Sunday, May 31, 2015

2015 Critics' Choice Awards, Speculative Fiction, Politics, Crime, and History

For this Sunday's entertainment entry, I'm taking a break from looking at the box office receipts for the big screen, as I did for the past three weeks to examine the best of the little screen in the genres and topics I find most interesting, speculative fiction (encompassing science fiction, fantasy, and horror), politics,  crime, and history.  The occasion is the 5TH Annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards, which are taking place tonight.
The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) announced nominations for the 5th annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards, which will be broadcast live on A&E from the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, May 31, 2015 (8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT), with a one-hour Red Carpet Special preceding the awards show.

HBO leads the networks in nominations with 27, followed by FX which garnered 16. Topping the list of nominated series are Justified (FX) and Olive Kitteridge (HBO), both with five nominations. The Americans (FX), Bessie (HBO), The Good Wife (CBS), Transparent (Amazon) and Wolf Hall (PBS) followed close behind with four nominations each. Other top series with multiple nominations include American Crime (ABC), American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Broad City (Comedy Central), The Honorable Woman (Sundance), Jane the Virgin (The CW), Silicon Valley (HBO), Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Lifetime) and Veep (HBO), all with three nominations. Walton Goggins is nominated for his performance in two different shows: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Justified (FX) and Best Guest Performer in a Drama for Sons of Anarchy (FX).
These awards should be a good preview of the Emmy Awards.  Those nominations will be announced in July and the winners awarded in August.

Follow over the jump for my comments on tonight's nominees.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A conversation about the TPP on BlogTalkRadio

Last month, I was n BlogTalkRadio for Earth Day,  where I talked with the host about the California drought and the unsustainability of California's water infrastructure to support the state's population, agriculture, and industry.  This month, I was on BlogTalkRadio again, where I participated in "Free Trade, Jobs and the TPP" a "Living Room Conversation" Coffee Party Radio.
Living Room Conversation on TPP

Here at the Coffee Party USA, we think it's time to have a civil and reasoned conversation on the Free Trade, Jobs and the TPP!

Join us on Thursday, May 28, at 8:30pm eastern time for a special Coffee Party radio show as we use the concepts of “Living Room Conversations” to have a respectful discussion around this controversial topic with special guests.
The Coffee Party Website has more in Living Room Conversations.
Living Room Conversations is a process that allows individuals to get to know one another in a more meaningful way - while also exploring a contested issue. Guided by a simple and sociable format, participants practice being open and curious about all perspectives, with a focus on learning from one another, rather than trying to debate the topic at hand.

Come learn about both the TPP and the Living Room Conversation process and discover a practical way to bring civility and reason back to our political discourse.
To listen to the program and hear me and other people from the Coffee Party talk about the TPP, click on either of the links, the second BlogTalkRadio link or the Coffee Party USA link.  My readers will get an earful for about an hour and 15 minutes.  I'd embed the audio here except that I can't seem to be able to find the embed code.

Two things came out of the conversation, one that made it into the program and one that didn't.  The one that did was a resolution to blog about the TPP here, something I hadn't done until now.  Consider this entry a down payment on that promise.  The one that didn't was a reason to support the TPP that I agree with--improving our position with regard to China.  The US and its allies need that, but I think this agreement isn't it.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Gas prices up after Memorial Day weekend

When I posted Gas in stasis for now as oil rises off bottom, I was able to buy regular for $2.39 in my old neighborhood, which I did as I expected gas prices to rise.  I drove through my old neighborhood yesterday and saw that, sure enough, gas prices had risen.  The old corner station was selling regular for $2.73, while the two open stations down the street were undercutting it at $2.69.*  Just the same, that's a 30 cent increase in two weeks.

WXYZ had anticipated this price rise last week when the station posted Holiday weekend gas prices to its Youtube channel.

People aren't happy about the increased prices, but they are still a dollar lower than they were last year at this time.  Also, the year-over-year lower prices are continuing to encourage more driving, as I pointed out when I posted the driving update for Ruby.

As for my near-term predictions, I'm not forecasting any major price increases based on the retail price environment and the commodity futures.  Gas Buddy shows that the Detroit average is still at $2.70, just as it was in last week's WXYZ clip, and in fact is down a penny from yesterday. That means that the stations in my old neighborhood are, if anything, still slightly overpriced compared to their historical patterns.  Also, Oil-Price.Net lists yesterday's closing prices for WTI at $57.68, Brent at $62.58 and RBOB at $1.99.  All are down from two weeks ago, when WTI sold for $60.75, Brent closed at $66.86, and RBOB was at $2.04.  If anything, prices might decrease slightly over the next couple of weeks before rising again in time for schools to let out and summer driving season to begin in earnest.

*Both are still cheaper than the gas station I pass by on my way to work, which is advertising regular at $2.78.  That station made a brief cameo in the WXYZ video.  Did you catch it?

Thursday, May 28, 2015 article on Detroit Zoo snails

The Detroit Zoo sent more than 100 Partula snails like this one at the London Zoo back to Tahiti.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.
Detroit Zoo ships snails to Tahiti to repopulate endangered species
In a statement released Tuesday, May 26, the Detroit Zoo announced that it had sent one-hundred land snails to Tahiti to repopulate their native habitat.  The snails belong to a species,  Partula nodosa, that had been extinct in the wild for more than twenty years. 

The announcement was more than twenty-five years in the making.  In 1989, the Detroit Zoo received specimens of P. nodosa as part of a collaborative effort with other zoos to save the species from extinction.  By the time the snail was declared extinct in the wild in 1994, all the P. nodosa on the planet resided at the Detroit Zoo.

“Our efforts and successful breeding of the snails resulted in the rescue and recovery of the species,” said Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) chief life sciences officer in a statement.  “Currently there are six thousand individuals living in North American zoos, all descendants from the Detroit Zoo’s original small group.”
There's more at the link, including a video.  Unfortunately, it's not this one from WXYZ: Detroit Zoo saves Tahitian Land snails.

Detroit Zoo saves Tahitian Land snails from extinction.
Just the same, I'm happy to have found both a video and a photograph from the library to illustrate the article.  I was worried I wouldn't find either, so I looked for them first.  As the article itself, it's a science story involving snails and Detroit.  Therefore, I had to write it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WXYZ follows up on public transit

One of the issues covered in Michigan transportation news from WXYZ was mass transit.  Last week, WXYZ followed up on that issue with two clips posted to its YouTube channel.  The first, which set the stage for the next, was Rant Van: Discussing mass transit.

