin.  Eight years ago, my then-roommates were friends of his and he'd come over to visit.  I had an invitation to go in 2006, but I didn't feel up to it.  Even if I had, I had another engagement to go to that day and would have gone there, instead.  In retrospect, I should have gone.

At the time, Youmacon was just getting off the ground, but it's now a major entertainment event, one that the local media found worth covering.  I begin with WXYZ covering the last day of the convention with four clips during their Sunday morning broadcast.  They opened with an interview of Morgan.

Compare this interview with WDIV's segment from the morning of the first day--Youmacon 2014: Celebrating amine, video games--and WWJ's taped segment from the day before--WWJ-TV in Youmacon Anime Convention To Takeover Downtown Detroit (Video).  Unfortunately, the videos at those links won't embed here.  I think Morgan looks and sounds a lot less chipper than he did on Thursday.  I guess four days of running the convention took its toll.

Follow over the jump for more videos from WXYZ, along with coverage from the Detroit Free Press, WWJ-TV, CW50, The News Herald, and

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Climate change videos from Discovery News for Sandy's second anniversary

I was just getting started observing the second anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm with Students compare notes about Katrina and Sandy.  I now present two videos from Discovery News to mark the occasion.

First, Climate Change Is Affecting Earth’s Gravity!

Climate change is changing the Earth in more ways than we could’ve imagined! Join Amy as she discusses how the ice sheets melting is changing gravity on Earth!
The title is sensationalistic, but it really is happening.  For something really sensationalistic and less substantiated, watch Climate Change Is Causing Fewer Male Births!

Climate change is not only affecting the environment, but it actually is causing less male births! Tara is here to explain this weird consequence.
My friend Nebris responded to this news by saying that even he had a hard time believing this.  Still, if it is true, it's the kind of thing that will get people's attention to the issue.

Stay tuned for more climate change news originally posted at Daily Kos as part of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Avalanches on Apophis

Twice each semester, I lecture about mass wasting, the class of processes that includes rockfalls, landslides, avalanches, and mudslides, in my geology classes.  The important point I make about mass wasting is that it doesn't need an agent of erosion, such as moving water, ice, or air, to move material.  The only conditions it requires are loose material on a sloping surface and gravity.  That means it could happen on the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid, and scientists have observed evidence of mass wasting on all these bodies.  I illustrate the point with the above image showing an avalanche on Mars.  Now I have a video about mass wasting on an asteroid to show my students.  Even better, it's the old friend of the blog Apophis.

Watch as Discovery News asks Should We Worry About An Avalanche On An Asteroid?

In 2029, a football field-sized asteroid is going to fly so close to Earth that it's going to trigger a series of massive avalanches. Amy explains why we Earthlings have nothing to worry about.
In it's own way, this news is even more reassuring than Apophis Day postponed until 2068No, I can't explain why.  I'll just accept it.  Actually, I can. I feel having the Earth's tides causing landslides on Apophis serves it right for giving us a good scare.

The corner station jumps over the limbo bar as it is lowered

Once againthe corner station jumps over the limbo bar.  This time, it raised its price for regular to $3.09 instead of matching the stations down the street at $2.87.  Then, the three stations down the street lowered their price to $2.85.  When I wrote "they could actually drop prices another four cents to $2.83 by the end of the week," I was half right.  Prices did fall.

As for the corner station, it realized its mistake and is now beating an orderly retreat.  It's now at $2.99.  It still has another 14 cents to go to match the rest of the neighborhood outlets.

Don't expect lower prices in near future.  GasBuddy shows the Detroit average has actually increased slightly from $2.93 to just under $2.95.  The neighborhood stations are already a dime below that, so there is no need to decrease prices any more.  As for the national average, it stalled just above $2.96 for a few days, but is now falling below that level by a fraction of a cent.  If that continues, it might resume downward pressure on local prices.

