Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Comments and likes for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

I left the following comment on The Way Out at Kunstler's blog yesterday.
I'm showing "The End of Suburbia" to my students again this week.  Other than the stats on natural gas, which have improved from the perspective of business as usual because of fracking, the movie has held up pretty well over the past decade since it came out.  Your essay drives home an updated version of the message at the end of the movie; the future will be local, not global.  As for how my students will react, in addition to making some pithy observations that I will share with you and your readers next week, I'm sure they'll search for answers on the Internet.  Here's to hoping they find my Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End of Suburbia'; it will make things easier for them.
That I'm showing End of Suburbia convinced me to change the subject of my next retrospective to entries that got the most comments and likes this year, regardless of page views.  One of those just happens to be Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End of Suburbia', which was posted on November 17, 2013, but earned all of its eight comments during November and December of 2014, thanks to Nebris and I going back and forth.  Consequently, it gets an honorable mention as well as pride of place so that this entry better serves my students.

The entry has also continued to earn page views.  As of this time last year, it had 321 page views as documented in Student worksheets for the second and third year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  By March 20th of this year, it had moved up to 836 page views.  Linking to it at Kunstler's blog added 78 more in 12 hours.  I'm sure my students will add even more this week as they search for answers.

Follow over the jump for more entries that earned eight comments during the blogging year just past as well as those that got the equivalent of five or more likes at Google Plus.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Earth Hour 2015

I concluded D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead' with the following footnote.
I forgot that yesterday was Earth Hour.  I'll be sure to post an entry about the event tomorrow or the day after.
Here is the post as promised.

First, the official promotional video.

Earth Hour 2015 is about getting the crowd to use #YourPower to change climate change. Take action and join the global movement today at http://earthhour.org/join-the-movement.
Next, Earth Hour 2015 Highlights.

In 2015, millions unite to light the way toward climate action.
Earth Hour is celebrated in 172 countries, with over 1400 landmarks switching off lights this Saturday.
I turned off my lights for Earth Hour.  Did you?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead'

Full-sized image here.

I concluded Conversations with The Archdruid for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News by reminding my readers that today is entertainment Sunday and to "watch for a special entry about the season finale of 'The Walking Dead.'"*  As my readers can figure out from the title and graphic above, I'm presenting Dungeons and Dragons alignments charts for "The Walking Dead."  I figured that if it worked so well for Game of Thrones, it should work just as well for my favorite zombie apocalypse show.

The chart above is for the first season.  Follow over the jump for charts from the second and successive seasons along with a special musical feature.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Conversations with The Archdruid for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

It's time to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
In the previous retrospective for the fourth year of this blog, I noticed a pattern recurring among my most popular entries.
Now that I've taken care of the top post of the past year, I look at the rest of the 20 most read entries and see themes that group the top posts, much as I did in previous years.  In fact, I see some of the same themes as in previous years.  Not only do I repeat myself, but it seems that my readers enjoy it.
So far, the recurring themes have been Game of Thrones/A> and student worksheets.  Today's installment in perennial blogging topics features conversations with The Archdruid, in which I reformat and repost my comments to The Archdruid Report along with any replies they elicit.  This year, there are four such entries.  As I wrote last year, Greer is good for my blogging.

Just like last year, the fifth most read entry of the year just past was a discussion about politics, The Archdruid on Fascism, part 2 posted June 16, 2014.  It earned 694 page views according to the raw counter, but never got into the default counter's all-time top ten despite beating last year's top Archdruid post, A conversation with The Archdruid about Objectivism, Satanism, and the GOP, by one page view according to the same counter.  That post managed to make it into the all-time top ten at number five.  It's still there at ninth place with 715 page views according to the default counter.

The entry took off on a tangent from Greer's observation that Fascism wasn't really a movement of the Right, although that's where it tends to find its allies, but instead an authoritarian movement of a disenfranchised center.  That's not how I advertised it at Kunstler's blog that day.
Kunstler: So, my question would be: when do the political recriminations kick in? Pretty soon, I reckon, and when they do, expect them to be fiercely perverse. The theme of who lost Iraq? may cost more than who lost Vietnam?

Me: We’re likely to have both at the same time the next two years, as the last Boomer who could likely win the presidency, H. R. Clinton, will probably be running. Her husband was the focus of a lot of “who lost Vietnam” sentiment, and I’m sure what’s left of it will follow her around, along with a whole lot of “who lost Iraq” from her time as Secretary of State.

But that’s normal politics. Worse things can happen. We ended up with McCarthyism in the wake of “who lost China?” Germany ended up with losing the democracy, such as it was, of the Weimar Republic and ended up with [gaining] the Third Reich over the question of who lost the war. The myth of the internal enemy giving Germany the knife in the back resulting in surrender took hold as the answer. We all saw how that turned out, but people may forget the lessons of history.

As you have been saying for more than a decade and repeated just last week, Americans will elect maniacs to keep their standard of living. A lot of those maniacs will be carrying a cross and wrapped in the American flag. You aren’t the only one warning us about Fascism in our future. Greer the Archdruid did as well. I have some observations on his warnings just in time for his return to blogging this week.
That got a "Here here Crazy Eddie...Well Said" from And So it Goes at Kunstler's blog, along with an Islamophobic thread that spilled over into the comments for this entry on my blog, one that I'll convert into an entry of its own later.  In fact, the comments to my post look to be a very rich source for future entries, including the next retrospective.  Stay tuned.

That's not all.  Follow over the jump for the three other entries that originated in the comments section of The Archdruid Report and ended up in the year's top twenty.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Anniversary of Alaska's Good Friday Earthquake

Today is another anniversary of an event I include in my geology lectures, the 1964 Good Friday Alaska Earthquake.  In the interest of showing instead of telling, I'll let Accuweather's latest installment of Weather History do my work.
On March 27th, 1964 at 5:36 PM AST, a 9.2 M megathrust earthquake tossed south-central Alaska.
ETA: Accuweather has since deleted this video, so I am replacing it with 1964 Quake: The Great Alaska Earthquake from the United State Geologic Survey.

