Monday, October 31, 2016

Drinks for Halloween 2016 from Tipsy Bartender

Happy Halloween from Crazy Eddie's Motie News!  Over on this blog's Facebook page, I asked my readers there "which angle I should use for Halloween, drinks or drum corps."  They unanimously voted for drinks.  My response was "That's easy; it's what I've done the past two years."  So by popular demand, I'm presenting this year's version of Halloween drinks from Tipsy Bartender and Halloween drinks from Tipsy Bartender for 2015, beginning with Halloween Glow in the Dark Vodka Ghosts.

Glow in the Dark Ghost Jello shots loaded with vodka and rum!
3 oz. Blue Jello
1 Cup Tonic Water
1/2 Cup Vodka
1/2 Cup Coconut Rum
2 Packets Unflavored Gelatin
That's an appropriately spooky creation.  Follow over the jump for two more.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

KPBS on the zombie apocalypse

I concluded Dancing German witches for Halloween by telling my readers "Stay tuned for Entertainment Sunday.  Since "The Walking Dead" is on and it's Halloween weekend, expect zombies."  That turned out to be an easy promise to make, as I had just seen REI's Zombie Preparedness Class from KPBS pop up on my YouTube feed.

In the case of a zombie apocalypse you’ll need to know more than just aim for the head. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says that’s where REI's Zombie Preparedness Class comes in.
This wasn't the first time KPBS explored the idea of using the zombie apocalypse to explore contemporary anxieties, an angle I've been pursuing since I posted Discovery News on World War Z three years ago.  Follow over the jump for three more videos from San Diego's PBS affiliate on the topic of zombies.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dancing German witches for Halloween

I fell into an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood while writing WWF reports massive loss of wildlife populations, so I'm going to take advantage of the holiday weekend to post entries that are a little more fun.  I begin with these dancing German witches.

Die Wolfshäger Hexenbrut tanzt "Schüttle deinen Speck" zu Walpurgis 2016
Translation: "The Wolfshaeger Witches Brood dances to 'Shake Your Bacon' at Walpurgis 2016."  Yes, the song translates to "Shake Your Bootie."

I know that Walpurgis is really a holiday associated with May Day, but this video works better for a U.S. audience during Halloween.  Besides, as New York Magazine wrote, "These Witches Dancing...Are Having More Fun Than You."  We could use more fun in the middle of this election campaign.

Stay tuned for Entertainment Sunday.  Since "The Walking Dead" is on and it's Halloween weekend, expect zombies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

WWF reports massive loss of wildlife populations

Yesterday's story about Trump's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame demolished upset me.  Somehow it hit a little close to home, pun intended.*  That written, I'm not in one of my "I can't be all DOOM all the time" moods, so I'm posting today about something even more depressing, if less personally threatening -- the loss of wildlife populations.  Take it away, Euronews!

By 2020 the earth's population of mammals, birds, fish and invertebrate species will have declined by more than 60% since 1970, putting the world on course for the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs.
Note that this is a massive loss of individuals, not of species; 60% of the planet's animal biodiversity will not disappear in the next four years.  Still, it is concerning and if it doesn't stop, extinctions will follow.  One of those might be of the Irrawady Dolphin, one population of which was just declared functionally extinct, as Newsy reports.

Nets and other fishing gear are so dangerous to dolphins that the Irrawaddy dolphin is functionally extinct.
Now I am in "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, so it's time to post a positive wildlife story.  CNN reports California wants its grizzly bears back.

The animal is on its state flag, but California hasn't seen a grizzly since the 1920s. Now some want to bring the bear back, CNN's Dan Simon reports.
I had this idea when I was a kid, but of course it went nowhere, so I'm glad to see that someone else has brought it back and made people take the proposal seriously.  That makes me feel better already.

*I grew up in Los Angeles, did my M.S. research in the shadow of Hollywood, and write a lot about entertainment on this blog, so my reaction shouldn't come as a surprise to my readers.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trump's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame demolished

Yesterday, Booman Tribune passed along a report from Deadline Hollywood that Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame had been destroyed by a man with a pick-axe.  It was the latest of a series of defacements of the sidewalk monument since Trump began running for President.  In the spirit of a picture being worth 1000 words, and moving pictures being worth even more than that, I'm sharing CNN's video report of the incident: Trump's Hollywood star destroyed.

Los Angeles police are looking for the man who destroyed Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star with a sledgehammer and a pickaxe.
ODN has reaction and follow-up in Destroyed: Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star.

Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star destroyed by vandals...Report by Lydia Batham.
While this is certainly an escalation and a direct insult to Trump, I don't consider it to be a Weimar Moment.  That would involve violence between groups of Trump supporters and Trump opponents, such as in Chicago and San Jose.  This isn't violence against people; it's just highly visible vandalism.  In that way, "Jamie Otis" (probably not his real name) is behaving like the Earth Liberation Front.  They primarily targeted property, too.  Just the same, I didn't approve of the ELF's tactics then and I don't approve of this action now.  Don't trash symbols of the opposition--vote!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

John Oliver and Keith Olbermann examine minor party candidates

Earlier this month, I shared how Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers mocked Gary Johnson and Bill Maher warned against voting for him even as newspapers endorsed him.  I pointed out this was exactly what should be happenning in a good year for minor party candidates.