Speaking of downward pressure, Oil-Price.Net shows that WTI is down to $77.91 and Brent is down to $82.86, while RBOB gasoline is holding at $2.13, up four cents for the day, but still lower than the last time I checked.  Looks like the price floors are $75 for WTI, $80 for Brent, and $2.00 or $2.05 for RBOB.  Barchart indicates that low prices for gasoline could persist until March, as it shows prices for RBOB between $2.10 and $2.15 for every month's contracts until April, when the price jumps to $2.33.  That would be good news for consumers at the pump.  I'll refrain from posting Professor Farnsworth until the corner station drops to $2.85.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Students compare notes about Katrina and Sandy

Last week was the second anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm.  To mark the occasion, Colorado State University in collaboration with Columbia University issued a press release accompanied by a video.  CSU goes first with NYC, Gulf Coast students compare notes on disastersby Jeff Dodge on October 31, 2014.
A program affiliated with Colorado State University marked the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in a special way: On Oct. 29, high school students in New York City posed questions about life during and after a catastrophe to a very particular group of experts – high school students in the Gulf Coast who experienced the BP Oil Spill and lived through as many as six hurricanes in the past decade, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Their youth-led rapid video project, “The Katrina/Sandy Youth Dialogue, Part 1,” is a product of the SHOREline program, a national youth-empowerment project developed at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute and at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University.
Here's the video from Columbia University on Vimeo: Shoreline - Katrina/Sandy Youth Dialogue Part I.

It has been two years since Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast and nearly ten years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. At SHOREline, we took this moment to reflect upon the issues of response and recovery it raised among the members of our SHOREline network – high school students at five Gulf Coast schools and one New York City school.

How are Katrina and Sandy similar? From the perspective of young people, what can they learn from one another about such catastrophic events? Ninth and tenth graders at NYC’s Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management developed questions that they posed to their Gulf Coast counterparts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
For last year's retrospective, see PBS NewsHour on Hurricane Sandy one year later, then be happy that, as predicted, the U.S. didn't have a severe Atlantic hurricane season this year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

I know I promised to post some election coverage at the end of Good economic news for election day.  Later.  Right now, I'm not up to writing those articles.  Instead, I'm going to add another holiday to this blog's calendar, Guy Fawkes Day.*  Take it away, Geek and Sundry!

The Gunpowder Plot (ETA: Geek and Sundry has taken down that video sometime over the past five years, so I'm replacing it with Vox's Guy Fawkes Day: explained although I'm still retaining the description of the video along with Vox's.)

Geek and Sundry: Remember, remember, the Fifth of November. Kiriosity explores some explosive facts (and Fawkes) about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605; the attempted assasination against King James I of England by a group of English Catholics.

Vox: An abridged history of how Guy Fawkes day earned its namesake.
Of course, the adoption of Guy Fawkes (or at least his mask) as a symbol of Anonymous has added new meaning to the day, as explained by Russia Today in Million Mask March rallies sweep the globe.

The Million Mask March is spreading worldwide as demonstrators protest against austerity, mass surveillance and oppression.
It's a pity that Russia Today is the main news outlet covering this, as the channel has an agenda of promoting troublemakers in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Their agenda of destabilizing Russia's rivals contaminates that of the protesters, which I generally support.

*While I have mentioned the day before, I've never actually observed it here.

Good economic news for election day

While I'm actually in a doomy mood, I'm just not up to posting something appropriately pessimistic.  Instead, I'm going to update Good economic news from Michigan universities with the latest good economic news.  I'm in need of cheering up after tonight's election results.

I begin with the national picture from the University of Michigan: Consumer sentiment in October highest in seven years, posted October 31, 2014.
ANN ARBOR—Consumer confidence posted its third consecutive monthly gain in October, rising to its highest level since July 2007, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

Conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) since 1946, the Surveys monitor consumer attitudes and expectations.

"Consumers have been gradually regaining their economic footing in the past several months, with confidence rising to the highest level since the start of the Great Recession," said Richard Curtin, director of the surveys. "This is not the first time such a strong rebound has occurred, but this time it appears to have more forward traction. Consumers have not overreacted to the negative news of a global slowdown or Ebola, nor to the positive news of lower gas prices. Instead, consumers have kept their focus on improved job and wage prospects. Finally, five years after the start of the recovery, consumers have begun to adopt the expectations and behaviors that have driven past expansions."

The October gain was due to improved personal finances as well as a more favorable outlook for the overall economy, according to Curtin. Indeed, consumers reported the most favorable personal financial expectations as well as the most positive year-ahead outlook for the national economy in the past seven years. What the survey did not find was any negative impact on confidence from the global economic slowdown, military conflicts, or Ebola. None of these issues was mentioned by more than a few respondents; instead, respondents emphasized improved wage and employment prospects due to a stronger economy. Gains in holiday spending are expected to be the best in several years, benefiting from higher confidence as well as falling gas prices at the pump.
Trick or Treat!  Hey, a treat!

