Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Storm Linus set to blanket Detroit

Yes, I couldn't resist the pun.  It was about the only complaint about the name that Andrew Freeman of Mashable as quoted at didn't list.
"Worst of all, we're now stuck with winter storm Linus, which TWC says comes from Greek mythology, meaning "a son of Apollo known as a great musician," but everyone knows is a meek character from Peanuts."
Enough snark.  Follow over the jump for the forecast from the National Weather Service.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bald Eagles in Monroe Michigan

I mention the DTE plant in my lectures every semester.  The first semester I taught geology where I work now, one of my students who worked for Conrail told that the railroad delivered 150 boxcars of coal every day to the plant.  I later had students who worked for DTE and they all confirmed the statistic.  That's something that amazes my students, just as it amazed me when I first heard it.

The downside of all that coal burning is that the Monroe DTE plant is one of the top producers of carbon dioxide in the U.S. That's the bad news.  The good news is that all the waste heat produced by the plant incidentally serves a useful purpose for the environment, or at least for a heroic species that humans care about.  WXYZ has the story in Bald eagles from around North America gather in Monroe.

I can now add this to my story about the Monroe DTE plant.  I'm sure my students will enjoy it.

ETA: There is also a nuclear plant, Fermi 2, across the river from the coal plant.  I'm sure it contributes to the warm water.  As for stories that I tell about it, I mention that it's the same design as the plants in Fukushima. My students don't find that reassuring.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Last day of 2015 NAIAS

3D printed car at NAIAS wasn't enough of a post-mortem on the Auto Show.  My students who went to the final day also remarked about how crowded it was.  It turns out it wasn't just them, as WXYZ reported Last day of NAIAS 2015 draws big crowds.

More than 100,000 people attended the final day of the auto show.
Also, more than 800,000 people attended the entire event, the most in at least a dozen years.  I'm glad it was a success, even if this year's show highlighted a lot more gas guzzlers and and fewer energy efficient cars.  My students managed to have a fun and educational time anyway.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gas begins its seasonal rise as predicted

In my comment to Oil markets ambivalent after King Abdullah's death, I observed that "[t]he news may not be moving oil, but it is moving gasoline. In fact, it seems to be the excuse needed for retail gasoline to begin its seasonal rise, which is a month late."  My remarks extended what I wrote in the body of the entry itself.
When I drove through my old neighborhood, those three stations were still selling regular for $1.75, although the corner station had charged into No Man's Land for the second time since my previous report to $1.99.  The previous advance ended with an ignominious retreat to $1.75, but I'm not so sure this one will.  GasBuddy shows an actual price spike in the Detroit market, with the average price rising from $1.83 on Wednesday to $1.90 on Friday--this after hitting a low of $1.81 on the 15th, followed by a week of stability at $1.83.  A price of $1.79 to $1.85 would be much more in line with the local price environment than $1.75, so I expect prices will start rising.  It's about time; the gas price roller coaster usually begins its ascent in late December.
Sure enough, when I drove through my old neighborhood yesterday,* the corner station was holding its position at $1.99.  No ignominious retreat there.  Meanwhile the three stations down the street were all selling regular for $1.89.  That's actually higher than I expected.  In fact, when I checked GasBuddy yesterday, the Detroit average was $1.94, where it stands today.  It's actually a few cents too high; the $1.85 I predicted would have been more in line with the local price environment.  Just the same, I don't expect those three stations to lower their price, although the old corner station will probably match them by the end of the week.

The national average has also stopped falling and appears to be on the way up, hitting $2.03 a couple of days ago and rising to $2.04.  I expect that will be as low as it gets all year, if not until the depths of the next recession.

Oil-Price.Net suggests that crude may finally have stopped its fall, too.  Brent has been rising steadily from a low around $46 a couple of weeks ago and closed yesterday at $49.60.  WTI, which continued to drop after King Abdullah's death finally rose yesterday after hitting a low just about $45, closing at $46.23.  In the short term, it may be a dead cat bounce.  In the longer term, I expect it to follow Brent up.

*Likely for the last time that involved passing by my former residence.  I'll have more on that later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

3D printed car at NAIAS

I recommended that my students go to NAIAS as a field trip for extra credit and several of them took me up on the suggestion.  The one exhibit that they all remarked about was the 3D printed car that was being manufactured on the floor of the show.   Here is a video report from last September when the auto made its debut in Chicago: Fully Functional 3D Printed Car Made in 44 Hours - The Know.

The Strati, a fully functional 3D printed car, is being printed, built, and driven by this Saturday.
The demonstration was a success, as GeoBeats by way of Gadgetsbuzz reported in World's First 3D Printed Car.