Metro Detroit residents sounded off in the Channel 7 Rant Van about mass transit in metro Detroit.
The good news is that buses seem to be running more on time.  The bad news is that there are still a lot of issues, some of which were addressed in Southeast Michigan public transit.

Michael Ford, CEO of the Regional Transit Authority joins The Now Detroit to discuss public transit with us.
I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle my opinion.
Given what I've written about mass transit on this blog, most recently in More suburbs should ride the SMART bus, it should come as no surprise that I think this is a good development.  The area has inadequate public transportation and I think it desperately needs to be improved.
Good luck, Mr. Ford, and I mean that sincerely.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Deer culling and oil drilling--a follow-up

The stories in Environmental controversies from WXYZ: Deer culling and oil drilling continue to develop.  First, one story appears to be over, as WXYZ reported last week Drilling to cease in Shelby Township, no oil found at well.

That's good news for the residents and people who visit Stony Creek Metro Park, including my students.

Next, MLive describes an alternative to hiring a sharpshooter to cull Ann Arbor's deer herd in Humane Society to assess potential for deer fertility control in Ann Arbor.
The possibility of a city-funded deer cull in Ann Arbor has citizens on both sides of the issue adamantly arguing for and against shooting deer in the city.

As a potential alternative to going the lethal route, the Humane Society of the United States is now being invited to travel to Ann Arbor to assess the feasibility for conducting a deer fertility control research project here.

If it's determined to be feasible, the Humane Society has indicated a willingness to work with the city to prepare and submit a proposal to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, seeking approval for a fertility control program.

The Humane Society is working with communities around the country to implement immunocontraception and surgical sterilization methods as an alternative to killing deer.
"Fertility control may be a viable option that could be used to stabilize and reduce deer populations over time in urban communities, especially in areas where culls may not be effective, logistically feasible or socially acceptable," [Stephanie Boyles Griffin, the Humane Society's senior director of wildlife response, innovations and services] wrote in a letter shared with city officials. "There are already ongoing projects in Hastings-On-Hudson, Cayuga Heights and East Hampton, New York, as well as in San Jose, California, Fairfax City, Virginia, and Baltimore County and Montgomery County, Maryland, to name a few."
I have nothing against hunting, but if the residents and government officials of Ann Arbor can control their deer herd without it, I'm OK with that, too.  I wish everyone in the town where I lived for a decade the wisdom to make the correct decision for them.  When that happens, I promise to report it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Grilling over lava for Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!  I know there is a serious purpose to today, but this weekend is also the kickoff for summer and outdoor cooking.  How could I top safe grilling advice and the science of beer and hot dogs to mark the holiday?  Grilling steaks over molten lava!  CNN reported on this last August when the channel asked Would you eat a steak grilled ... on lava?

The first steak ever grilled, on lava! Jeanne Moos reports this gastronomic eruption tasted like "the best steak ever."
The story may be nearly a year old, but it's gotten legs lately, as reported last week: Cooking steaks over molten lava? Syracuse University praised for 'badass' grill.
The stunt and video are both 10 months old, but praise has been heating up this past week from Popular Mechanics, Boing Boing, Business Insider and Mental Floss. A writer at BuzzFeed even called it "badass" and said "this is how real men grill."
I saw it on my YouTube feed last week and one of my students submitted an article about it for extra credit.  Between the two, I knew what I'd post to celebrate Memorial Day.

Here is the complete video of the original run from Media Studio TV (ETA: the original video has been taken down, so I've substituted one from Rollin 20's: 082114 Lava Steak (Lava-cooked steaks in upstate New York) COOKING Meat with LAVA! Steak, Fish, Hotdogs.

The Syracuse University cooked up a culinary treat by grilling steaks over a stream of red hot lava as part of an experimental lava project that brings together sculptors and geologists.…
Keep calm and grill on!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

'Tomorrowland'--optimism isn't selling as well as dystopia at the box office

I telegraphed my intentions for today's post in yesterday's entry about roundabouts when I wrote that it would feature "Tomorrowland," which Vulture called the anti-Hunger Games, an optimistic movie about rescuing a better future that is at risk of being lost.
It emerges that Bird, in Tomorrowland, is mounting nothing less than a full-throated assault on the nihilism, dystopianism, and what might be called the fetishization of apocalypse in today’s movies, TV shows, and books — especially YA books that worm their way into the fantasies of impressionable kids. This is not, you understand, the movie’s subtext. It’s the Über-Über-text. It’s the message that’s articulated in multiple ways, as boldly as that Einstein sign, by characters bad and good, and it’s implicit in the riddle posed by Casey’s NASA dad that becomes the cornerstone of his daughter’s worldview: You have two wolves, one representing darkness and despair, the other light and hope. Which one lives? Says Casey: “The one you feed.”

My response to Bird’s anti-dystopianism is “Cool.” Because, really, how many more plague–flood–road warrior–kids-killing-kids movies do we need? It is time to feed that other wolf, if only for the sake of variety. And maybe we’ve learned too well since the days of Dr. Strangelove — which came out the same year as the New York World’s Fair — to “stop worrying and love the bomb.”

The trouble comes when Bird gets carried away with his critique of all things critical. In Tomorrowland, he suggests that it’s the people sounding the alarm — the ones constantly reminding us about climate change or the dangers of nuclear power — who are accelerating our demise, their pessimism wreaking havoc on imaginations that would otherwise be busy inventing solutions. I suspect that’s Bird’s Ayn Rand side showing its warty head, spinning another tale of extraordinary individuals kept from manifesting their creativity by repressive liberal groupthink. If Bird really believes we should shift the blame from a fossil-fuel industry bankrolling anti-science propaganda embraced by greedheads and fundamentalist wackjobs to the 98 percent of the world’s scientists saying, “If we don’t act now, and we mean now, we’re royally screwed,” he’s living in his own private Disneyland.
I hadn't known that Bird was an Objectivist.  Too bad, it makes me think less of him.  [ETA: Bird denies this, as The Dissolve points out.  Still, there is definitely a Randian flavor to his films' themes, one that the critics pick up.]  As for his film, follow over the jump for how it fared at the box office, especially compared to the films that it's critricizing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Roundabouts--instructions and music

Roundabouts have become more common during the past decade in Michigan as they have been installed at major intersections.  One of them is being built only two miles away from where I sit right now as I type.  Traffic in the area is a mess, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it flows once the roundabout is finished.  I don't mind driving through roundabouts, but a lot of other people I know dislike them.  For them, I present WOOD-TV's How to navigate a roundabout.