"1964 Quake: The Great Alaska Earthquake" is an eleven minute video highlighting the impacts and effects of America's largest recorded earthquake. It is an expanded version of the four minute video "Magnitude 9.2". Both were created as part of USGS activities acknowledging the fifty year anniversary of the quake on March 27, 2014. The video features USGS geologist George Plafker, who, in the 1960's, correctly interpreted the quake as a subduction zone event. This was a great leap forward in resolving key mechanisms of the developing theory of plate tectonics. Landslide impacts and the extreme tsunami threat posed by these quakes are also discussed. Loss of life and destruction from the earthquake and accompanying tsunamis was the impetus for things like the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers and the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.
This story ranks right up there with my recounting of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in its importance to my lecture about seismology.  In particular, it features two phenomena the Northridge Earthquake, a tsunami, which the Accuweather video depicts, and liquifaction, which it glosses over.  That latter process resulted in the Turnagain Heights landslide.  I show my students the photo below of it and recount a story I first read in National Geographic about a woman who escaped from her house in that neighborhood, setting her children on the top of each slump scarp then climbing up after them, all as the slump blocks continued to slide down and out to sea.  It certainly personalizes the disaster for my students.

Student worksheets for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

In the previous retrospective for the fourth year of this blog, I noticed a pattern recurring among my most popular entries.
Now that I've taken care of the top post of the past year, I look at the rest of the 20 most read entries and see themes that group the top posts, much as I did in previous years.  In fact, I see some of the same themes as in previous years.  Not only do I repeat myself, but it seems that my readers enjoy it.
The recurring theme of the previous entry was  "Game of Thrones."  In this entry, I examine student worksheets, the theme of one of last year's retrospectives.

The most read of all the posts about student worksheets from the past year was Corn questions from 'Food, Inc.' worksheet posted on October 18, 2014.  It had 1245 page views according to the raw counter as of the end of March 20, 2015, and 822 page views according to the default counter.  Those were enough for third place according to the raw counter and second place according to the default counter, which puts the entry in eighth place for the entire history of the blog so far.  As for how that happened, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
Corn questions from 'Food, Inc.' worksheet wins the back catalog trophy for February with its fifth place finish overall.  It earned its 239 page views this month through web search, as "food inc worksheet answers" was the number one search term during the past 30 days.  It is also number eight on the all time list with 737 total page views, knocking "Game of Thrones--names, geology, and security theater" off the list.  After being in the monthly top ten every month since October, that comes as no surprise.
According to the raw counter, it's still getting page views as it's up to 1287 page views.  Conversely, the default counter shows it losing page views, as it's currently down to 794 page views.  This is despite the default counter displaying 37 page views during the past seven days, 10 of them during the past 24 hours.  This is the main reason I don't use the default counter to rank entries any more; page views can actually decrease.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the student worksheet entries that ended up on this year's top 20.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Insurgent' tops box office in opening weekend

I teased my readers three times then offered a rain check.
I told my readers to "stay tuned for a delayed entertainment entry about "Insurgent," the sequel to Divergent as well as more retrospectives" at the end of Top post for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: James Robertson.  My readers will have to wait, as breaking news is shouldering that planned post aside.
It's time to redeem that rain check.  Follow over the jump for news about the movie from Daily Variety by way of Reuters and Vox plus my comments about the first movie.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gas and oil move up, but still relatively low

Last week, the story was Corner station in No Man's Land as oil retreats.
[G]as prices fell as oil hit multi-year lows, at least in my old neighborhood.  Yesterday, the three stations down the street from the corner station in my old neighborhood lowered their price from $2.19 to $2.17.  Meanwhile, the corner station is camped out in No Man's Land by selling regular at $2.49.  They raised their price while their competition lowered theirs.  This will probably not end well for them, as they are 21 cents above the Detroit average of $2.28 at GasBuddy.  In contrast, their competition is a dime lower, exactly where they usually are.  That's why I filled up Ruby at one of them.

Meanwhile, OilPrice.Net lists yesterday's close for WTI at $43.46, a six-year low for the commodity.  That makes the price rise since January look like a dead-cat bounce.  Brent also fell to $53.43, not as low as it was in January, but $10 off of where it was a month ago.  Not a dead-cat bounce, but close.
This week, I didn't have to fill up either of our cars, but I had to run an errand for class in my old neighborhood, so I checked in.  The corner station had dropped its price, but only five cents to $2.44 for regular.  Meanwhile, the three stations down the street raised theirs to $2.39 for regular.  According to GasBuddy, these prices are just a touch higher than usual for the neighborhood, as they were only three cents below the Detroit average of $2.42 instead of a dime lower.  Prices may or may not drop, but they shouldn't increase over the next week unless oil moves up sharply.

OilPrice.Net shows that might be happening.  West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed up today $1.70 to $49.21, while Brent jumped up $1.37 to $56.48.  That's five dollars higher than last week but still nowhere near as high as they were this time last week.  Once again, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
As for the future, I'll repeat what I wrote last month week: "As long as oil stays at these levels, Detroit and Michigan averages over $2.50 by the end of the month seem unlikely."
Instead, a different prediction looks more likely, one I made in December: "Expect prices at the pump to remain below $3.00 until at least March, if not later."  That one is almost a lock.

Examiner.com article on Driskell poll lead

Gretchen Driskell, seen here with former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer at a campaign event in February, leads Tim Walberg by five points in the first poll of the contest for Walberg's seat.
Gretchen Driskell for Congress on Facebook, with permission.
Driskell leads Walberg by five points in first poll of campaign
While the election is more than a year away and Democratic State Representative Gretchen Driskell only declared her candidacy for Republican U.S. Representative Tim Walberg's seat in Congress last month, she has already achieved a small victory in her quest for higher office.