Local Motors recently created a 3D printed car called Strati. The vehicle was made during the six-day long International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.
That was what happened in Chicago last September.  For what happened last week in Detroit that got my students so excited, I refer my readers to The Verge: Local Motors just 3D-printed a car live at an auto show.
Local Motors is building the Strati right on the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with printing and routing equipment that it brought in just for the occasion. The machines, encapsulated in glass for safety's sake, don't take much more room than a very small apartment (or a very big closet, depending on how you look at it).
The car could be ready for sale to customers as early as later this year.  We live in Science-Fiction Times, or as my friend Nebris puts it, SciFi is Now.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Another asteroid fly-by today

It's time for another Apophis Day update, this time from TomoNews US (formerly Next Media Animation): Asteroid 2004 BL86 will fly so close to earth Monday that it will be visible from small telescopes.

A half-kilometer-long asteroid will fly past earth on Monday (January 26), approaching as close as 1.2 million km from the planet, about three times the distance from earth to the moon.
The clip actually mentions the approach of Apophis, although not by that name, in 2027 as the next scheduled close fly-by.  However, I'm sure there will be lots of asteroids that will come closer and not be seen until a few days before the encounter between now and then.  May none of them result in an example of in Russia, space explore you.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

'The Walking Dead' spinoff and new trailer

For my Sunday entertainment entry, I'm returning to the topic of "The Walking Dead".

Two announcements came out last week about the upcoming half of the season.  Nerdist breaks one and mentions the second in Leaked WALKING DEAD Season 6 details! (Nerdist News w/ Jessica Chobot).

A surprising guest is coming to Season 6 of THE WALKING DEAD… find out who, plus more Season 5 details in this EXCLUSIVE scoop on Nerdist News with Jessica Chobot.
From what I've read of "Fear the Walking Dead"/"Cobalt," the viewers might just find out what caused the zombie plague, something that I understand won't be revealed in the main show.  That could be either satisfying or disappointing.  Either way, my wife and I will be watching, especially if the spinoff alternates with the main show.

The other announcement, which Nerdist mentioned in their report, was the release of the trailer for the second half of this season.  Here it is from AMC: Trailer: Another Day: The Walking Dead: Season 5.

Don't forget to tune in to the return of The Walking Dead, Sun., Feb. 8th at 9/8c.
My wife and I will be sure to DVR the episode, so we'll be watching.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oil markets ambivalent after King Abdullah's death

The same day that I wrote about the Doomsday Clock advancing to 11:57, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died.  Kunstler himself expected that would happen soon, as he wrote in A Solemn Pause just last Monday.
The next chapter in the oil story is more likely to be scarcity rather than just a boomerang back to higher prices. The tipping point for that will come with the inevitable destabilizing of Saudi Arabia, which I believe will happen this year when King Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz, 91, son of Ibn Saud, departs his intensive care throne for the glorious Jannah of virgins and feasts.
I don't think Kunstler was actually predicting that His Majesty would die this week, but it certainly made his essay even more timely.  It also set the stage for what he'll write the day after tomorrow.  I'm sure the royal death will figure prominently in the Monday blog post.

As for whether Kunstler's forecast of instability leading not just to higher prices but also to outright scarcity is panning out, the answer is not yet.  Christopher Helman of Forbes went so far as to declare that King Abdullah's Demise Will Be A Non-Event For Oil Prices.
The death of Saudi King Abdullah yesterday will be a non-event for oil prices. There was a quick spike in oil when Abdullah’s death was confirmed, but that quickly faded, and U.S. crude is flat to slightly lower this morning at $46 a barrel. Brent crude is up a pinch to $49.
That's pretty much where the market stood at the close on Friday, with showing WTI down 72 cents for the day at $45.59 and Brent up 27 cents at $48.79.  Brent seems to have found a bottom with the King's death, while WTI is still searching for one.

Follow over the jump for more of Helman's predictions, along with more from Kunstler, me reacting to him, and two videos from CNN.

Reblog of Mike Norman Economics: The triumph of Neo-liberalism and why we love "The Walking Dead"


Mike Norman Economics: The triumph of Neo-liberalism and why we love "The...: One of the most popular shows on television for the past few years has not been a reality show, game show, or sports series. It hasn’t bee...

One of the bloggers at Mike Norman Economics offers his take on "The Walking Dead" as not only an example of why Americans like watching and reading about the zombie apocalypse, but also about the zombie apocalypse as a metaphor for the effects of Neo-Liberalism on the U.S. economy and society.  That's a new one on me.  I'll have to add it to the metaphors and parables I list in the other entries under the zombie label.

