Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 in Allentown

Solar Impulse 2 left Dayton last week for Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Wochit News has the story in Solar-Powered Airplane Lands in Pennsylvania.

A solar-powered airplane has landed in Pennsylvania, about 17 hours after it took off from the Ohio hometown of America aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 landed at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown. The plane's departure from Dayton was delayed as project officials checked for possible damage after fans that keep the mobile hangar inflated had a power failure.
On the way, the pilot had some fun snapping an extreme selfie, as ABC News reported.
Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard snapped a sky-high selfie as he cruised toward Pennsylvania during the 13th leg of the plane's journey around the world.

The Swiss adventurer was able to memorialize his time in the cockpit by using what appears to be an extremely long selfie stick held outside the window of the solar-powered plane.
While in Allentown, the plane is attracting lots of visitors, with The Morning Call reporting Solar Impulse 2 draws thousands for up close look at Allentown airport.  5,000 free tickets were distributed for a one-day-only open house; 3,800 people attended the event.  The paper also reported when "the plane will take off for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City as early as Thursday before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to land in Europe or Northern Africa."  Stay tuned.

ETA: Since I wrote the above, CBS in New York reported Solar-Powered Plane Set To Arrive At JFK Airport.  That should happen this evening, possibly after a flyover of the Statue of Liberty.  I'll have an update tomorrow or the day after.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Presidents on Memorial Day

For today's holiday, I'm going to do something more serious than last year's grilling over lava.  Instead, I'm harkening back to 2013's President Obama at Arlington for Memorial Day with Friday's Weekly Address: Remembering Our Fallen Heroes.

In this week’s address, President Obama solemnly reflected on the meaning of Memorial Day and recognized the sacrifices made by the American warriors who never made it back home.
That's not all.  ABC News brings its viewers Memorial Day | Presidents Honor the Fallen at Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial Day 2016 | A look back at presidents on Memorial Day through the years.
Remember the serious reason for the holiday before lighting the grill.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rabid Puppies infect 2016 Hugo nominees for movies and television

Last year's Hugo nominees for movies and television were marred by the efforts of two groups of reactionary fans--the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies--to influence the nominees by stuffing the ballots through slate voting.  I found both sets of nominees flawed, especially those for "Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)," i.e., movies, although not fatally so.  Just the same, it was enough to prompt me to nominate shows for the "Serious Kitten Awards" at We Hunted The Mammoth.

The same thing happened this year, except that the Rabid Puppies had an even stronger effect than the Sad Puppies, which made things worse.  As Mike Glyer wrote at File 770, the result was "Puppies all the way down" as "Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate initially placed 64 of its 81 recommendations on the final ballot."  I'll leave the analysis on the literary awards and fan awards to others;* like last year, I'll concentrate on how the slate affected the nominees for movies and television.

Here are the nominees for media from io9.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Unlike last year, I think all of the nominees are worthy.  Only one of these, "Avengers: Age of Ultron," was purely a Rabid Puppies selection, but unlike "The Lego Movie," I think it's an acceptable nominee.  That doesn't mean I'd have put it on my ballot; instead, I'd have replaced it with "Jurassic World," which was the fifth movie on the list of six nominees for the Saturn Awards.  So, the Rabid Puppies didn't screw up the nominees in this category.  Besides, I doubt they'll win in the end.  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was not on their slate, but I think it's the favorite.  The other strong contenders would be "Ex Machina" and "Mad Max: Fury Road," also not on their slate, and "The Martian," which would probably have been nominated without their help.
  • Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
  • Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf (Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
  • Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions; Netflix)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
  • Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)
On the other hand, the Rabid Puppies had a stronger and more deleterious effect on the television nominees.  "Doctor Who" and "Jessica Jones" both belong here, but not the rest, which were all on the Rabid Puppies slate.  While I was pleasantly surprised last year by "Grimm" being nominated, that was tempered by the show coming in last place in last year's voting, losing to "No Award."  Ouch.  In addition, this season has not been as good as previous seasons, so even as a fan I can't support it.  As for "Supernatual," I'm a fan as well, but this show is getting long in the tooth and has seen better days.  Finally, "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," while a good animated show, was pretty obviously put on the slate as a joke.

As for the shows that deserve to be nominated instead, I don't have to go any farther than the ones nominated for any of the categories in the 2016 Saturn Awards for Television plus "Penny Dreadful."  Any three of "Game of Thrones," "Outlander," "The 100," "The Expanse," "The Walking Dead," "Penny Dreadful," or even "The Strain" would be better than the three shows the Rapid Puppies got nominated.  Just the same, I expect the Puppies will lose out again, with the "Doctor Who" episode a heavy favorite.

*Two of those are about the blowback from one of the nominees for Best Short Story, "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" by Chuck Tingle.  Both Vox and We Hunted The Mammoth have hilarious summaries of how Tingle is doing his best to make Vox Day regret listing him on his slate.  Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bill Maher on commencements, past and future

A week ago today, I attended my college's Commencement ceremony, where I watched my students from the past few years get their degrees. It was a wonderful experience, including the addresses by the student speaker and the former CEO of Garden Fresh. I'll be back for next year's ceremony.

Last night, Bill Maher had his own take on what ceremonies like that will be like in 25 years as part of New Rule – 2041 Commencement Address.

In his editorial New Rule, Bill has some harsh truths for college students and delivers a graduation speech to the Class of 2041.
Welcome to Dystopia!

This isn't the first time Bill has examined graduations. Here is last year's Graduation Caps – June 5, 2015.

It’s graduation time. And you know what that means – kids writing things on their mortarboards, like, “Hire Me” or “Thanks, Mom & Dad: I Love You.” Well, in these difficult times and with these millennials, the grad cap messages are a little different…
It turns out that Bill actually knows something about graduation speeches, having given one himself in 2014 to U.C. Berkeley's Winter Commencement.