Now, John Oliver spreads the attention and the mirth not only at Johnson, but also Jill Stein and some other minor party candidates for President in Third Parties.

Third party candidates want to be serious contenders, so John Oliver considers them seriously as potential presidents.
What I saw actually made me think better of Gary Johnson.  First, he proved he was smarter and better prepared than Rick Perry.  Asking Perry what three departments he'd eliminate led to his infamous "Oops" moment.  At least Johnson could name them off the top of his head.  Second, I didn't know he climbed Mt. Everest.  Regardless of his politics, that's impressive.  Third, he actually has the right attitude of humility about his accomplishment; one does not conquer the mountain, one merely survives the experience of visiting.  Just the same, his metaphor for expressing himself is downright strange--but that's Johnson.

As for Stein, Oliver shows she can do more musically than play the bongos; she sings better than I expected, although AutoTune may have done wonders for her.  However, Oliver exposes how she is even more tolerant of bad weird ideas than Johnson.  I found that disappointing.

While Oliver came to the conclusion that all of the candidates are flawed, so voting for Johnson, Stein, "Joe Exotic," or any of the candidates in last night's Free and Equal debate will not be any better than voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Keith Olbermann actively warned his viewers against voting for any minor party candidate in This Election is Too Important Not to Vote for Hillary.

Don't like Hillary Clinton? Desperate to change the system? That's fine. But those impulses must wait.
I'm not quite that adamant.  If any of my readers live in a safely Red or Blue state, voting for Johnson, Stein, Darrell Castle, or Evan McMullin will not matter; go right ahead, you're throwing away your vote harmlessly and in the case of Johnson will likely end up qualifying the Libertarians for public election funding.  On the other hand, those who live in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, or Ohio have votes too valuable to waste.  Think hard about your vote this time, and then work to change the system between elections.  That's more likely to get the results minor party voters say they want.

As for Keith, he may be scared, but at least he remembered his tag line--"watch this space."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Free and Equal debate tonight

Last week's debate, which prompted Keith Olbermann to declare Trump a threat to democracy and people to stream Janet Jackson's 'Nasty' in response to Trump insulting Clinton, wasn't the last debate of the campaign.  Like 2012, the Free and Equal Debate for minor party and independent candidates will be.  Take it away, Denver Post!
Actor Ed Asner will moderate a presidential debate being held Tuesday on the University of Colorado, organizers announced Monday.

Asner, the seven-time Emmy Award-winner best known for his performances in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Lou Grant” and the animated film “Up,” will lead a discussion between presidential candidates Darrell Castle, of the Constitution Party; Gloria La Riva, of the Socialist Party, and Rocky De La Fuente, an independent candidate, the Daily Camera reports.
Unlike four years ago, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, who have been invited along with Evan McMullin, Bill Kristol's better joke, probably won't attend.  That's disappointing.  If any of them were likely to show up, I'd be tempted to put together drinks and a drinking game for the event.  It would be worth it for the B-list candidates.  For these C-listers, I'm not going to bother.

Monday, October 24, 2016

For Food Day, a guide to entries with answers to 'Food, Inc.'

A Happy Food Day to my readers!  To celebrate the occasion, which is also my wedding anniversary, I revisit my motivation for writing Cracked on the Food Pyramid--"I'm showing Food, Inc. to my students this week."  I continued by writing "I'll have more to say about the movie on Monday," which elicited the following comment from Infidel753.
I'll be looking forward to that. It figures the official recommendations about food would reflect lobbying and food-industry profits more than actual nutrition.
My response was brief.
Thanks for your anticipation. It means I'll be sure to have something interesting to say. And, yes, it figures.
Before I try to fulfill that promise, I'm listing what I've already covered about the movie to produce a guide to entries with answers, much as I've done for "The End of Suburbia" and "An Inconvenient Truth."  That may not be an interesting thing to do for Infidel753, but it will certainly be helpful to my students.
It looks like I have more answers available to my students on my blog than I thought!  Even so, there is still room for one more answer today.

2. For which agricultural products is McDonalds the largest or one of the largest customers?  List at least five.

The slide above listed four.  CBC has a more complete list in How McDonald's has shaped the food biz.
With 36,000 restaurants in 119 countries serving 69 million customers a day, it's an accepted fact that McDonald's holds enormous sway over consumers' eating habits, food production and prices.

McDonald's is now the biggest purchaser in the world of beef, pork, potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes, and the second-biggest buyer of chicken, after KFC.

When it decided to add apple slices to Happy Meals a few years ago, the company quickly became the biggest buyer of the shiny red fruit in the United States.

Analysts expect the chain to soon become a power in kale as well, if its tests with the leafy vegetable – reportedly under way in Canada – are successful.

Indeed, every tweak to its menu has a butterfly effect, sending ripples that reverberate all the way to the dinner table, from the price of your meal to how it gets to your plate.
When my students ask about how McDonalds became a major purchaser of apples, I usually cite their apple pies.  Now I'll be sure to add apple slices in Happy Meals to the explanation.  Welcome to blogging as professional development!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Zombie squirrels for Wester 2016!

