Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Snow Monkeys and Emmy Awards: Student sustainability video festival 47

No, it's not final exam time.  Instead, it's a bonus installment prompted by the Emmy Awards.  A third installment of the television honors for news and documentaries was held Monday and the big winner was PBS, who announced their victories in a press release: PBS Wins 17 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, More Than Any Other Organization.
ARLINGTON, VA; September 29, 2015 – PBS programs were honored with 17 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, more than any other organization, at the 36th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards presentation at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, Home of the New York Philharmonic, in New York City on September 28.

“On behalf of PBS and our member stations, congratulations to our all our programs and producers who were honored with News & Documentary Emmy Awards,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “Our mission in public media is to shed light where others may not go--through in-depth investigative journalism, outstanding nature and natural history programming, and independent film--and our 2015 News & Documentary Award winners lead the way. These awards are a welcome recognition of our focus on distinctive content and speak to the extraordinary quality of programming being produced by public media. Congratulations to all of our winners and nominees.”

Acclaimed PBS series FRONTLINE earned six awards, followed by NATURE with four. FRONTLINE’s "United States of Secrets" and POV’s "After Tiller" were tied for Best Documentary.
Two of the statues taken home by Nature caught my attention, as they were for a show that one of my students used for his visual aid this spring, "Snow Monkeys."  The episode won two awards, Outstanding Nature Programming and Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Long Form.  Watch the clips from Nature on PBS to appreciate the craftsmanship of the program.

Here's the trailer: Snow Monkeys | Nature, Trailer | PBS

In the frigid valleys of Japan's Shiga Highlands, a troop of snow monkeys make their way and raise their families in a complex society of rank and privilege where each knows their place.
Now the clip that the student used Hot Springs for Snow Monkeys in "Hell Valley" | Snow Monkeys, Nature | PBS.

Japan's Jigokudani became a sensation when hot springs were constructed for the Hell Valley snow monkey troops. The monkeys get important help from the hot springs in the valley, fed by warm volcanic waters, but their survival is a communal effort in a complex society of rank and privilege where each knows their place.
Follow over the jump for two more clips along with another award-winning PBS show that I blogged about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Briny water flows on the surface of Mars

I'm not done with Mars after posting The science and hype of 'The Martian' and neither is NASA.  Yesterday's big science news was Liquid Water on Mars.  SciShow reports.

Today, NASA announced that there is...occasionally...flowing, liquid water on the surface of Mars. What?!
Thanks to SciShow for telling its viewers not only what the discovery really was, but what it means.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The science and hype of 'The Martian'

There's a lot more to the week's serious entertainment news than ICP's lawsuit against the FBI.  For starters, the past two weekends' box office had a youth dystopia in the top five.  I'll get to that later.  For now, I'm writing about a movie opening up this weekend that is more optimistic, "The Martian."  It promises to be the hard-SF film of the year.  Discovery News asks Just How Scientifically Accurate Is 'The Martian'?  The answer is very.

The upcoming film 'The Martian' is making a huge splash for both scientists and science fans, but how scientifically accurate is it?
This fits right in with the case for colonizing space but with an acknowledgement that space is a hostile environment.

Discovery News is just part of the hype machine, albeit a very informative and informed part.  Here is a video that escaped me from June that is more nakedly promotion of the movie: Ridley Scott's THE MARTIAN Viral Trailer (Science Fiction - 2015).  That doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

THE MARTIAN Viral Trailer
A Movie directed by Ridley Scott
Cast : Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña
Release Date : in theaters November 25, 2015.
Genre : Science Fiction
I definitely plan on covering this weekend's box office to see how this movie fares against "Sicario" and the rest of the competition.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Insane Clown Posse's lawsuit against the FBI will proceed

Three years ago, I wrote FBI declares ICP and Juggalos a gang; ICP sues.  It turned out that headline was premature.  The scary musical clowns from Detroit were just preparing for a suit.  They didn't actually file until January 2014, as this WXYZ video shows.

The case went to court in June 2014.  The ACLU of Michigan reported their side of the procedding in I'm a Juggalo, Not A Gang Member: Update on the Case.

The ACLU of Michigan was in court on Monday, June 23 where a federal judge heard arguments in our lawsuit with the Insane Clown Posse. The lawsuit challenges the FBI's erroneous and arbitrary designation of all fans of ICP, known as Juggalos, as a "hybrid" criminal gang.
The judge dismissed the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not show any damages.  ICP and the ACLU of Michigan appealed the decision.  Two weeks ago, they got good news.  NBC reported Insane Clown Posse Lawsuit Wins Appeal in Suit Against FBI for 'Gang' Designation.
A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Insane Clown Posse in their bid to get the FBI to remove the Detroit hip-hop duo's followers — known as "Juggalos" — from a gang list.
 The lawsuit, filed in January 2014 with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, was later tossed out by a district court in Michigan after it found the plaintiffs had failed to show they suffered any injuries.

But the federal appeals court on Thursday reversed that district court's decision and ordered that the case be considered.
ICP saw this as a major victory, as seen in Rolling Stone's quote from the band's statement.
“We're thankful that the Juggalo family will finally get their day in court," the duo said in a statement on their official site following Thursday's ruling. "Discrimination against someone based solely upon the type of music they listen to is just flat out wrong and it’s time that the legal system acknowledges that. The FBI's labeling of Juggalos as a gang has wreaked havoc on thousands of lives, resulting in job losses, dismissal from military service, eviction, lost child custody and constant harassment and profiling from law enforcement organizations all across the country."
This could still take a while, as no court date has been set.  Stock up on popcorn, as the suit may be even more entertaining than an ICP concert.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sunday's blood moon won't be the end of the world

There's a lunar eclipse tomorrow night, which has received a lot of press.  The sane perspective on the event comes from KPBS's Total Lunar Eclipse and Supermoon This Weekend.