Bill Maher gives the keynote address at UC Berkeley's Winter Commencement and graduation ceremony on Saturday, December 20, 2014.
That was worth listening to. Among all the doom, he was able to offer hope. Oh, look, a fellow Crazy Eddie!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Late night TV on Trump vs. Sanders debate

After I found out yesterday that Trump had finally collected a majority of delegates to the Republican convention, so he is now officially the presumptive nominee, I searched YouTube for an appropriately comedic reaction.  I found one in Stephen Colbert's Here's What Put Donald Trump Over The Top, although I've always thought Trump was over the top.

Hearing the news that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination puts Stephen in the fetal position.
Yeah, Stephen, I wanted to lie down on hearing the news, too.

As viewers can see and hear, Trump's earning the nomination may have had top billing in the monologue, but it wasn't alone on stage.  The possibility of Sanders debating Trump shared the limelight and showed even more comedic potential.

One of the people responsible for the idea was Jimmy Kimmel, who had Trump and Sanders on as guests on consecutive nights.  Wednesday, Donald Trump told Jimmy he is willing todebate Bernie Sanders.

Donald Trump shares his opinion on the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and agrees to debate Sanders under one condition.
The next night, Jimmy asked Senator Bernie Sanders about debating Trump.

Senator Sanders talks about the possibility of debating Donald Trump and competing against Secretary Hillary Clinton in California.
Jimmy even has an idea of what a Trump-Sanders debate would look and sound like.

Recently we showed what it looks like if you play Donald Trump at half-speed. We tried it with Bernie too, but it wasn’t as good. Then we slowed Trump down and sped Bernie up and Jimmy thinks that if they end up debating, he’d love it to go something like this.
It turns out that Comedy Central has already had their simulated Trump-Sanders debate back in March.

Bernie Sanders (James Adomian) and Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik) debate their likeness to Jesus and launch attack ads in the @midnight presidential debate.
A real debate would be more substantive, but it wouldn't be as funny.

As for whether it's a good idea, I'm not sure.  If it's bad for Clinton, she should debate Sanders one last time instead.  If it's good for Clinton, she should continue what she's doing, which is ignoring Sanders.  On the other hand, it would make for great TV.  Stay tuned.

ETA: Vox reports Never mind, Donald Trump doesn't want to debate Bernie Sanders after all.  Oh well, it was too good to be true.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Governor Snyder declares energy emergency in Michigan

I predicted "that price increases will likely stall out next week, at least until the Memorial Day weekend" in WXYZ on rising gas prices for May.  That didn't happen.  Instead, shows that the Detroit average jumped 12 cents to $2.47 on top of the previous week's 11 cent rise.  That was enough to prompt Governor Rick Snyder to declare an energy emergency, as WOOD-TV reported day before yesterday.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the order as the state faces a potential gasoline shortage ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend.
I share Patrick DeHaan's skepticism about the effectiveness and timing of the order.  I expect the price increase to moderate before the weekend as well.

WXYZ also covered the issue.  While WOOD-TV focused on expert analysis, WXYZ went with their strength, reactions from people on the street.

Governor Rick Snyder has declared an energy emergency to combat rising gas prices going into the Memorial Day weekend.
People look and sound a little worried, but only a little.  This is more of an inconvenience than an emergency.

As for the situation after the holiday weekend, I expect prices to continue rising.  Oil-Price.Net lists yesterday's closing prices for WTI as $49.56 and Brent as $49.74.  Not only are those both above last Friday's $47.75 and $48.72 for Brent, WTI has set a new high for the year, while Brent is only a few cents below its high for the year, which it set last Wednesday, when WTI hit $48.95 and Brent hit $49.85.  The only good news is that RBOB closed yesterday at $1.64, exactly the same as it was last Friday and still two cents lower than its peak earlier this year at $1.66, a nine-month high.  That's probably why the U.S. average has only moved up a few cents from $2.28 to $2.31 over the past week.  It's also why I expect prices at the pump to decline a bit when the refinery and pipeline issues are fixed before rising again in late June and early July.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Census finds Detroit still shrinking in mid-decade estimate

Last week, the Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for 2015.  The results were generally predictable and so were the reactions.  WXYZ's response was to report Detroit out of top 20 cities.

Detroit's population decline has now pushed it out of the top 20 cities.
While the ongoing story of Detroit shrinking is the same one that I've been covering since the second post on this blog, I'm glad to note the good news that Downtown, Midtown, and the riverfront are growing and the rate of population loss is slowing.  When I wrote "It's an exciting time to live here, and I wouldn't miss it for the world" in April 2011, this is the kind of development, pun intended, I was hoping for.

MLive also covered this story, noting Denver knocks Detroit off list of 20 most populous U.S. cities and provided the following table.

Detroit didn't just fall behind Denver last year, it dropped below Seattle, too.  El Paso passed Detroit a year earlier.  The next cities to grow larger than Detroit proper will be Washington D.C. and Boston.

Not all the population news was bad, that is, if one favors population growth.  Fox 47 reported Lansing's Population is Growing.

Most cities in Michigan are losing population. But Lansing is one of the few that's actually growing.
Lansing is not alone.  MLive published a slideshow listing the five biggest gainers and losers in the state.  It lists Macomb Township, Novi, Shelby Township, Dearborn, and Southfield in the top five, along with Clinton Township and Canton Township gaining more than 3,000 people since 2010, followed by Lyon Township, which had the highest five-year percentage population growth rate of any municipality in the state, then Hamtramck, Pontiac, Sterling Heights, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Rochester Hills, and Troy.  Detroit may be shrinking, but its suburbs are still booming.

So is Grand Rapids, as MLive reported.
Among Michigan's six cities with more than 100,000 people, Grand Rapids saw the biggest increase. Its population was estimated at 195,097 in 2015 -- up 848 people from the previous year.

Since 2010, Grand Rapids' population has increased by 7,043 people, or 3.7 percent. The only other place in Michigan with a bigger increase during that same period is Macomb Township, which grew by 7,299 people.
That growth is showing up in a boom in housing downtown, as WOOD-TV reported Downtown GR in the middle of ‘gangbuster economic moment’.