I still plan on posting a regular Sunday entertainment entry, but if I change my mind, this will hold its place.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Doomsday Clock advanced to 11:57

I would be derelict in my duty as a doomer blogger if I didn't report that the Doomsday Clock was advanced to 11:57 (three minutes to Midnight) yesterday.  GeoBeats reports in 'Doomsday Clock' inches closer to midnight.

Officials from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have announced that they have downgraded the world’s prospects by two minutes, placing it three minutes to the apocalyptic midnight, due to worsening global climates and the failure to reduce nuclear weapons.
As the report mentioned, this is the closest to midnight the clock has been since 1984.  We lived through that, but it was scary.  From 1984-1988, I gave thanks at the UCLA-USC football game that I got to see another year.  I was that worried about nuclear war ending civilization.  May we be as concerned and as lucky this time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Energy and climate in the 2015 State of the Union

The 2015 State of the Union Address was two nights ago.  As I did last year in Energy and climate in the State of the Union, I present the portions of President Obama's speech that deal with those two topics, as compiled by Inside Climate News.
...And we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years.

...At this moment, with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, booming energy production, we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

...We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure...So let's set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline; let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year and make this country stronger for decades to come.

...And no challenge, no challenge, poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.

Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists, that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA and at NOAA and at our major universities, and the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
As for how I feel about what the President said, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
As I've mentioned multiple times, but most appropriately last year at this time in Obama loved science in the State of the Union, "President Obama really likes the idea of sustainable development packaged as making America competitive, and his State of the Union address reinforced that meme."  He did it again this year and I'm glad he did.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Power from poop

Last week, Greer the Archdruid issued a challenge.
I’m delighted to announce a new contest here on The Archdruid Report, the Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015. The goal is to come up with the most absurd new energy technology you can think of, and write either the giddily dishonest corporate press release or the absurdly sycophantic media article announcing it to the world. If you or a friend can Photoshop an image or two of your proposed nonsolution to the world’s energy needs, that’s all the better. Post your press release or media article on your blog if you have one; if you don’t, you can get one for free from Blogspot or Wordpress. Post a link to your piece in the comments section of this blog.

Entries must be posted here by February 28, 2012.
It took me until the next day to come up with an idea, which I mentioned to my students in the context of recovering waste energy--power from poop.  What I told them involved two methods to retrieve energy from sewers.  First, recover all the waste heat from hot water flushed down the drain into sewers as well as the heat produced by decomposition.  Second, recover the methane from sewage decomposition and use it to supplement natural gas.  Those ideas grossed out my students, which told me I was on the right path.  My concerns are that these are not original ideas and they might actually be too practical to qualify for the contest.  Even so, they sound ridiculous to most people, and therefore might sneak on by.

I'll write the press release/article later.  Right now, I'm recovering from a cold and am three weeks behind on work for the Coffee Party, so I don't have the energy and would have to spend it on something else anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Graph and video for a new semester: unemployment by education and recycling

I began a new semester last week, which means it's time both for the first lectures that introduce key concepts and also for new material to illustrate these concepts.  One of these concepts is human capital, the skills, knowledge, and social connections people can use to provide for human needs and wants.  As I've written twice before, education is an exercise in improving human capital that bears real world fruit, both in terms of reducing risk of unemployment and increasing lifetime earnings.  Above is the latest graph showing unemployment by educational level from Calculated Risk.  Previous versions have grabbed the students' attention.  I hope this one does as well.

Follow over the jump for the video.

Monday, January 19, 2015

'Glory' from 'Selma' for MLK Day

First, Happy Martin Luther King Day to all of my readers.  For those of you who have the day off, I hope you contemplate the meaning of the holiday as well as enjoying a day of leisure.

Second, I compared my complaints about the Oscar nominations at the end of Nerdist on the Oscar nominations.
Last year, my number one snub was "Blackfish.".  This year, It's probably the paucity of nominations for "Selma."  I'll have more to say about that tomorrow for MLK Day.
That's today.  "Selma" earned four nominations at the Golden Globes, Best Movie (Drama), Best Director for Ava Duvernay, Best Actor for David Oyelowo, and Best Original Song for "Glory."  Of those, it won only one award, Best Original Song.

In contrast, the movie only earned two nominations for Oscars, one for Best Picture and the other for Best Original Song.  The Los Angeles Times considered this to be a slight.
The "Selma" (near) shutout. OK, so it got original song and did squeeze out a best picture nomination. But Ava DuVernay didn’t get nominated for director, and David Oyelowo, regarded by many as giving the best performance of the year for his turn as Martin Luther King Jr., was nowhere to be found amid a strong actor list.  Considering the civil rights drama is one of the most well-reviewed films of the year, its absence in many of the major categories easily represents one of the year’s biggest snubs.
That's the bad news.  The good news is that Glory was the only song among the Golden Globe nominees to also be nominated for an Academy Award.  To celebrate both the day and the possibility that it could follow in the footsteps of "Skyfall" by winning Best Song at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, I present it again.