Peggy Pico talks with Jerry Hilburn of the San Diego Astronomy Association to discuss the lunar event this weekend.
There, just a spectacular sky phenomenon.  However, some people are making it out be more than that.  Follow over the jump.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Blog recommendation: You Might Notice a Trend

Tonight, I'm going to do something I don't recall having done since I wrote Blog Recommendation: The Hipcrime Vocab--recommend a blog.  Then, it was Chad (yes, that's really his first name) AKA "escapefromwisconsin" who writes The Hipcrime Vocab.  This time, it's Paul Wartenberg of You Might Notice a Trend.  Both Chad and Paul reflect aspects of my blog, Chad the dark (but not evil) side of my interests, employment, agriculture, energy, economy, politics, and collapse, and Paul the light side, including humor, pop culture, and politics, albeit from an more optimistic perspective than Chad.  Put the two of them together and the result would look a lot like me writing this blog.

I've been reading Paul's blog ever since I stumbled into him while doing the research for Drinks and drinking games for Donald Trump and the GOP debates.  I've since referenced his drinking games and provided the drinks to accompany them in a series of posts: Proof of drinking game concept on Kasich; Drinks for the candidates in tonight's debate; Debate drinking game rules for Carly Fiorina; Oops--Rick Perry drops out; Drink a Flaming Volcano for Jindal; and There's a Santorum cocktail, too.  Paul's reciprocated by linking to those entries and commenting on them as well as Drink to Deez Nuts for President.  Those should have been enough to get me to recommend his blog, but it wasn't.  It was Paul writing "all you seven readers of this blog."  True enough, he only has seven followers, and he's been writing his blog since 2006.  He really deserves more readers.  Therefore, I'm recommending my readers also read Paul's blog.

Here's to hoping the same thing will happen to Paul that happened to Chad.  When I recommended The Hipcrime Vocab three years ago, the blog had only ten followers.  Now, it has 118.  May Paul have at least 50 by the general election next year.  So, will you join me at You Might Notice a Trend?  Come for the drinking games, stay for the bumper stickers!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gas prices slightly up in old neighborhood to begin fall

When I last reported on the local gasoline market, I observed that the gas price spike was a dead cat bounce.  The stations in my old neighborhood were all selling regular for $2.24.  I followed that with two entries about the lowest gas prices for Labor Day in 11 years.  I then passed along that gas was already below $2 near Grand Rapids and that GasBuddy showed the stations in my former neighborhood all selling regular for $2.19.  I never actually saw those prices, but I did see enough to say that they rose and are now falling.

Last Thursday, all the stations in my old stomping grounds were selling regular for $2.37.  I decided not to fill up, as I expected prices to fall.  They did.  Tuesday, the corner station listed regular for $2.27 and the two stations down the street displayed $2.29 for regular.  I filled up Pearl at the corner station and not a moment too soon, as the dashboard display said the car had only two miles of gas left.  This is exactly where the price should be, as the Detroit average is currently $2.37.  That's up from earlier this month, both from the $2.31 just before Labor Day and from the $2.24 on the 16th.  Therefore, I don't expect prices to go down this week.

Early next week might be another story.  Oil-Price.Net lists yesterday's closes for WTI and Brent at $44.48 and $47.75 respectively, close to the lows for the month so far for both.  In addition, RBOB is selling for $1.38, two cents lower than the first week of September.  Whatever is driving up the price of gas in Detroit, it's not the wholesale price of fuel.  Consequently, I'm still expecting either the price in my old neighborhood or the average price in Detroit to fall below $2.00 between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2015!

The Washington Post announces the exact moment in Say goodbye to summer as daylight dwindles, the fall equinox is on Wednesday.
Summer warmth has visited many parts of the country this September, but fall is finally in the air as we near the autumnal equinox. This year’s equinox occurs Sept. 23 at 4:21 a.m. Eastern time. At that time, the sun can be seen directly overhead along Earth’s equator, marking the beginning of astronomical fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

The fall equinox is one of only two days each year when all points on Earth outside the polar regions see the sun rise and set at due east and due west, along the horizon. And since neither hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, all latitudes see almost exactly 12 hours of daylight and darkness (though not quite).
Google has a special doodle for today, which is featured in Autumnal Equinox 2015 Google Doodle.

Once again, Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scott Walker ends campaign as soon as he realized it became a zombie

The news came this afternoon.  Vox reported Scott Walker - out of money and out of supporters - quits the race.  Much like Rick Perry, Walker took a shot at Trump on his way out.
In a brief speech clearly meant to denigrate poll leader Donald Trump, Walker cited his hero Ronald Reagan to explain his decision. "Ronald Reagan was good for America because he was an optimist," he said. "Sadly, the debate taking place in the Republican Party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America. Instead, it has drifted into personal attacks."

"Today," he continued, "I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field." And he called on other candidates to quit too, so that "a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner" could emerge.
Listen to Walker's words in PBS Newshour's Scott Walker drops out of 2016 presidential race.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday announced he was dropping out of the pool of GOP contenders for the 2016 presidential race.
Shorter Walker: "I'm getting out so that my support can go to someone more acceptable to the Koch Brothers than Donald Trump."  Nice thought, but Walker has lost so much support already that he's at one percent in a national poll of people who watched the second debate and has fallen from first place in Michigan in June to tenth, even before the second debate.  His support has already gone elsewhere, most likely to someone like Carly Fiorina instead of someone like Kasich, Rubio, or Jeb!  Walker's sacrifice will not mean much by itself, just like Perry's hasn't done much to dent Trump's lead.