Experts say roundabouts are safer, but the thought of navigating them makes many people anxious.
I learned some useful information from this clip.  Before I watched it, I didn't know about the savings in electricity (very on-topic for this blog and useful for my classes), the actual numbers for reduction of fatal and injury accidents, or the law about how many times one can go around a roundabout.  Now I do.

Enough seriousness.  It's a holiday weekend and I'm worn out from writing Popular entries from the back catalog for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, so I'll leave my readers with some topical music, Roundabout by Yes in HD.  Enjoy the sound and scenery!

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry, which I expect will feature "Tomorrowland."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Popular entries from the back catalog for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

It's time to finish this series.

I concluded Reactionary movements for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News with the promise of one more post.
That completes this look back at the 20 most read entries of the past blogging year.  Stay tuned for the final installment about posts from the back catalog that made big moves on the leaderboard last year after a celebration of Earth Day.
That echoes how I concluded the retrospective series of the previous year's entries in Social media for the second and third year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
That's all for the entries from the the third year of the blog for this year.  Maybe next year I'll describe how one or more broke out of the pack to get into the top ten list, but that's next year's problem.
Let's see if I can tackle both in this entry.

The most read entry for the history of the blog according to the default counter as of March 21, 2015 and still the current number one is Eye spy the gas price rollercoaster about to coast down like a parachute, posted on September 2, 2012 with 1988 page views, which it still has now.  The post currently has 2916 according to the raw counter.  This entry was not among the top 20 for the second year of the blog on March 20, 2013, and not among the default top ten as of March 20, 2014.  It began its rise during the second half of 2014, when gas prices began their long, deep slide from $3.50 to just under $2.00 and a lot of web searches retrieved it as one of the results.  The entry was in the monthly top ten for six months running during that time period, enough to move it from not on the list to the top of the leader board.  Amazing how a change in economic conditions can revive the fortunes of an old post.

Follow over the jump for more revenge of the back catalog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kunstler rant and recycled comments for National Train Day

I missed a transportation holiday a couple of weeks ago, but Kunstler gave me the opportunity to commemorate it with his Monday rant on the sad state of our passenger rail system in Dead Nation Walking.
Many people seem to think that America has lost its sense of purpose. They overlook the obvious: that we are striving to become the Bulgaria of the western hemisphere. At least we already have enough vampires to qualify.

You don’t have to seek further than the USA’s sub-soviet-quality passenger railroad system, which produced the spectacular Philadelphia derailment last week that killed eight people and injured dozens more. Six days later, we’re still waiting for some explanation as to why the train was going 100 miles-per-hour on a historically dangerous curve within the city limits.
One reason Americans prefer to drive — say, from Albany, NY, to Boston — is that there is only one train a day, it never leaves on time or arrives on time, and it takes twice as long as a car trip for no reason that makes any sense. Of course, this is exactly the kind of journey ( slightly less than 200 miles) that doesn’t make sense to fly, either, given all the dreary business of getting to-and-from the airports, not to mention the expense of a short-hop plane ticket.

I take the popular (and gorgeous!) Hudson River Amtrak train between Albany and New York several times a year because bringing a car into Manhattan is an enormous pain in the ass. This train may have the highest ridership in the country, but it’s still a Third World experience. The heat or the AC is often out of whack, you can’t buy so much as a bottle of water on the train, the windows are gunked-over, and the seats are often broken. They put wifi on trains a couple of years ago but it cuts out every ten minutes.
Nowhere on earth is there passenger rail that pays for itself. But, of course, you don’t hear anyone complain about the public subsidies for driving or air travel. Who do you think pays for the interstate highway system? What major airport is privately owned and operated?

Some of the decisions made over our rail system are so dumb you wonder how the executives on board ever got their jobs. For instance the train between New York City and Chicago never runs on time for the simple reason that Amtrak sold the right-of-way to the CSX freight line. CSX then tore up the second track because there was an antiquated state real estate tax on railroad tracks. As a result, freight trains have priority on the single track and the passenger trains have to pull over on sidings every time a freight needs to go by. Earth calling the New York state legislature. Rescind the stupid tax.

America is going to need trains more than it thinks right now, despite what the “free market” says. The condition of our trains is symptomatic of the shape of the nation. The really sad part is we missed the window of opportunity to build a high-speed system. Capital will soon be too scarce for that. But we still have a conventional network that not so many decades ago was the envy of the world, and we know exactly how to fix it. We just don’t want to.
Follow over the jump for my comments and a reply to them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

President Obama's plan to save the bees

As I wrote the day before yesterday in Bees and eagles--distressing biodiversity news from Michigan, Doctor Who isn't the only one worried about disappearing bees.  That entry included a video from WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids showing how farmers help dying honey bee hives about colony collapse disorder.  The very next day, The Washington Post published How the White House plans to help the humble bee maintain its buzz showing that bees have friends in high places.
The humble bee — nuisance, threat, and linchpin of the American food supply — has won over the leader of the free world. And now President Obama is intervening on the bee’s behalf as its habitat dwindles.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration will announce the first National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, a bureaucratic title for a plan to save the bee, other small winged animals and their breeding grounds. The initiative may feel like the kind of niche interest a second-term president devotes his time to, but scientists say his attention to the busy workforce that sustains many American crops is critical. While bee colonies regularly die off during winter because of stressful conditions, their sharp decline has been called a potential ecological disaster by some environmentalists and academic experts; conservative Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) described it in an interview as “an essential thing [that] we need to pay attention to.”

The strategy, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, will seek to manage the way forests burned by wildfire are replanted, the way offices are landscaped and the way roadside habitats where bees feed are preserved.

It is also the culmination of a years-long fascination Obama has had with the bee and its worrisome fate.

“I have to say that it is mighty darn lovely having the White House acknowledge the indigenous, unpaid and invisible workforce that somehow has managed to sustain all terrestrial life without health-care subsidies, or a single COLA, for that past 250 million years,” said Sam Droege, a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist and one of the country’s foremost experts on native bee identification.
Droege wasn't the only scientist praising the announcement and the plan.  Reuters posted its video Saving the honey bees showing Stephen Cook, a research entomologist, applauding the administration's action and repeating the importance of pollinators.

Reuters has more on the importance of bees in That’s billion, with a bee: Measuring the massive cost of hive collapse.  To read the announcement and plan, click on the link to the Washington Post article above and follow their links or click on this link to Announcing New Steps to Promote Pollinator Health at the White House website and follow the links from there.

As for me, I approve of this Crazy Eddie plan and wish it all the success possible.  Our food supply is depending on it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mount St. Helens eruption 35 years later

Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.  I've commemorated the anniversary once before when I posted an Accuweather video as the second of Two environmental videos from Accuweather.  This time, I'm sharing the full video of the NOVA episode 'Mount St. Helens Back from the Dead' from 2010, a clip of which I show my students to begin my lecture on volcanoes and vulcanism.  It definitely gets their attention.