Good luck to John Legend and Common, who wrote and performed this song, at the Oscars.  Stay tuned for another post about the music nominees on a Sunday between now and the award ceremony.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nerdist on the Oscar nominations

I know that I promised "more about science fiction, fantasy, and politics among the Golden Globes nominees" in Golden Globes music nominees, but my wife and I are having too good a time binge-watching "The Good Wife," one of the Golden Globes nominees, to give such an entry the justice it deserves.  I'll see if I can do that later for the television nominees.  I'll fold my coverage of the movie nominees in with the Oscars.  Speaking of which, I'm sharing Nerdist's take on the Oscar nominations tonight: Lego Movie! Dick Poop! Oscar FAILS 2015! (Nerdist News w/ Jessica Chobot WTFridays).

The results of the 2015 Academy Award nominations are in, we're less than thrilled, Dick Poop drops in to convey his disappointment at the announcement error, and your Best Worst Comment of the Week on Nerdist News WTFridays with Jessica Chobot.
Last year, my number one snub was "Blackfish.".  This year, It's probably the paucity of nominations for "Selma."  I'll have more to say about that tomorrow for MLK Day.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

25 years on the Internet

I marked an important anniversary five years ago on my LiveJournal in This week marks the 20th anniversary of my being on the Internet.
[S]ometime during the first week of classes in January 1990, I got my first email account at the University of Michigan. In lieu of a longer post, I have two things to say. First, time flies. Second, can any of you top that?
That week is now 25 years in the past, so I've spent the past quarter-century, which is most of my adult life, on the Internet. At the time, I was one of about 1% of the U.S. population using the Internet, as the follow graph shows.
That graph only goes to 2010. Here's one that continues up to the end of last year.
The good news is that the percentage of American adults using the Internet is at an all-time high. The bad news is that a weak economy was able to slow that growth down and even reverse it. The recession of 2008-2009 caused participation among all Americans to decline and the housing bust stalled growth of participation among adults even before that. Only after the recession ended did the percentage of Americans increase again and only during the past couple of years was it able to reach new highs. That does not bode well for internet access during the next recession.

I have more to say about my experience as an early adopter of the Internet. Stay tuned for a planned Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday entry about that. Also stay tuned for my Sunday entertainment entry.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Michigan marriage equality case

I concluded yesterday's entry by writing "[t]he sooner the Supreme Court rules on this case, the better." I got my wish, as WXYZ reports Supreme Court decides to take up the same-sex marriage cases.

In the Detroit Free Press, plaintiff's attorney Dana Nessel described her hopes (and mine) about the outcome of the case.
"If you are a person that is affected by these laws that discriminate against same-sex couples and their families -- if you are April and Jayne and their children -- this cannot possibly come soon enough," said Nessel, who believes the same-sex marriage issue "be decided once and for all, and that it apply to all 50 states of the union.
Good luck, and skillful arguing before the bench.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another good day for marriage equality in Michigan

Yesterday brought good news in a follow-up to A song for marriage equality in Michigan.  A federal judge has ruled that Michigan must recognize the marriages performed last March.  WXYZ has the report in Federal judge rules to recognize same-sex marriages in Michigan.

For once, I agree with Attorney General Schuette. The sooner the Supreme Court rules on this case, the better, although I'm hoping for exactly the opposite result he is.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NAIAS opens to the media

One of my traditions at this blog is to cover the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  That's a habit I want to continue.  Fortunately, WXYZ has made it easy for me to do so.

Economic impact of the Auto Show in Detroit explains the larger picture of the event.

One of the announcements that segment mentioned was that of the 015 North American Car & Truck of the Year announced.

WXYZ has a lot more coverage of NAIAS. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wearable tech news: SciFi is Now

Last week, WXYZ reported on Wearable tech trend at Consumer Electronics Show.

Wearables continue to be a big trend in the technology industry.

Technology you can throw on your wrist, foot, ear, head to track x, y or z--you name it and it appears to be cooking at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
This report reminded me that I had six months of news about wearable tech in my archives.  Follow over the jump to read and watch it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Limbo Kitty returns as the bar is lowered to $1.75

The prediction I made at the end of All stations retreat in gas price war came true in less than 24 hours.
Gas might have just a little way down to go before heading up again.  Gas Buddy suggests that's possible, too, as the Detroit average is $1.85.  I suppose the stations in my old neighborhood could drop down to $1.75, but lower than that would be pushing it.
I drove past all the stations in my old neighborhood late yesterday and all three stations down the street had lowered their price for regular to $1.75.  Go me.  The corner station was still at $1.79, but I expect them to join the rest shortly.