As for my reaction, as I wrote in a comment at Michigan Liberal, I thought he'd last until the Iowa Caucuses, but I guess losing support and running out of money has convinced him to give up early.  That written, I'm glad he's gone.  I've never liked Governor Recall and found him to be the candidate most threatening to me.  I'm an educator and union member, two categories that he beat up on in Wisconsin.  Fortunately, it looks like he won't be able to export his bad solutions.  Good riddance!

Monday, September 21, 2015

'Game of Thrones' wins Best Drama and three other awards

'Game of Thrones' already a big winner at the Emmy Awards.
I'll have to wait until tomorrow night to see if "Game of Thrones" wins its seven remaining categories, "American Horror Story" wins its remaining four, and "Last Man on Earth" wins any of its three.
Stay tuned for another post about tonight's awards program in which I plan to follow up on the shows and performers I listed as my favorites in 2015 Critics' Choice Awards, Speculative Fiction, Politics, Crime, and History.  Here's hoping at least some of them win.
"Game of Thrones" won four more awards last night, including Best Drama.  Here's the Television Academy's own clip of the announcement: Game Of Thrones Wins Outstanding Drama Series

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss pick up the Emmy for outstanding Drama series for Game Of Thrones.
In addition, the fantasy series won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.  Watch Peter Dinklage Wins Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for the presentation of the last award.

Peter Dinklage picks up the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for his fantastic performance as Tyrion Lannister in Game Of Thrones.
That's a total of 12 awards in one year.  As Vox pointed out, Game of Thrones has officially won the most Emmys of any series in a single year.
After winning eight (8) awards at last week's Creative Arts Emmys, HBO's Game of Thrones continued its hot streak at the Primetime Emmys to officially win the most Emmys of any series in a single year, with 12.

The previous record holder was The West Wing, which won nine Emmy awards in 2002 (its first season).
Congratulations to "Game of Thrones."  The show and its cast and crew deserved the accolades.

All that is the good news for Speculative Fiction.  The bad news is that "American Horror Story" and "The Last Man on Earth" were shut out last night.  I think my wife and I should do what I wrote in 'The Walking Dead' at Comic-Con, the Emmys, and the Saturn Awards and join the Saturn Awards as an out-of-town member so we can vote for the shows and performers we like.  I'll make that one of my New Year's resolutions.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

'Game of Thrones' already a big winner at the Emmy Awards

While the prime-time telecast is tonight, the technical awards were already presented last Sunday.  Ace Show Biz reports 'Game of Thrones' Dominates With Eight Wins at 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
HBO wins big with 29 awards including eight from 'Game of Thrones' while NBC follows with 11 gongs including four from 'SNL' 40th anniversary special.
Here are the fantasy series' wins:
  • Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic): "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More): "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series: "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour): "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Special Visual Effects: "Game of Thrones"
  • Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie): "Game of Thrones"
The other big winner at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards was "American Horror Story: Freak Show" with five trophies for FX:
  • Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic): "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
  • Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or a Special: "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
  • Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series or Movie: "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
  • Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or a Movie: "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
  • Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role: "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
Unfortunately, that was pretty much it for live-action speculative fiction last Sunday night.  Both "Penny Dreadful" and "The Walking Dead" were shut out; two of the latter's nominations went either to "Game of Thrones" (stunts and sound editing) and two to "American Horror Story" (special effects and makeup) while Penny Dreadful's categories went to "American Horror Story" (makeup), "Transparent" (theme music), and "House of Cards" (music composition).  The closest "The Walking Dead" got was Chris Hardwick, who hosts "Talking Dead," winning Social TV Experience for "@Midnight."  At least I can be happy for Chris, who deserves an award for his work somewhere.

The only other other Speculative Fiction show that won an award was "Adventure Time," which was crowned "Outstanding Short-Form Animated Program."  Good choice, but otherwise nothing.  I'll have to wait until tomorrow night to see if "Game of Thrones" wins its seven remaining categories, "American Horror Story" wins its remaining four, and "Last Man on Earth" wins any of its three.  That's pretty much it for SF tomorrow.

Follow over the jump for my comments on winners in other genres.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Talk like a drum corps pirate

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!  This year, I'm putting a drum corps spin on the holiday with Drum Corps Internatational's clip of Madison Scouts in Ahoy! It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy, me hearties! September the 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. We've pillaged the DCI video archive on this occasion and wish you all to take part in our booty—a clip of the Madison Scouts shanty from nineteen-hundred and ninety-seven, "The Pirates of Lake Mendota." Yo-ho-ho!
I covered this show 18 years ago.  Here's the relevant excerpt of Vince's Review of Port Huron Show for Drum Corps World along with my commentary in italics.
While they may be judged for a mere eleven and a half minutes, the Madison Scouts began their performance as soon as they marched onto the track and ended it only when the last member disappeared behind the back stands.  The corps held the crowd in the palm of its hand from the beginning of the company front entrance into the fleur-de-lis and neverlet it go.  Even during the warm-up, during which the corps marched into the opening set, the guard was acting out its parts, particularly one gentleman who strode slowly but purposefully from the left front corner of the field to the front of the "ship".  Then the show proper began, with the pirates--oops, guard (yes, they play their roles that convincingly)--storming the "ship", stealing the show during its opening minute from the musicians.  This was almost a shame, as the brass played with tremendous proficiency and showmanship, the percussion tackled a flashy and challenging rudimental book with great precision and flair, and all the musicians marched an engrossing drill, complete with braking waves, with immense poise and control.  However, the guard was a treat to observe, especially during four parts of the show.  First came the drunken sailor sequence, complete with an inebriated runt trying to pick a fight with a much larger man, which the fans found extremely amusing.  Then, there was a rifle-saber exchange.  Two moments came during the final selection.  First, the guard moved from stage left to front and center to perform some swashbuckling equipment work.  Then there was the mutiny sequence at the very end, complete with a swordfight on top of the rotating percussion stand and a duel to the death between Captain Zak Schwartz and a usurper. The audience gave the new captain and the company front that he led a standing ovation, which barely ended before the most enthusiastic standing ovation of the night as the Scouts concluded the judged portion of their performance.