It doesn’t take an expert to look around and see the cranes dotting the Grand Rapids skyline and realize we are a growing city.
Detroit isn't the only big city in Michigan experiencing a revival of urban living.  As for a goal of 10,000 housing units in downtown Grand Rapids, that's ambitious, but I'm still in favor of it.  It will reduce sprawl and all its ills.

For more on this story, MLive has an interactive map showing population gain and loss for all municipalities in Michigan.  Have fun playing with it; you might learn something.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CNN and MSNBC interview Libertarian candidates William Weld and Gary Johnson

Over the weekend, Paul W. mentioned that the Libertarian national convention would be in Orlando this weekend and linked to Libertarian Gary Johnson picks former Mass. governor for VP at Politico.  I had the following reaction.
As for [William] Weld running with Johnson, that's a very serious ticket should the Libertarians actually choose both. They are serious about being the alternative to Trump and whoever he picks (please, let it be either Gingrich or Palin--the laughs will keep coming all the way to Election Day!) Too bad neither will meet the approval of William Kristol; the Libertarians are insufficiently hawkish and interventionist for his taste. He'd be better off with Hillary Clinton, but he'll never admit it. No wonder liberals call him "Captain Always Wrong."
As if on cue, CNN interviewed Weld on Sunday, just as they did Gary Johnson two weeks ago.

Today on CNN's State of the Union, Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate, joined Jake Tapper to discuss his comparison between Trump and the Holocaust, gun control and more.
I still think 2016 could be a good year for minor party candidates and so does CNN.

MSNBC does as well.  The Sunday before, Chuck Todd interviewed Gary Johnson in the context of Calls For Alternative Candidates Grows.

Can Republicans rally around Donald Trump as the convention draws near or will disaffected Republicans seek an alternative option in November? Former GOP New Mexico Governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson weighs in.
The Libertarian convention is this weekend.  Stay tuned for the results.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 travels to Tulsa and Dayton

I concluded Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix with a vague program note.
As for the plane's next stop, The Daily Mail reported "The solar-powered plane, which stores energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining, will make several stops across the United States, although the team is still examining potential destinations."  In other words, they don't know yet.  Stay tuned.
While I was looking elsewhere, the Solar Impulse team decided on their next stops.  First, Solar Impulse 2 arrives in Tulsa from May 13th.

After a week, the news became Solar Impulse 2 Makes an impact on Tulsa.

Solar Impulse 2 left for Dayton Ohio Saturday morning, but not before making an impact in Tulsa.
Looks like the plane succeeded in the educational part of its mission.

Saturday, the Associated Press reported Solar Impulse Lands At Home of Wright Brothers.

Solar powered plane travels from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Dayton, Ohio overnight to land at the city that is proud to be the hometown of the Wright Brothers.
USA Today also pointed out the significance of the location, but also of the date, pointing out that it was the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh landing in Paris after his solo trans-Atlantic flight.

As for the next stage, AFP via Phys.org reported two more stops in the U.S. before flying over the Atlantic.
It may next fly to Pennsylvania as early as Tuesday, the team said. Its final destination in the United States is New York.
It could leave the day after tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

'Star Trek' trailers and news for a Sunday

I may geek out more about "Star Wars" on this blog than "Star Trek," but the universe of the United Federation of Planets and Star Fleet was my first science fiction media fandom.  As such, last week was a good week for me and others who share this particular enthusiasm.  First, Wednesday saw Star Trek Television Logo and First Look Teaser Revealed by CBS.

At the CBS Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 18, CBS unveiled the logo for the new STAR TREK television series within the first-ever promotional video for the highly-anticipated program.
It's been more than a decade since "Star Trek: Enterprise" went off the air, resulting in no more new "Star Trek" on television.  The movies have had to fill the gap.  In fact, for once, the movies are leading the TV series.

Speaking of the movies, Paramount released Star Trek Beyond Trailer #2 on Friday.

To survive, they must go beyond. Watch the new trailer for Star Trek Beyond now!
Looks even more action-packed than the first two, which is saying something.  Then again, the director is the same one as for "Furious 7"; he knows how to film action.

The unveiling of the trailer saw more good news, as J.J. Abrams revealed Paramount is dropping their lawsuit against a Star Trek fan film, allowing it to live.

Aside from debuting the second trailer to the Justin Lin Directed Star Trek Beyond, JJ Abrams revealed to the Paramount's Star Trek event audience that CBS and Paramount Pictures would be dropping the lawsuit against Alec Peter, who was behind the upcoming fan film Star Trek Axanar. Abrams also let the crowd know that it was actually Beyond's Justin Lin who convinced Paramount and CBS to drop the suit. Usually fan-made projects are not a problem, but the assumption that most have come to is that because of the immense amount of crowdfunding that was done (over 600,000), the companies got uncomfortable with the project's large size.
Good news worthy of the series' fiftieth anniversary!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

WXYZ on rising gas prices for May

Here's a video I could have used for Gas down while oil is up for May 2016, Gas prices spike in metro Detroit from WXYZ.

Drivers in metro Detroit may have noticed gas prices spiking in the area by nearly 20 cents in some places.
That price rise is showing up only weakly at the stations in my old neighborhood.  GasBuddy shows that regular has risen from $2.27 to $2.32 for the corner station and $2.29 for the stations down the street.

The Wall Street Journal reported higher prices than last week, listing Friday's closes for WTI at $47.75 and Brent at $48.72, both higher than the $46.21 and $47.83 a week ago today .  The good news is that both are lower than yesterday's prices, which are still on Oil-Price.Net, $48.16 for WTI and $48.81 for Brent, which were only a few cents below their closes on Wednesday, the highest of the year, when WTI hit $48.95 and Brent hit $49.85.  Credit firefighters keeping the wildfire from Alberta's oil sands for that change in the direction of oil prices.