As for more price drops, I think the answer is not yet.  Gas Buddy's Detroit average is currently $1.84.  It would have to decrease a few more cents over the course of this week to prompt another move down.  That could happen, as both major crude oil futures plummeted in Monday's trading according to Oil-Price.Net, which shows WTI at $46.07 and Brent at $47.43, falls of 4.97% and 5.65%, respectively.  That's already had an effect on RBOB, the spot price of which slid down to $1.27, a nickel lower than on Friday.  Looks like I may still get to use Limbo Kitty a few more times before the seasonal price increase returns later this winter.

ETA: For those keeping track, the U.S. average price for regular is now $2.12 and falling.  $2.00 gas, here we come!

Monday, January 12, 2015

All stations retreat in gas price war

I expressed my surprise at the price movements in my old neighborhood in The corner station charges into No Mans Land for the first time in 2015.
When I returned to the old house yesterday, the corner station had jacked up its price to $1.99.  I didn't expect that much of a price increase!

Meanwhile, the three stations down the street actually lowered their price for regular to $1.83.  Based on the Detroit average of $1.92 from Gas Buddy, that's a reasonable level.  It should pull the corner station down by the end of the week.
I ended up being right about that.  The corner station lowered its price when I returned on Saturday and Sunday.  Unfortunately, I was wrong about how far it would go and what effect its price would have on the other stations in the neighborhood.
As for what that price will be, I'd be surprised if it were lower than $1.83.  Prices all across the metro area are increasing, with Monday's average hitting a bottom of $1.90 before rising more than two cents Tuesday.  I wouldn't be surprised if the neighborhood stations stabilize between $1.85 and $1.89 by Saturday.
Instead of the corner station pulling the other stations' prices up, the other stations pulled the corner station's price down.  This weekend, all four outlets were selling regular for $1.79.  That's the lowest I've seen the three stations down the street and only a penny higher than the low for the corner station.  I suppose I should have paid more attention to the price movements at the wholesale level than to the local retail environment.
Tuesday's close for WTI was $47.93, $2.11 lower than the $50 WOOD-TV reported for Monday, which had been the price floor for the past couple of weeks.  Brent also fell through its previous support level of $55, closing at $51.10.  RBOB gasoline followed suit, closing at $1.35, a dime lower than it for the first report of the year.
Oil ended up in Wednesday's trading, as Reuters reported Oil snaps four-day losing streak after U.S. crude stockpiles drop.
Oil closed up on Wednesday for the first time in five days as traders took stock of the market's rout after crude prices lost nearly 10 percent over two days and benchmark Brent fell to below $50 a barrel.
Brent's front-month contract LCOc1 settled at $51.15 a barrel, up 5 cents from Tuesday's close. It hit a session low of $49.66 in European trade, after euro zone consumer prices in December fell by more than expected.

U.S. crude CLc1 settled up 72 cents at $48.65, after rallying earlier to $49.31.
Those turned out to be dead cat bounces, as Oil-Price.Net lists Friday's closes for WTI and Brent as $48.36 and $50.11, respectively.  In addition, RBOB is down to $1.32.  Gas might have just a little way down to go before heading up again.

Gas Buddy suggests that's possible, too, as the Detroit average is $1.85.  I suppose the stations in my old neighborhood could drop down to $1.75, but lower than that would be pushing it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Golden Globes music nominees

The Golden Globe Awards are tonight, which means they are the subject of today's Sunday entertainment entries.  Yes, entries, because the awards are too big for one post.  I'll start today's coverage by reversing what I did last year, when I posted Golden Globes song nominees and winner during the ceremony, by beginning with the song and soundtrack nominees.  Since the theme of this blog is "sustainability with a science fiction slant," I begin with the music from science fiction and fantasy works.

For the third time in a row, the featured song from one of "The Hunger Games" movies has been nominated.  This time, it's Yellow Flicker Beat by Lorde from "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1."

Unlike the past two songs from "The Hunger Games" movies, I like this one and think it both has a shot at winning and being nominated for an Oscar.  The previous two were popular, but inferior.  Whatever else I have to say about Lorde, inferior is not one of them.

The soundtrack from a science fiction movie was also nominated, Interstellar, music composed by Hans Zimmer.  Here's the main theme.

Oh, my, that's pretty--and original, too!*

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominated songs and main titles from nominated soundtracks.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

By request, 'Everybody Knows'

I concluded A conversation with Kunstler and his readers on militarized police with a footnote about my response to Kunstler's essay Ferguson.
I linked to the law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen in my comment.  That got a lot of responses two weeks later, a reaction that deserves a blog entry of its own.
Here's the relevant portion of my comment, which refers back to A picture of hope and innocence from 40 years ago.
After Zimmerman was acquitted, I said I would post "the law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen."  I found something else to post instead.  This time, I followed through.  Cohen's "Everybody Knows" as performed by Concrete Blonde seemed like a good response to the grand jury decision, as well as to the general situation.
The readers remembered my posting the link to the song and mentioned that in the comments to Crash-O-Matic Finance, beginning with dannyboy.
"Everybody knows.