(Steve Burstall pointed out the full performance from entering to exiting the stadium.  The looting of Zak, who is a student from Eastern Michigan University, was something, as was his being carried off by the last marching member.)
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this performance.  It helped that I knew one of the performers, so I could give the review a personal touch.

This is the third consecutive drum corps entry that has featured the Madison Scouts, the previous two being Fandoms collide as a drum corps plays anime music and A drum corps Stars and Stripes for the 4th of July.  Let's see if I can continue the streak for the next drum corps holiday.

Follow over the jump for a bonus video of another drum corps performing a pirate show.

Friday, September 18, 2015

It was a good week for solar energy in Michigan

Three stories about advances and milestones in solar-generated electricity in Michigan made the newspapers this past week.  The most recent is also the one that I'm featuring first, as The Ann Arbor News via MLive reported Michigan's largest solar panel array now up and running near Ann Arbor.
Michigan's largest solar energy installation is now up and running, and Ann Arbor Township holds the bragging rights.

Under a bright, sunny sky, DTE Energy and Domino's Farms celebrated the new 1.1-megawatt array just outside Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

Big enough to cover the football field at Michigan Stadium, the 4,000-plus panels that now cover 9.37 acres of Domino's Farms property are visible from the highway on the north side of M-14 west of Earhart Road near the U.S. 23 interchange.

According to DTE, the photovoltaic panels have the capacity to generate enough solar energy to power nearly 200 homes at any given time.
I drove past this installation last July during a class field trip and was impressed by the sight.  I would have reported on it in a field trip update except that something else took priority.  Better late than never, especially now that it's finished.

That's not all.
DTE also is constructing a 750-kilowatt solar array in Romulus and planning an 800-kilowatt array in Ypsilanti, among other projects.

The company's entire renewable energy portfolio, including wind and biomass, is now capable of generating nearly 1,000 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 400,000 homes, company officials said Tuesday. The portfolio includes facilities owned and operated by DTE, along with contracts to purchase power from facilities owned and operated by third-party developers in Michigan.
Follow over the jump for even bigger and better news about the future of solar power in Michigan.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The case for colonizing space

I warned about what could go wrong with the future in Burning all fossil fuels could melt Antarctica.  What, from my perspective, could go right?  We could be able to continue to explore space.  WatchMojo explains why that would be a good idea in Top 10 Reasons To Live On Another Planet.

Space – not only the final frontier, but also humanity's future... if we so choose.
As I wrote in Stephen Hawking is a Crazy Eddie:
Dr. Hawking expresses the ultimate reason why I support space exploration.  Not only is it a sign of an advancing technological civilization, it's a way to avoid collapse altogether.  There are worse consequences from the archetypal science-fiction tragic plot of withdrawing from space than mere loss of technological superiority.  It could ultimately lead to extinction.
Follow over the jump for how another Crazy Eddie, Elon Musk, thinks we might be able to colonize Mars.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

There's a Santorum cocktail, too

I'm not done with drinks for Republican candidates today.  In my research for Drink a Flaming Volcano for Jindal, I found out that a bar in Brooklyn came up with a drink named after Rick Santorum in 2012.  The Brooklyn Paper broke the story in Fourth Avenue watering hole serves Santorum.
Brooklynites can’t vote on Super Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a little Santorum.

A Fourth Avenue watering hole is pouring a delightfully sinful drink named after Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum — and the dirty Google problem that has haunted him ever since he irked syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage.

“People really like it even though it’s named after something gross — both the person and the Dan Savage meaning,” said John Rauschenberg, co-owner of Pacific Standard. “It’ll be an election fixture at least until primary season is over.”

The duo behind the beer hole near St. Mark’s Place often put out cocktails with suggestive names, such as the Corn Holed Fashioned or Mike Gallego’s Cup.

But the Santorum, a milky mixture of Baileys, orange vodka, bitters and chocolate flakes, seems to be sticking.
“When he was winning in the polls, I thought, ‘OK, I’ll do a Santorum,’” said Jon Stan, co-owner and creator of the scandalous social lubricant. “We’ll keep it around until he’s irrelevant. I hope he’s there the whole way.”
Since Santorum is running again and will be participating in tonight's early debate, he's relevant again, so it's time to revive this drink.  Follow over the jump for more media coverage of this brown frothy concoction.

Drink a Flaming Volcano for Jindal

Tonight is the next Republican presidential debate, so it's time for another drink for the candidates to join the ones for Drinks and drinking games for Donald Trump, John Kasich,Carly Fiorina and the rest of the candidates in tonight's prime-time debate.  Sorry, Deez Nuts is not invited.  Tonight's drink is for the early debate and it's big enough for all the candidates if one is playing Paul W.'s Update: GOP Debate Drinking Game for 2016 But For the September 2015 Foofaraw In Particular.  However it's intended for one candidate in particular, Bobby Jindal.