An eruption like this won't cause the collapse of civilization, but it can certainly ruin a city.  Just ask the Romans.*  On the other hand, a supervolcano eruption could contribute to the downfall of a civilization.  I might blog about that one of these days.

*I might deliver an answer the next Ides of March.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bees and eagles--distressing biodiversity news from Michigan

I'm being a good environmentalist and recycling the opening to Environmental controversies from WXYZ: Deer culling and oil drilling.
In the spirit of Michigan transportation news from WXYZ, I'm continuing to showcase two local sustainainability stories on a common theme.
Today's common theme is bad biodiversity news that is prompting responses to correct the problems.  First, Doctor Who isn't the only one worried about disappearing bees as WOOD-TV reports Farmers help dying honey bee hives.

According to a new study, this past year honey bees experience the second biggest die off rate in nine years. (May 15, 2015)
Yes, colony collapse disorder strikes Michigan, too.  It also reinforces a fact I tell my students, that fruit crops require two hives per acre, and shows what steps bee keepers are taking to combat the problem.

Next, WXYZ has a clip about a biodiversity story that has more symbolic than practical importance, Bald Eagle found shot dead.

The DNR is searching for whoever shot and killed a Bald Eagle.
This is the second local story about Bald Eagles from WXYZ that I can share with my students.  The first was Bald Eagles in Monroe Michigan, which showed how many eagles winter at the DTE plant and how the waste heat from there can actually be useful.  This clip not only shows the reaction to the eagle being shot (pretty universal disapproval) but also cites the relevant laws.  I think that will be useful to pass along.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What a lovely weekend for 'Mad Max'

I finished 'Age of Ultron' tops box office for second week with a program note about an upcoming movie more on-topic for this blog.
For something more post-apocalyptic, Mad Max premieres this Friday...Stay tuned.
I begin this entry as I did the previous Sunday entertainment entry, with an excerpt of a report from Variety by way of Reuters: 'Pitch Perfect 2' Races Past 'Mad Max: Fury Road' With Outstanding $70.3 million.
"Pitch Perfect 2" hit all the right notes at the box office, snagging first place on the charts with a smashing $70.3 million debut despite fierce competition from "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"Mad Max: Fury Road" also put up strong numbers, racking up $44.4 million across 3,702 locations. The Warner Bros. release capitalized on rapturous critical notices with some reviewers tossing around words like "genius" and "masterpiece."

"It's a film where there's a lot of applause at the end of the movie," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief. "A lot of people coming to the movie went purely on the reviews. The conversation about it is so strong about what an incredible ride this is that it's going to propel us right into the meat of the summer."

"Mad Max: Fury Road" needed the critical notices, because three decades separated chapters in the apocalyptic franchise and original star Mel Gibson aged out of the role/had one intemperate outburst too many and had to be replaced by Tom Hardy. Moreover, the film carries an R-rating which prevents teenagers from attending the picture without a parent or guardian, potentially limiting its audience.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" has much more ground to make up before it pushes into profitable terrain. "Pitch Perfect 2" cost a modest $29 million to produce, while "Mad Max: Fury Road" carries a $150 million price tag.
Follow over the jump for more of those critical raves which generally praised the movie for being a great work of art that explores serious themes, including feminism as well as resource scarcity, in addition to being wonderful entertainment as well as a video explaining the plausibility of the premise, including a discussion of peak oil.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Yesterday was Bike to Work Day

Yesterday was National Bike to Work Day.  In fact, the entire week was Bike to Work (and School) Week.  I'll let The League of American Bicyclists explain.
National Bike Month includes an ever-expanding diversity of events in communities nationwide — but the biggest day of the month is Bike to Work Day. In 2015, Bike to Work Week will be May 11-15, with Bike to Work Day on May 15.

More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.

Hundreds of American communities have been successful in increasing bicycle commuting by providing Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day events.

In fact, among the 51 largest U.S. cities, 43 hosted Bike to Work Day events in 2010. The City of Denver reported the highest rate of participation with one out of every 28 adults participating in its 2010 Bike to Work event. That effort makes a difference: Many people who participate in their Bike to Work Day promotion as first-time commuters become regular bike commuters.

But Bike Month is more than one day — or week! From fashion shows to group rides, local groups find unique ways to celebrate their diverse bike cultures and community pride.
I didn't find out about Bike to Work Day until I was already on the road yesterday, so I didn't participate, but it looks like it's a growing event.  Follow over the jump for how San Diego and Detroit have observed it, along with coverage of Detroit's own cycling event, Slow Roll.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Environmental controversies from WXYZ: Deer culling and oil drilling

In the spirit of Michigan transportation news from WXYZ, I'm continuing to showcase two local sustainainability stories on a common theme.  Today's clips from WXYZ are connected by being controversial local environmental issues.  They also share being in places important to me and my students.

First, Controlling Ann Arbor's deer population, which takes place in the town I lived in for the first decade I spent in Michigan.

A new DNR report says sharpshooters are the best option for controlling the deer population in Ann Arbor.
My study group leader, herself a former Ann Arborite, has been mentioning this issue since the first of the year.  Now that it has made the news, it has become something I'll mention to my students myself.  In fact, I'll probably do so next week when I talk about public input as an important part of deciding environmental policy.

Culling Ann Arbor's deer herd is marginally more popular than unpopular, but it's still controversial.  On the other hand, Protestors battle against residential oil drilling shows that oil exploration in a residential suburb next to a park is definitely very unpopular.

Residents of Shelby Township took to the street to protest residential oil drilling in their city.
I wonder if this drilling was the result of the sales I described in Oil and gas auction in Oakland County and 20 other counties in Michigan.  I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is.  It certainly got as much opposition.  At least so far, I haven't had to make good on the prediction I made to conclude that entry.
Stay tuned. I expect to be writing a story like Oil boom in Irish Hills hits close to home about Oakland County some time in the next few years.
As for the park next door to the drilling, it's Stony Creek Metro Park, where I send my students for field trips.  In case the name looks familiar, it's because I mentioned it in Now I have to warn my students about rattlesnakes.  Now I can tell them about the oil drilling, too.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Michigan transportation news from WXYZ

WXYZ has been following two stories about improving transportation in Michigan, particularly around Metro Detroit.  The one I like better is Regional transit plan discussed.