RBOB has also risen week over week from $1.58 at the end of April through $1.59 last week to $1.64 today.  Like crude oil, that's lower than its peak earlier this year at $1.66, a nine-month high.  

The decline at the end of the week in energy futures suggests that price increases will likely stall out next week, at least until the Memorial Day weekend.  That should come as good news after the Detroit average jumping more than a dime from last week's $2.24 to $2.35 while the US average climbed from $2.22 to $2.28 over the same period.  On and especially after Memorial Day, I expect the seasonal increase from driving season will push prices up regardless of the price of oil.  The only question is how fast and how high.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Last month the hottest April on record

When I last posted about climate, I had good news in the form of the Paris Agreement on Climate being signed on Earth Day.  Today, I have not so good news to report from Newsy: NASA Data Shows Last Month Was The Hottest April On Record.

New data from NASA shows last month was the hottest April ever recorded.

At 0.24 degrees Celsius hotter than the previous April record in 2010, it may not sound like that much. But many are arguing that's shattering records for climate statistics.

One expert told The Independent that soon-to-be-released data could show the last 12 months in a row have all beaten their respective records for hottest months.

And The Guardian noted if all variables stay consistent, a hottest year on record should only happen once every 150 years. Yet in the last 20 years or so, we've seen five record-breaking years.

Higher temperatures could lead to worse air and water quality, higher rates of asthma and the spread of illnesses passed by insects.

A lot of this extra heat is trapped in the oceans as well. Warmer water is posing both area-specific problems, like the massive bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and global problems, like rising sea levels.
ABC 7 in Denver put this record in context
.In April, the planet averaged 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average.

That 1.1 degree difference marks the biggest departure in temperature for April, and fourth biggest departure when compared to the 1,636 months on record! The very recent months of March 2016, February 2016 and December 2015 are the only months to surpass that difference.
CNN shared the implications for the Paris Climate Agreement.
The data that just keeps getting worse has prompted scientists to declare a "climate emergency" and is already casting doubts on pledges made in the Paris agreement to keep temperature rises well below the 2 degrees Celsius that scientists say will have catastrophic consequences on the planet.

The agreement was hammered out in December but signed in record-breaking April, with the ambitious aim to cap temperature rises at 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.
I think 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average is already baked in and keeping the rise below 2 degrees will be a struggle.  That doesn't mean it isn't worth trying to make it happen, just that it will be difficult at best.  Wish us all luck; we'll need it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

WXYZ updated the Flint Water Crisis on Monday

After writing three entries about the Flint Water Crisis in April, I've been silent about it so for this month.  No more.  WXYZ posted three clips about the ongoing scandal to its YouTube channel on Monday, beginning with two that followed up on the Congressional inquiry into the matter.

First, Elijah Cummings wants to know more in Top member of Congress pressing Governor Snyder for answers.

One top member of Congress is pressing Governor Rick Snyder for answers on the Flint water crisis.
Here is the follow-up from later that night, Governor Snyder facing new questions over Flint water crisis.

It's not just Congress that is continuing to pursue the issue.  WXYZ reported on the results of two state investigations in New bombshell in Flint water crisis.

New information is leading to bombshell questions about the investigations into the Flint water crisis.
Looks like the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing, not that I disapprove of an independent investigation by the Michigan State Police.  Far from it. I trust their findings more than I do Schuette's.  He wants the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018 and doesn't want to do anything that might jeopardize it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mount St. Helens still active 36 years later

Today is the 36th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.  Last year, I posted a documentary about the eruption and the recovery of the land around the volcano 30 years later.  Today, I'm examining what the volcano is doing now.

I begin with CNN reporting Swarm of earthquakes strike Mount St. Helens.

In the past eight weeks, more than 130 small earthquakes have trembled beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens.
On the one hand, don't worry because the repressurized magma might not erupt for years.  On the other hand, worry because the volcano has been erupting for years already; it's just doing it relatively harmlessly. National Geographic explains in TIL: Mount St. Helens Has a Baby Volcano Inside It.

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington State erupted in the most explosive volcanic event in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people and countless animals died, a forest was leveled, and ash blanketed the region as far away as Minnesota.

The volcano remains active today, even as events are being held at the mountain to mark the 36th anniversary of the disaster. Proving that it still has power, over the past few years, Mount St. Helens has had "a baby volcano growing in its crater," says Stephanie Grocke, a volcanologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a National Geographic explorer.

Between 2004 and 2008, enough molten rock oozed out of the crater to pave a seven-lane highway from New York City to Portland, Oregon, notes Grocke. As such, the mountain remains a dangerous threat.

"The volcano is still living and breathing," says Grocke.
As I wrote last year, "An eruption like this won't cause the collapse of civilization, but it can certainly ruin a city.  Just ask the Romans."  Fortunately, Portland is far enough away to avoid the fate of Pompeii--I hope.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Drum corps for the Oregon primary

The campaign continues today with the Oregon Primary for both parties and the Kentucky Primary for Democrats.  With Trump unopposed, all the attention is now on Clinton and Sanders.  FiveThirtyEight does not have a forecast for either of today's contests, instead skipping ahead to California and New Jersey in June.  That's because polling has been very sparse.  Real Clear Politics lists only one poll for Oregon, which shows Clinton ahead 48% to 33%, and no polls for Kentucky.  I doubt that poll for Oregon, as do the reporters for the San Diego Union-Tribune, all of whom venturing an opinion predict Sanders will win it.  Three of four of them think Clinton will win Kentucky, but that state is a lot like West Virginia, which Sanders won.  I wouldn't be surprised if he wins Kentucky, too.

Enough of the political analysis.  Time to do what I suggested in the footnote to Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix, post some marching music for my readers to enjoy while they await the election returns.  Today, I feature the Oregon Crusaders, beginning with 2014's Nevermore show.

Now, the finale of 2015's show.