Follow over the jump for recipes for this large drink along with rules from Paul W.'s game for Jindal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

John Oliver on Courser and Gamrat

I passed along a request I made at the end of First Courser and Gamrat, now Kelly and Mack.
For what it's worth, the snarky Taiwanese animators have not yet put together a video about Courser and Gamrat.  I've asked if they could.  I'm sure the results would be hilarious, but I'm content to wait.
I got something better, a John Oliver segment on the scandal.

That was worth waiting for, especially for the revelation that this wasn't the first time Todd Courser had run a false flag operation on himself.  The man has issues.

By the way, there's a better version that won't embed.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Burning all fossil fuels could melt Antarctica

That's the conclusion of a study cited by GeoBeats News: Burning All The World's Fossil Fuel Would Lead To 200 Feet Of Sea Level Rise.

A recent study has attempted to answer the question as to what happens to the iciest continent if fossil fuel use continues apace. The answer is alarming: all of Antarctica’s ice would melt—and take down much of human civilization with it.

If we use all the world's fossil fuels, we're likely to melt all the ice on Antarctica. And what's left would barely resemble the Earth as we know it. A study in Science Advances notes that burning all the world's presently-existing oil, coal, and natural gas would raise global temperatures so high that all of Antarctica's ice would melt—resulting in a sea level rise of at least 160 feet. But if temperatures reached such a point, the rest of the world's land ice would likely melt as well. This could result in a sea level rise of over 200 feet. Gone would be Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Washington, New Orleans and Houston—to name but a few. The process would take a while—the study mapped out ten thousand years of carbon release—but half of the melting could occur in the next thousand years and this could result in sea levels rising around a foot per decade. Climate scientist Ken Caldeira noted, “We’re not a subtle influence on the climate system—we are really hitting it with a hammer.”
I think this is an extreme case.  I doubt we'll be able to burn all the fossil fuel on the planet, as some of it, such as oil shale and the deeper tar sands deposits, will probably be uneconomic to exploit.  I expect we'll move off of fossil fuels by then, either by moving to advanced renewables (electricity generation by wind and solar) and fusion (should we be so lucky) or modern industrial civilization collapsing and the survivors moving to primitive renewables (biomass, passive solar, and wind and water for mechanical energy).  Either way, I don't expect humans will be able to melt all of Antarctica, even in 5,000 years.  However, things are bad enough and getting worse as climate change is happening at record pace and 20-40 feet of sea level rise in the next 500 years or less (including 5-10 feet by the end of the century) is not out of the question even if we stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow.  We should prepare for that future and attempt what we can to make it less dangerous now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vox on Sunday's zombies and vampires

It's in between the summer and fall TV seasons.  Shows like "Falling Skies," "Defiance," "The Last Ship," "Wayward Pines," and other summer TV fare have finished their seasons and the regular season TV shows haven't started up for the fall.  Fortunately, two shows that both depict a science-fiction undead apocalypse are filling the void on Sunday nights, "Fear the Walking Dead" and "The Strain."  For Entertainment Sunday, I'm sharing what Vox has to say about tonight's collapse-and-decline-related shows.

I start with the beginning of the zombie apocalypse in Fear the Walking Dead season 1, episode 2: The show moves as slowly as its zombies — and it works.
This is the way the world ends — with a bang and a whimper.

Most stories of the apocalypse skip us quickly past the early stages, where the worst could have been averted. There's good reason for this. The really interesting stuff usually involves how the characters survive, or what happens when society begins to rebuild.

Because it's a TV show, though, Fear the Walking Dead is taking its time. In my early review of the season, I called this a "slow-pocalypse," and "So Close, Yet So Far," the show's second episode, underlines this approach.

The episode has its bigger sequences — especially a protest against police treatment of a homeless man (who was, presumably, a turned zombie) — but it's mostly a very quiet episode about people realizing the world is going to hell all around them.

Still, the signs of imminent collapse are many.
One can see the signs of collapse all throughout this Sneak Peek: Episode 103: Fear the Walking Dead: The Dog.

That's as bad as I imagined Atlanta looking in the early days of the outbreak, when Rick was still in a coma and the action skipped ahead a month.

As for episode 2, it helped the viewers that they know what's coming and what to look for.  As for the characters, the poor souls have no clue other than Nick the addicted son, who was the first of the group to see a walker.  The second time he encountered one, he knew what to do, running it over repeatedly.  As my wife said, "Rick Grimes would be proud."  We have to watch the rest as they catch on.

Speaking of which, the following clip from AMC shows how Nick is still the savviest of the family, followed by his mom, who killed her own walker in episode 2: Sneak Peek: The Clarks: Episode 103: Fear the Walking Dead: The Dog.

Follow over the jump for Vox's review of last week's episode of "The Strain," which even they compare with "Fear the Walking Dead."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Oops--Rick Perry drops out

Before I could pick a drink in honor of Rick Perry for Paul Wartenberg's GOP Debate Drinking Game for 2016 But For the September 2015 Foofaraw In Particular to join the list in Drinks and drinking games for Donald Trump and the GOP debates, Proof of drinking game concept on Kasich, Drinks for the candidates in tonight's debate, and Debate drinking game rules for Carly Fiorina, Governor Goodhair dropped out of the contest.  Wochit has the report in Rick Perry to End 2016 Bid.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday he is suspending his presidential campaign, making him the first Republican candidate to end his 2016 White House bid.