Yesterday morning, Inside Michigan Politics released the results of a poll it commissioned as a press release.  This first poll in the contest for Michigan's Seventh Congressional District showed Driskell leading Walberg by five points, 42 percent to 37 percent with 21 percent undecided.

Driskell's campaign welcomed the news.  On the campaign's Facebook page, she wrote "this poll shows what I've been hearing from working families, seniors, and small business owners every day: voters are ready for a representative who works on their behalf."

Dennis Darnoi, Director of Analytics and Research for Revsix, which conducted the poll, said in the press release "these numbers show what astute political observers already know, namely Michigan's 7th Congressional District can be a competitive battleground. In a presidential year, and with the right candidate and the right strategy, Democrats have a real opportunity to win this seat."
More at the link in the headline.

This is the first Examiner.com article I've written for the 2016 campaign and there are nearly 20 months to go.  Looks like it will be a long slog.  I'm sure I'm up for it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

'Game of Thrones' for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

Now that I've taken care of the top post of the past year, I look at the rest of the 20 most read entries and see themes that group the top posts, much as I did in previous years.  In fact, I see some of the same themes as in previous years.  Not only do I repeat myself, but it seems that my readers enjoy it.

One of those themes is "Game of Thrones," which provided the most read entry of the second year of the blog.  The comments to that entry led to a follow-up, Game of Thrones D&D character alignment charts posted April 6, 2014, which became the second most read entry during the fourth year of the blog.  It earned 1479 page views almost entirely from web search and being linked to from other blogs--no promotion at the usual places from me!

Follow over the jump for the other popular entry based on the HBO fantasy series.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Agenda 21 paranoid Ted Cruz is officially running for President

I told my readers to "stay tuned for a delayed entertainment entry about "Insurgent," the sequel to Divergent as well as more retrospectives" at the end of Top post for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: James Robertson.  My readers will have to wait, as breaking news is shouldering that planned post aside.  What's the story?  It's time to break out the manatee, as ABC News reports Ted Cruz First Out of the Gate in 2016 Presidential Race.

Cruz is expected to announce his bid, while the Boston Globe urges Elizabeth Warren to run.
Ted Cruz, Agenda 21 paranoid, promises to be the first of many Republicans playing the roles of maniacs promising American voters that they can keep their cars, McMansions, and commutes this year and next.  Expect a lot more "Green is the New Red" and "Agenda 21 is the new black helicopter" coming from the campaign trail until November of next year.

As for what I think of Cruz's qualifications or lack thereof, I'll outsource that to Governor Jerry Brown of California as (ETA: He says) Chuck Todd Tees Up Jerry Brown To Slam Ted Cruz As 'Unfit' For Office Ted Cruz 'Unfit To Be Running' For President.

Ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s expected Monday announcement declaring his candidacy for President of the United States, NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd on Sunday teed up California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to blast the Republican as “absolutely unfit to be running for office.”

Todd teased Brown’s attack at the top of the broadcast: “Climate catastrophe. Jerry Brown, the governor of drought-stricken California, on why there should no longer be a debate about climate....Plus, find out which 2016 contender he thinks is unfit for office.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz's position on climate change makes him "absolutely unfit to be running for office."
Thank you, Governor, I couldn't have said it any better myself, although I've tried several times.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Top post for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: James Robertson

I concluded both Statistics for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News and I converse with The Archdruid and his readers about Le Nain Rouge with the following program note.
Stay tuned for a post about...the top entry of the past year.
As promised and foreshadowed, the most read entry of the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News is James Robertson ABC's Person of the Week posted on February 7, 2015.  It has 1767 views according to the default counter and 1788 according to the raw counter, which I use to rank the top 20 entries each year.  It also received two comments.

Follow over the jump for how this entry earned its page views and my comments on the news story itself.

I converse with The Archdruid and his readers about Le Nain Rouge

I included a programming note among the countdown in Montly meta: top ten entries for February 2015.
The ninth most read entry with 88 page views as of the end of February was Marche du Nain Rouge, a blast from the past that I promoted at Greer's blog. Not only did it revive interest in this two year old post, it spurred an exchange with Greer that I plan on posting later this month to mark this year's festive expulsion of Detroit's resident demon.
As I indicated at the end of Statistics for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News when I told my readers to "stay tuned for a post about the Nain Rouge," it's time for that entry, especially since this year's Marche du Nain Rouge happens in the morning.

Follow over the jump for the conversation among Greer, another of his readers, and me about Detroit's resident malign spirit.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Statistics for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

I concluded Nowruz Mubarak (Happy Nowruz) and happy birthday to this blog! by telling my readers to "stay tuned for an entry about the statistics for the fourth year of this blog."  Thanks to my readers for their patience; it's time, as it was last year, the year before, and the year before that, to complete the cycle by reviewing the numbers.

During the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, from March 21, 2014 to March 20, 2015, I posted 528 entries, the readers and I posted 229 comments, and the blog received 145,875 page views for a total of 2289 posts, 637 comments, and 419,163 page views over the entire first four years of the blog.*  For comparison, the third year of this blog saw 785 entries, 304 comments, and 127,945 page views, the second year I posted 493 entries, readers and I posted 129 comments, and the blog received 97,535 page views, and the first full year I made 483 posts, readers and I posted 204 comments, and the blog received 47,808 page views.  For my analysis of these numbers, follow over the jump.

Nowruz Mubarak (Happy Nowruz) and happy birthday to this blog!

Happy New Blog Year!  Today is the fourth anniversary of the first entry on this blog, making it this blog's birthday.  Since it is also Persian New Year, I wish all of my readers a happy Nowruz, just as I did last year and the year before.  I could be an environmentalist and recycle, but since I like videos so much, I instead present Nowruz (Simply Explained!) from FactXTract on Youtube.