Oregon Crusaders 2015
Semifinals run of "The Midnight Garden" on August 7, 2015
Featuring "Pumpkin Pursuit" by Patrick Doyle from Disney's 2015 version of "Cinderella"
That's it for this installment of the series.  The big finale will come on June 7, when I feature corps from California and New Jersey, two great drum corps states.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Gas down while oil is up for May 2016

A year ago Friday, I wrote Gas in stasis for now as oil rises off bottom.  At that time, "the corner station had lowered its price to $2.49, while the open stations down the street were still selling regular for $2.39."  Last Thursday, I drove past those stations for what might be the last time this month, and saw that all of them were selling regular at $2.27.  Not only is gas still cheaper than it was this time last year, it's lower than it was at the end of April, when the "corner station was selling gas for $2.29, while the two stations down the street were higher for once at $2.32."  Good news, but it may not last for long.  Bonddad wrote last week that Oil's Weekly Technical Picture Is Improving.

 Above is a weekly chart of West Texas Intermediate Crude.  The following are important technical developments:

1.) Prices moved above the 10, 20 and 50 day EMA.  These averages will now provide technical support rather than resistance.
2.) While momentum is still negative, it is rising and about to cross over the very important "0" level. 3.) Volume is high.  Volume spiked when prices fell into the mid-20s.  This could represent a selling climax.  Additionally, volume continues to increase as prices climb.
4.) Prices moved through the downward sloping trend line that that connects the mid-2015 and 4Q15 price highs.
5.) Prices remain in an uptrend.
In other words, expect oil to keep rising, adding to the usual price increase because of driving season.

Oil-Price.Net confirms the increase shown above, listing Friday's closes for WTI at $46.21 and Brent at $47.83.  WTI is above the $45.92 close at the end of April, while Brent is slightly below the  $48.13 it sold for two weeks ago.  RBOB has also risen slightly from $1.58 at the end of April to $1.59 now.  GasBuddy supports the trend, showing the Detroit average rising from $2.21 two weeks ago to $2.24 today.

My reaction to the above data was to fill up Dez yesterday at a station that was selling regular for $2.18 and midgrade for $2.48.  I don't expect gas will get any cheaper between now and July.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Detroit TV on Motor City Comic Con 2016

For today's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm going to do for Motor City Comic Con what I did for Youmacon a year and a half ago, explore the convention through the eyes of Detroit's media.  This year, I'll focus on how the local television stations cover it.  They seem to love it, with WXYZ, WJBK, and WWJ all uploading multiple reports to their YouTube channels on the event.  The most came from WXYZ,* who began hyping it a week in advance with Motor City Comic Con 2016 to be held May 13-15 in Novi.

BAM! POW! WOW! Motor City Comic Con 2016 gears up for its 27th annual, three-day, celebrity-filled metro Detroit comic event.

Video in this story comes from http://MotorCityGeek.com.
The promotion continued on Friday with Motor City Comic Con happening this weekend.

Motor City Comic Con is going on all weekend long at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
Follow over the jump for another promotional segment plus more reports from the convention floor.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

2016 could be a good year for minor party candidates

Monday at Kunstler's blog, I linked to CNN's Gary Johnson: GOP Trump Alternative?

Smerconish talks to Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson, who will probably be on all 50 state ballots and is polling at 11% but is usually left off of polls.
It was in response to another reader touting Jill Stein.  I agreed with him, but thought that Johnson would make a bigger splash.  I concluded my comment by wrting "I can already tell this will be a good year for minor parties."

I'm not alone in thinking this.  Within the past few months, several articles have expressed the same hope.  March saw the Washington Post opine that Americans should make room for third-party candidates.  That article touted Bloomberg, who later declined to run.  He figured that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and he would have acted as a spoiler.  He didn't want that.  On the other hand, if he thought Sanders was going to win the nomination, he'd probably have run.

The pace picked up in April with three articles, beginning with The Huffington Post declaring Why 2016 Could Be A Record Year For Third-Party Candidates, And What Pollsters Can Do About It.  The answer is include Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in those states where they are on the ballot.  The same month NBC News wondered Third Time's the Charm?: Minor Parties Hope for 2016 Wins.  Also in April, The Atlantic wrote There's Still Time for a Serious Third-Party Presidential Run.  Yes, if it's the Libertarians or Greens, who will have ballot access in a majority of states; the Libertarians might have ballot access in all of them.  No, if it's William Kristol's quixotic crusade to draft someone like Romney as an Establishment alternative to Trump; the deadline to get a true independent on the ballot in Texas has already passed.  Besides, any idea Kristol favors is likely to be a bad one.

The speculation continued this month, as FiveThirtyEight asked Could An Independent Candidate Succeed In 2016?  Of all the answers to the question, I agreed most with Harry Enten, who said "this year pretty much meets all the criteria for at least a moderately successful third-party candidacy."  For me, that means that the Libertarians and possibly the Greens could reach the threshold of five percent of the popular vote to qualify for public financing in 2020.  The Constitution Party does not have ballot access in enough states to meet that criterion.  It's very unlikely that even one of the minor parties will qualify for the debates with the major party candidates.  As Gary Johnson pointed out, that requires fifteen percent in several polls before the debates.   While minor parties have earned Electoral College votes before, that happened when they had concentrated regional strength, such as the Dixiecrats and the American Independent Party, and could win pluralities in three-party contests.  Neither the Libertarians nor the Greens meet that criterion; their support is more diffuse.  Consequently, none of the minor parties will win the presidency, but they'll certainly overperform compared to any election since 2000 and possibly even 1996, but not 1992.  None of these candidates is Ross Perot.  Even he didn't win any Electoral College votes.