Happy Wester, which is "the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox."  Normally I'd post a happy squirrel for the fake holiday's mascot, but since tonight is the return of "The Walking Dead" and is only a week away from Halloween, I'm posting a zombie squirrel instead.  May he be more cute and less terrifying than Negan.  As I wrote in Drinks for criminal clowns, "Poor Rick and his crew have no idea how weird things are going to get!"  They fell down the rabbit hole in Season 1; now Negan is about to reach through the looking glass and pull them in to the other side.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

People stream Janet Jackson's 'Nasty' in response to Trump insulting Clinton

I'm posting the Sunday entertainment entry a day early because tomorrow is Wester, so I'm dedicating the Sunday entry to wish my readers a Happy Wester.  For today, I'm following up on an entertainment angle of the third debate, the reaction to Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton "such a nasty woman."  Wochit Entertainment reports Janet Jackson’s ‘Nasty’ Streams Go Up After Donald's Debate Comment.

On Wednesday Night the final presidential debate took place with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This time Donald did not cease to surprise people when he referred to Clinton as a “nasty woman”. However after the debate streams of Janet Jackson’s song “Nasty” skyrocketed on Spotify. Streams of the 1986 song went up 250 percent overnight. Clinton supporters embraced the term. They took the term back as a sign of empowerment. Donald made the comment as the two debated over Social Security and Medicare.
It also inspired fan parodies like this Hillary Clinton, Janet Jackson, Donald Trump Nasty Remix.

Clinton is a Nasty woman according to Donald Trump. Nobody knows Nasty the way Janet knows Nasty.
That only took a day to appear on YouTube.  If the election inspires more silly entertainment like this, it might almost be worth it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Keith Olbermann thinks Trump is a threat to democracy

I began Cracked on the Food Pyramid by writing "Last night was the final debate, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to respond; I'll have more time and Keith Olbermann will have posted his reaction."  I took enough time that I was rewarded by Olbermann posting not one, but two rants on the same topic, Trump refusing to say that he would accept the election results.  Here's the first, Donald Trump Must Withdraw. Here's Why.

This is now bigger than who becomes the next president. Donald Trump is a threat to our democracy.
I agree with Keith; Trump is a threat to our democracy.  As for him withdrawing, it's not happening.  Trump's ego won't allow him to do that.

Keith was a bit calmer the next day, but he lost none of his edge when he declared These Insane Excuses From Trump's Surrogates Are Deplorable.

It's now up to GOP leaders (the ones who want a future in politics) to fully repudiate Donald Trump.
This topic has so upset Keith that he forgot to end the show with his usual tag line, so I'll do it for him.  Watch this space.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cracked on the Food Pyramid

Last night was the final debate, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to respond; I'll have more time and Keith Olbermann will have posted his reaction.  Instead, I'm posting the following video from Cracked: The Terrible Truth Behind The Food Pyramid.  Consider it a preview for next Monday, which is Food Day.

Pretty much everything you learned as a child is a lie.
In case you're wondering what prompted me to post this, I'm showing Food, Inc. to my students this week.  I'll have more to say about the movie on Monday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why elephants and donkeys for Republicans and Democrats?

I've been asked this question several times before and usually find myself stumped.  Fortunately, ABC News has the answer.  First, Why an Elephant for Republicans?

Historian David Eisenbach explains how the Republican party and elephants came together.
Blame Thomas Nast, one of several people associated with the modern American conception of Santa Claus.

Next, Why a Donkey for Democrats?

David Eisenbach uncovers the origins of the donkey as a symbol of the Democratic party.
As someone with family connections to Native Americans, I've come to dislike Andrew Jackson, but I find linking the donkey to him to be appropriate and don't mind that the party has the animal for its symbol.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last month was the warmest September on record

Another month, another global temperature record.  In August, I shared that July 2016 was the hottest month on record yet.  In September, I reported that Detroit just had its warmest summer on record.  Early this month, the news was warmest August on record so far as carbon dioxide passes 400 ppm 'permanently'.  Today, it's NASA Analysis Finds Warmest September on Record By Narrow Margin.
September 2016 was the warmest September in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

September 2016's temperature was a razor-thin 0.004 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest September in 2014. The margin is so narrow those two months are in a statistical tie. Last month was 0.91 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean September temperature from 1951-1980.

The record-warm September means 11 of the past 12 consecutive months dating back to October 2015 have set new monthly high-temperature records. Updates to the input data have meant that June 2016, previously reported to have been the warmest June on record, is, in GISS's updated analysis, the third warmest June behind 2015 and 1998 after receiving additional temperature readings from Antarctica. The late reports lowered the June 2016 anomaly by 0.05 degrees Celsius to 0.75.
Climate Central cites NOAA, which could offer confirmation of the record next week.
It should be noted that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the other gold standards for global temperature analysis, says the world has had 16 straight months of record heat (itself a record). It releases its September numbers on Tuesday.
Welcome to the 400 ppm world.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bill Maher shows how life imitates dystopian science fiction

Last Friday, Bill Maher gave a good demonstration of how science fiction speaks to our current anxieties in New Rule: A Bone to Pick with Undecided Voters.  Start paying close attention at the four minute mark to see how life imitates art and why that might actually offer us hope.