Hat tip to whomever it was that linked the Leonard Cohen song of the same title.

To whomever it may concern: Please take a bow for that link a couple of weeks ago. It kinda changed my perspective."
DannyBoy invited me to take a bow, so I did.
Thank you.  That was me.  I linked to it in The law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen in the comments to Ferguson.  I'm glad you and ozone enjoyed and appreciated it.
That wasn't the only commenter at Kunstler's blog who enjoyed the song.  Follow over the jump for the rest.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A conversation with Kunstler and his readers on militarized police

In Musical responses to terror, updated, I mentioned that "the surviving Tsarnaev brother is coming to trial."  That reminds me that I mentioned the manhunt for him and the residents' reaction to it in Now Eric Garner.  Kunstler himself brought up the general topic when he wrote in his essay "One issue is whether police forces in the USA are becoming goon squads."  My response was to link to The Hipcrime Vocab.
Militarized police is one of a litany of issues and the one from these scandals that should be of concern for everyone.  The country is going to become more repressive in order to control the people in order to stave off collapse.  That's not a good thing.  As a friend of mine says, we have been 80% Huxley and 20% Orwell for decades, but the proportion of Orwell has been increasing lately.  Speaking of which, the only person indicted in the Garner case was the person who recorded the arrest.  Let that sink in.
A reader named Petro also left a comment on the same topic.
And look at how easily the citizenry acquiesced in the Boston area a couple years ago. Tanks rolled down the streets and officers dressed like they were in battle in Afghanistan yelled at people to get off their porches and into their houses, as this "army" searched for two young suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. This was over a huge area-whole towns.
Follow over the jump for my response.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's 'Frozen' out there

I spent all day dealing with a frozen water line in my new house.  Then, one of the most popular posts from the back catalog today was It's freezing, so here's a song from 'Frozen'.  Not only am I freezing, half the country seems to be as well.  If that's what's happening and people want to read about it, then who am I to stand in their way?

It's so cold here in Detroit, that WXYZ reports Dangerously cold temperatures force schools to close tomorrow.

It's not only too cold for kids, it's too cold for animals.  WXYZ again with Cold weather pet care.

We're joined by the Michigan Humane Society to talk about cold weather pet care.

If it feels too cold outside for you today, it's also too cold for your pet.
My dogs have reached the stage of walking outside, doing their business, and immediately coming inside.  That's wise of them.

I may be cold, but I'm also in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, so here's a relevant video from Tipsy Bartender: The Elsa Cocktail (from Frozen) - Tipsy Bartender

Watch Nikki make this drink, The Elsa Cocktail - based on the movie Frozen!!
Stay warm, everyone, even if you're making the "Frozen" drink!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Musical responses to terror, updated

After the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, I feel it's time to revisit the entries I posted in response to the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago.  I find this doubly appropriate since the surviving Tsarnaev brother is coming to trial.

First, an updated version of A musical response to terror.

Javelin conducted by John Williams

Here's what I wrote about the piece at the time.
One of Torke's most frequently performed orchestral pieces is Javelin (1994), a "sonic olympiad" commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics in celebration of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary season. In the spring of 1996, two different recordings of Javelin were simultaneously released a rare occurrence for a contemporary composition. The first recording, featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Yoel Levi, was the fourth all-Torke CD to be released by Decca's Argo label. The second recording is on Sony Classical's Summon the Heroes, the official centenary Olympics album featuring the Boston Pops conducted by John Williams, which reached the Number One position on Billboard's Classical Crossover chart.
From the biography of the composer, Michael Torke.

I chose this piece because three drum corps, Glassmen, Carolina Crown, and Troopers, played arrangements of this music in 2002.  After listening to this inspiring music all summer, I associated it with an act of musical defiance in the face of terror.  After the events of yesterday, I listened to it again in the same spirit and found it heartening.  I hope you do, too.
I found a recording of the Glassmen playing "Javelin" to both open and close a performance: Glassmen 2002 - Toledo Show Encore, June 15.

I was one of those in the audience for this show, so it holds a special meaning for me.

Follow over the jump for the second musical response.

Driving update for January 2015: Ruby

I concluded The corner station charges into No Mans Land for the first time in 2015 by noting that "Ruby's odometer rolled over 89,000 miles yesterday.  Stay tuned for another driving update."  Time to reward my readers' patience.