How much do you know about Persian New Year called Nowruz? Did you know that there is an equivalent for Santa Claus in Persian culture called Uncle Nowruz? Or did you know that you might have guests at your home at 3 a.m., right after the arrival of Nowruz?
I'm not the only non-Persian celebrating Nowruz in the U.S.  Follow over the jump for two videos of the First Family celebrating the event as well.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Equinox, eclipse, and supermoon

Normally, I only have to wish my readers a Happy Vernal Equinox on this date.  Not this year, as the Washington Post reports in Spring trifecta ends splendid week — solar eclipse, supermoon and equinox.
The past few days have been great for sky-watchers as a beautiful aurora sank as far south as the Midwest and Northeast on Tuesday night, the result of a severe geomagnetic storm. And Friday will add even more splendor as three astronomical events coincide on one day: a total solar eclipse, a supermoon and the vernal equinox.

Friday at 6:45 p.m. will mark the vernal equinox and the first day of astronomical spring. At this point, the direct rays of the sun are passing over the equator, perpendicular to Earth. It might not feel like spring with snow still in the forecast for many in the eastern U.S., but it is the first day in the march toward summer as the sun’s direct rays return from their Southern Hemisphere vacation.
The Wall Street Journal has more in its video Solar Eclipse Offers Viewers a Celestial Treat.

Parts of Europe will be treated to three astronomical events at once on Friday: a supermoon, a total eclipse of the sun and the spring equinox. The concurrence of all three celestial events is rare and has excited both amateur and professional skywatchers. Gautam Naik reports.
What a spectacular way to welcome in spring and close the fourth year of this blog!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

PHD Comics on the science news cycle

In my comment on The View From Outside at Greer's blog tonight, I pointed out an issue with science journalism.
PhD Comics portrays part of the problem with popular representation of science, the way universities promote the research of their own scientists, in The Science News Cycle.  Based on that, the academy has no one to blame but themselves.
That reminded me that I have only mentioned PHD Comics once before in PHD Comics on the financial crisis.  It also reminded me that I had another PHD Comic on my Flickr account.  That means it's time that I post it here.

I can't believe I hadn't posted this during the past four years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Corner station in No Man's Land as oil retreats

Last week, the story was gas prices inch up in my old neighborhood as oil falls.
Yesterday, the corner station returned to $2.39 for regular and was selling mid-grade for $2.59.  Looks like that 20 cent premium is here to stay.  In contrast, the three stations down the corner only raised their prices to $2.19 with mid-grade at $2.29.  I filled up Dez as soon as I saw that.
Yesterday, as OilPrice.Net shows, WTI closed at $48.29 while Brent ended trading at $56.39.  Both are close to their lows for the past month and in trading bands $5 below where they were last report.
This week, the news is that gas prices fell as oil hit multi-year lows, at least in my old neighborhood.  Yesterday, the three stations down the street from the corner station in my old neighborhood lowered their price from $2.19 to $2.17.  Meanwhile, the corner station is camped out in No Man's Land by selling regular at $2.49.  They raised their price while their competition lowered theirs.  This will probably not end well for them, as they are 21 cents above the Detroit average of $2.28 at GasBuddy.  In contrast, their competition is a dime lower, exactly where they usually are.  That's why I filled up Ruby at one of them.

Meanwhile, OilPrice.Net lists yesterday's close for WTI at $43.46, a six-year low for the commodity.  That makes the price rise since January look like a dead-cat bounce.  Brent also fell to $53.43, not as low as it was in January, but $10 off of where it was a month ago.  Not a dead-cat bounce, but close.

As for the future, I'll repeat what I wrote last month: "As long as oil stays at these levels, Detroit and Michigan averages over $2.50 by the end of the month seem unlikely."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day drinks from Tipsy Bartender for 2015

Just like last year, I'm skipping the science and going directly to the drinking for today's holiday courtesy of Tipsy Bartender.

First up, the St. Patrick's Day Guinness Float.

This sexy, simple drink will blow your mind... GUINNESS FLOAT! Make this one for St. Patty's Day, it's sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Guinness Stout
3 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Whipped Cream
Caramel Syrup
That actually looks like it tastes good, not that I'm going to imbibe, as I'm on a diet.  Still, I'm tempted.

Follow over the jump for two drinks that aren't quite as Irish, but at least they're green.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fifty years of Jonny Quest

At the end of The Fall of Rome for the Ides of March, I told my readers "Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.  No zombies tonight, I promise."  Instead, I'm marking the 50th anniversary of the original run of Jonny Quest.  According to Wikipedia, the final first-run episode aired on March 11, 1965.  I reserve March 11th for observances of the anniversary of the Fukushima triple disaster, so the next Sunday entertainment entry--this one--has to do.

Like the show, I begin this entry with the theme music.  First the original.

Next, a 21st Century remake using Claymation and the full opening theme, instead of the first 90 seconds only.

Follow over the jump for a documentary about the making of Jonny Quest, presented in three parts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Fall of Rome for the Ides of March

On this date last year, I wrote about Death and destruction in the Roman world.  This Ides of March, I'm looking at the death and destruction of the Roman world.

Follow over the jump for an exchange I had with John Greer the Archdruid in the comments to Bright Were The Halls Then in which I relate a story I tell my students about the fall of the Roman Empire and how it shows up in the history of the human population.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Driving update for March 2015: Ruby

Yesterday, Ruby rolled over 90,000 miles.  This happened only 66 days after Ruby passed 89,000 miles on January 6, 2015.  Unsurprisingly, that means I drove Ruby 15.15 miles/day and 462.1 miles/month, which is almost double the 9.90 miles/day and 301.95 miles/month I drove the car during the period covered by the previous update.  It's even more than double the a amount my wife and I drove Ruby during the comparable period last year, when it took from December 2013 to May 2014 to drive the car 1000 miles.  It's also almost double the miles I drove Yuki between December 2013 and April 2014.  When I wrote that "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," I had no idea it would go up so much.  I'm now even more determined that the next car I drive be a hybrid or all-electric vehicle.  I'm also looking forward to walking the mile to the store when the weather warms up.