"I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States," Perry is expected to say, according to prepared remarks announcing the end of his campaign. He said in a statement: "We have a tremendous field - the best in a generation - so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too."

"I share this news with no regrets. It has been a privilege and an honor to travel this country, to speak with the American people about their hopes and dreams, to see a sense of optimism prevalent despite a season of cynical politics."
That wasn't all.  Follow over the jump for Perry's parting shots at Trump, who stands to benefit from Perry's exit, and the effects on the debate.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Gamrat expelled, Courser resigns

Original at Eclectablog

In Quatloos for "dinghy lovebirds" Gamrat and Courser, I attempted to make a wager with my readers by asking "how many quatloos are people willing to wager that one or both end up expelled?"  No one took me up on it.  Too bad, as I would have made some money off of it, even if it was in a fictional denomination.  WXYZ reported this morning Todd Courser resigns, Cindy Gamrat expelled.

Text story accompanying this video is at the WXYZ website.

Good riddance!  Michigan doesn't deserve your incompetent, corrupt asses in government!

By the way, Courser's problems aren't over, even if he is out of the legislature.  WXYZ also reported Judge demands AT&T records of Courser blackmail phone.

A judge has issued a warrant for AT&T records of the phone that reportedly sent blackmail messages to Todd Courser.
Looks like Courser, at least, is in for more legal trouble.  As I wrote, incompetent, corrupt asses.

Republicans campaign against Common Core

Vox on the decline of cursive mentioned how politicians have been reacting to the keyboarding standards in the Common Core curriculum by enacting requirements to teach cursive in their states.  Some politicians have reacted even more strongly against Common Core.  As Wochit reports, Republican Candidates Slam Common Core.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates vow to roll back new U.S. education standards known as the Common Core.

In the classroom, the multi-state guidelines increasingly look like they're here to stay.

Since they were adopted by 46 states five years ago, the Common Core standards have become a symbol of Big Government overreach for conservatives.

Yet despite years of effort, Common Core's critics have largely failed to repeal the standards, which aim to emphasize critical thinking over rote memorization.
Looks like another good windmill for them to tilt against.  Personally, I'm in favor of Common Core, but I find the agitation against the standards more amusing than aggravating.  That's the political lesson for today.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vox on the decline of cursive

Two years ago, I posted The collapse of cursive, an entry that produced my favorite comment on this blog, at least as of last year (I've been getting a lot of good ones lately).  Today, I'm inspired both by this month's theme of lessons and following video by Vox to revisit the topic: Cursive handwriting is dying. But some politicians refuse to accept it.

Eleven US states have either passed laws or amended the Common Core curriculum to require teachers to cover cursive handwriting in elementary schools. This came in response to the Common Core standards, released in 2010, which require keyboarding skills, but do not mention handwriting or cursive specifically. Advocates for cursive instruction worry that kids will not be able to read founding documents like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence if they don't learn cursive. But it appears that they are fighting the inevitable.
My answer to the question posed in the first image is that cursive is dying, but it's not dead yet.  After all...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gas below $2 near Grand Rapids

Looks like I'm not done with low and still falling gas prices.  First, I promised Limbo Kitty next time.  It's the next time, so Limbo Kitty returns.  Next, I predicted gas below $2.00 between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  That's here in metro Detroit.  In the outlying towns around Grand Rapids, that's already happened, as WOOD-TV reported Monday in Gas below $2/gallon in some cities Monday.

Experts say Monday’s gas prices were the lowest West Michigan has seen on Labor Day in almost a decade.
I always glad to see Patrick DeHaan interviewed; he is probably my favorite expert on gas prices.  Speaking of GasBuddy, it's showing the stations in my former neighborhood all selling regular for $2.19.  I said they'd drop their prices, and they did.  Right now, they're exactly a dime below the Detroit average of $2.29, which means they are currently competitively and appropriately priced.  Even so, prices should continue to drop, as the cheapest station in metro Detroit is selling regular for $1.95.  The average might dip below $2.00 before Halloween, but I'm not making that prediction yet.

The oil markets may push that along, though.  WTI ended trading last Thursday at $46.75 with Brent at $50.68.  Oil-Price.Net shows that both have declined since, with WTI closing Tuesday at $45.94 and Brent at $49.52.  Not only is oil down, but so is RBOB, which fell more than a penny to close at $1.40.  That will support gas below $2.00 in the lower overhead markets.  Whether Detroit is one of them remains to be seen.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More on low gas prices for Labor Day 2015

I posted the following as a comment on There Goes Europe at Kunstler's blog yesterday morning.
"You might think we would look at this cheap oil as an opportunity to build a world less dependent on oil, but instead we look on it as an opportunity to purchase gas guzzlers — the American Way will not be negotiated! Freedom!"

That's one of the points I made in lowest Labor Day gas prices in 11 years both good and bad; people are using the current conditions as an excuse to buy less efficient vehicles.  Within a couple of years, that will likely prove to be folly, either because the price of gas will shoot up again or because the U.S. will go into recession and a lot of those people will lose their jobs.  Either way, they won't be able to afford their cars.  Making that argument now won't make much of an impression.  The locals are too happy that the recent gas price spike turned out to be a dead cat bounce.
As if on cue, I saw two more videos pop up on YouTube expanding on most of my points.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Record page views for August 2015 and other monthly meta

I expected a new page view record at the end of Monthly Meta for July 2015.  I got several.
Normally, I'd look ahead to my goals for this month, but I've already exceeded them. My minimum goal was 389 page views per day for a total of 12,059 page views for the month on no more than 44 entries.  The low goal was 402 per day for a total of 12,462.  My medium goal shot for a five percent increase over last year with 12,679 for the month via 409 per day.  The high goal was to reach 13,000 for the month to extend the streak, which would have taken 420 page views per day.  I hit the first on the 22nd and knocked out the rest on succeeding days.  I'm now at just over 14,000 with three days to go.  I can coast on one entry per day for a total of 38 posts and still set a new monthly record for page views.  Stay tuned to see if that happens.
It did.  The blog received 14,981 page views for 38 entries over 31 days, resulting in averages of 489.26 page views per day and 394.24 page views per entry.  All of those are new records.  There were also 41 comments, the most since February 2014, and a new record for the year.  I was right to be optimistic for more.