I wasn't the only one to catch this.  Greg Evans of Deadline Hollywood did as well in Bill Maher: Hollywood Blockbusters Predicted Trumpocalypse.
Bill Maher gave props to Hollywood – particularly its sci-fi visions – for showing voters both the end of our world and a way to salvation: In his episode-closing New Rules comic monologue, the host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher last night asked what movies like Divergent, The Hunger Games, Elysium, Snowpiercer and The Giver have in common.

Can you guess? How about post-apocalyptic worlds rescued and controlled by a “cold, technocratic boss lady in a pantsuit?”

Touting Hollywood’s uncanny ability to predict the future – Star Trek‘s flip-phones, Minority Report‘s touch-screens, Morgan Freeman as president – Maher then reminded viewers about the big screen’s recent nuclear obsession. “Folks, blowing up the world is something that could actually happen,” he said, setting up the bit in earnest.
I couldn't have said it better myself.  Here's to being with Bill Maher and supporting the “cold, technocratic boss lady in a pantsuit.”  It beats being led by Immortan Joe!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bob Dylan wins 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

For the Sunday entertainment entry, I'm going to do something I'm sure I've never done before--recognize the winner of the Literature Prize.  Why is that entertainment?  Well, check out the winner.  From the Wall Street Journal: Bob Dylan's 'Poetic Expressions' Win 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.

American rock star Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time a musician has won the prestigious award. WSJ's Lee Hawkins explains.
Congratulations to Dylan and all the winners.  I might just look at the rest of them throughout the week.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Happy Sweetest Day 2016!

Happy Sweetest Day!  As I wrote in Holidays for the fifth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, "I wasn't even sure that I wanted to celebrate Sweetest Day last year, but I found a good video about the history of the holiday and went ahead.  I'm glad I did."  It ended up being the sixteenth most read entry of the fifth year of the blog.

And now, the song I've associated with this day since I first learned about it, Sweetest Day by Control Freq.

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Keith Olbermann on Trump's bad bromance with Putin

In July, I joked about Trump and Putin, a bad bromance.  On Monday, I showed that I had become more alarmed about Trump's admiration of Putin in Trump threatens to 'Lock Her Up!'  That entry featured a Keith Olbermann video from GQ in which Keith said that Donald Trump was borrowing a page from the Putin playbook by promising that, if he became president, he investigate, prosecute, and attempt to imprison Hillary Clinton.  That Paul Manfort, who was Trump's campaign manager, had earlier been Viktor Yanukovych's campaign manager for President of Ukraine, made the Trump-Putin connection more real and the threat more chilling, as Manafort's candidate was also supported by Putin and locked up his female opponent Yulia Tymoshenko after he was elected.

It turns out that wasn't the first time Keith had pointed out the perils of Putin's possible influence in Trump's campaign.  Two weeks earlier, he had explained Why Donald Trump’s Russian Connection is a Huuuge Problem.

It’s time for answers: What exactly is Donald Trump doing with—and for—Putin and the Russian government?
This week, Keith harkened back to this earlier video and got some answers to his questions in Looks Like Trump is Now Peddling Russian Propaganda.

It’s a good thing the fools trying to subvert our democracy are, you know, fools.
I agree with Keith; it's a good thing for American democracy that Putin's patsies in the Trump campaign are incompetent.  Otherwise, we'd all be in real trouble.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Vox on creepy clown hysteria

In a footnote to Drinks for criminal clowns, I wrote that "I might get around to examining the phenomenon more seriously later, including the clown sightings and actual crimes reported here in Detroit."  Sometimes, if I wait long enough, someone does most of the work for me.  In this case, Vox made things easy for me in America’s creepy clown craze, explained.

Clown sighting pranks have happened since the 1980s — but never quite like this.
Vox has much more on the phenomenon in The great clown panic of 2016 is a hoax. But the terrifying side of clowns is real.  So, chill.  Real clowns aren't out to get you, just pranksters, hoaxers, and attention seekers who want to scare you, along with a few criminals who are wearing clown masks instead of ski masks while they commit the crimes they'd likely have perpetrated anyway.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Traffic deaths continue to rise

I expected more traffic deaths because of Americans driving more and my prediction was confirmed in May when I posted Traffic deaths up in 2015.  Americans have continued to drive more, so I wasn't surprised to see that traffic deaths have increased along with miles driven.  Wochit has the story in U.S. Traffic Deaths Up A Dangerous 10.4 Percent.

Federal officials said Wednesday, U.S. traffic fatalities rose by an estimated 10.4 percent in the first half of this year. They continued an upward trend that started in late 2014 as the economic recovery accelerated.

The Transportation Department released the preliminary estimate at a conference of government agencies. They include the National Safety Council and other safety groups which announced an ambitious goal of eliminating traffic deaths and injuries in the United States within the next 30 years.

Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said, "We have an immediate crisis on our hands, and we also have a long-term challenge."
Newsy has more on both the plan to reduce traffic deaths* as well as possible causes of the increase in US officials want to eliminate traffic deaths.

A new report found traffic fatalities have jumped by more than 10 percent during the first half of 2016.
For more on this story, read Highway deaths jump; blame texting and better economic times from the Detroit Free Press, but available on WZZM's website.  If current trends hold, the U.S. is on the way to 35,500+ traffic deaths this year.  That will certainly be more than gun deaths this year.