Follow over the jump for how my activity fits into the long-term trends.

Happy Pi Day of the Century!

Happy Pi Day!  Newsy explains why this day is special in Nerd Alert! Saturday Is Super Pi Day.

For the only time this century, the date will line up to perfectly match the first five digits of pi. Here's a look at how some are celebrating.
Follow over the jump for more fun facts about pi.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Alice Cooper for Friday the 13th

In the comments to Ted Nugent shoots mouth off about Pure Michigan ads, I mentioned a brush with fame in an exchange in the comments.
Lindsay: My Dad's band opened for Ted Nugent once. I used to be proud of that --- my Dad shared a stage with somebody famous! --- but now I am ashamed.

Me: "My dad shared a stage with someone famous!"

So did I. I was in a marching band that paraded around the stage at Anaheim Stadium at the finale of Alice Cooper's show playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1977. Honestly, your dad had the better gig, as his band's name was on the marquee.

As for being ashamed, hey, I doubt anyone knew what a dick Nugent would become back then.
In honor of that event and today being Friday the 13th, I present this Friday the 13th Tribute! - Alice Cooper vs Alice Cooper

"No More Mr. Nice Guy Behind The Mask" Mashup
Original songs: He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask) & No More Mr. Nice Guy
I've stayed away from the horror movie franchise until now, but I couldn't resist Alice Cooper.

Thus begins another string of holiday posts, much like the one last month that began with Evolution humor for Darwin Day and ended with Happy Year of the Wood Sheep!  Today is Friday the 13th, tomorrow is Pi Day, Sunday is both The Ides of March and when I post my entertainment entry, Tuesday is St. Patrick's Day, next Friday is the Vernal Equinox, and next Saturday is Nowruz, the birthday of the blog.  Oh, and the Sunday after that is the day of Marche du Nain Rouge.  Don't expect a lot of DOOM for the next nine days!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

WXYZ on power from pee

The past two months, I wrote about power from poop a Squirrel Case entry.  WXYZ shows that waste heat and methane aren't the only potential sources of (recycled) energy that is being flushed down the toilet in Prototype urinal provides electricity.

A prototype urinal that can provide electricty is being tested.

Despite the words she's reading off the Teleprompter, Carolyn Clifford looks less than impressed with the concept.  Too bad.  This will work in areas poorly supplied by electricity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fourth anniversary of Fukushima triple disaster

Today is the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.  The occasion was met with a somber ceremony, captured by Euronews: Japan remembers victims of Fukushima disaster exactly four years on.

Four years to the day since Fukushima, a minute of silence has been observed across Japan to remember the more than 18,000 people dead or missing in an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that have marked the country's history forever.
The video mentioned nearly a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the triple catastrophe.  Here is one of those people who has come to terms with not returning to his old home in a BBC clip, Japan marks 4th anniversary of quake-tsunami disaster, Fukushima.

Many of Japan's Fukushima nuclear refugees have given up on going home and are instead, rebuilding their lives elsewhere.
More text from an AFP article at the link.

Follow over the jump for an encore presentation of Fukushima: student sustainability video festival 28 and links to previous years' commemorative posts.

Gas prices inch up in my old neighborhood as oil falls

It's been three weeks since I posted Corner station retreats after two Tuesdays in No Man's Land.  That and my passing through my old neighborhood and seeing that gas prices actually changed means it's time for another update.

Three weeks ago, "all the stations were selling regular at $2.15, including the one at the corner.  It's so boring it's remarkable."  Two weeks ago, the corner station raised its price to $3.29, while the rest were still at $2.15.  Last week, the corner station dropped regular to $2.29, but was now selling mid-grade at $2.49, 20 cents higher.  Unfortunately, all the stations down the street were closed and their signs were off, so I couldn't tell what their prices were.  Based on the stations around them, I guessed they were at $2.29, but decided until I actually saw their prices before posting.

That made it difficult to check the GasBuddy predictions quoted by WXYZ in Michigan gas prices on the rise posted two weeks ago.

Follow over the jump to see how these two-week-old predictions fared.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Solar Impulse 2 begins round-the-world flight

Two years ago, after reporting on Solar Impulse landing in New York to complete its cross-country flight, I added this postscript.*
After landing in NYC, this plane is now retired and apparently not a moment too soon.  Piccard and company may be done with this particular prototype, but they are not done with solar powered flight.  They plan a more ambitious round-the-world flight in 2015
It's 2015 and Vox reports that the very first solar-powered flight around the world is underway.
Who says there are no world records left to set? On Monday, two Swiss pilots flew from Abu Dhabi to Oman in a solar-powered airplane — the initial leg of an epic effort to complete the very first solar flight around the world.

The ultralight plane, the Solar Impulse 2, features 17,000 solar cells on top of its 236-foot wings, as well as four lithium-polymer batteries that store up energy during the day to power the craft at night. It builds on a previous solar plane, the Solar Impulse 1, which successfully crossed the United States.

The two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, will take turns flying this new craft as it goes from city to city across the entire globe over the next five months.
Read the rest of the article for the importance of the plane and its journey, but only after viewing CBC's The National Solar Impulse 2 takes off for historic around-the-world attempt.

Two pilots are planning to fly a solar-powered plane around the world.

Safe flying.  This Crazy Eddie is rooting for you.

Follow over the jump for the footnote.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Michigan, fattest state to vote Democratic

Last week, Paul Krugman posted two graphs and noted the following in Heavy Politics.
First, yes, there is a clear correlation between obesity and Republican lean at the state level.
There are outliers — Utah especially, but also Montana and Wyoming, of which more in a minute, but overall the relationship is really clear. At the county level, the “diabetes belt” — that’s the CDC’s term, not mine — is clearly very Republican.
For another view of the relationship, here is a map of obesity rates among non-Hispanic Whites that Krugman also used.