To celebrate these records, I'm sharing the top posts for the month, beginning with the most "liked" on Google Plus.  This month, it was "Donald Trump dance remix" posted August 18, 2015, which has 10 pluses on 65 page views.  For once, it didn't earn those "likes" by being shared at a community.  Instead, it got attention from my profile only.  It's the first of four posts about The Penguin Donald in this month's retrospective.  Keep reading for more.

Follow over the jump for the top ten entries, both overall and those posted during August, along with entries earning the most comments, which also happened to be among the most viewed.

Happy Labor Day from Detroit!

Happy Labor Day!  I never did get around to the regular Sunday entertainment entry I promised at the end of First Courser and Gamrat, now Kelly and Mack, but it's a holiday and I decided to have some fun.  Hey, I can't be all DOOM all the time!

I'm not alone.  WXYZ shared some Labor Day fun for the station's viewers this morning.

It hit all the highlights--Arts, Beats, and Eats in Royal Oak, Detroit Jazz Fest, and what passes for Michigan's State Fair.  Those of you in metro Detroit, enjoy this holiday in honor of America's workers.  It's definitely still summer, at least for today.  Tomorrow, it's back to school in Michigan. .

Sunday, September 6, 2015

First Courser and Gamrat, now Kelly and Mack

It's not just Michigan's Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat acting like "dinghy lovebirds."  Minnesota has its own part of hot-to-trot state legislators, Tim Kelly and Tara Mack.  TomoNews US reports in Minnesota lawmakers caught 'making out' in car park say they were exchanging documents.

A couple of Minnesota lawmakers are scrambling for cover after news they were busted for allegedly making out in a car park late last month recently leaked out.

Lawmakers Tim Kelly and Tara Mack who are both married, but not to each other, vehemently deny the accusation, contained in a public nuisance citation from a park ranger.

The citation stems from an incident that took place at around 4.30pm on August 25 in a Lebanon Hills Regional Park parking lot in Eagan.

Dakota County Parks Ranger Jordan Moses said he approached two vehicles that were illegally parked, where he found the male occupant of the vehicle, Kelly, 'was making out with female in car. When I approached the female's pants were unzipped and pulled down.'
What's with Republican lawmakers in states beginning with MI?

At least one Michigan legislator is taking no chances of being caught up in this mess, as MLive reports.
Michigan state Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, took to Facebook to clear up any confusion: "Apparently there is a State Rep in Minnesota making the news named Tim Kelly who's philandering with another elected official, much like MI's own Courser/Gamrat fiasco. THIS IS NOT ME!!!!"
Thanks for clearing that up.

For what it's worth, the snarky Taiwanese animators have not yet put together a video about Courser and Gamrat.  I've asked if they could.  I'm sure the results would be hilarious, but I'm content to wait.

Speaking of waiting, please stay tuned for the regular Sunday entertainment entry.

Saturday, September 5, 2015 article on West Nile virus in Michigan

Five people test positive for West Nile virus in Michigan
Five people in Michigan have tested positive for West Nile virus, WDIV-TV reported Friday morning.  Three of them have active cases of the disease, while two others donated blood that contained the virus, but show no symptoms.

Two of the active cases occurred in southeast Michigan, one each in Macomb and Monroe counties.  The third was identified from Ottawa County on the west side of the state.  These are the first confirmed human cases in the state for 2015.

In a statement quoted by the Detroit News, Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said “We have clear evidence that West Nile virus is present in the state again this summer.  Even late in the season, remembering to take a few minutes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from mosquito bites when outside can make a big difference.”

The two people whose blood tested positive also came from southeast Michigan.  One was reported from Wayne County and another from Oakland County.
Click on the link in the headline to read the rest of the article and watch the following video from WXYZ: West Nile virus found in humans.

Five cases of West Nile virus are being reported in humans in Michigan.
Stay safe and healthy.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lowest Labor Day gas prices in 11 years both good and bad

Not only was the gas price spike a dead cat bounce, but gas prices during Labor Day weekend are the lowest they've been in 11 years.  Wochit News reports on the resulting windfall for U.S. consumers in Labor Day Gas Price Bonus: $1.4 Billion.

Labor Day is historically one of America's busiest driving holidays, but this year it's likely to be remembered for being one of the cheapest.

With gas prices continuing to move lower, the national average for a gallon of gas this Labor Day is expected to fall to $2.44, marking the lowest price at the pump since 2004.

By the time the last charcoals have cooled on the barbecue, Americans will have saved a collective $1.4 billion compared with last year.

That in turn could result in more consumer spending on eating out at restaurants and other extras.
If so, that would be good news, exactly the kind that would offset decreases in spending from the recent stock market correction.

Follow over the jump for more good and bad news caused by this year's lower oil prices from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan.