Officials are trying to come up with a new plan for regional transit.
Given what I've written about mass transit on this blog, most recently in More suburbs should ride the SMART bus, it should come as no surprise that I think this is a good development.  The area has inadequate public transportation and I think it desperately needs to be improved.

WXYZ posted only one clip about mass transit.  The station posted several about the aftermath of Proposal 1's defeat, the most recent being State house leader unveils new plan to fix the roads.

The list of programs being cut to fund road improvements reminds me why I was one of the 20% who voted yes.  This is what I was afraid would happen should Proposal 1 fail and, sure enough, it's being trotted out as Plan B.  I hope the Senate plan is better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gas in stasis for now as oil rises off bottom

It's been two weeks since I posted Gas prices move up on Yemen fear premium.  Regular sold at the open stations at $2.39 then, while the corner station occupied No Man's Land at $2.59.  Yesterday, I was in the neighborhood, and saw that the corner station had lowered its price to $2.49, while the open stations down the street were still selling regular for $2.39.  Stasis!  I was pleasantly surprised that prices had not risen since the week before, when my wife and I were in the vicinity and the stations down the streer were still selling regular for $2.39 and midgrade for $2.49, so we filled up Dez.  I didn't report that then because we didn't drive past the corner station and because there was no change at the stations down the street.  This time, I filled up Ruby before the price rose.  Besides, it beats the $2.58 at the station on the way into work from my new home.*
So, if there was so little movement in price, why the report?  It looks like things might change as I expect prices to rise.  Follow over the jump for the evidence supporting that forecast.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Driving update for May 2015: Ruby

As I type this, Ruby is sitting in the driveway with 90,998 miles on her odometer.  That means she will roll over 91,000 miles today on my way into work, so it's time for another driving update.

Ruby rolled past 90,000 miles on March 13, 2015, only 60 days ago.  That's an average of 16.67 miles/day and 508.3 miles/month, even more, however slight, than the 16.39 miles per day and exactly 500 miles per standard month of 30.5 days my wife and I drove Dez in March and April.   Put together, that means the two of us drove a total of 33.06 miles/day and 1008.3 miles/month over the last three or so months.  Those averages are nearly double the last combined reading I posted in January of 22.52 miles/day and 686.86 miles/month.  On the one hand, two long-distance trips by Dez on consecutive days totalling nearly 400 miles contributed almost half of Dez's miles.  On the other, I can't use that to obscure that my wife and I are driving more in our more car-dependent neighborhood.  How much more because of our regular driving habits instead of special trips will have to wait until a future update.

Once again, we're in good company, as Americans are driving more.  Calculated Risk summarized the situation last month in the headline DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 2.8% year-over-year in February, Rolling 12 Months at All Time High.
Travel on all roads and streets changed by 2.8% (6.1 billion vehicle miles) for February 2015 as compared with February 2014.

Travel for the month is estimated to be 221.1 billion vehicle miles

The seasonally adjusted vehicle miles traveled for February 2015 is 254.1 billion miles, a 2.6% (6.4 billion vehicle miles) increase over February 2014. It also represents a -1.2% change (-3.2 billion vehicle miles) compared with January 2015.
Now, miles driven - on a rolling 12 month basis - is at a new high.
Here's the graph showing the driving history and new record.

Bill McBride credits lower gasoline prices for the recent increases in miles driven.

Follow over the jump for two press releases from the University of Michigan about driving and its environmental impact.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Liberia declared Ebola-free

It's been more than four months since I posted Ebola best and worst for 2014, which was the last time I gave any kind of update on the Ebola epidemic.  That's too long, and the entries where I mentioned it in passing don't count.  Fortunately, I have good news to report: Liberia declared Ebola-free, but outbreak continues over border.

Liberia vows to be vigilant to keep Ebola-free as country goes 42 days without a new case after a year-long epidemic that killed over 4,700 people. Nathan Frandino reports.
The Reuters article accompanying this video continues with the death toll.
However, celebrations were muted by thoughts for the dead and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) urged vigilance until the worst outbreak of the disease ever recorded was also extinguished in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.

A total of 11,005 people have died from Ebola in the three West African neighbors since the outbreak began in December 2013, according to the WHO.
ODN joined Reuters in reporting this welcome development.

Don't believe the "42 weeks" part; that's an error.  It's 42 days.

When the epidemic is declared over in all three countries, I'll post Professor Farnsworth.  Until then, it looks like the rest of the world may have dodged a bullet.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

'Age of Ultron' tops box office for second week

A movie about The Singularity topped the weekend box office for the second week in a row.  "Ex Machina?"  We should be so lucky. Variety via Reuters has the story in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Tops With $77.2 Million, 'Hot Pursuit' Flounders.
LOS ANGELES ( - "Avengers: Age of Ultron" iced out "Hot Pursuit" at the weekend box office, picking up $77.2 million and topping charts for a second consecutive time.

Disney and Marvel's comic book adventure has made $312.9 million domestically since debuting stateside ten days ago. That massive figure makes it the second fastest film to clear $300 million domestically, and its sophomore weekend is the second biggest in movie history, surpassing "Avatar's" $75.6 million haul.

The film "Avengers: Age of Ultron" trails on both counts? Its predecessor, 2012's "Marvel's The Avengers," which had earned $373 million at a similar point in its run after scoring a $103 million second weekend.

"It's a dominant force," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "These second weekend numbers would be a great opening weekend debut for a lot of films."

Internationally, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" picked up $68 million, pushing the film to $875.3 million globally. Given that major markets such as China and Japan are still left to open and domestic audiences continue to embrace the film, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" should have no trouble becoming the second 2015 release to clear $1 billion globally, behind "Furious 7."
I'll celebrate each of the chart-topping weekends with drinks from Tipsy Bartender later.  First, I share Kyle Hill of Nerdist's take on Artificial Intelligence and The Singularity, How Soon Will We Reach ULTRON-level AI?

Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk often warn us about the potential dangers of advanced AI. But how soon will we see sentient, Ultron-level AI? Just when will we reach the point of singularity? Should we be wary of Siri?! Kyle discusses on Because Science.
That's why a superhero blockbuster like "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is worthy of examination at this blog; it looks at a possible doomsday scenario, albeit in a superficial way.  The only good thing about The Singularity, if Kunstler was right in Prophets of Doom, is that it's a sign that other causes of collapse didn't get us first.

Enough DOOM.  Follow over the jump for the two drinks from Tipsy Bartender, one to celebrate each week on top of the box office.

Three videos for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  To celebrate the day, I'm sharing three videos from the silly to the serious.  First, in what's becoming a holiday tradition on this blog, here's a recipe from The Tipsy Bartender: Drunken Mother's Day Bouquet.