The trend is clear; states with higher rates of obesity vote Republican in presidential elections.  Only three of the states colored orange voted Democratic in either 2008 or 2012, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan.  Only one of those states has a higher obesity rate than Michigan, Indiana, and it voted Republican in 2012.  That leaves Michigan as the fattest state to vote Democratic in the past two presidential elections.

That written, all branches of the state's government are controlled by Republicans except for the educational boards.  I wouldn't be so silly as to suggest that our obesity levels have turned us into a purple state and are in danger of turning us into a red one, but there is something going on, the same thing I described in Food Fight: thoughts on liberalism and conservatism.  Krugman himself referred to something similiar when he linked to a Bloomberg article Inside the Powerful Lobby Fighting for Your Right to Eat Pizza.
Other corners of the fast-food industry have folded against public pressure for healthier choices. Not pizza.
That was Bloomberg.  Here's Krugman.
[N]utrition and obesity have become deeply partisan. Big Pizza is now an industry as dedicated to the GOP as coal or tobacco.
People in Michigan love their pizza and that might be part of the problem.

As for what to do about this if one is a Democrat in Michigan, I have this whimsical suggestion: Go on a diet and get someone to diet with you.  That's what I'm doing right now.  Not only will it be good for your health, but it might just be good for the state's politics.

Crossposted to Michigan Liberal.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

WXYZ stories for International Women's Day 2015

Today is International Women's Day.  As longtime readers of this blog know, I love holidays and once I start celebrating a holiday, I never let it go.  I suppose if I blog long enough, half my posts will celebrate one special day or another.  By that logic, since I observed International Women's Day last year, of course I'm going to observe it again.

This year, I present two clips from WXYZ about the day.  First, the #DearMe Campaign.

YouTube is celebrating International Women's Day by letting users offer words of advice to their younger self.
Felicia Day appears in the preview image, but the viewers don't get to hear her speak.  Instead, we get a lot of other web celebrities, especially Laci Green, who used to host videos for Discovery News.  I miss Laci there and am glad to see her again.  As for me giving advice to my younger self, that's not happening here today.

Next, "The Dress" takes center stage again, this time sparks discussion on domestic abuse,

This video reminds me that I had a lot of stories about domestic abuse in my archives, but the same water damage that made it difficult to get precise statistics for Richistan and political news from the second year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News has made it a lot harder to retrieve them, too.  I'd have to go to Daily Kos and look at my posts there under "Science Crime Scenes."  Again, not today.  I have papers to correct and TV shows to see, especially "The Walking Dead."  It's Sunday, so zombies!

EsoterX on 21st Century monsters

For this week's Sunday entertainment entry, I present an excerpt from Consciousness Insecurity: Modern Monsters Want You for Your Mind, Not Your Body.  It explains that the monsters that haunt modern imaginations aren't the ones that kill people and eat them, or even steal their souls, as modern industrial civilization has made people safer from harm and made people doubt the existance of souls, but ones that deprive people of their autonomy.
Consider the big themes that populate modern horror and science fiction.  The mass of humanity gets turned to mindless zombies slumping about the countryside looking for brains to consume.  Humans are turned into living batteries.  Virtual realities warp our perceptions so that we don’t understand what is real and what is not.  Aliens abduct us and perform decidedly invasive and uncomfortable experiments, and we are powerless to do anything about it.  Time travelers hop in and out, manipulating the course of history, unbeknownst to most, by tweaking essential elements here or there.  Even those classic bloodsucking vampires have morphed into irresistibly charming, ravishingly sexy aristocrats that can compel you to bend to their will with a twinkle in their eye.  Increasingly, our monsters are monsters of consciousness, that is, a control of human consciousness.  Where once the fearsome beasts of our imaginations were a threat to life and limb, now they represent a grave danger to human autonomy.  As technology continues to pervade our lives, human consciousness has expanded to encompass an interconnected world, where thought contagion spreads with a virulence that most microbes could only dream of.  Consequently, our monsters have evolved.  We may no longer have to worry about sharp teeth and claws, but we face the far more terrifying prospect of no longer being afforded a choice. In a world where we are able to reconstruct our identities at will (just change the “About” section on your webpage), the dreadest demon is the one that exerts control over who we imagine ourselves to be.  We may as well be the walking dead, for as psychologist Erik Erikson said, “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity”.
At first, this was a surprising take on zombies, but it shouldn't have been.  It's appeared in at least two entries on the undead.  The entire idea of zombies as a metaphor for a thought virus taking over our consciousness and depriving us of our autonomy is the entire thesis of Reblog of Mike Norman Economics: The triumph of Neo-liberalism and why we love "The Walking Dead".  It's also the punchline of the Cracked article I featured in Zombies, gangsters, and sideshows--we are the zombies.

Rick's "We Are The Walking Dead" Speech Episode 5x10 (Them)

Rick Grimes' We are The Walking Dead speech from Season 5 Episode 10 "Them." One of the most famous lines from the comics adapted to television.
As for the other personifications of our fears of losing our autonomy, EsoterX has more on modern monsters.  Stay tuned.

Spring ahead, everyone!

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dawn arriving at Ceres today

Yesterday, Vox gave its readers 6 reasons why NASA's mission to Ceres is a big deal.
Tomorrow, NASA's Dawn spacecraft will reach Ceres, an icy dwarf planet that lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

This event likely won't get the coverage Philae got when it landed on a comet this past November. It might not even get as much attention as a few recent space accidents, such as the explosions of a Virgin Galactic space plane and uncrewed rocket this past October.

That's a shame. Because tomorrow will be the culmination of a seven-year mission to visit something remarkable — a world that's quite close to us, but is such an unknown that, until a month or so ago, the best pictures we had of it looked like a hazy blob.
JPL posted a video earlier this week showing the progression from "a hazy blob" to a cratered world, followed by animation of the orbital insertion that begins today and continues for another month: Dawn Nears Ceres - Approach Images, Movies and Animations.  There is no sound.