*Eliminate in 30 years?  Not going to happen, not even if we go to all self-driving cars.  Still trying to get to zero traffic deaths is a worthy effort, even if getting all the way there is unreachable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump threatens to 'Lock Her Up!'

After watching the Republican Convention, I left a comment on The Morning After, Day 2, and Why I Can't Watch 2 in response to P.M. Carpenter.
Christie was another of last night's pseudoconservative luminaries, who also delivered a frothing denunciation of Crooked Hillary, "smil[ing]" as the arena's neofascistic mob "erupted in chants of 'LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!," reports Slate's Michelle Goldberg.
"'LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!'" Given Manfort's history, that takes on a chilling meaning. Here's what Wikipedia wrote about his involvement in Ukraine.

"In 2010, under Manafort's tutelage, the opposition leader put the Orange Revolution on trial, campaigning against its leaders' management of a weak economy. Returns from the presidential election gave Yanukovych a narrow win over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 demonstrations. Yanukovych owed his comeback in Ukraine's presidential election to a drastic makeover of his political persona and, people in his party say, that makeover was engineered in part by his American consultant, Manafort."

And what did Yanukovych do to Tymoshenko after he won? Lock her up.
After Manafort left the campaign, in part because of his ties to Yanukovych, I felt less worried about such an outcome and decided that I wasn't going to recycle that comment at this blog.  Then Trump threatened to prosecute Clinton over emails at Sunday night's debate.

During the second presidential debate, Donald Trump said that if he wins the election, he will appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary Clinton's email "situation."
Eep!  Trump threatened to "lock her up!"  Manafort may be gone, but Bannon and others from Breitbart have replaced him, and they have continued this part of his legacy.  That's another Weimar moment that reinforces the idea that 2016 may not be 1968, but Trump is worse than Wallace.  I'll let Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo speak for me by explaining what this Weimar Moment meant to him.
I don't think we can discuss this debate as citizens, take stock of it as a country, without noting that this is certainly the first time one candidate has openly threatened to jail the other candidate. Trump said openly that he would instruct the Justice Department to open a new investigation of Clinton and that he'd make sure it ended with her imprisonment. That's something we expect it kleptocracies and thin democracies where electoral defeat can mean exile, imprisonment or death.

Such a ferocious claim, one that puts our whole constitutional order on its head, is not something that can be easily undone. That's the ranting threat of a would-be strongman and dictator The threat itself is like a bell that can't be un-rung. Through the course of what was often an ugly debate, I was thinking a lot of the destructiveness of this entire campaign, virtually all of which stems from Trump's transgressive, norm-demolishing behavior. It's a topic we'll have to return to in the ed blog and one the country is going to need to wrestle with. None of this is going to disappear after November 8th. These are slashing wounds to the country's political fabric that will at best leave tremendous scar tissue we'll still see for decades.
That was an early response and a rather restrained one, although Marshall was rattled enough to forget some of his punctuation.  The next morning, Keith Olbermann unleashed his full fury on the topic in Jailing Hillary!? Trump’s Outrageous Case for Dictatorship.

Floating his new plan to lock up his political rival, Donald Trump borrows a page from the Putin playbook.
Thank you, Keith, for saying everything I was thinking along with everything I should have been thinking.  I've missed you and I'm glad you're back.  It's times like this that I need you and the country needs you, too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving 2016!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  For this year's celebration, I'm going to pass the mic to Lisa Ryan of New York Magazine, who writes This Canadian Thanksgiving, We Give Thanks for Justin Trudeau.
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, a day in which our neighbors to the north gorge on pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and coma-inducing turkey while subjecting themselves to hours of awkward conversations with relatives. It’s a lot like American Thanksgiving, but everybody is much nicer to each other.

On this joyous occasion, let’s celebrate the Canadian who matters most to us besides Drake: Justin Trudeau. Here’s why we’re thankful for this walking feminist meme.
Among the many reasons listed is "He’s also pro pot."  On that basis alone, Gary Johnson should have been able to name him as a world leader he admires.  Too bad he didn't.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Drinks for criminal clowns

For entertainment Sunday, I'm going to approach the ongoing creepy clown hysteria sideways instead of head-on by suggesting drink recipes honoring the most famous criminal clowns in modern pop culture, The Joker and Harley Quinn.*

I begin with my usual go-to for drink recipes, Tipsy Bartender, with their recipes for the Clown Prince of Crime and his Princess to mark the release of "Suicide Squad" earlier this year: Suicide Squad Shots.

Suicide Squad Shots....The Joker and Harley Quinn!
*Blue Layer:
Blue Curacao Syrup
Pina Colada

*White Layer:
Pina Colada Drink
Coconut Rum

*Pink Layer:
Pina Colada
Bubble Gum
White Rum
Strawberry Liqueur
Overproof Rum

Pink Sugar Rimmed Glass!

*Green Layer:
Melon Liqueur
Coconut Rum

*White Layer:
Pina Colada Drink
Coconut Rum
Overproof Rum

Purple Sugar Rimmed Glass!
Skyy wasn't the only one thinking up drinks for these characters in this movie.**  Follow over the jump for more.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Kennedy Space Center survives brush with Hurricane Matthew

When I looked at Hurricane Matthew's predicted path, two things struck me.  The first was that it was going to graze Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center, putting the ability of the U.S. to launch spacecraft at risk.  Wochit reported on the threat before the storm in Hurricane Matthew To Strike Near Cape Canaveral.