The perfect gift for the woman who brought you into this world... DRUNKEN MOTHER'S DAY BOUQUET! The Bouquet is also a great gift idea for birthdays, anniversaries, girls night in and more! Watch our Russian assemble this creative idea!
Follow over the jump for the text of the recipe, plus videos from DNews and Vox about the science and experience of motherhood.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Monthly meta for April 2015: record page views plus goals, top posts, and Nablopomo for May 2015

I begin this this month's report where I finished Monthly meta: page views and posts for March 2015 and goals for April 2015.
Last April, the blog earned 13,090 page views, the third best month in the history of the blog so far.  To be up year-over-year, I have to beat that.  My minimum goal is 437 page views per day for a total of 13,110 page views.  I'm going to attempt that while posting no more than 43 entries.  Wish me luck.
I managed to achieve all my goals for April and then some.  I shot for a minimum of 13,110 page views.  I hit 14,278, a new monthly high for the blog, over 1,000 more than the previous record of 13,251 set in December 2014 and 1,200 more than last month.  That translates into 475.93 page views per day.  I also managed to set a new record while not exceeding my self-imposed limit of 43 entries by only posting 38 entries during April, an average of 374.74 page views per entry.*  This is yet another improvement over both the average of 276.28 page views per post during the fourth year of this blog and the average of 306.84 page views per post for March 2015.  So far, the pace of readership is still up year-over-year.

As for this month, the goals for increased readership are lower than last month.  The blog received 11,820 page views during May 2014.  To beat that, I've set a minimum goal of 382 page views per day for 11,842 page views during May.  I've also set a medium goal of 387 views per day to get to 12,000 and 400 per day for a five percent increase over last year.  So far, page views are exceeding all these goals.  As for the number of entries, I'm shooting for 44 this month.  Right now, I'm ahead of that pace, too, but I think I'll be able to slow down in time to not go over 44 posts during May while still making my page view goals.

I'll revisit whether I made this month's goals in June.  For now, follow over the jump to read the top fifteen entries during April along with this month's Nablopomo theme.

Bio Urns: student sustainability video festival 39

I concluded Natural ant control: student sustainability video festival 38 by guessing at why my students voted for their two favorite talks.
Looks like my students wanted to learn something that would be immediately useful and environmentally conscious at the same time.  They also wanted to learn about something that they won't use for decades.  That will be the subject of tomorrow's installment.
For the final installment in this series until the end of the summer semester, I'm featuring My Eternal Family Tree LLC™ presents: Bio Urn™ Video.

This video takes you step-by-step through the process of creating your beloved pet's memorial tree with Bio Urn™.
The students may not use this on themselves for decades, but they can certainly use it sooner for their pets.  They also like the idea of a memorial tree better than a headstone.

That's it for the semester just past.  Crazy Eddie will now return to its regular programming. For today and tomorrow, that means posts about Monthly Meta, Mothers Day, and Sunday entertainment.  Stay tuned.

ETA: The video above has been made private.  I'll keep it in case it is made public again.  In the meantime, here is a new one for people: Bios Urn - Life After Life.

Let’s convert cemeteries into forests!

The Bios Urn is a fully biodegradable urn designed to convert you into a tree after life. Mainly composed of two parts, the urn contains a seed which will grow to in the name of your loved one. Bios Urn turns death into a transformation and a return to life through nature.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Natural ant control: student sustainability video festival 38

I concluded Marshes of Iraq: student sustainability video festival 37 by telling my readers "Stay tuned for two more entries on videos from presentations that the students voted their favorites.  Yes, there was a tie."  Here is the video from one of the two talks my students enjoyed the most, Insect Pest Control : How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally.

A mixture of half vinegar and half water, or chili powder, can be used to naturally get rid of ants when sprayed around doorways and windows on both the inside and outside. Get rid of ants naturally with tips from an exterminator, such as dumping boiling water on the ants' nest, in this free video on pest control.
Looks like my students wanted to learn something that would be immediately useful and environmentally conscious at the same time.  They also wanted to learn about something that they won't use for decades.  That will be the subject of tomorrow's installment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

UAE announces Mars mission

This blog visited Iraq this morning.  This evening, it travels down the Gulf to report on the United Arab Emirates' announcement that it plans to launch a probe to Mars by 2020.  I have two video clips on the story.  First, GeoBeats News' United Arab Emirates Announces Details Of Upcoming Mission To Mars.

The United Arab Emirates is working on finalizing plans for its exploratory mission to the Red Planet, and the nation’s leader has revealed new details pertaining to it.
That report let the Emirati scientists and engineers through more-or-less unfiltered.  The Wall Street Journal puts more of an editorial spin on the story in U.A.E Unveils Details of Mars Mission.

Not content with building some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, the United Arab Emirates has set its sights higher. It plans to construct and design an unmanned space probe that will orbit the Red Planet for up to four years.
With luck, this blog will still be around in five years to cover the mission.

Marshes of Iraq: student sustainability video festival 37

It's been a couple of days since I posted Amur Leopards: student sustainability video festival 36.  Normally, I'd have suspended the series by now, as I submitted grades on Monday, but my students showed so many good videos that I'm continuing the series through the rest of the week.

Today's entrant in the festival is Nature Iraq Staff Embrace Magical Marshlands.

Thirteen staffers from Nature Iraq's northern office in the Kurdish city of Sulimanyah enjoyed a rare chance this month to join their counterparts on a trip to the endangered marshlands, an area the team has worked hard to protect through a variety of projects over the past five years.
The talk that included this video serves as a rare example of one where I suggested the topic to the student; usually, I let them pick their topics and run with them and that usually produces good and surprising results.  The student who gave her presentation on the marshes of Mesopotamia wanted to do something on Iraq, her native country, but didn't know what.  I told her to look into the Marsh Arabs and what Saddam Hussein did to them and their environment.  She had not heard about that assault on a people through their environment, but she did an outstanding job.  The students and I enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for two more entries on videos from presentations that the students voted their favorites.  Yes, there was a tie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Music for the Revenge of the Sixth from KOTOR

Today is the day to celebrate the Dark Side of Star Wars Day, the Revenge of the Sixth.  Last year, I observed the occasion with Music for Revenge of the Sixth, consisting of the Sith music themes from Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR).  This year, I'll begin where I left off, returning to the first uses of the Sith theme In Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), The Sith/Endar Spire.

Follow over the jump for more villainous music from KOTOR.

Proposal 1 lost: article

As I predicted twice, Proposal 1 lost.  Here's the article I wrote for dissecting the loss.