Next, Wayne State University with the local economic picture in Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index remains strong in October, finishing at 54.7 , posted November 3, 2014.
DETROIT— The Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for October is 54.7, down slightly from September’s 59.4.  A PMI value above 50 generally suggests economic growth.

“We continue to enjoy a bright economic outlook, said Timothy Butler, associate professor of supply chain management at Wayne State’s School of Business, who interpreted this month’s results.  Key indicators for growth include the New Orders Index, the Finished Goods Inventory Index and the Employment Index.  In fact, the Employment Index has remained over 50 since July 2012.”

Purchasing managers’ confidence continues to be up, with 93.4 percent believing the Southeast Michigan economy will remain stable or become more stable over the next six months, while only 6.7 percent anticipate a less stable economy.

Respondents reported prices were up for resins, aluminum and steel for the month, while oil and copper were down in price. They also noted the Ebola crisis disrupted air transportation and reported travel cost increases.
Professor Farnsworth approves in general, although I'm sure that he's not too keen on Ebola.

Follow over the jump for economic reports from Florida, Colorado, and Georgia.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Crazy Eddie's Motie News endorsements for the 2014 general election

As I concluded Gas prices fall again:
I'll be back at midnight with the endorsement entry I promised at the end of Obama visits Detroit plus election news from campuses on the campaign trail.  Stay tuned.
It's midnight, so I'm back with the general election edition of Crazy Eddie's Motie News endorses...  I start with my suggestion for Proposals 1 and 2 in the spirit of a picture being worth 1000 words.

How to vote on these proposals was the one thing people at work asked me about.  I told my co-workers to vote no, just as I'm telling my readers.

Follow over the jump for more endorsements.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gas prices fall again

The last time I updated the local gas war, it was to report that $2.89 gas arrived sooner than I expected.
It arrived yesterday, as two of the stations down the street dropped their price for regular to $2.89 and for midgrade to $2.99.  My wife filled up the new car with midgrade.
After that experience, I pointedly did not make any prediction about where gas would go, as the low I expected for the year had been reached.  Based on the seasonal pattern, I should have expected prices to go down some more, and they did.  Today, the three stations down the street are now selling regular for $2.87.  I'm just waiting for the corner station to drop its price from $2.89 to match them.

I'm not the only one reporting on the lower gas prices.  WXYZ noticed them, too, in Michigan gas prices continue to fall.

He should come to my corner, where the gas is cheaper, although I don't know if he'd get a bigger candy bar from the change.

Based on GasBuddy, it was time for the local stations to lower their prices, as the Detroit average is currently $2.93.  They could actually drop prices another four cents to $2.83 by the end of the week.  Also, the national average is currently $2.96. It looks like the AAA declaring the end of $3.00 gasoline was a bit premature.  However, I don't expect their testimony to be off by much.  As I told K-Dog in comments to that entry:
Gas prices have finally decreased, but that was as much due to decreased demand in Europe and Asia and Saudi Arabia deciding to get out of the way of a falling knife as it was about increased U.S. production. It reminds me of 1998, when prices fell because of similar circumstances, namely a recession in Asia while the U.S. was undergoing expansion. The low prices will probably last about as long, too. Enjoy it while it lasts.
In the meantime, have a gloating macro in time for tomorrow's election.

I'll be back at midnight with the endorsement entry I promised at the end of Obama visits Detroit plus election news from campuses on the campaign trail.  Stay tuned.

Obama visits Detroit plus election news from campuses on the campaign trail

This should be the next to last update of election news from campuses on the campaign trail.  Based on "if it moves, it leads," I begin with WXYZ covering President Obama visits Detroit.

Since this took place at Wayne State University, it technically counts as election news from a campus on the campaign trail.

Follow over the jump for more election news from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Iowa originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (A bad week for private space) on Daily Kos.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Vampires, zombies, and Day of the Dead

I opened and closed A bad week for private space with a scheduling note.
At the end of Set back your clocks, including the ones for insulin pumps, I told my readers to "stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry."  It's still coming, probably at 7 PM EST.*
*Midnight Greenwich Time is now 7 PM, not 8 PM, so that's when the stats for the next day begin.
The time has arrived.

I begin with two videos for Halloween from Georgia Tech that I originally included in last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (A bad week for private space) on Daily Kos.  First, Sinking his teeth into Dracula: Georgia Tech's resident horror film scholar.