Facilities at the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are bracing for the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew which is expected to reach the area Thursday night and stay until Friday. Matthew has been said to be one of the most powerful storms to threaten Cape Canaveral since the beginning of the space age over 50 years ago. NASA spokesman George Diller said Thursday, "The Kennedy Space Center is now in HURCON 1 status, meaning a hurricane is imminent. Hurricane preparations were completed early last night and remaining employees were sent home.” The National Hurricane Center is predicting dangerous storm surges, heavy rain and 140 mph winds along Florida’s east coast with the eye of the storm passing just off shore or directly over Cape Canaveral.
Fortunately, Wochit was able to report after the storm NASA Survives Brush With Hurricane Matthew.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral just missed getting ht by hurricane Matthew. Workers were able to venture out and do initial damage inspections after. George Diller, from the NASA's Kennedy Space Center, told NBC "It's mostly roof damage and other collateral damage like windows and doors, but no major damage to the major facilities and none to flight hardware" NASA's facilities sit on the coast and were afraid of taking a direct hit from the hurricane which is now a category 5.
Whew.  For more, read NASA Spaceport Weathers Hurricane Matthew as Satellite Reveals Double Eyewall at

The other was that the storm would loop around to the south and west after passing the coast of North Carolina.

I found that unusual.  I think I've seen that happen in this area once in 30 years of paying attention to Atlantic hurricanes.  CNN's Chad Myers references Matthew's looping path in Hurricane Matthew weakens to Category 1 storm , posted earlier this morning.

Hurricane Matthew is now a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds at 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By the time it finishes its loop, the storm may no longer be dangerous.  That would be good news.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Clinton regains double-digit lead over Trump in Michigan

Last month, the polling news read Clinton lead over Trump shrinking in Michigan.  Eep!  This month, actually yesterday, the same poll gave Clinton an 11% lead over Trump in a four-way poll including both Johnson and Stein.  WXYZ has the story in Clinton leads Trump in new Presidential poll.

Hillary Clinton is now leading Donald Trump by double digits in our newest Presidential poll.
The Detroit Free Press explains how Clinton's lead built back up among key demographic groups in the follow passage from Poll: Clinton takes 11-point lead over Trump in Michigan.
[The previous poll showed] Clinton’s support among black voters in Michigan dropped to 74% —  far below the 95% of support the last Democratic nominee, Obama, got in the last election — and 14% undecided. But this poll showed 86% of black voters supporting her and Trump getting no more than 2% of that vote, despite his outreach in visits to Detroit and Flint. Only 5% of African-American voters remained undecided, the poll said.

Trump’s chances of winning in Michigan and elsewhere are further hurt by an inability to attract more support from white people, as well: The poll indicated that Clinton was essentially tied among whites, with her leading 37%-36, compared to 11% for Johnson and 13% undecided. In the last election, exit polls showed Republican nominee Mitt Romney beating Obama among whites in Michigan by 11 percentage points — and still losing by 9 percentage points overall in the state

Three weeks ago, Trump also had taken a clear step toward neutralizing the gender gap facing his campaign, taking a 5-percentage-point lead among men in Michigan and cutting Clinton’s clear lead among women to 10 percentage points.

In this poll, however —  following Clinton’s debate where she blasted Trump for calling 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” —  Clinton had staked a 20-percentage-point margin with women — 48%-28% among the biggest single voting bloc in the state. She has continued to raise issues of Trump criticizing women over their looks on the campaign trail.

And while Clinton had seen a decline in support among voters ages 18-34   in the last Michigan poll, she’s now back where she was with them post-convention, with a 44%-22% lead over Trump and Johnson getting 21%. Clinton also held leads among every other age demographic. In vote-rich metro Detroit, Clinton’s support was back over 50%: She led Trump in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties as a bloc by 55%-25%, though Trump still held leads in central, west and northern Michigan.

Trump had been expected to do best with voters with a high school diploma or less education, but after he held a 4-percentage-point edge with those voters last month, Clinton is now ahead. She  had regained a clear lead, 41%-32%. She also reclaimed a lead among self-described independent voters, 27%-24%, though what may be most significant about that group is that their number of undecideds jumped from 20% to 31%; and their support for Johnson dropped, from 23% to 14%, as the third-party nominee had difficulties identifying the war-torn city of Aleppo in Syria and answering a question about foreign leaders.
All good news.  As a result, FiveThirtyEight now lists Clinton's odds of winning Michigan at 86.2%, much higher than the 71.4% probability early in September, although not as good as 93% in August.  Here's to her chances improving!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mars landings, real and fictional, for World Space Week

October 4-10 is World Space Week, exactly the kind of event I celebrate on this blog.  To that end, I bring two videos about Mars landings that came out during the past seven days, beginning with Schiaparelli’s descent to Mars from the European Space Agency (There is nothing wrong with your speakers; the video has no sound).

Visualisation of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the martian atmosphere to land on Mars.

Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere at about 21 000 km/h and in less than six minutes it will use a heatshield, a parachute and thrusters to slow its descent before touching down in the Meridiani Planum region close to the equator, absorbing the final contact with a crushable structure.

The entire process will take less than six minutes: the animation has been sped up.

Schiaparelli is set to separate from the Trace Gas Orbiter on 16 October, after a seven-month cruise together through space, and will enter the atmosphere on 19 October at 14:42 GMT.
Next, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert opened one of its episodes last week with Stephen Is Already On His Way To Mars.

Now that Elon Musk has unveiled his plan for human colonization of Mars, Stephen imagines what it might be like to be one of the first Earthlings to visit.
To quote Bugs Bunny, "I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albequerque."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Supply and demand still work for oil

One of the phenomena that convinced me that Peak Oil was real was not just that oil prices shot up as oil production plateaued in the early 2000s, but also the very long delay between those high prices and new supply coming on to the market.  It was that latter apparent failure of the classical economic story of supply and demand working that made me realize that the world might have hit Hubbert's Peak between 2005 and 2008, exactly as predicted by some of the experts in "The End of Suburbia."  That, and some of the other predictions, particularly Kenneth Deffeyes "list of things"--"seven trillion dollars lost out of the U.S. stock market, two million jobs lost in the United States, federal budget surplus - gone, state budget surpluses - gone, the middle class disappearing"--were what also persuaded me to show the movie to my students.

However, the past two years have made me realize that Hubbert's Peak may have passed for conventional oil only, not for all oil.  Supply finally caught up with and passed demand, causing oil prices to fall, both of which fit the predictions of mainstream economics.  Too see both the increased supply and the lower price, first look at this graph of world oil production from Econbrowser.  The blue line shows the period of the "bumpy plateau" that looked like the one predicted from Peak Oil theory.

Compare with this graph showing the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent Crude from Calculated Risk.

That bump in production above the blue line during the past three years coincides with the drop in price.  That's the good news out of all this.

The bad news is the other side of supply and demand.  When prices fall, supply eventually falls as well.  I've been expecting that to happen since December 2014.  The graph below from Econbrowser shows that it has happened, at least for the U.S.

As a result, U.S. and world production is falling again, so the prices have resumed rising.  Calculated Risk's graph of year-over-year oil prices shows that prices are actually slightly up from a year ago for the first time in more than two years.

The result at ground level is that the downward seasonal pressure on gas prices at the pump is being counteracted by upward pressure from wholesale prices.  I saw that yesterday, when I filled up at one of the stations in my old neighborhood, which was selling regular at $2.27.  Two weeks ago, it was selling regular for $2.10.  The first time I visited the station in August, I bought regular for $2.09.  That's a graph of slightly increasing prices when the usual trend is for falling ones.  Fortunately, prices are still relatively low and I drive a Prius, so I'm not complaining in earnest, as it could be and has been a lot worse.

Another result of the oil price drop that I feared would be financial chaos from the shale oil bubble bursting wiping out the gains to the consumer economy from lower energy prices.  That didn't happen, but trouble with shale oil did counteract the improved situation for the consumer, as this graph from Econbrowser shows.

GDP improved from lower oil prices, but only 0.12% worth.  James Hamilton explained the situation thus.
But gains to consumer spending were mostly offset by a drop in oil-related investment spending. Nonresidential fixed investment had been growing at a 4.3% rate prior to the oil-price drop but has only increased at a 0.8% annual rate since, due to a 50% drop in investment spending in the oil sector.

The U.S. imports 6 million more barrels of crude petroleum and refined products than it exports every day. Between June 2014 and March 2016 the real price of oil declined by 68%. As a net oil importer, the fact that Iraq and Iran are now willing to sell us more oil at a lower price should be good news for the U.S. economy. In idealized economic models, the resources that had been producing oil should now shift to producing other goods, and with the new terms of trade we should as a result be even more productive than before.

But in the real world shifting resources is easier said than done. We now have a large stock of capital that was being used to develop U.S. shale oil, and contrary to the predictions of simple economic models, there is not some other more productive place to use that equipment.
As for my prediction of a recession starting sometime in 2017, I'm even more confident than before.  Now that oil prices are rising, the possibility of an oil-price-shock has increased, especially with this news from Bloomberg: OPEC Agrees to First Oil Output Cut in Eight Years.  If OPEC succeeds in getting Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq on the same page on this, further price increases are inevitable.  If they exceed 50% in one year, so is the oil-price-shock recession.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Warmest August on record so far as carbon dioxide passes 400 ppm 'permanently'

In August, I shared that July 2016 was the hottest month on record yet.  In September, I reported that Detroit just had its warmest summer on record.  Today, it's August 2016 was the hottest August ever.

The past 11 consecutive months have set record temperatures.
That's an understatement, as Climate Central reported.
The unprecedented streak of record-hot months that the world has experienced over more than a year just tacked on one more month: Data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed last month was easily the hottest August on record.