Proposal 1 loses badly statewide while winning Ann Arbor
The polls predicted that Proposal 1 would lose badly.  It did even worse than expected, although it was not Ann Arbor's fault.

As of 12:22 A.M., the Detroit Free Press reported that 1,332,676 votes against the measure had been counted to 330,764 votes in favor in the statewide tally so far, a loss of eighty percent to twenty percent.  That was an even larger defeat than predicted by the most recent poll, which found twenty-nine percent of those surveyed saying they would vote yes to sixty-one percent saying they would vote no.

While Proposal 1 went down to defeat statewide, it won in both the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township by slim margins.  The measure earned 8,347 yes votes (51.2%) to 7957 no votes (48.8%) in Ann Arbor proper and 507 yes votes (51.6%) to 475 no votes (48.4%) in Ann Arbor Township.  Those results were not enough to outweigh every other part of Washtenaw county voting against the measure, for a county-wide total of 39,031 (64.6%) no votes to 21,375 (35.4%) yes votes.
More at the link, including the following WXYZ video.

Voters overwhelmingly reject proposal 1

Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected proposal 1, putting the future of the state's roads in question.
Here's what I had to say on Monday over at Kunstler's blog.
Michigan's Proposal 1 is polling terribly.  The roads are terrible, but the people are not willing to go along with the legislative compromises required to fix them.  Therefore, the potholes I'll be driving over and around on my way to work today will still be there next year.  Meanwhile, marijuana legalization is likely to pass next year.  In a choice between potholes and potheads, Michigan will choose potheads.  I'd rather they do both.
They didn't.  Sigh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Two Tipsy Bartender drinks for Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!  Just like last year, I'm celebrating the holiday by posting recipes from  Tipsy Bartender.

Skyy and Sophia begin with Stoplight Margarita.

Check out this awesome layered mix... STOPLIGHT MARGARITA! Watch our German princess create this cool summer blend!

1 1/2 oz (45 ml) Tequila
1 oz (30 ml) Kiwi Strawberry Kool Aid
1 oz (30 ml) Lime Margarita Mix
Green Food Coloring

1 1/2 oz (45 ml) Tequila
2 oz (60 ml) Mango Margarita Mix

1 1/2 oz (45 ml) Tequila
2 oz (60 ml) Strawberry Margarita Mix

Garnish with Lime Slices.
Follow over the jump for the second drink.

Amur Leopards: student sustainability video festival 36

I told my readers to "stay tuned for more entries in this series" at the end of Radioactive wolves: student sustainability video festival 35.  It's time to do just that.

Two students gave presentations on the endangered Amur Leopard.  The first used SAVE the Amur Leopards as her video for her talk.

It is estimated that between 1970-1983, the Amur leopard lost an astonishing 80% of its former territory. Indiscriminate logging, forest fires and land conversion for farming are the main causes.

Still all is not lost. Even now large tracts of forest, which are ideal leopard habitat exist. If these areas can be protected from unsustainable logging, rampant forest fires and poaching of wildlife, the chance exists to increase the population of the subspecies in the wild.

The Amur leopard is poached largely for its beautiful, spotted fur. In 1999, an undercover investigation team recovered a female and a male Amur leopard skin, which were being sold for US$ 500 and US$ 1,000 respectively, in the village of Barabash, not far from the Kedrovaya Pad reserve. This suggests that there is a market for such products within the locality itself.

Agriculture and villages surround the forests where the leopards live. As a result the forests are relatively accessible, making poaching a bigger problem than elsewhere. Not only for the leopards themselves, but also for important prey species, such as roe deer, sika deer and hare, which are hunted by the villagers both for food and hard cash.
More text at the link.

The second concluded his talk with Mark Sharman: Baby Planet - Amur Leopards.

A sequence taken from the Animal Planet/France 5 series Baby Planet, produced by Parthenon Entertainment... featuring a feisty family of rare Amur Leopards as the three cubs get vaccinated and chipped in a conservation programme at Mulhouse Zoo, France.
Videos like these remind me that one of the issues that got me interested in environmentalism was endangered species.  I've grown away from that, but preserving them as part of conserving biodiversity is still an important cause.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars drinks for Star Wars Day

Happy Star Wars  Day!  To celebrate this year's fake geek holiday, I'm doing something I've done for other holidays but never so far for this one, feature a drink recipe from Tipsy Bartender.  I present Star Wars Shots AKA Han Shot First.

Super tasty and fun... STAR WARS SHOTS! This is a crazy combo with a clever Star Wars theme!
Han Solo Shot:
1/2 oz. (15ml) Kahlua coffee liqueur
1/2 oz (15ml) Bailey's
1/2 oz (15ml) Crown Royal

Greedo Shot:
1/2 oz. (15ml) Kahlua coffee liqueur
1/2 oz (15ml) Bailey's
Mix 1 oz (30ml) Green Creme de Menthe and Bacardi 151 in a measuring glass, then layer on top. Light the mixture to signify Greedo getting shot by the blaster!!
Those drinks deserve some musical accompaniment.  Here's Star Wars Suite - Cantina Band (BBC Proms) for your drinking pleasure.

Cantina Band - Star Wars Suite 3/4 - John Williams
BBC Concert Orchestra
Conductor Keith Lockhart
BBC Proms no.65 Film Music Prom 31/8/13
Once again, Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you!

Sunday, May 3, 2015 article on Michigan earthquake

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake centered southeast of Kalamazoo shook Michigan early Saturday afternoon.
Credit: National Weather Service, Grand Rapids Office.
Saturday's earthquake the strongest to hit Michigan since 1947
The earthquake that struck Michigan at 12:23 P.M. Saturday was the strongest to hit the state since 1947, according to experts at the University of Michigan.  The tremor, which registered 4.2 on the Richter scale, originated at at depth of 3.2 miles beneath a point five miles south of Galesberg, which is nine miles southeast of Kalamazoo and fourteen miles west-southwest of Battle Creek, according to the the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Despite the most power generated by an earthquake in Michigan in 67 years, no injuries were reported according to the Detroit Free Press.  One photograph from a Twitter user published by the Free Press claimed to show some broken glass caused by the earthquake.  This was consistent with the USGS's intensity map of the tremor.  The areas where the shaking was strongest could experience minor damage to objects knocked off walls and shelves.

Larry Ruff, a seismologist at the University of Michigan, commented that earthquakes the size of the one that shook Michigan on Saturday were rare.  "We feel a lot of relatively small earthquakes in the state, but most of them occur to the south of Michigan," Ruff said in a press release. "So to have an earthquake of this magnitude with the epicenter in Michigan is very unusual."
More at the link, including a reassurance that this has nothing to do with fracking.  Considering that there actually aren't any gas or oil wells that use fracking nearby and that the most powerful earthquake in Michigan history hit a city only 50 miles away well before fracking began, I accept that claim.