As I noted in Driving update for September 2014: Ruby, our car's odometer rolled over 88,000 miles on September 27, 2014.  That meant it took my wife and I (mostly me, as I took over driving Ruby as I prepared to say farewell to Yuki) 101 days to drive the 1000 miles.  That translates into 9.90 miles/day and 301.95 miles/month, only 0.28 miles/day and 8.68 miles/month more than during the period covered by the previous update.  I expect that to go up as I adjust to living slightly farther from one workplace and much farther from another and also residing in a car-dependent neighborhood.

As for the year-over-year comparison, my wife and I drove Ruby much more than during the comparable period in the second half of 2013, when it took 140 days to her 1000 miles for an average of 7.14 miles/day and 217.9 miles/month.  A better comparison would be with Yuki.  I drove her 12.5 miles/day and 381.25 miles/month during October to December, so the mileage on the car I drive most actually decreased.

Follow over the jump for the calculations for both cars and how my driving compares to the national trend.

The corner station charges into No Mans Land for the first time in 2015

In Gas falls to start 2015, I predicted that the corner station would raise its prices.
On Saturday, I walked past the corner station and the price was $1.78.  Later, I drove past the three stations down the street and all of them were selling regular for $1.85.  These are not only the lowest prices I've seen for them since I moved here, but also the first time I recall prices continuing to drop after the new year.

As for which of the prices, $1.78 or $1.85 is more reasonable, it's the latter, as the Detroit average is $1.94 and holding steady for two days.  $1.85 is right on target, while $1.78 is well below what the market suggests it should be.  I would buy gas at the corner the next chance I get before the price rises.
On my way to the new house Monday morning, the corner station was still selling regular at $1.78, so I did exactly what I said I would do; I filled up Ruby's tank.*  It was a good thing I did.  When I returned to the old house yesterday, the corner station had jacked up its price to $1.99.  I didn't expect that much of a price increase!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 in space and astronomy

Moving Day is over, so it's time to post from the new house.  To mark the occasion, I'm continuing my series of retrospectives for 2014 with the year in space.  As a firm believer in "if it moves, it leads," I begin this installment with two videos from NASA.  First, 2014 What Happened This Year @NASA

In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars -- testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel. Here’s a look at some of the top NASA stories of the year!
That's the long version.  Here's the short version: NASA 2014.

As 2014 comes to a close we look back on a few of the events that took place this year at NASA.
As one can see, NASA accentuated the positive, highlighting the Orion test flight.  That mission contrasts with the two disasters one after another described in a bad week for private space.  Those were not highlights of the year in space, although they were big stories.

Follow over the jump for more about the year in space.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Moving Day!

Today is the day my wife and I move into the new house, which will change our habits.  That means no more blog posts today.  See you tomorrow from the new house!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 in movies for nerds and geeks

For the Sunday entertainment entry, I'm making good on the promise I with which I closed Happy to rewind 2014 in entertainment and social media to "have more to write about 2014 in entertainment when I post about awards shows and magazine picks for the best and worst."  Time for the magazine selections, beginning with Top 5 MOVIES of 2014! (Nerdist News w/ Jessica Chobot).  If it moves, it leads.

From original sci-fi dramas to Marvel’s blockbuster superhero movies, join Jessica Chobot as we count down the Top 5 Nerd Movies of 2014 on Nerdist News.
I saw two of these movies, "Snowpiercer" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."  "Snowpiercer" was better as art, "Guardians of the Galaxy" was better as entertainment.  Both were excellent in their own way and I recommend both.  In addition, my wife loves the songs used in the sound track.

Follow over the jump for more science fiction and fantasy films from io9 and documentaries about technology and general nerdiness from Wired.

Gas falls to start 2015

I made several predictions to open The limbo bar drops to $1.95 plus 2014 in energy and environment.  Time to see how they panned out.
Last Friday, the news was $1.99 gas arrives in my neighborhood.  Today, the price at all four stations is $1.95.  Yesterday, the three stations down the street lowered regular to that price while the corner station was at $1.99.  Today, the corner station matched them.  I expect that's where the local price of gas will end the year.
That's exactly what happened.  The corner station remained at $1.95 through New Year's Day.

What about the second?
Gas Buddy supports my expectation, as the national average rose slightly from $2.27 yesterday to $2.28 today, a move mirrored by the Detroit average, which also rose slightly from $2.02 to $2.03 today.  I suppose the price could drop to $1.93 tomorrow, but that would be both counter to the trend and unexpected heading into a holiday.  Maybe Friday or Saturday, should the metro mean remain steady.
The price did drop on Friday and probably Saturday, too.  When I looked at the corner station on Friday, I could tell that its price for regular had gone down to a number ending in eight.  It looked like $1.88, but my wife was driving so I didn't get close enough to be sure.  On Saturday, I walked past the corner station and the price was $1.78.  Later, I drove past the three stations down the street and all of them were selling regular for $1.85.  These are not only the lowest prices I've seen for them since I moved here, but also the first time I recall prices continuing to drop after the new year.