NASA's Dawn mission will arrive at Ceres on March 6, 2015, and will be the first spacecraft to explore a dwarf planet. Ceres is the largest body in the main asteroid belt. At the time of its discovery in 1801 it was considered a planet and later demoted.
This is the second large asteroid Dawn has visited.  As Vox points out:
A handful of previous missions have used ion thrusters, but Dawn has taken advantage of them to do something unprecedented: it entered Vesta's orbit, left it, and will now enter Ceres', becoming the first spacecraft to ever orbit two different interplanetary objects.
That's one of the six reasons.  Follow over the jump for two more.

Time for a Scott Walker label

Chad at The Hipcrime Vocab posted Polical Collapse in Wisconsin last week.
I normally don't talk state politics, but lately you can't go anywhere without hearing that Scott Walker is the frontrunner for the Rebublican nomination for president by running Wisconsin into the ground. Seriously, despite all the corruption probes, Walker's term has been, from a purely objective, nonpolitical standpoint, an unmitigated disaster.
The next paragraph mentioned that "We lost an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure - the light rail money instead went to California and the jobs left the state."  That prompted me to search my blog for posts about Scott Walker and the first one to catch my eye was Why do Tea Partiers hate high-speed rail?  That was four years ago and he has only gotten worse.

More from Chad.
The very specific promises Walker made for job growth were conveniently forgotten (150,000 new jobs!!!). The emphasis on busting unions and holding down wages has - surprise, surprise - not caused the state economy to blossom, and the state is even back in the red, despite cutting services and raising fees, because Walker has doled out so many tax cuts to the very rich.

So here is a list of the most recent hits, starting with a 220 million dollar subsidy to the billionaires of the professional sports cartel while cutting 300 million from my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin...
Read the rest at The Hipcrime Vocab.  Scott Walker has been a busy (and bad) boy.

Chad's post reminded me that now that Scott Walker is a leading GOP candidate for President, I need a label for him.  How does Total Recall sound? It will fit right in with calling Romney Willard the Rat, Santorum The Froth, and Rand Paul Aqua Buddha.

Time for me to find all the relevant entries and add the label.  See you later; I'll be busy!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Richistan and political news from the second year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

I'm taking advantage of Flashblack Friday on Facebook to attend to some unfinished business that I started not once, but twice, and foreshadowed three times.

I first alluded to the main entry featured in today's entry came in the following passage from Second Year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Eastwooding.
I credit that to good promotion, including at Kunstler's blog, where I got 436 page views from Zeitgeist Failure, the most from any of Kunstler's entries for all of 2012. That tide lifted another boat higher, though, and it will get an entry of its own later.
That was two years ago.

During April of last year, I actually named the post in My readers love to write comments about pets.
The actual most commented on entry from the second year of the blog with comments actually left during the second year of the blog was probably Matt Taibbi and Mike Lofgren are on the same page about the global rich with eight comments.  I'll get to that post in a future retrospective.
Later that month, I put the entry in the context of the other posts from that blogging year at the end of Holidays from the second year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News outlined the task.
I have one more entry left before I wrap up the second year of this blog--depressing political news.  Hey, what do you expect?  This may be a weird, hopeful doomer blog, but it's still a doomer blog.
I've teased my readers enough.  Follow over the jump for a post about Richistan plus two entries about depressing political news to complete a series I began two years ago, stopped halfway through, resumed last year, and finally finish today.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Purim 2015!

For a description of the holiday, read The Metro UK's Purim 2015: From fancy dress to chocolate pastries, here’s why the Jewish festival basically rocks.
If your Jewish friends suddenly start donning fancy dress, eating odd pastries on a seemingly never-ending loop and talking about someone called Queen Esther in the next couple of days, you may be left wondering why.

Well, it’s all to do with the annual festival of Purim, which kicks off at sunset on Wednesday night, offering 24 hours of some of the most celebratory fun in the Jewish calendar.

And here’s why it’s basically one of the most awesome festivals around…
I don't celebrate Purim anywhere else but on this blog, but I'm all in favor of fun holidays and this one certainly qualifies.  Happy Purim!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Yes, I vote

Today's prompt asks this month's Nablopomo participants "Do you always exercise your right to vote? Why or why not?"  The answer is yes.  I haven't missed an election since either the 1991 municipal elections or the 1992 primary election.  I skipped the 1990 elections because I had just moved to Michigan from California and I didn't feel like I knew the issues and candidates well enough and I didn't want to acknowledge that I was here for the long term.  Before then, I had voted in every election in California for a decade, beginning with the 1978 primary election and ending with the 1988 general election.  Yes, I believe in voting.

As for why I believe in voting, I hold that, while my vote may not always matter--I've seen enough landslides to know better--it matters that I vote.  I went to the polling place and expressed my opinion, then it was counted, even if the candidate or ballot measure I voted for lost by 15-20%, which has happened.  That means that I am participating in the decision-making and selection of representatives and executives at all levels of government.  That's important to me and I wish more people thought and felt that way.  That's why I campaign for candidates and issue endorsements.  I've even had my name on the ballot and voted for myself.  It's also one of the reasons I report on elections for Examiner.com and have volunteered and am a director for the Coffee Party.

Finally, all the struggle to expand voting rights matters.  Follow over the jump for both the history and possible future of that effort.

Zombie real estate

Yesterday, two items popped up on my YouTube feed that serendipitously shared the unlikely connection between zombies and real estate.  First, CNN reported that 'The Walking Dead' town up for sale.

Several buildings in Grantville, Georgia, used for filming AMC's "The Walking Dead," have been put up for sale on eBay.
That's one case of art crossing into life in a good way.  On the other hand, ABC News shows how the zombie metaphor can become a case of life imitating art in 'Zombie' Homes, When Good Houses Go Bad.