That makes 16 straight record-hot months, unparalleled in NOAA’s 137 years of record-keeping. The previous record streak was only 10 months, set in 1944. NASA’s data, released earlier, also said August was record hot, not to mention tying for the hottest month the planet has ever recorded.
As for the bigger picture...
Though there are still several months left in the year, it is a virtual certainty that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, and by a significant margin. While global temperatures can fluctuate from year to year, 2016 is serving as something of an exclamation point for the long-term trend of warming driven by the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
Welcome to the 400 PPM world, as Scientific American reported.
In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.
Right after the Paris Agreement on Climate being signed on Earth Day, the planet's temperature may blow past the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, meaning it was too late.  Yes, this is still a doomer blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Newspaper endorsements roll in while comedians laugh at Gary Johnson

I wrote 2016 could be a good year for minor party candidates and then made a prediction of what that would most likely look like.
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.
So far, those predictions are panning out.  First, Johnson did not get into the debates, as he did not get 15% in the polls in time.  Second, as of today, FiveThirtyEight projects Johnson will earn 7.6% of the vote in November.  That would be the best showing for a minor party candidate since Perot in 1996, but not better; Perot earned 8.4% in that election.  As I wrote, Johnson is not Perot.  Third, FiveThirtyEight is also predicting only a 2.9% probability that Johnson will earn any electoral votes, most likely in his home state of New Mexico.  My forecast, as far as it went, is coming true.  That written, there are two results of Johnson's success that I didn't foresee, the newspaper endorsements and the comedic reaction.

First, the endorsements.  Politico quoted the Chicago Tribune endorsing Gary Johnson for president and listed Johnson's other endorsements.
“We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president — regardless of his or her prospects for victory — than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates,” the editorial board wrote.

“We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote,” the endorsement continued. “…We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire.”
It’s the fifth newspaper endorsement that Johnson, who is polling in the single digits, has received from traditionally right-leaning editorial boards. On Thursday, The Detroit News, which has until this year always endorsed Republican candidates for the presidency, endorsed Johnson. The Libertarian candidate also has received endorsements from the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Winston-Salem Journal.
In contrast, the closest Trump has to a major metropolitain newspaper endorsement comes from the New York Post.  Five endorsements to maybe one.  That's not a result I would have expected, even from the Detroit News.  Speaking of which, WXYZ reported on Detroit News endorses Libertarian Gary Johnson for president.  Roll video!

Get used to that clip.  It will show up again and again over the jump as Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Bill Maher, and Sarah Silverman laugh at Johnson.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Drinking games and drinks for the Vice Presidential Debate

Gentle Readers!  With the Vice Presidential Debate coming this Tuesday night, it's time to join together and play a drinking game.  While the Presidential Debates already have two sets of rules from Drinks and drinking games for Donald Trump and the GOP debates and Drinks for the Democratic debates: Hillary Clinton taken from Paul W.'s You Might Notice a Trend blog, this edition features rules from  Follow along with the sock puppets as they read the rules!

Rules for the 2016 Presidential Debate Drinking Game as explained by poorly rehearsed puppets.
1 - Pick a candidate
2 - Listen for YOUR candidate to say his/her specific words and listen for every candidate to say a community word. If ANY CANDIDATE says a community word, EVERYONE drinks
3 - Because this may be a high scoring game, we define a drink as a gulp of beer or sip of wine or liquor. Know your limits and please drink responsibly.
Here are the words to drink to.

Tim Kaine: Virginia, Guns, *Anything in Spanish*, Middle Class, Military, and Together.

Mike Pence:  Indiana, Second Amendment, Constitution, Budget, Religion, and Shoulders.

Community Words: Governor, TPP, and Reagan.

If my readers don't like the one above, A.M. N.Y. has a different drinking game.
-When Pence describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," drink.

-When Kaine randomly says a word in Spanish, drink.

-If Pence mentions his former radio show, “The Mike Pence Show,” drink.

-When Kaine says something that sounds like something your dad would say, drink.

-If you start to fall asleep, drink some coffee.

-If Pence diverts a question about how he initially supported Ted Cruz over Donald Trump, drink.

-If Kaine diverts a question about how he said former President Bill Clinton should resign, drink.

-When you start to wish you were watching Joe Biden and Paul Ryan debate, drink.

-If Kaine does an impression of Trump like he did in his DNC speech in July, drink.

-When you think you’re seeing double, it’s time to go to sleep.
I think those are enough rules.  Follow over the jump for the drinks for each candidate.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

PBS Newshour examines gerrymandering in Maryland and North Carolina

This past March, I reported that the second most read post of the fifth year of the blog was WXYZ on redistricting reform.  That examined the possibility of Michigan having a non-partisan commission take over redistricting from the state legislature.  That initiative did not make it to the ballot this year, but the idea is still kicking around, as seen in North Carolina and Maryland challenge gerrymandering from PBS NewsHour.

Gerrymandering -- the practice of drawing districts to benefit one political party over another or to protect an incumbent -- has a long history in the U.S. Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports on reform efforts in Maryland, where one district has been called a “broken-winged pterodactyl,” and in North Carolina, where litigation is challenging partisan redistricting.
For another embed of this video as well as a summary and complete transcript, surf over the NewsHour page at

While both Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway, a Democrat, and Republican State Representative David Lewis of North Carolina think that independent commissions are too idealistic and completely non-partisan people don't exist, I'm on the side of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who wants an independent redistricting commission for his state.  If its good enough for that Republican governor, it's good enough for Democrats and Republicans in states like Michigan.  I think Arizona, California, Idaho, and Washington all have the right idea.