Gas price spike a dead cat bounce

It was only three weeks ago that I wrote the following in Gas price spike prompts outrage and analysis.
A few days ago, the Detroit average was $2.86.  According to Gas Buddy, it's now $3.03, the highest price of the year.  Given that Oil-Price.Net lists yesterday's close for [WTI] as $42.50, and the close the day before was $42.25, a dollar lower than it had been the last time I checked, that does come off as outrageous.
All of that price spike and then some have now disappeared, as Gas Buddy lists the Detroit average as $2.31.  I could tell it was finished earlier this week, when I was able to buy regular in my new neighborhood for $2.39, which was the metro Detroit average at the time.  A few days earlier, I coudn't find regular anywhere near me for less than $2.74.

Gas was even cheaper in my old neighborhood.  When I was last there, regular sold for $2.54, a low enough price to make me declare  Limbo Kitty returns as oil and gas fall more to close July.  Prices had declined to $2.41 before spiking in time for Dream Cruise, but that was all gone yesterday, when I found all the stations in my old stomping grounds selling regular for $2.24.  That might actually be overpriced, as the stations historically set their price a dime below the metro area average, so they could drop it down to $2.21.  One station a few miles away is already selling regular for $2.19, so the gas war is on.

As for what the near-term future holds, I'll repeat what I wrote three years ago: Eye spy the gas price rollercoaster about to coast down like a parachute.  This is despite oil prices bouncing off their lows for the year so far.  Ten days ago, WTI closed below $40 and Brent about $42.50.*  Yesterday, WTI ended trading at $46.75 and Brent at $50.68.  They may be up eight dollars in a little over a week, but those are still low enough prices to support regular below $2.00 during winter.  Seasonal trends will make sure of that, especially after Labor Day, which is only three days away.  When they do, watch for another return of Limbo Kitty.

*I should probably comment on the state of the stock market.  Be patient; I shall.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Grown-ups go back to school, too

I go back to school today, as do my students.  Most of them, especially in the evening classes, are non-tradtional students.  KPBS describes their requirements along with interviewing one of them in What It Takes For Non-Traditional College Students To Succeed In San Diego.

Roughly 50 percent of San Diego community college students are 25 or older. What does it take for those so-called "non-traditional students" to succeed in college?
Here's to my doing my part to offering my non-traditional students, who are usually my best students, a supportive academic environment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quatloos for "dinghy lovebirds" Gamrat and Courser

I've been neglecting a good sex scandal that's been brewing here in Michigan over the past few weeks, the one involving Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, two Tea Party politicians that have been caught having an affair while in office.  It's time to remedy that oversight, beginning with WXYZ's Report finds misconduct, misuse of funds by Reps. Courser and Gamrat.

A report from the Michigan House Business Office found misconduct and misuse of funds by both Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser.
I read the released report and summarized the findings in a comment at Michigan Liberal.
1. Representatives Courser and Gamrat are not credible witnesses.
2. Courser and Gamrat committed misconduct in office that warrants further investigation and review, including numerous instances of deceptive, deceitful, and outright dishonest conduct, lack of respect for constituents, and abuse of the office of State Representative.
3. Courser and Gamrat misused state resources to an extent that warrants further investigation and review; the two improperly used state resources for political, business, and personal purposes.
4. The evidence is insufficient to conclude that Ben Graham or Keith Allard were wrongfully terminated or subject to a hostile work environment.

Three findings that allow Michigan's version of Major Burns and Hot Lips Houlihan to be hung out to dry and a fourth that protects the state from action by their ex-employees.  As the Church Lady would say, "How convenient!"
Follow over the jump for another video from WXYZ, an analysis of the scandal, and more smart-aleck comments of mine from Michigan Liberal.

Drink to Deez Nuts for President

In case my readers aren't finding the presidential contest enough of a joke, TomoNewsUS reported Deez Nuts 2016: Deez Nuts to run for president, beating Hillary Clinton on Twitter.

WALLINGFORD, IOWA -A new, hopeful third force in American politics has thrown his hat into the ring for next year's Presidential election, just when we thought the race was gonna be another routine two horse slog.
This gave Tipsy Bartender a golden opportunity to craft a drink for a candidate other than Donald Trump.  Therefore, today's lesson consists of Skyy and Brittany preparing the Deez Nuts For President Fishbowl.

Once Deez Nuts entered the presidential race we knew we had to make a drink for him! Check out this cocktail...DEEZ NUTS!!!
Baileys Irish Cream
Vanilla Vodka
Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
Butterscotch Schnapps

Almond Joy
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
Chocolate Syrup
Whipped Cream
It looks like it will be a long campaign season and the best coping strategy seems to be to drink heavily.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

NABLOPOMO for September 2015: LESSONS

This month's theme is a natural for me.  Read the email to see why.
It's back-to-school time! Sharpened pencils, unblemished erasers, sheets of reinforcements: it's time to learn.

Learning goes well beyond the classroom walls. There are so many lessons at your fingertips on the Web. Want to learn how to remodel your bathroom? Read a DIY blog. How about find a new recipe for your upcoming dinner party? Try a food blog. Want to learn yoga? You can at home with how-to videos.

This month, in honour of back-to-school time, we're going to focus on lessons: what you've learned over the years as well as what you can teach others. We'll have roundups where you can share your favourite lessons you've learned online, and we'll do our own back-to-school fashion show via our blogs.

It's back-to-school, people. Open those books... er... blogs.
Let's learn a lesson together this month.
As I wrote, it's natural for me and a perfect transition from August's theme of KNOW.  After all, I'm an educator and I use this blog to research the topics I explore in class.  I even post lessons here.

There's more.
You can read more about the new NaBloPoMo theme on our opening post.
Follow over the jump.