John Edgar Browning is a Marion L. Brittain Postodctoral fellow at Georgia Tech, and teaches classes on the horror genre of literature and film. One of his particular areas of expertise is vampires, specializing in the Dracula figure in popular culture. Brittain Fellows like Browning tailor their courses to their own research interests while meeting state and university objectives and outcomes.
He's not the first scholar I've written about who studies vampires.  In Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for the week before Memorial Day, I included a press release from the University of Wisconsin about the scholarship of Tomislav Longinovic, who explored the vampire as a metaphor for malignant nationalism.  I wonder if Browning is aware of Longinovic's work.  If not, I have three words for him: Bela Lugosi's Dead.*

Next, Georgia Tech Humans vs. Zombies game Fall 2014.

Students, faculty, and staff take part in Humans vs. Zombies, or HvZ, a weeklong game of tag with short missions and strategy mixed in.

“Being a human is fun because it really tests your ability,” says computer science major, Rachel Clark. “Every day you survive feels like a pretty neat accomplishment.” The zombie life, Clark said, is also fun, but less stressful. “It’s also more common for zombies to casually hunt in groups, which makes a great chance to meet new people.”
If it's Sunday when "The Walking Dead" is being shown, there will be zombies.

Follow over the jump for my reaction to material about The Day of the Dead from the University of Kansas.

A bad week for private space

At the end of Set back your clocks, including the ones for insulin pumps, I told my readers to "stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry."  It's still coming, probably at 7 PM EST.*  In the meantime, I present a double dose of minor DOOM for proponents of continued crewed spaceflight, the top stories from last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (A bad week for private space) on Daily Kos.

First, both because it happened first and because if it moves, it leads, Discovery News asks Why Did The Antares Rocket Explode?

Last night, a private Orbital Sciences rocket set to deliver cargo to the International Space Station exploded seconds after liftoff. Why did this happen, and what did we lose? Trace and Amy are here to discuss.
That was the first disaster.  NBC News reported on the second, which followed on its heels.

Richard Branson Says Virgin Galactic Will Learn From SpaceShipTwo Crash
October 31, 2014
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said his team is dedicated to finding out what led to Friday's fatal test flight of the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, and that he and millions of supporters of commercial space travel "would like to see the dream living on."

The National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation Saturday into what led to the explosion over California's Mojave Desert that killed one pilot, identified as 39-year-old Michael Alsbury, and injured a second, Peter Siebold, 43. Alsbury died at the scene, according to the Kern County Coroner’s Office. Siebold was headed to surgery Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Branson told reporters that the Virgin Galactic program would "not push on blindly." "We owe it to our test pilots to figure out what went wrong. If we can overcome it, we’ll make absolutely certain that the dream lives on," the British businessman added. Branson conceded that the program "fell short," but pointed out that the early days of aviation were risky before they became safe.
There is good news from this story: Pilot Injured in SpaceShipTwo Crash 'Alert, Talking'.
A pilot injured in Friday’s deadly Virgin Galactic test flight accident is awake and able to speak with family members and doctors, the company involved in the craft’s development and testing said.

Peter Siebold, 43, had surgery on his arm, his family told NBC News Saturday. He was injured when the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane broke up over California’s Mojave Desert Friday and crashed, killing pilot Michael Alsbury, 39. Scaled Composites said Siebold was the pilot and Alsbury was the co-pilot on the fatal flight.
I'm glad Siebold is recovering, but am sorry for the loss of Alsbury.**

These stories triggered some discussion both about privatizing space in general and about the specific disasters in particular.  Follow over the jump for the recycled comments from my diary on Daily Kos.

Set back your clocks, including the ones for insulin pumps

It's time to be a good environmentalist and reuse and recycle: "Discovery News on YouTube reminds us of the event and describes its history in Why We Have Daylight Saving Time."

Daylight savings is back! But why do we do it exactly? We've all heard different explanations, so Anthony hit the books in search of a definitive reason why we change our clocks.
Set back all your clocks, including the ones in your automatic dosers.  Michigan State University explains why in Could daylight saving time be a risk to diabetics?
Soon, many will turn back the hands of time as part of the twice-annual ritual of daylight saving time. That means remembering to change the alarm clock next to the bed, which will mean an extra hour of sleep before getting up in the morning.

But for some diabetics who use insulin pumps, Saleh Aldasouqi, associate professor of medicine at Michigan State University, suggests that remembering to change the time on this device should be the priority.