Finally, USA Today reported Presidential transition could include third-party candidates under new law.  Don't make too much of it.  That just reflects a change in the language of the law extending transition services to any qualified candidate, not just the Democratic and Republican ones.  Still, it is a sign of the times.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Examiner.com article on Milliken endorsing Driskell

State Representative Gretchen Driskell, seen here addressing the Lenawee County Democrats, earned the endorsement of former Governor William Milliken Wednesday in her campaign for Congress.
Credit: Gretchen Driskell for Congress on Facebook, with permission.
Republican former Governor Milliken endorses Democrat Driskell for Congress
Former Governor William Milliken, a Republican, has a long history of crossing party lines to endorse Democrats.  He continued that tradition on Wednesday by endorsing State Representative Gretchen Driskell of Saline, a Democrat, in her effort to unseat U.S. Representative Tim Walberg of Tipton, a Republican who represents a district that includes the rural and exurban western, northern, and southern portions of Washtenaw County.
"We need people in Washington who work to find common ground and common solutions to our problems. Based on her record of achievement, I believe Gretchen Driskell is that person. I urge the voters of the 7th Congressional District to elect Gretchen Driskell as their representative in Congress," Milliken concluded.

Driskell thanked Milliken for his endorsement.  "I am very honored to have the endorsement of such a well-respected Michigan leader" she said in the same statement. "I have always admired Governor Milliken's commitment to working together to address our state's challenges and his long-standing service to our Michigan families."
More at the link, including Milliken's history of endorsing Democrats for state and federal office, the most recent poll, which is from September, and a video of Paul Ryan meeting with but not yet endorsing Donald Trump.  I couldn't resist pointing out a Republican not endorsing another Republican while a Republican endorsed a Democrat.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Traffic deaths up in 2015

I made a prediction in the driving update for June, one that I repeated in the comments to Doctors to Congress: Fund gun violence research at the CDC and NIH.
The increased miles driven will probably cause more traffic deaths, which will prevent the prediction in The Atlantic that 2015 will be the first year since statistics have been kept that gun deaths will exceed automobile deaths in the U.S.  That's a topic for another entry.
It's time for that entry, as WXYZ reported Monday traffic deaths rose in Michigan last year.

The number of fatalities involving car accidents rose sharply from 2014 to 2015, according to new numbers put out Monday.
Michigan wasn't alone, as Newsweek reported in February 2015 brought biggest percent increase in U.S. traffic deaths in 50 years.
Last year, the U.S. had the highest one-year percentage increase in traffic deaths in half a century, according to 2015 data released Wednesday by the National Safety Council (NSC). Initial estimates, which may be revised when more information becomes available, indicate that 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, and roughly 4.4 million sustained injuries that resulted in medical consultations. The number of deaths rose 8 percent from 2014, compared with a less than 0.5 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 and a 3 percent drop the previous year. 

“We haven’t seen a jump like this in 50 years,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC. “It’s a big change. This is not statistically insignificant. And we’re talking about human lives.”

The NSC identifies an improving economy as a possible cause for the increase, citing factors like lower unemployment and cheaper gas, which usually combine to mean more miles driven. During recession periods, people don’t drive to work as much or take as many vacations, since they have less discretionary income, Hersman says, and fatalities usually fall.
Neither the sheer number of miles driven nor a change in population seem to fully explain the jump in 2015. Motor-vehicle mileage increased by 3.5 percent between 2014 and 2015. The annual mileage death rate in 2015 was 1.22 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 5 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the annual population death rate rose by 7 percent to 11.87 deaths per 100,000 people.
The trend seems to be continuing this year, as I passed a traffic condition sign on the freeway yesterday saying that traffic deaths in Michigan are already 30 higher this year than they were this time last year.  I shouldn't be surprised, as April's driving updates show that Americans are still driving more.

As for the gun deaths, I'll have to wait for those to come out to see if the rest of my prediction came to pass.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Trump's pivot to the general election--Magic 8-Ball and Veep Survivor

Now that Cruz and Kasich have dropped out and Trump won the Nebraska and West Virginia primaries last night, he's the presumptive nominee.  That means that it's time for him to concentrate on the general election.  Seth Meyers reported exactly that in Trump Transforms for the General Election: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Donald Trump's new views on minimum wage, taxes, self-funding and more.
As one can see, it's not just Trump that is pivoting to the general election; his former rivals are as well.  Who says Trump isn't becoming a typical politician?

Jimmy Kimmel, that's who.  Last week, he presented his idea of how Donald Trump is Choosing a Vice President.

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, speculation about who he’ll pick as his VP is on the rise. The way he’s planning to do this is going to be a lot of fun.
A reality TV process for a reality TV candidate--perfect.  Of course, it's not going to happen this way, but the truth may end up not being any stranger.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bison declared U.S. national mammal

I have some good news to report today.  The U.S. now has a national mammal to go along with our national bird, the Bald Eagle, the Bison.  Reuters reports in Bison named U.S national mammal.

President Barack Obama signs legislation making the bison the official mammal of the United States. Paul Chapman reports.
Congress actually did something that passed into law.  Even better, I approve of it.  I wish I could write that more often.

Yes, I'm in a an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood.  Why do you ask?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Baby names inspired by fandom for Mother's Day

Original at Fandom Faceoff: Which Franchise Wins on Baby Names?

It's still Mother's Day in the time zones from Chicago west to the Hawaiian Islands, which means also still Sunday.  So for this slightly tardy Sunday entertainment feature, I'm updating both Game of Thrones--names, geology, and security theater and especially More on Game of Thrones names, in which I combined Mother's Day and entertainment by examining baby names inspired by speculative fiction fandom.

I begin with this prediction from Cosmopolitan: These Will Be the Hottest Names for Baby Girls Over the Next Year.
Skyrocketing Game of Thrones ratings have done wonders for the name Khaleesi. "Although technically not Emilia Clarke's character's name in the show, people like it, because it means 'queen,'" says Wattenberg. That's not the only GoT title to take off though. Suzanne notes that many parents are also choosing Aria, partly in response to ultra-fierce character Arya. (The name fits the bill as one with few consonants too.)
That ended up not happening, as Yahoo! News reported in Caitlyn Takes a Dive on Most Popular Baby Name List of 2015: Is Caitlyn Jenner to Blame?
As far as celebrity-inspired name trends, this year there is no Game of Thrones, Teen Mom, or Duck Dynasty phenomenon.
In fact, as the Social Security Administration reported in Change in popularity from 2014 to 2015, the popularity of Khaleesi fell 60 spots from 756th to 816th, which was counterbalanced by Arya rising 15 spots from 216th to 201st.  It was a wash.