I'll get around to the Monthly Meta eventually.  Stay tuned for a Star Wars  Day post in the meantime.

Radioactive wolves: student sustainability video festival 35

I concluded PR for Green cars: student sustainability video festival 34 by teling my readers to "stay tuned for...the Sunday entertainment entry, which might do double duty as an installment of the student sustainability video festival."  For today's entry, I present a video that I'd been hearing about for years and which is right on-topic for the project of this blog at the intersection of biodiversity, energy, and disaster, "Radioactive Wolves."  First, the preview.

The historic nuclear accident at Chernobyl is now 25 years old. Filmmakers and scientists set out to document the lives of the packs of wolves and other wildlife thriving in the "dead zone" that still surrounds the remains of the reactor.
If anyone wants to see a post-human, post-apocalyptic landscape, one doesn't have to watch "The Walking Dead."  One simply has to view images of the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.  Take this clip of an 'unintentional green city' for example.

The ghost city of Pripyat was once a thriving metropolis. Today, it's a city that is green, in an unnerving and unintentional way.
Follow over the jump for and embedded video of the full documentary and a link to the official video at

Saturday, May 2, 2015 article on Proposal 1 polling

Proposal 1 to raise Michigan's sales tax one percent to fix the state's roads is behind in the polls 61% to 29%.
Image from the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan's Proposal 1 trailing by huge margin in final poll before election
A poll released Friday evening showed that opponents of Proposal 1, which would increase the sales tax by one percent to fund improvements to the state's roads and trigger ten other laws if passed, still outnumber proponents among likely voters in Tuesday's election by more than two to one.  The survey of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA found that sixty-one percent of those responding said they would vote against the measure, in contrast to only twenty-nine percent saying they would vote in favor.  Those indicating they would vote no increased to sixty-four percent when the language of the ballot measure was read to them.

The implications of the poll on the prosposal's prospects were summed up by EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn, who was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying "The proposal is obviously on life support--there's no other way of saying it."  Porn was quoted by MLive as saying of the measure's backers "They have a very high hill to climb, and they have a very short time in which to do it."

The top four reasons those indicating a vote of no gave were that there was too much in the proposal (31%), they were against the tax increase because taxes were too high already (22%), they thought it would be wasteful government spending (13%), and they distrusted Michigan's government, including Governor Rick Snyder (11%).  A majority (53%) of those favoring the proposal said that roads needed repair.  Other reasons included education funding (16%), funding needed in general (6%), and roads, schools, and the rest of state government needed funding (4%).
Click on the link in the headline to read about the approval ratings of Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature along with some more darkly hilarious quotes from Bernie Porn.

Continue to stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry and the Monthly Meta.

PR for Green cars: student sustainability video festival 34

Continuing on from Disappearing bees and Doctor Who: student sustainability video festival 33, two of my students presented talks on electric, hybrid, and other vehicles that attempt to be sustainable.  The video from the first talk was Ford's John Viera on the sustainability happenings at Ford [SB '13 interview] by Sustainable Brands.

Ford's John Viera talks about the range of products and initiatives the company is offering to advance customers' sustainable lifestyles. This interview took place on June 6, 2013, at the SB '13 conference in San Diego.
Viera and Ford impressed me.  He reminded me that I posted Earth Day Event at Detroit Institute for the Arts--a MacGuffin for examining Ford's sustainabilty report four years ago.  I was pleased enough with Ford's sustainability statement then that I included it in my lectures.  I plan on looking for more videos and news stories about Viera to include in future entries.  I also subscribed to Sustainable Brands YouTube channel.  They seem to be providing exactly the kind of content I want to watch.

Next, Tesla Motors provided the video for the second presentation, Monster Meets Model S.

After achieving a record nine career wins at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, renowned racer Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima gets behind the wheel of Model S for a test drive through the hills of Fremont, CA. Speaking briefly of his history in motor sports and why he is such a proponent of EV technology, Monster gives his impression of Model S and his desire to see Tesla succeed.
That was fun to watch, even if Tesla is a luxury product I'll never drive.  It still got the students' attention.

That concludes today's look at green corporate PR.  Stay tuned for the Monthly Meta and the Sunday entertainment entry, which might do double duty as an installment of the student sustainability video festival.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Disappearing bees and Doctor Who: student sustainability video festival 33

It's time to continue the series from Overpopulation: student sustainability video festival 32.   Tonight, I have two videos about colony collapse disorder.  First, the fiction, as The Twelfth Eleventh Doctor asks "What do you mean, the bees are disappearing?"

That was a hoot.  I'm surprised I hadn't heard about that plotline before.  It's certainly on-topic here.

Next, the fact, as WLFI reports on Decline in Honey Bees.

Compared to Doctor Who, the reality is kind of boring.  Too bad.

Stay tuned for more, as I wrote yesterday.
My students have provided me a bumper crop this semester, so expect high-quality video entries all the way up to Tuesday.  These will be on top of posts for Nablopomo, Star Wars Day, Cinco De Mayo, and the Revenge of the Sixth along with Entertainment Sunday and Monthly Meta for April.  Oh, and correcting final exams and calculating grades.  Looks like I'll be busy.
I think I'll combine Monthly Meta and Nablopomo this month.  I might also combine the entertainment entry and a student sustainability video festival entry.  I have enough videos to do that.

A drum corps maypole in motion for May Day

Last year, I decided to put a unique spin on the holiday in Drum corps maypoles for May Day.
I couldn't decide how to reconcile the two meanings of May Day, the sanitized pagan festival of spring or the European Labor Day, so I decided to post something else that would be distinctly mine--drum corps maypoles.
One of the corps I featured was the 1979 Schaumberg Guardsmen, the photo of whom leads off this entry.  This year, I have something new to add, the video clip 1979 Guardsmen - “Greensleeves”.

Many know the melody to “Greensleeves” as the popular Christmas carol, “What Child is This?” The lyrics were written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix for a poem titled, “The Chamber Throne.” The folk song melody was likely composed during the English Elizabethan era of the late 16th Century and in its original form had no connection to the Christmas season. Interestingly, the tune is better known in the United States than in Britain.

The Guardsmen performed the piece seven times; its second-year use in 1979 was regarded as one of the most beautiful moments of the season and helped the corps secure its highest placement ever at the DCI World Championships.
Nothing like seeing a maypole in motion.

With that, I wish my readers a Blessed Beltane and Happy May Day!