As for which of the prices, $1.78 or $1.85, is more reasonable, it's the latter, as the Detroit average is $1.94 and holding steady for two days.  $1.85 is right on target, while $1.78 is well below what the market suggests it should be.  I would buy gas at the corner the next chance I get before the price rises.

The final one fared the worst.
Oil-Price.Net suggests that one or two price drops are possible, as both crude oil indexes (indices?) have broken through support.  WTI dropped below $55 while Brent fell through $60.  However, both may have hit bottom as both rose today, WTI $0.51 to $54.12 and Brent $0.02 to $57.90.
Those price rises ended up being dead cat bounces, as WTI closed on Friday at $52.69 and Brent ended trading for the week at $56.42.  Support for WTI is now $50 and the floor for Brent appears to be $55.  I really expect prices will not fall any lower than those prices.  Then again, I've been wrong before.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 in biodiversity

It's time to pick up a theme mentioned in The limbo bar drops to $1.95 plus 2014 in energy and environment--not gas prices, but what EcoWatch called "wildlife conservation and loss" along with more positive stories about biodiversity.

Because I believe in "if it moves, it leads," I begin with Discovery News counting down The Weirdest New Species Of 2014.

There were a bunch of animal discoveries in the past year, but these 6 have to be our favorites!
The frog wasn't particularly weird, but I do understand why DNews would find it interesting.

National Geographic News has its own ideas of Top 10 Weirdest Animal Stories of 2014: Editors' Picks.
This was a banner year for the bizarre, with a snake virgin birth, an extremely rare black sea devil, and a real-life unicorn making headlines in Weird & Wild.

Luckily for our fans, we've rounded up our editors' picks of the ten best weird stories of 2014.
Now, those are weird, even if they aren't new species.

Follow over the jump for more stories about biodiversity from 2014.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Discovery News on keeping resolutions

The prompt for today is "Do you usually keep your resolutions? Tell us about a time when you were particularly successful."  The answer is that I keep some, but not all.  On the one hand, I had "sell my house and move closer to work" back in 2006 and succeeded.  On the other hand, I had "buy a bicycle for myself" for the past four year and as I wrote yesterday, I gave that up this year.  I'm going to wait until I move to make new sustainability-related resolutions.  I'm going to have to get used to my new surroundings to see what's doable and what needs to change.

In the meantime, I'll share this Discovery News video on how to keep resolutions.  Maybe it will help myself and my readers.

Every New Year, people make resolutions to change their life. What is the secret to keeping them?
There, a few, realistic, concrete resolutions.  I can live with that.  As for posting my goals here, as long as they're related to sustainability, such as "keep my driving down," I've been doing that for years.  I feel it's been successful in getting me to watch how much I use my car.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nablopomo for January 2015: HABIT

Time for a new theme for a new month and year.  From this month's email:
January's NaBloPoMo Theme: HABIT!

It's that time of year when you look at your habits: which ones you want to break, which ones you want to keep, and which ones you need to start.

It can be overwhelming if you go about trying to build or break a habit alone, but NaBloPoMo gives you a built-in set of cheerleaders. By setting the habit of blogging daily, you also end up picking up new readers as well as new blogs to read. NaBloPoMo is so much more than a writing challenge; it's also a supportive community.

So let's cheer each other on as we work on our habits this month. We'll be delving deep with blog posts, looking at what we do well and what we need to start doing. And hopefully, by the end of January, the resolutions you've made will be firmly in place, ready to kick off a wonderful 2015.

You can read more about the new NaBloPoMo theme on our opening post.
Follow over the jump for the relevant text from Form Some New Habits With January's NaBloPoMo.

Happy New Year from NASA and Crazy Eddie's Motie News!

Happy New Year from Crazy Eddie's Motie News!  I'm not the only one wishing my readers that.  Here's Happy New Year from NASA Television!

We would like to thank all of you for watching NASA Television in 2014 and wish you a very happy New Year.
NASA Television is not alone.  The NASA astronauts on the ISS wish all of us on Earth Happy New Year from the International Space Station.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA wish the world a happy New Year during downlink messages from the orbital complex on Dec. 17. Wilmore has been aboard the research lab since late September and will remain in orbit until mid-March 2015. Virts arrived at the station in late November and will stay until mid-May 2015.
They get to ring in the New Year 16 times in 24 hours!  I might only do that twice more today.