As for what fandom-inspired names will become popular this year, Parents listed them in 10 Baby Names Inspired by Your Fave Books, Movies & TV Shows.

Pop-culture junkie? Why not name your child after your fave books, movies & TV shows? Here are 10 baby names to get you started, inspired by Game of Thrones, Star Wars and more.
I would bet on a lot of Finns, Poes, and Reys over the course of the next six years.  Another name I'd bet on would be Anakin, which rose 48 spots from 960th to 912th.  I'll have more on Star Wars names in the near future.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day from the White House

Happy Mother's Day!  For this year's celebration, I'm deferring to President and Mrs. Obama.  I begin with yesterday's Weekly Address: Happy Mother’s Day From President Obama.

In this week's address, President Obama recognized all mothers in celebration of this upcoming Mother's Day, including First Lady Michelle Obama.
Follow over the jump for three more videos from last year's celebration at the White House.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Colbert clowns as Cruz and Kasich capitulate

I already wrote "Good riddance, Agenda 21 paranoid" in response to Ted Cruz dropping out, but that wasn't a proper send-off.  Besides, John Kasich ended his campaign the next day.  He needs a good-bye, too.  I'm outsourcing that to Stephen Colbert, who does to Cruz, Kasich, and (again) to Carly Fiorina what he did to Ben Carson, give a "Hunger Games" good-bye in Hungry For Power Games: Dyin' Ted.

Two more Republican tributes have finally fallen, leaving Trump the GOP victor.
Everyone, a toast to the victor!

I think we'll be seeing a lot of "cartoon Donald Trump" between now and November.

Follow over the jump for drinks for the fallen.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Music from the Dark Side for the Revenge of the Sixth

Beware the Revenge of the Sixth, the Dark Side of Star Wars Day.  As I have for the past two years, I'm marking the occasion with music.  I had been "thinking of using music from KOTOR II to observe today--that, or post music cues for Revan as a Sith Lord," but with the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," I have more timely and appealing choices.  One of them that ties together the most recent installment in the franchise with the film that inspired today is Snoke's Theme, which is very similar to Palpatine's Teachings from "The Revenge of the Sith."  Without any further ado, I present Star Wars: Opera House/Darth Plagueis - Snoke Theme.

With The Release Of Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens And The Increasing Possibility Of It's Newest Villain, Supreme Commander Snoke Actually Being Episode III's Darth Plagueis The Wise, I Thought I'd Combine Snoke's Theme With The Opera Scene Plagueis Coversation From Revenge Of The Sith.
Of course, Plagueius is dead in Star Wars canon, but when has that ever stood in the way of a good villain?

Follow over the jump for another blast from the past revisited.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tipsy Bartender drinks for Cinco De Mayo 2016

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!  Just like last year and the year before that, I'm celebrating the holiday by posting recipes from  Tipsy Bartender.  I begin with the most recent, the Cinco de Mayo Cadillac Margarita Bowl.

Your party will be insane with this CINCO DE MAYO CADILLAC MARGARITA!
1 Bottlw Tequila
1/2 Bottle Peach Schnapps
1/2 Bottle Triple Sec
1 Bottle Sour Mix
1 Bottle Orange Juice
1/4 Bottle Grand Marnier
Watermelon Slices
Orange Slices
Lemon Slices
Limes Slices
Follow over the jump for a classic from four years ago, which happens to be the one in the image at the top of this entry.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' alignment charts and music for Star Wars Day

Happy Star Wars Day!  To celebrate this year's holiday, I'm following up on 'Star Wars' alignment charts with the above alignment chart from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  If it looks familiar, it's because I used it as the second image in Alignment charts for the fifth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

Follow over the jump for more takes on the alignments of characters from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens courtesy of Alignments in Fiction on Tumblr.

Examiner.com article on school millage elections plus bonus Indiana coverage

Voters in Washtenaw County, Michigan went to the polls to vote on millage elections as the same time as the Indiana voters shown here.
Scott Olson, Getty Images
School millages passing in Washtenaw County while Ann Arbor schools are closed
While national attention was focused on the Indiana Primary, voters throughout Washtenaw County approved a millage increase for special education.  Those in Chelsea renewed a millage for construction, building repair, and site acquisition.

According to the Washtenaw County Clerk,  the proposal to increase the Washtenaw Intermediate School District's special education millage by 1.5 mills for ten years is winning by 19,071 yes votes (59.33 percent) to 13,072 no votes (40.67 percent) with ninety-six percent of precincts reporting.  The measure lost in Jackson County, where it earned 34 yes votes (46.58 percent) to 39 no votes (53.42 percent), a five-vote margin lost in the 6,000 vote lead for the measure in Washtenaw County.
The irony of today's vote for school funding was that Ann Arbor Public Schools closed its buildings because of safety concerns related to the election.  Twenty Ann Arbor schools serve as polling places.
That was the local election news.  Follow over the jump for the news from Indiana.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix

I teased "I might do this again next week for the Indiana primary, in which case I'll feature the Indiana and Purdue University marching bands in addition to the Star United minicorps" at the conclusion of Drum corps for the Pennsylvania and Connecticut primaries.  I'm not feeling it today.*

Instead, I'm following up on Solar Impulse 2 lands in California with the next leg of the trip.  Euronews has the video in Bye bye San Francisco, destination Phoenix for Solar Impulse 2.

The plane Solar Impulse 2 took off from San Francisco early on Monday heading for Phoenix, Arizona - the latest leg of its trip around the world to promote clean energy.
The Arizona Republic has the rest of the story in Solar plane lands in Phoenix area as global trek continues.
Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane making its way around the world, made its long-awaited stop in the Phoenix area Monday, touching down to cheers and applause, but otherwise nearly silently, at Phoenix Goodyear Airport at 8:55 p.m.