“Some diabetes patients who use insulin pumps may forget to change the clock that is found in these devices,” said diabetes expert Aldasouqi. “Forgetting to change the time can result in insulin dosing errors that can be harmful.”
So it's not just when we spring ahead that there are health risks.  At least this isn't a threat to everyone, the way heart attacks can be.  Just the same, it could be a threat to more people in the future than it is now.  As I ask in my worksheet for Food, Inc., "What fraction of all American children born after 2000 has been predicted to come down with Type II diabetes during their lifetime?  What fraction of minority children (from caption)?"  The answer is 1 in 3 for all Americans born after 2000, 1 in 2 for minority children.

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Farewell, Yuki

Here's what I wrote about my old car in Michigan universities on buying cars.
In Driving update for September 2014: Ruby, I lamented the fate of my old car.
Yuki may not reach that milestone, at least not with me driving her.  My wife and I are shopping for another car, and Yuki will likely be the one traded in.  Sigh.  That will deserve a post of its own when that happens, along with the story of how buying Ruby was the fulfillment of a promise I made to my students.  Later.
We've bought the new car, but I didn't trade in Yuki, at least not yet.  I'll write Yuki's farewell when I either sell her or trade her in.
Yesterday, I finally sold Yuki, so it's time to calculate the miles driven and write what will probably be her obituary.  First, here is the projection of how much I would have driven her had I kept her from Driving update for September 2014: Ruby.
I'm driving Ruby more and Yuki less while my wife holds her driving steady.  It's been 80 days since Driving update for July 2014: Yuki and I've only driven my car about 750 miles.  At that rate, it should be another 26 or 27 days before I roll her over to 222,000 miles for 1000 miles in 106.7 days.  That would be a rate of 9.37 miles/day or 285.85 miles/month.  That would be much less than the 11.90 miles/day and 363.10 miles/month during the comparable period last year.
When I sold Yuki, her odometer read 221,841, so I drove her 841 miles since July 9, when she rolled over 221,000 miles.  From then until Halloween is a total of 104 days.  841/104 is 8.09 miles/day or 246.75 miles/month.  If I count until the 29th, when the last mile rolled over, the calculation is 841/102 or 8.25 miles/day or 251.63 miles/month.  Either one is a lot less than what I estimated if I had kept her and continued driving at the same rate.  Of course, neither number really means anything until both Ruby and the new car, which I'm provisionally calling Dez and my wife is calling Lapis, hit their next 1000 miles.  Stay tuned for those driving updates.

In the meantime, farewell, Yuki, and thank you for 11 years to the month of reliable service!

Nablopomo for November: HUGE

The big event of the blogging year is here, the anniversary of the original Nablopomo.  I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote in Nablopomo for November: No theme, just blog.
There is no theme this month other than blogging for blogging's sake.  That written, there is an announcement.
Every November, thousands of bloggers make this commitment to post daily. But it's about much more than posting; it's about community, connection and our shared craft. Those are all values worthy of a monthlong public celebration. So let's get into all the sparkly details!
NaBloPoMo happens every month, but due to its proximity to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), November tends to be the "official" month, and it is unofficially HUGE.
This sentence, which was repeated in the email and at this year's announcement at the website, is why I'm saying this month's theme is "Huge," even though there officially is no theme beyond blogging for blogging's sake.

Back to my entry from last year.
Think of it as one big blogging party meant to give you enough energy, ideas and inspiration to supercharge your blogging mojo and carry you through the next 12 months. We do our part to keep the energy going by celebrating the big crowd by highlighting posts and handing out prizes.

It's as simple as this: post daily on your own blog. That's it. You can get fancy and cross-post your blog posts onto the NaBloPoMo site for more exposure. If you need daily inspiration, bookmark the NaBloPoMo prompts page for November, which already has all the prompts for the month posted so you can plan ahead.
So grab a cup of coffee, crack your knuckles, and let's get writing! Oh, but sign up for November's NaBloPoMo before you get lost in your own blog.
This is my fifth November participating since I first signed up in 2009 on my LiveJournal.  My, how time flies.
I think I miscounted.  I may not have posted anything about Nablopomo in November 2010, but I blogged every day that month, so I retroactively proclaim that I participated.  That means that this is now the seventh November I participated in Nablopomo and the sixth anniversary of my first doing so.  Time still flies.

Follow over the link for the email and announcement at the website for this month.