Houses left in foreclosure limbo begin to deteriorate, dragging neighboring property values down with them.
Welcome to failures of public and private policies making collapse worse instead of cushioning the blow.  About the best I can say is that Florida was the setting and Detroit was nowhere to be seen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Detroit celebrates National Pancake Day 2015

I'm a sucker for holidays, even fake ones.  Today happens to be one such--National Pancake Day.  I'll let Children's Miracle Network Hospitals on YouTube show, not tell, in IHOP National Pancake Day is March 3!

On March 3, 2015, guests from around the country will celebrate a "Decade of Giving" with the tenth annual National Pancake Day at IHOP restaurants and enjoy a free short stack. In return for the free pancakes, guests will be asked to consider leaving a donation for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
I am not partaking, as my wife and I are on a diet.  Besides, I'm not working this week and decided to stay home while a winter storm passes through.  Others had no such qualms, as WXYZ reported in Woodhaven rallies around National Pancake Day.

The community in Woodhaven used National Pancake Day as an opportunity to drum up support for Beaumont's children hospital. Brad Galli reports from IHOP.
Looks like everyone involved was having fun for a worthy cause.

Thank you, Rachel Carson

Today's prompt asks this month's Nablopomo participants to "Write an open letter thanking a historical figure for her contributions to the world."  As soon as I read that, I knew who I wished to address, Rachel Carson.*  It's an obvious choice for me.  Like me, she was a biologist and writer.  She was also the founding mother of the modern environmental movement, a fellow Crazy Eddie who saw our society doing something that put it and the environment supporting it on a path to disaster and shouted "Stop!"  It took ten years, but society heeded her warning and stopped using DDT for all purposes other than fighting malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, delaying or even preventing the extinction of dozens of bird species, including the Bald Eagle and the Brown Pelican.**  For all those things, I am thankful.

Oddly enough, I've only written about her once before in the four years of this blog, as the subject of the second part of Field trip highlights, where I embedded a video about an exhibit showing Michigan State University's contributions to "Silent Spring" and described visiting the museum.  Here is the relevant portion of the entry.
As for what my students and I saw on the field trip proper, here's a video of an exhibit at the MSU Museum, our second stop of the day.

On Earth Day, take time to celebrate Silent Spring's 50th anniversary

Fifty years have passed since the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, the book many credit with sparking the environmental movement. The book has deep connections to Michigan State University, from the late MSU ornithologist George Wallace's research that was featured prominently in the book to the establishment of the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at MSU and a legacy of environmental science being conducted today.
My students and I saw those robins on display, along with other exhibits. I hope that made an impression on them. It did on me.
It made enough of an impression on me that I added the video to my lectures and have shown it every semester since.  Even though the exhibit is long over, the video about it continues to impress my students.

Once again, thank you, Rachel Carson.

Follow over the jump for the footnotes.

Montly meta: top ten entries for February 2015

It's time for me to recap the ten most viewed entries of the month that I've already posted at this blog's Facebook page.  As I wrote last month, that's a habit worth resuming.

Unlike the top ten entries for January 2015, which was was a very good month for the back catalog, with seven or eight of the top ten coming from previous months, February saw eight different entries from the current month making appearances in the top ten during the past two days, although only six of them were together at the same time.  Follow over the jump for last month's top ten plus two honorable mentions.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Equal pay for equal work at the Oscars

For this week's belated entertainment entry,* I decided to tie it in with this month's Nablopomo theme about news and especially about women being newsworthy by featuring Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech at the Oscars.  That became newsworthy because of her call for equal pay and equal rights for women.  ABC News reports in Meryl Streep Cheers Patricia Arquette's "Equal Pay" OSCARS Speech .

Oscars 2015: Patricia Arquette says "All Women Deserve Equal Pay" as Meryl Streep Cheers loudly in the audience while sitting next to Jennifer Lopez. The winners for best supporting actor and actress describe their winning moments at this year's 87th Academy Awards.
Yes, pay inequality is a problem even at the top of the pay scale; it's that pervasive.

Arquette's remarks and the reaction to them prompted WXYZ to follow up in Women's equal pay issue at Oscars -- Rep. Christine Greig weighs in.

Representative Greig serves the distrct across the street from me, so I have more than a casual interest in her and the causes she champions. So far, I'm impressed.  However, she's only in her first term in Lansing, so she has much to learn about state government, such as its tendency to act like Michigan is Ignoreland.  I wish her luck; she'll need it.

As for the magnitude of the problem, I turn to John Oliver, who gives his humorous and informative take in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Wage Gap.

John Oliver explores America's wage gap between men and women and proposes a possible solution.
Note: Solution proposed is 100% sarcastic.
Note, all the female presidents are fictional.  Here's to life imitating art in that regard.

*My wife and I were too busy watching our favorite Sunday shows for me to comment on entertainment.  It's happened before.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


From the website:
So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?


Women's lives matter. That is the simple idea behind the #womenslives initative spearheaded by Public Radio International and SheKnows (BlogHer's parent company). News flash: Our lives are newsworthy. And it's time to step up and use our platforms to not only tell our story but to add our voice to the recording of history.

This month we'll be talking about news. The places you get your news, the amount of time you use focusing on the news, and critiquing the news to see what works and doesn't work (Emphasis mine-P-S). Women may be 50% of the world's population, but we're only 24% of the news stories. It's time to change that number.

At the same time, this month in BlogHer University, we'll be running a mini journalism school. The writing prompts will be great practice in turning your blog into not just a day-to-day record of your life, but also, at times, a journalistic endeavour.
This theme should be a piece of cake for me.  After all, this is primarily a news blog, not a personal blog; it even has news in the title and a news label already.  It's enough to actually convince me to use the prompts.  Some of them are even on topics that I have covered here.
Sign up for March's NaBloPoMo and let's make news.
I did.  The theme was also enough to get me to sign up on the first day I could, before any blogs were listed on the blogroll.  That was enough to place me 12th on the list, about as high as I've ever been.

Enough about the theme.  Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.  There's more going on than the death of Leonard Nimoy.