The Swiss-made plane had taken off from Mountain View, Calif., for Arizona shortly after 5 a.m. Monday to continue its global journey using only energy from the sun.

Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg was at the helm of the plane that began circumnavigating the earth more than a year ago.

"It was a beautiful flight from California to Arizona," Borschberg, 63, told a large crowd that had gathered at the airport shortly after disembarking. He hardly looked like someone who had just spent 16 hours by himself in a single-seater plane.
The timing of the flight was fortuitous, coinciding with a debate over the future of solar power in Arizona.
When asked if their timing was meant to coincide with an ongoing debate in Arizona over solar-energy subsidies, Piccard said it was not.

"We did not plan to come during the debate," he said. "But if it helps, we'll be happy."

The Solar Impulse project has always been about delivering a message, Piccard said, more than delivering passengers. The plane is meant to spark a conversation about renewable and efficient energy.

"There are reliable, profitable solutions to have clean energy and to save energy." Piccard said. "When you see an airplane like Solar Impulse, it's not science fiction. It is the present."
That's part of the message in the AFP video about Solar Impulse 2.

Solar Impulse 2, an experimental aircraft flying around the world to draw attention to clean energy technologies, is to take flight again on Monday, organizers said.VIDEOGRAPHIC
As for the plane's next stop, The Daily Mail reported "The solar-powered plane, which stores energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining, will make several stops across the United States, although the team is still examining potential destinations."  In other words, they don't know yet.  Stay tuned.

*I might do it for the Oregon Primary.  At least there is an active competitive drum corps on the field there, the Oregon Crusaders.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Theme for May 2016: SNAPSHOT

I've been using a snapshot label for the first two posts of this month without explanation.  BlogHer explains why in Give Us a Snapshot of Your Life with May's Writing Lab.
So what is the BlogHer Writing Lab theme this month?


It's a busy time of the year. School is coming to a close, spring cleaning is underway, and brains are turning towards beach plans. So if you're taxed for time, you're going to love this month's theme.

Snapshots. You take them every day with your phone or camera. You capture moments in images. I'm not going to go into all the cliches about how pictures are worth a thousand words because you already know how much your photographs mean to you. All you need to do is take a quick perusal of Instagram to see how we connect over pictures.
I'm not primarily a photo blogger, although I just found out I have access to Google Photos and can post pictures from my smartphone there.  I might take advantage of that capability this month.  In the meantime, I'm more interested in statistical snapshots than photographic ones, so I'm as likely to post a graph or chart as I am an image.  As for the prompts, I'll pass.
So join the May BlogHer Writing Lab and give us a snapshot of your life.
I always do.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump

Last December, I passed along the results of a poll in Obi-Wan Kenobi for President and Darth Vader beats Trump but not Clinton showing that Americans would prefer the fiction Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi over the real-life Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Last week, Survey Monkey released its own polls in advance of the season 6 premiere for "Game of Thrones."  The result?  More choose Tyrion Lannister for President over Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders and Tyrion Lannister neck-and-neck for President; Daenerys Targaryen beats Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

After a long and contentious primary season, we may finally have found someone who appeals to both Democrats and Republicans: Tyrion Lannister. We asked survey takers who they would prefer as President of the United States. Bernie Sanders and Tyrion Lannister were neck and neck, Hillary Clinton came in third, while Donald Trump was a distant fifth.

Only Bernie Sanders would have a chance against The Imp, while The Queen of Dragons would beat Donald Trump.  Now I wonder how Sanders would have fared against Yoda and Ben Kenobi.  Absent that poll, it's time to break out this campaign poster.

While Sanders and Trump supporters broke along expected liberal and conservative lines, Tyrion attracted support from across the political spectrum.

Oh, look, a uniter, not a divider!  As the meme I featured in Game of Thrones: 2012 Campaign Edition says about both Tyrion and Stephen Colbert:
Often underestimated as a joker.  Too cool for the job.  Would probably freakin' rock at it.
Despite the preference for fictional candidates over the real ones, Americans recognize our current system of government is preferable to that of the Seven Kingdoms.
But America still prefers the White House to the Iron Throne

Despite all the political frustration, 75% of respondents selected the United States as a better functioning government than the Seven Kingdoms. So while we may gripe about the government being broken and do-nothing Congress, things could be worse!

Yes, a democracy within a republic that channels handles its political conflict by the ballot instead of the bullet is better than a monarchy in the midst of civil war.  May we continue to keep it that way.

Enough of how the fictional characters from "Game of Thrones" would fare in our world.  For a silly examination of how this election's real candidates would fit into the Seven Kingdoms, I recommend Trump is coming and he's building a wall, which concludes with this picture worth 1000 words.

For a more serious discussion, read This professor determines which presidential candidates would be in Game of Thrones from Vox.  It agrees with the above picture that Trump would be a Lannister pretending to be a Baratheon.  So would Clinton on the Democratic side.

Americans may want a Lannister, but it looks like Tyrion won't be on the ballot this November.  Darn.

A big top drum corps maypole for May Day

Happy May Day and Blessed Beltane!  Once again, I'm putting my distinctive spin on the holiday by posting about drum corps maypoles.  This year, I stretch things a bit by showing a maypole being used as a proxy for a circus tent.  Take it away, 1981 Bridgemen!

The Bridgemen’s seventh-place production commenced with Julius Fucik’s “Thunder and Blazes,” written in 1897 and perhaps the most popular circus march ever. Originally titled “Grande Marche Chromatique” and often referred to as “Entry of the Gladiators,” the title “Thunder and Blazes” was given to the piece by Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau in 1910 when he arranged it for wind band.
That was fun!

I could do this one more time, and that would be if I can find a video of the 1978 Santa Clara Vanguard dancing around the maypole.  I have a year to find it.  I can always hope someone will upload one.  Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone?