Sunday, July 23, 2017

WXYZ on the Detroit Riots 50 years later


Today is the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Riot of 1967, a day I knew I'd blog about ever since I first mentioned the riot six years ago.  That day has now arrived.*  Since I was not living here at the time (I was a seven-year-old in Los Angeles then), I'll defer to the locals, especially my favorite local news source on YouTube, WXYZ.  I begin with Detroiters revisit drama of 1967 riots through bus tour, which returns to ground zero of the riot and recounts the story of how it began and spread.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Detroit 1967 riots, we take a look at how Detroiters are revisiting the drama of the riots on a historic bus tour through the city.
WXYZ summarized the effects of the unrest in Detroit 1967: The riots by the numbers.


Wow.  All that is the immediate effect of the riots.  Follow over the jump for what happened over the next 50 years.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A very late celebration of World Population Day


While I was celebrating National Mojito Day with Tipsy Bartender recipes, I was missing another holiday far more worthy of attention on this blog, World Population Day.
World Population Day is an annual observance which occurs on July 11th and is used to raise attention issues concerning global population – mainly, the effects of overpopulation on the world and that our current rate of population growth will not be able to be sustained into the future.
This is what happens when I rely mostly on National Day Calendar and Facebook's "On This Day" feature.  The former's International Days page is under construction and therefore incomplete and missing this day.  Also, I have only mentioned World Population Day once before on this blog in Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011.  Since I never used the name of the holiday in the title of any of my entries, Facebook never successfully reminded me of the day's existence.  Sigh.  It really is time for me to put together a page on this blog with a calendar of all the days I celebrate here.

That written, I first mentioned World Population Day six years ago yesterday, so this is an anniversary of sorts.  In addition, I'm not the only person celebrating it today.  The Mosaic Project/Girls Empowerment Project is holding an event today in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

GEM will be conducting a series of events in partnership with Good Food Brampton and IMPACT Leaders Fund, to connect all Peel youth to learn about local and global sustainable practices.
On July 22nd, 2017, from 1-5 pm in Brampton, we will be hosting a workshop commemorating World Population Day (on July 11th), which aims to increase people's awareness on various population issues. For this workshop, we will talk about how to integrate sustainability into our everyday lives and highlight current environmental issues.
At least I'm not alone in being tardy celebrating the holiday.

Enough meta.  Follow over the jump for three videos about World Population Day.

Friday, July 21, 2017

U.S. Space Corps and Orion -- rejected ideas for Moon Day


I had two other ideas for yesterday's post before I decided on Preserving lunar landing sites for National Moon Day, which I instantly found much more appealing once I stumbled across it.  The first one I considered had a strong whiff of "we live in science-fiction times" or, more succinctly, "sci-fi is now."  Newsy reported last week Congress could add outer space military branch.

Congress is proposing a "Space Corps" that would potentially fight in space and protect U.S. assets in orbit.
There is already an U.S. Air Force Space Command, along with Army and Navy space commands and programs.  I don't know if creating a new branch of the Armed Forces that would function inside the Air Force the way the Marines function within the Navy is warranted yet.  It also has powerful opponents within the Defense Department, so I doubt it will become law.  Still, I think this is worth watching.

I rejected the above topic because it had nothing to do with humans landing on the Moon.  I then moved on to something that does, NASA's Orion program, which I last mentioned on this blog on Yuri's Night last year.  CNBC International reported on NASA’s Mars Spaceship 'Orion' two years ago.

In less than 10 years NASA’s "Orion" will take us to places we've previously only dreamed about. Janet Shamlian explores the Spacecraft that may take us back to the Moon, to Mars, and Beyond.
The kinds of things that NASA has been doing with Orion this year, testing the escape rockets and parachutes in case of a launch abort, along with practicing how to exit the command module after it splashes down, are necessary, but not very exciting looking.  On the other hand, a test launch next year looks like exactly the kind of event that I would enjoy blogging about on the next National Moon Day.  I'm looking forward to it already.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Preserving lunar landing sites for National Moon Day


I ended Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Daiquiri Day 2017 by telling my readers "Stay tuned for a holiday I should have been celebrating at this blog all along, National Moon Day.
"National Moon Day is observed annually on July 20 and commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969.   NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon.  Armstrong stepped first onto the lunar surface, six hours after landing and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft.  Aldrin spent slightly less time but together they collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth.  Michael Collins piloted Apollo 11 and remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned.

Watched by millions, the event was broadcast on live TV to a world-wide audience and all witnessed as Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
...
In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20 to commemorate the anniversary of man’s first moon landing.

With no continuing proclamation to follow, Richard Christmas took up the baton and began a “Chrismas Card” writing campaign. A former gas station attendant, the Michigan native wrote to governors, congressmen and senators in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. By July of 1975, 12 states had sponsored bills observing Moon Day.

James J. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, is a modern day supporter of a National Moon Day.  He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!”  Mr. Mullaney has been working toward making National Moon Day an official Federal holiday.
Making Moon Day an official holiday is a quirky cause I could get behind.  Speaking of quirky causes, USA Today reported the day before yesterday Professor says that Apollo 11 moon-landing site should be named a National Historic Landmark.
A former professor is proposing that the Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base, where humans first stepped foot on the moon, should be named a National Historic Landmark.

The academic, Beth O’Leary, an emerita professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University, is also pushing for other lunar-landing sites to be preserved for posterity.
...
Her recent book, The Final Mission: Preserving NASA’s Apollo Sites, written with Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Lisa Westwood, a lecturer in California State University-Chico’s Anthropology Department, looks at the exploration of space from an archaeological and historical-preservation perspective, according to report in the Las Cruces Sun-News. It also details how various sites in New Mexico, Texas, California and Florida contributed to the successful Apollo missions.
KRWG News interviewed her about her book in In Focus #10 040417 Beth O'Leary.


I'm behind her quirky cause, too, although I wonder about the legalities of designating Tranquility Base a National Historic Landmark.  After all, the United States does not own the Moon.  That prevents the location from being a World Heritage Site, which is what I think it really should be, as countries can only submit candidates from within their own borders.  Not being part of the U.S. hasn't stopped either California or New Mexico from placing the landing site on their heritage registers, something O'Leary mentioned in her video.  May law catch up to reality so that either the U.S. or the U.N. can recognize the site, which it deserves.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Daiquiri Day 2017


Yesterday, I told my readers to "Stay tuned for National Daiquiri Day tomorrow.  Here's the description from National Day Calendar.
Each year on July 19, people across the United States fill their glasses with a rum-based cocktail and toast to National Daiquiri Day. So, raise your glass and join all of the others in this celebration!

Daiquiri is a family of cocktails whose main ingredients are rum, citrus juice (typically lime) and sugar.

Tasting of sunshine and beaches, it might be hard to believe the daiquiri was likely invented by men blasting away in the mines of a small community off the coast of Cuba.  Jennings Cox, an American engineer, supervised a mining operation located in a village named Daiquiri in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.  Every day after work Cox and his employees would gather at the Venus bar. Then one day Cox mixed up Bacardi, lime, sugar in a tall glass of ice. Naming the new beverage after the Daiquiri mines, the drink soon became a staple in Havana.  Eventually, shaved ice was used and sometimes lemons or both lemons and limes.  

In 1909, Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, tried Cox’s drink and subsequently introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.  The popularity of the Daiquiri then increased over the next few decades.
The Daiquiri was one of the favorite drinks of writer Ernest Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy.
This drink is sometimes served frozen, combined and poured from a blender eliminating the need for manual pulverization.  Drinks such as the frozen Daiquiri are often commercially made in machines which produce a texture similar to a smoothie and come in a wide variety of flavors.  Another way to create a frozen Daiquiri is by using frozen limeade, which provides the required texture, sweetness and sourness all at one time.
As I did for Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Pina Colada Day and Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Mojito Day, I'm sharing three recipes from Tipsy Bartender to celebrate the booze holiday.  Follow over the jump for them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Speculative fiction on TV in the 2017 Teen Choice Awards


I told my readers to "Stay tuned" at the end of Speculative fiction in film at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards as "I plan on being back for the first round of TV nominees and the second round of movie and TV nominees later this week."  I repeated that pledge at the end of Speculative fiction at the movies in the second wave of 2017 Teen Choice Award nominations.  As the second round of voting for the Teen Choice Awards ends tomorrow, it's the perfect occasion to follow through with those promises.  Many of them are mentioned in Clevver News' 2017 Teen Choice Awards Announces Its First Wave Of Nominees.

The Teen Choice awards are celebrating the best films, shows, and actors this year, and it looks like voting for a favorite is going to be tougher than ever…

In the first wave of Teen Choice Awards Nominations, categories such as Choice Comedy Show, Choice Action Film, Choice TV Actor and Actress, and many more have all been announced, and trust me when I say that when I break this down for you, it is NOT going to be easy deciding who should take home that coveted Teen Choice Surfboard in any of the categories.
...
The TV categories are also filled the brim with some of our favorite shows, with “Arrow”, “Supergirl” and “The Flash” all nominated for Choice Action TV Show, and “Riverdale”, “This is Us” and “Pretty Little Liars” all nominated for Choice Drama TV Show. And speaking of “Pretty Little Liars”, literally all of the liars--Troian, Sasha, Ashley, Lucy, AND Shay--are ALL battling it out for Choice TV Drama actress this year, so that should definitely make for an interesting, and hopefully not awkward, win!
Here are the TV nominees from Teen Vogue reordered to reflect the level of speculative fiction involved.
Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show (#ChoiceSciFiTVShow)

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
Stranger Things
Supernatural
Teen Wolf
The Vampire Diaries
Timeless
The defending champion, "Once Upon A Time," is not nominated, so the field is open.  Out of this slate, I would vote for "Stranger Things," the only one also nominated for an Emmy (19, actually), but I wouldn't put it past this electorate to vote in "Supernatural" or "Teen Wolf" instead.
Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor (#ChoiceSciFiTVActor)

Bob Morley, The 100
Dylan O'Brien, Teen Wolf
Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries
Jensen Ackles, Supernatural
Joseph Morgan, The Originals
Matthew Daddario, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
The defending champion, Grant Gustin, is contending for Choice Action Actor, so the field is open again.  Out of this group, I'd vote for Jensen Ackles.  So might the teens.
Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress (#ChoiceSciFiTVActress)

Abigail Spencer, Timeless
Eliza Taylor, The 100
Emeraude Toubia, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
Jennifer Morrison, Once Upon A Time
Kat Graham, The Vampire Diaries
Lana Parrilla, Once Upon A Time
Lana Parrilla is the defending champion and my favorite, so at least the teens like her, too.  Otherwise, I'd vote for Jennifer Morrison or Abigail Spencer.

Now for the superheroes, who are competing as action shows, a new category this year.
Choice Action TV Show (#ChoiceActionTVShow)

Arrow
Gotham
Lethal Weapon
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Supergirl
The Flash
Out of this group, I'd vote for "Gotham."  It's the one my wife and I watch and the most recognized superhero show at the Emmys with three nominations.  "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has one nomination, as does a series not on this list, "Marvel's Luke Cage."  However, I expect this electorate will vote for either "Supergirl" or "The Flash," the winners of Best Superhero Adaptation TV Series at the last two Saturn Awards, with the advantage going to "Supergirl."  As the image above shows, it has a Twitter campaign (apparently from either the CW network or the studio) working for it.  None of the rest of the superhero shows seem to.
Choice Action TV Actor (#ChoiceActionTVActor)

Chris Wood, Supergirl
Clayne Crawford, Lethal Weapon
Gabriel Luna, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Grant Gustin, The Flash
Stephen Amell, Arrow
Wentworth Miller, Prison Break
As I wrote above, Grant Gustin is the defending Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actor, so he's the one I'd say is favored in this category.  The one fly in the ointment is the Twitter campaign for "Supergirl" I mentioned above.  That might sway voters.  As for me, I might favor Clayne Crawford.  He's a hoot in "Lethal Weapon."
Choice Action TV Actress (#ChoiceActionTVActress)

Caity Lotz, Legends of Tomorrow
Candice Patton, The Flash
Danielle Panabaker, The Flash
Emily Bett Rickards, Arrow
Jordana Brewster, Lethal Weapon
Melissa Benoist, Supergirl
Oh, look, the winner of the Best Actress on Television and the Best Supporting Actress on Television from the Saturn Awards are competing against each other in this category.  Between the two, I'd vote for Melissa Benoist and I expect the teens will, too (Twitter campaign, again).

Follow over the jump for the rest of the television nominees.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Speculative fiction at the movies in the second wave of 2017 Teen Choice Award nominations


I told my readers to "Stay tuned" at the end of Speculative fiction in film at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, as "I plan on being back for the first round of TV nominees and the second round of movie and TV nominees later this week."  I then told them to "Be patient" because I got distracted by the Emmy nominations for "Westworld," "Stranger Things," and "The Handmaid's Tale.".  Since the second round of voting for the Teen Choice Awards is still going on (it ends tomorrow), that makes it the perfect occasion to write about the second round's movie nominees.  Here they are from E!Online.
Choice Summer Movie (#ChoiceSummerMovie)
Cars 3
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Transformers: The Last Knight
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman
Every single nominated summer movie is speculative fiction.  In fact, nearly all the movies nominated in this wave are speculative fiction and all the rest are some kind of genre film, whether non-superhero action, thriller (non-supernatural horror), or a comedy parody of an action show.  It's my kind of field, even though I haven't been a teenager for more than four decades.

That written, the movie I'd vote for is "Wonder Woman," just as I would have voted for it as Choice Action Movie.  It's most serious competition is the other superhero action movie nominated, "Spider-Man: Homecoming."  It had the third biggest opening of any movie so far this year with $117 million to the fourth biggest opening so far for "Wonder Woman" with $103 million.  However, "Spider-Man" dropped a lot more during its second week than "Wonder Woman," earning $45.2 million to $57.2 million for "Wonder Woman."  Even with the steep drop, it remains ahead by $3 million in the first two weeks total box office.  Still, I have some issues with it.

The movie took the origin story of Miles Morales, the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man, and used it for Peter Parker, the Earth-616 Spider-Man.  Several of my friends who know their comic book superheroes better than I do found that disrespectful, if not downright racist.  I'm not in a position to argue with them; believe people of color when they complain about racism.  A big problem is that most people don't know this and many of them might not be bothered if they did.  That's why I'm writing about this.  Now, how can one make this kind of treatment of fictional people of color go away?  My answer is to make it unprofitable.  With that first two weeks box office, that might be easier said than done.  Just the same, I'm urging my readers not to vote for "Spider-Man" in protest.

All that might be moot.  As voting is going on, "War for the Planet of the Apes" is now the number one movie with $56.5 million.  That alone could influence the voting.  Speaking of voting for awards, "War for the Planet of the Apes" is currently my pick for top science-fiction movie at next year's Saturn Awards unless "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" picks up a lot of support or "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is moved from Comic Books to Science Fiction.  That could happen.  I don't know if I'd object.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the second wave of movie nominees.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wombats and ice cream for the first Souther!


Happy Souther!  What's Souther?  It's a holiday that I first described in For Winter Solstice 2016, the Archdruid and I discuss Discordianism and fake holidays.
Druids would likely demand a Souther and a Norther, too, with a Souther Wombat and a Norther Lemming as animal mascots; I'll leave you to decide what if anything they do with goodies.
...
Ah, but which solstice gets which holiday?  At first, I was not amused by your suggestion, as I thought one parody holiday was enough.  Then I slept on it and not only was I OK with it, I decided that Norther would come after the Winter Solstice and Souther would come after the Summer Solstice.  Why would a lemming visit in the middle of summer?  Norther would usually have little competition for holidays, at least in the U.S., most of the time.  Next year, it would fall on January 15th, the day before MLK Day.  Not a bad three-day weekend!  Souther, on the other hand, falls in more crowded field.  Next year, it would be July 16th, after a long series of patriotic holidays, Canada Day, 4th of July, and Bastille Day.  Oh, well, why not another reason to celebrate?

As for the animals' actions, lemmings could stampede off a cliff and drop presents into the sea.  I don't know what a stereotypical wombat thing to do is other than be the alternative to a panda for a joke about an animal that "eats roots, shoots, and leaves."  Maybe eats roots, shoots, and leaves presents?
Greer professed ignorance and wisely asked for someone else to inform us.
Pinku-sensei, we'll have to ask Cherokee for advice on the behavior of wombats. I admire them but have no personal experience of them.
Cherokee Organics chimed in.
Hi JMG and Pinku-Sensei,

Ooo, I do like the idea of a Souther wombat minor deity. Very cool. And thanks for the suggestion.

More on wombats tomorrow evening! ;-)! I'm busy writing a day early this evening.
That might have been helpful.  Unfortunately, what he responded with had more to do with Greer's "Wombat of Entropy" than the kind of holiday animal I had in mind.  Read about Fatso the Wombat at his blog.  Oh, well, I have until July to figure out the story for the Souther Wombat.
"So that's the story of how I'm celebrating a fake holiday that the Archdruid came up with" was how I ended the tale in Good news for animals in entertainment on the first Norther!  It has now become the story of why I'm celebrating a second fake holiday that the Archdruid came up with.  Never say that Greer hasn't had a lasting effect on my blogging.

As for what wombats would do on Souther, I let National Day Calendar decide that for me.  Fortunately, today is National Ice Cream Day.

National Ice Cream Day is observed each year on the 3rd Sunday in July and is a part of National Ice Cream Month.  This day is a fun celebration enjoyed with a bowl, cup or cone filled with your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Thousands of years ago, people in the Persian Empire would put snow in a bowl, pour grape-juice concentrate over it and eat it as a treat.  They did this when the weather was hot and used the snow saved in the cool-keeping underground chambers known as “yakhchal”, or taken from the snowfall that remained at the stop of mountains by the summer capital.

It is believed that ice cream was first introduced into the United States by Quaker colonists who brought their ice cream recipes with them.  Their ice cream was sold at shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era.

Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson enjoyed ice cream.
  • 1813 -First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream at the Inaugural Ball.
  • 1832 – African American confectioner, Augustus Jackson, created multiple ice cream recipes as well as a superior technique to manufacture ice cream.
  • 1843 – Philadelphian, Nancy Johnson, received the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
  • 1920 – Harry Burt puts the first ice cream trucks on the streets.
...
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month and established National Ice Cream Day as the third Sunday in the month of July.
That settles it.  Souther will be celebrated with ice cream.*  Follow over the jump for Tipsy Bartender recipes for ice cream drinks, which I promised I would do at the end of Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Mojito Day.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13


I know I planned "on being back for the first round of TV nominees and the second round of movie and TV nominees later this week" for the Teen Choice Awards, but a much bigger and shinier object has been dangled in front of me.*  Newsy reports 2017 Emmy nominations announced.

The 2017 Emmy nominations were announced Thursday.
CNet has more details about the three big speculative fiction nominees.
Don't feel sad for the folks at HBO. "Westworld," their sci-fi drama set in a technologically advanced Wild West theme park full of eerily realistic host characters, earned 22 nominations, tying it with "Saturday Night Live" for the most of any show this year.

Nominations for "Westworld" included Evan Rachel Wood as lead actress in a drama for her role as Dolores, the rancher's daughter host who discovers her whole life is a lie, and Anthony Hopkins as lead actor in a drama for his role as the park's founder. Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton also received supporting-role nominations.

"Stranger Things," the Netflix '80s-set drama about Indiana kids confronting the unknown, landed 18 nominations, including outstanding drama. David Harbour, who plays the town's police chief, was nominated for best supporting actor, and 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, who plays test subject Eleven, for best supporting actress.

And in a "Stranger" surprise, actress Shannon Purser, whose put-upon Barb character became a fan favorite, earned a nomination for outstanding guest actress. Purser appeared in four of the show's eight episodes.
"Stranger Things" actually has 19 nominations in 18 categories.  That puts it in an undisputed second place among all drama series.
Hulu, while not yet in Netflix's class, had a good morning thanks to "The Handmaid's Tale." The story about a dystopian future where some women are kept only to serve as breeders for wealthy infertile couples was nominated for outstanding drama and 12 other awards. Elisabeth Moss was nominated for outstanding lead actress and her co-stars Ann Dowd and Samira Wiley received supporting nominations.
This total is correct; "The Handmaid's Tale" has 13 nominations.  I also double-checked "Westworld."  Its total of 22 is correct as well.

I have had high hopes for "Westworld" and "Stranger Things" since the People's Choice Awards, when I wrote "I think both 'Westworld' and 'Stranger Things' are better shows with 'Stranger Things' being the more popular of the two.  While I'd vote for 'Westworld' as the higher quality show, I think it's the year of 'Stranger Things.'"  I began to realize how strong "The Handmaid's Tale" was when it led speculative fiction nominees at the Television Critics Association Awards last month, so I had hopes for it, too.  The nominations for all three exceeded my most optimistic expectations.   Follow over the jump for the categories in which at least one (and sometimes all three) are nominated along with my observations and predictions.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cadets and Cadets 2 play 'Les Miserables' for a drum corps Bastille Day


Happy Bastille Day!  Last year, I celebrated it as another drum corps holiday with Phantom Regiment's "City of Light" show.  This year, I'm featuring the same corps that I did in this year's drum corps Fourth of July, The Cadets with their 1989 show, "Les Miserables".  First from Youth Education in the Arts YouTube channel.

Cadets 1989 - "Les Miserables" - I Dreamed A Dream (from Les Miserables), At the End of the Day (from Les Miserables), Look Down (from Les Miserables), On My Own (from Les Miserables), Attack on Rue Plumet (from Les Miserables), Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables), One Day More (from Les Miserables), At the Barracades (from Les Miserables)
Next, 1989 Cadets of Bergen County - "Les Miserables" - Final 1:00.

The final minute of the Cadets of Bergen County 1989 5th place show. This DCI finals performance took place on August 19, 1989 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
That's not all.  For an encore (encorps :-), I present the Cadets2 Drum and Bugle Corps 2013 Show, which is also "Les Miserables."


I have more videos of corps playing music from this musical, but I'm saving them for the future.  As I have written multiple times, most recently in Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Mojito Day, "I'm an environmentalist; not only do I recycle, I conserve my resources."  In the meantime, Vive La France!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Delaware-sized iceberg breaks off Antarctic ice shelf


I just wrote about icebergs last month, when I thought I'd show a video about them to my students.  I mentioned another potential iceberg to my students this week, when I told them an iceberg the size of a small state was about to break off the Larsen C ice shelf.  Yesterday, that happened, as CBS News reported in Huge iceberg breaks off Antarctic ice shelf.

An iceberg that scientists have been monitoring for months has finally broken off from Antarctica's Larsen-C ice shelf. Swansea University research officer Martin O'Leary, an iceberg expert on the UK-based Project MIDAS Antarctic team, spoke to CBSN about the impact of the ice shelf split.
Unlike the breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf, which is mentioned in "An Inconvenient Truth," this major calving event appears to have little to do with climate change.  That may change if the shelf continues to break up, but only time will tell.  In the meantime, I can show this to my students.  May they learn something from it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sixth mass extinction likely underway with humans as the asteroid


I've mentioned the sixth mass extinction exactly once before in I missed World Giraffe Day on Sunday, when I wrote "Those numbers remind me that humans causing a sixth mass extinction has been in the news this week.  I'll get to that later."  That was more than two years ago.  That's a long time, even for me, to return to a promised topic of such importance.  Fortunately, Newsy reminded me this week when it asked Are we really in the 6th mass extinction?

Increased extinction rates and population losses might be signs of another mass extinction. But some researchers are doubtful.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just published Ehrlich and others' Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines, which begins with this paragraph about the study's significance.*
The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions. Using a sample of 27,600 terrestrial vertebrate species, and a more detailed analysis of 177 mammal species, we show the extremely high degree of population decay in vertebrates, even in common “species of low concern.” Dwindling population sizes and range shrinkages amount to a massive anthropogenic erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services essential to civilization. This “biological annihilation” underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event.
Most species are not going extinct, not yet, but lots of their populations are going extinct.  That's a warning sign of worse to come, regardless of what the other scientists, who I think are being overcautious, say.

Ehrlich hasn't been the only one sounding the warning.  Follow over the jump for two videos featuring Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of "The Sixth Extinction," plus SciShow being perversely optimistic.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Mojito Day


I concluded Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Pina Colada Day by telling my readers "Tomorrow is National Mojito Day."  Since I'm not through celebrating, here's the description of the holiday from National Day Calendar.
Each year on July 11th, people across America join together to mark National Mojito Day.

Known to be a favorite drink of author, Ernest Hemingway, the Mojito is a traditional Cuban highball consisting of white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint.

With a low alcohol content, this refreshing cocktail has found popularity in the summertime for its refreshing combination of sweetness, citrus and mint flavors.
Lime wedges and mint leaves garnish an ice filled glass of Mojito.
Although born in Cuba, the exact origin of the Mojito is under debate with theories with origins as early as 1586.
Once again, I'm sharing recipes from Tipsy Bartender to mark the occasion, beginning with their basic instructional video, How to make a Mojito.

The Mojito is classic cocktail that was born in Cuba. It's the perfect mixture of mint, lime, rum, simple syrup and soda water. It's super easy to make and extremely delicious. Enjoy!

Check out our other mojito recipes and subscribe so you don't miss the next one!

MOJITO
1/2 Lime
12 Mint Leaves
1oz Simple Syrup
11/2oz White Rum
Top with Soda Water
Follow over the jump for the two most recent mojito recipes from Tipsy Bartender.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Pina Colada Day


I feel like celebrating today.  First, the blog exceeded July 2016 then record 22,776 page views two days ago.  Second, one of the main reasons for that was the popularity of A 51st star for Puerto Rico on Flag Day, which earned nearly all of its 4311 default and 4325 raw page views after being shared at the Join The Coffee Party Movement Facebook page the night of July 3rd.  It's now the fifth most read entry in the history of the blog.  Fortunately, National Day Calendar has provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate an achievement involving Puerto Rico, National Pina Colada Day.
National Pina Colada Day is observed annually on July 10th.  The Pina Colada is a sweet, rum-based cocktail.  Along with rum, a Pina Colada includes cream of coconut and pineapple juice and is usually served blended or shaken with ice.

Pina Colada literally means ‘strained pineapple’, a reference to the freshly pressed and strained pineapple juice used in the drink.

There are different claims to the invention of the Pina Colada beginning in 1952 in San Juan, each sticking to their story.  The truth is that pineapple and rum have been together from the beginning of the distillation of rum.  The first written reference to a Pina Colada was in 1922.  This recipe, however, did not include coconut.
I know exactly where to go for recipes -- Tipsy Bartender, which has instructions on How to make the best PIÑA COLADA!

It's tropical. It's delicious and it's fun...THE PIÑA COLADA!
...
PINA COLADA
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) White Rum
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) Cream of Coconut
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) Pineapple Juice
Pineapple Slice
Yes, the Pina Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico, at least according to the people who promote tourism to the Commonwealth.  That's something I didn't know before encountering the holiday.

Follow over the jump for the two most recent pina colada recipes from Tipsy Bartender plus a silly music video from The Muppet Show.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Speculative fiction in film at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards


While I wrote that "I'll have more on speculative fiction on television with the Teen Choice Awards" in "The Walking Dead" leads 2017 Saturn Awards television winners, I'm going to take care of the movie nominations first.  Wochit Entertainment lists the nominees for Choice Sci-Fi Movie in Power Rangers Nominated For Teen Choice Award.

The Power Rangers will be making an appearance at the Teen Choice Awards, courtesy of the Choice Sci-Fi Movie category.
The video mentioned the other nominees, but the text below didn't.  Here they are from Teen Vogue and ABC News.
Arrival
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Power Rangers
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Space Between Us
My choice would be "Arrival," but that's not a movie a teenager would pick.  Instead, I think they would vote for either "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

Speaking of the Teen Choice Sci-Fi movie nominees, here are the nominated actors in this genre.
Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor

Asa Butterfield, The Space Between Us
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Dacre Montgomery, Power Rangers
Diego Luna, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Jeremy Renner, Arrival
Tom Hiddleston, Kong: Skull Island

Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actress

Amy Adams, Arrival
Becky G, Power Rangers
Brie Larson, Kong: Skull Island
Felicity Jones, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Naomi Scott, Power Rangers
Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I'd vote for Chris Pratt as Choice Sci-Fi Actor.  I don't know who the teens would vote for.  As for Choice Sci-Fi Actress, I'd vote for Amy Adams. I expect the teens would vote for Felicity Jones.

Follow over the break for the rest of the movie nominees from the first wave.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Four videos for Asteroid Day 2017 a week late


I usually build my entries around videos, so it was unusual when I didn't do that for Asteroid Day and National Meteor Watch Day share June 30th.  I had one that I was going to include, but forgot about it I wrote about National Meteor Watch Day instead.  Here it is, Astrophysicist Warns Devastating Asteroid Strike ‘Just A Matter Of Time’ from GeoBeats News.

An astrophysicist from Queen's University Belfast is warning that Earth is incredibly vulnerable to an asteroid strike.
Cheerful, isn't it?  Seriously, it's why I started Apophis Day in the first place and why Asteroid Day exists as well.  Speaking of which, Newsy reported Why International Asteroid Day matters.

Today, we look back on the progress we've made tracking risky asteroids and forward to the ones we still haven't found yet.
Follow over the jump for two videos, one from NASA explaining how Near-Earth Objects are found and another from Newsy about what NASA plans to do about at least one of them.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Volvo to go all hybrid or electric by 2019


As the owner of a Prius, I'm always on the lookout for hybrid and electric car news to post here.*  Therefore, I was intrigued when I read Volvo switching to all-electric, hybrid cars as Newsy reports.

The Sweden-based carmaker announced Wednesday that it plans to stop making vehicles powered solely by gasoline or diesel fuel by 2019.
Volvo's announcement prompted a lot of reaction.  The Wall Street Journal asked Will Other Car Makers Follow Volvo's Switch to Electric?

Volvo plans for all new models from 2019 to be either fully electric or hybrid, the company announced Wednesday. But will other car makers follow, and what does this mean for the industry?
The expert interviewed by Associated Press thinks the answer will be yes and offers more insight in Analysis: Volvo to Go All Electric.

Carmaker Volvo announced that all its cars will have electric motors by 2019. Darren Jukes of accounting firm PwC says car manufacturers are responding to increased demand for electric vehicles.
I hope the experts quoted by the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press are right.  If they are, and the demand for more electric vehicles increases because of emmission standards, even if gasoline prices stay down, I'll be sure to post Professor Farnsworth saying "Good news, everyone!"

*I was going to post about National Strawberry Sundae Day, which is today, but this is far more important news.  Maybe next year.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mammoth discovery in Channel Islands National Park


I've mentioned that I worked as a Park Naturalist (the type of Ranger most visitors see) at Channel Islands National Park during the summer of 1986 three times on this blog, most recently in Happy 100th birthday, National Park Service!  I've also mentioned that I'm a paleontologist.  The day before yesterday, PBS NewsHour posted a video to its YouTube channel at the intersection of those parts of my life: How this remote national park made a mammoth discovery.

California's Channel Islands National Park is the site of a recent mammoth discovery: a pygmy mammoth skull, to be precise. This report was produced as part of our Student Reporting Labs by students from Etiwanda High School in Southern California.
I took advantage of my paleontological expertise that summer at Channel Island by giving an evening program on Pygmy Mammoths, so this subject is near and dear to my heart.*  Thank you PBS NewsHour for reminding me of those days and updating me and the rest of their viewers on the latest on Pygmy Mammoths.

*I gave two others, one on Gray Whales and the other on wildflowers of the Channel Islands.  Those were fun programs to research and present.  Should I run across videos on those topics worthy of posting, I will.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Michigan celebrates 4th of July with parades, politicians, and fireworks


I don't just write about drinking and drum corps on the 4th of July.  Every even-numbered year I march in the Clawson 4th of July Parade.  Since this is an odd-numbered year, I didn't march.  That doesn't mean that I don't care about the parade; I do.  So I was happy to see that WXYZ covered it, as they had last year and 2014.  Watch Clawson hosts annual Fourth of July parade.

The city of Clawson hosted its annual Fourth of July parade down Main Street on Tuesday.
Just like the years I marched, there were politicians rolling or walking down 14 Mile and Main Street with their volunteers passing out candy; they just weren't the politicians I support.  That will change next year, when I will march in support of a politician I like, such as Gretchen Whitmer for Governor, Haley Stevens for U.S. Representative, or Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate.  Of course, if Cyndi Peltonen is running, I'll march with her for old times sake, as I did in 2014 and 2016.  If I can walk, I'll be in the parade.

Speaking of politicians marching in parades, including ones I don't support, WOOD-TV reported on VP Mike Pence walks in Grandville 4th of July parade.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife greeted members of the community Tuesday while walking in Grandville’s Fourth of July parade.
It is an honor to meet the Vice President, even if it's Pence.  He, at least, understands the dignity of his office, even while he's spouting BS about how the proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act will do what he says it will (it won't).

Enough of Pence; back to Clawson.  The parade is just the beginning of the celebration, which lasts all day and into the night, when there are fireworks.  People love them, even as WXYZ reported Security ramped up for Clawson's annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

Security was ramped up in Clawson on Thursday night as the city held its annual fireworks show on the Fourth of July. Police helped keep things secure by prohibiting street parking, enforcing no alcohol in the park and reminding people who see something to say something.
I'm glad the spectators had a safe and secure celebration, even though the level of security says something about the state of our society.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Drink to a drum corps 4th of July from The Cadets


Happy 4th of July!  I told my readers to "stay tuned for a drum corps 4th of July" at the end of "The Walking Dead" leads 2017 Saturn Awards television winners.  To celebrate I'm sharing two videos from one of the oldest competitive junior drum corps in existance, The Cadets, followed by two videos from Tipsy Bartender.  Yes, I'm combining two of my Fourth of July traditions.  Here's to hoping it works as well as Drink to a late drum corps Earth Day, when I first combined drum corps, booze, and holidays.*

First, the finale of the 1995 Cadets program, An American Quintet.


Next, a video I included in the first drum corps 4th of July post three years ago, the finale of Cadets 2002 show, An American Revival.

After forming an American flag drill formation and re-creating the famed raising of the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima, the corps staged the image of the three firemen raising the flag amidst the rubble of the fallen towers. During the corps' final performance of the season, screaming sirens and flashing lights on fire trucks stationed across the street were activated, perfectly capturing the mood of a country still recovering from the attacks 11 months earlier.
Now to continue my other 4th of July tradition, Drink recipes for July 4th from Tipsy Bartender.  Follow over the jump for this year's recipes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

"The Walking Dead" leads 2017 Saturn Awards television winners


I wrote "I plan on continuing with the television winners tomorrow" when I finished reporting on the 2017 Saturn Awards for film.  Today is yesterday's tomorrow, so it's time for me to comment on the television winners as reported by Critical Blast.
The small screen always scores big at the Saturn Awards and tonight was no exception. The unstoppable walkers of AMC’s global TV phenomenon “The Walking Dead” proved just as invincible last night, garnering three Saturn Awards for Best Horror TV Series, Best Actor on Television (Andrew Lincoln), and Best Guest Star on Television (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
In 'The Walking Dead' vs. 'Westworld' at the 2017 Saturn Awards, I wrote that I was voting for all three of the eventual winners.  I did, they won, and I'm pleased.
HBO’s “Westworld” 21st century reboot outdrew the competition for two awards: Best Science Fiction TV Series and Best Supporting Actor on Television (Ed Harris).
I'm happy that "Westworld" won Best Science Fiction TV Series, as I voted for it.  I'm also happy that Ed Harris won, even though he was not my choice.  I voted for Jeffrey Wright because "his performance was more nuanced than Ed Harris, who is the more established actor."  That should have been a giveaway.  Nuanced and subtle are synonyms and as I wrote yesterday, "the Saturn voters are not about subtle."
In a rare tie, Best New Media TV Series was split between “Marvel’s Luke Cage” and the retro hit “Stranger Things,” both on Netflix.
I voted for "Stranger Things," so I can point to this tie as an instance in which my vote mattered.  Without it, or any one of the rest of the votes for "Stranger Things,"  “Marvel’s Luke Cage” would have won uncontested.  That alone made my $40 membership worth it.  My other vote for "Stranger Things" was for Millie Bobby Brown for Best Younger TV Actor and it was also rewarded; she won.

Follow over the jump for more winners and red carpet interviews.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

'Rogue One' and '10 Cloverfield Lane' tie with three 2017 Saturn Awards for film


I expected one of the big winners at last Wednesday's 43rd Saturn Awards but was almost completely surprised by the other.  I thought 'Rogue One' would be a big winner at the Saturn Awards. I forecast it taking home the awards for Best Science Fiction Film and Best Film Direction, even though I voted for "Arrival" in these categories, and voted for it for Best Film Music, even though I acknowledged that it was competing against "La La Land," the Oscar winner, which I thought would win if given half a chance by the electorate.  It won both of the categories I predicted it would, plus Best Film Visual/Special Effects, which I didn't even consider it winning, although I should have, as I voted for "Doctor Strange" instead.  That made three awards out of eleven nominations for the big movie winner I saw coming.

The one that surprised me was "10 Cloverfield Lane."  While I recognized that it was the best of three non-supernatural horror films, the others being "The Shallows" and "Split," nominated for Best Thriller Film, I voted for "The Girl on the Train" instead.  I didn't consider that "non-supernatural horror film" would be the preferred version of thriller for the Saturn Awards electorate, so I was somewhat surprised that it won.  I was completely surprised by Mary Elizabeth Winstead's win for Best Actress in a Film.  I was so firm in my opinion that Amy Adams or Emily Blunt deserved the award but that Felicity Jones might steal it that I didn't even consider Winstead would win.  I should have.  As I wrote about last years winners at the 2016 Saturn Awards, "the Saturn voters are not about subtle."  Adams and Blunt were subtle; Winstead was not.  I did vote for one winner, John Goodman for Best Supporting Actor in a Film, so I expected his one, but that was only one out of three.

While the films tied, "Star Wars" was the winning franchise, as "Star Wars Rebels" won Best Animated Series or Film on TelevisionI voted for the show and I feel good about doing so, as the "Star Wars" franchise earned four awards, more than any other series or property this year.  To celebrate, I'm sharing Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media's interview of the Cast of Star Wars Rebels.


Follow over the jump for the rest of the film winners plus two more videos, one each for "Star Wars" and "10 Cloverfield Lane."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Happy Drum Corps Canada Day 2017!


Happy Canada Day!  To celebrate the first of three patriotic holidays in July, I am going to recycle the concept behind last year's Canadian drum corps for Canada Day, which became the third most popular post during July 2016 and the fortieth most popular post of last year with 995 total page views by posting more videos of Canadian corps for Canada Day.  I'm all in favor of giving my readers what they want.

Last year, I posted videos of corps from the 1970s to 2000s, beginning with the 1976 Oakland Crusaders and Seneca Optimists.  This year, I reach back another decade to the 1967 Toronto Optimists.


Yes, that's a color presentation of the Maple Leaf Flag, which was only two years old at the time.

On to the 1970s with the 1974 De La Salle Oaklands, the first Canadian corps to make DCI finals.

Finally a copy of the 1974 De La Salle Oaklands field show---Toronto DCI show--late June
The celebration continues over the jump with Canadian corps from the 1980s through 2000s.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Asteroid Day and National Meteor Watch Day share June 30th


Two days that celebrate awareness of objects that fall to Earth from space share June 30th.*  The first is Asteroid Day, which I first celebrated last year.  The second is National Meteor Watch Day.  This may be only a coincidence, but I can't resist making the connection.

I quoted Wikipedia and added my own comments last year about Asteroid Day.
Asteroid Day is an annual global awareness movement that brings people from around the world together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, our families, communities, and future generations. Asteroid Day is held on the anniversary of the June 30, 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history.
That's what I have been hoping my observance of Apophis Day would do since 2012, when I declared April 13th to be Apophis Day, the date of two future close encounters of the asteroid Apophis with Earth, the second of which was originally forecast as a possible collision.  However, I'm not Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist for Queen, so I don't have the connections or star power to get that day go viral like he does.  Oh, well.  What's important is that the message gets out, and Queen and his fellow scientists and celebrities are doing just that.
Now, here's what National Day Calendar says about National Meteor Watch Day.
National Meteor Watch Day is observed every year on June 30th.  Also known as National Meteor Day, on a cloudless night, people turn their eyes to the heavens in hopes of spotting the glow of a falling star.
Daily there are millions of meteors that occur in the Earth’s atmosphere.
When space debris, such as pieces of rock, enter the earth’s atmosphere the friction causes the surrounding air to become scorching hot. This “shooting star” streaking through the sky surrounded by flaming hot air is a meteor.

The majority of the meteoroids that cause meteors are only the size of a pebble.

Meteors sometimes occur in showers. National Meteor Watch Day is an excellent time to plan for a meteor watching party. Whether it is to catch a few stray falling stars or to watch an entire meteor shower, gathering the kids or a few friends to map the constellations while waiting to make a wish or two is sure to be a fun time.

In the Northern Hemisphere, one of the most active meteor showers is the Perseids. Named after the constellation Perseus where the majority of the activity takes place, the meteors are caused by particles released by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Active from mid-July to late August, the Perseids are known to put on a dazzling display at its peak, especially when the skies are clear and the moon is new.

Meteors are usually observed at night and are visible when they are about 34 to 70 miles above the Earth, and they often disintegrated at about 31 to 51 miles above.  Their glow time is usually about a second.

A small percent of meteoroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere and then skip back into space.

The chemical composition and the speed of the meteoroid will cause different hues to the light.  Possible colors and elements producing them include:
  • Orange/yellow (sodium)
  • Yellow (iron)
  • Blue/green (copper)
  • Purple (potassium)
  • Red (silicate)
A list of meteor shower dates as well as a guide to successful watching can be found on the EarthSky website.
Here's to observing objects that fall from space into the sky today, whether they are objects that inspire wonder (meteors) or fear (asteroids).  Happy Asteroid Day and Happy National Meteor Watch Day!  Don't forget to make a wish!

That's it for June.  Stay tuned for the first post of July, which will be about Canada Day.

*So does Social Media Day.  That's a cool holiday, but it has nothing to do with outer space, so I'm not featuring it.  Priorities.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oil and gasoline prices down and driving up for July holiday weekend


I made an aside near the end of Driving update for June 2017: Dez.
Looks like my wife and I are contributing to the trend of increased driving.  That might increase more, as oil and gas prices are down year over year, but that's a story for another entry.
The story begins with oil, which CNBC told earlier this week in Crude Oil Just Logged A Huge Losing Streak.

Max Wolff, 55 Institutional, and Phillip Streible, RJO Futures, discusses the energy space with Courtney Reagan.
Oil-Price.Net shows today's close for WTI at $44.74, up more than a dollar from the $43.03 of three days ago, but it's still down year-over-year as well as down ~13.5% since the beginning of the year.  That will result in lower gas prices, even with summer driving season in full swing.  CNN Money reported on that last week in Summer gas prices dip to 12-year low.

The drop in the cost of oil has been a happy surprise for drivers, who are enjoying the cheapest gas prices at the start of summer in 12 years.
Twelve years ago was 2005, the year that conventional oil production began to peak.  All of the unconventional oil that has been brought to market during the past few years is responsible for this price drop, a phenomenon I reported in Supply and demand still work for oil.

The result of the lowest summer gas prices since conventional oil peaked is expected to be more holiday travel, as Wochit News reported in July 4th To Have Record Number Of Drivers On The Road.

The number of Americans traveling by car for the Fourth of July holiday will hit a record high this year, fueled by a growing economy and relatively low gasoline prices, the nation's largest motorists' advocacy group said on Thursday. The forecast for strong driving numbers will be welcomed by U.S. refiners, which are banking on summer driving season to draw down high product inventories and resurrect margins from seasonal lows. The average U.S. price for regular gasoline was $2.28 per gallon on Wednesday, down slightly from $2.32 a year ago, according to AAA.
GasBuddy lists the U.S. average at $2.25 and the Detroit average at $2.34, both of which are down year-over-year.

Speaking of Supply and demand still work for oil, I am no longer confident in my long-standing prediction that the U.S. will head into recession by the end of this year.  The lower gas prices, continuing low unemployment rate, and near-record-high stock indices all suggest that the U.S. economy is not headed for recession in the next six months.  I'm delaying my prediction by one Friedman Unit, which is six months, so the deadline for the U.S. heading into recession is now one year from tomorrow.  Enjoy the expansion while it lasts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Seeker/DNews is optimistic about how people would behave during the apocalypse


I write a lot about post-apocalyptic fiction, particularly in films and television.  All of those thrive on conflict, which fuels drama and contributes to the viewers' entertainment.  Seeker/DNews reports that would be unrealistic in What Would Happen in an Apocalypse... According to Science.

Most people think the apocalypse would bring violence, crime, and selfishness. But according to scientists, that's just not realistic.
...
People remain calm as the world ends, video game study suggests
...
"As the world ends, will you lock arms and sing "Kumbayah" or embark on a path of law-breaking, anti-social behavior? A new study, based upon the virtual actions of more than 80,000 players of the role-playing video game ArcheAge, suggests you'll be singing. The study...found that despite some violent acts, most players tended toward behavior that was helpful to others as their virtual world came to an end."
I hope that's true.  If so, that's good news, even if it might not be good entertainment.

By the way, my wife plays ArcheAge.  I wonder what she'll think of the cited study, especially since she's a psychologist.  Hmm.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not So Pure Michigan on the QLine, which is free until Labor Day


I've been cheering on the QLine/M1 Rail since it was first proposed, most recently in Riding the QLine for Dump the Pump Day.   Not everyone is as enthusiastic or positive about the idea.  John Kerfoot of Not So Pure Michigan provides a humorous take on this scepticism in Pure Michigan: The QLine.

spoof of the Pure Michigan commercials, by John Kerfoot, highlighting the Q-Line transit system.
The QLine does need to be expanded to be useful, at least out to the old State Fairgrounds on 8 Mile, if not to Birmingham and Pontiac.  Otherwise, it will become another People Mover, which just happens to be a (closed) Disneyland ride.

For a more positive take on Detroit's new streetcars, the Detroit Free Press reports QLINE free through Labor Day, thanks to Kresge Foundation.
In a boon to passengers, the Kresge Foundation will cover all fares on the QLINE streetcar service for July and August to promote usage and build confidence in public transit in Detroit.

The donation, likely to total at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars, means that users of the QLINE will not have to pony up the announced $1.50 fare until after Labor Day.

And the extension of the free-ride period comes as the QLINE is making operational changes to lessen wait times and to speed up travel times, including training more drivers and eliminating stopping at stations where no one is waiting and no passengers wish to get off, much as many DDOT buses now operate.

“The QLINE holds much promise as an integral piece of a true regional transit system and we are invested in its long-term success” said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson. “With dozens of summer festivals and activities up and down the Woodward Corridor, our motivation to extend free fares is to expose every city and metro resident to the QLINE."
It may only travel three miles, but it's still free.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trees communicate through their mycorrhizae from Fusion and TED



I have another video to show my students in addition to ones about icebergs and ants.  A friend of mine sent me Fusion's Trees can talk to each other. Seriously.

We know it sounds crazy, but hear us out: trees actually are speaking to each other. Trees use a vast underground network to send each other nutrients, and warn their their neighbors about droughts and disease. Considering they've been around for over 400 million years, is it really that surprising that they’ve figured out a way to communicate?
I plan on showing this video along with the one about farming ants today.  Both of them are about the mutualistic relationships of fungi with other organisms.*

Fusion quotes Suzanne Simard, so I may as well go to the source.  Here she is giving a TED Talk on the subject, How trees talk to each other.

"A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.
This video is pitched at a higher level than the one from Fusion, but it's too long to show to my students today.  Darn.

*Speaking of fungal mutualisms, mow I'm looking for a video about lichen.  If I find a good one, I'll post it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Stranger Things,' and 'The Good Place' lead speculative fiction nominees at Television Critics Association Awards


I concluded yesterday's entry by telling my readers to "stay tuned for the Sunday Entertainment Feature.  I plan on writing about the Television Critics Association Awards."  I begin with Wotchit Entertainment's Atlanta, Handmaid’s Tale Lead TCA Award Noms.

The 2017 Television Critics Association award nominees have now been officially announced. FX's "Atlanta," NBC's "This is Us" and "The Handmaid’s Tale" had the most nominations with four. Those three shows are also up for the Program of the Year award. Five other programs had three a piece. HBO earned the most nominations for a single network with 12, followed by FX with 11, Netflix with ten, NBC with seven and Hulu with four.
In addition to "The Handmaid's Tale," "Atlanta," and "This is Us," three other shows are nominated for Program of the Year.  Two of them, "Stranger Things" and "The Leftovers," count as speculative fiction.  The third, "Big Little Lies," tied for the most honored television show at the Golden Trailer Awards, which prompted me to observe "I'll know to look for "Big Little Lies" among the Emmy nominees next month."  Its three TCA Award nominations just reinforce that feeling.  Just the same, I'm rooting for either "Stranger Things" or "The Handmaid's Tale."

Both "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" are also nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Drama and Outstanding New Program.  In the first category, they're competing against the past two years' winner, "The Americans," as well as "Better Call Saul," "The Crown," and "This is Us."  I'm rooting for "Stranger Things," but I expect either "The Americans" or "The Crown" will win.  In the second, both are competing against "The Good Place," which I first realized was speculative fiction when I saw it among the nominees for Best Fantasy Television Series at the Saturn Awards.  I'll have more to say about the show about the afterlife later.  The other nominees for Outstanding New Program include "Atlanta," "The Crown," and "This is Us."  I'd love for one of the three speculative fiction nominees to win, especially "Stranger Things," but I suspect one of the more conventional shows will instead.

Elisabeth Moss earned the fourth nomination for "The Handmaid's Tale" in Individual Achievement in Drama, the TCA's equivalent to Best Actor/Best Actress.  This is the same category in which Carrie Coon earned a second nomination for "The Leftovers" and "Fargo" combined.  Between the two of them, I am rooting for Coon, but I doubt either will win in a field that includes Sterling K. Brown for “This Is Us,” Claire Foy for “The Crown,” Nicole Kidman for “Big Little Lies,” and Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon “Feud: Bette And Joan.”  Note the predominance of actresses in this field.  This reflects what I have been saying since December and repeated most recently last month, that the actresses this year are very strong, stronger than the actors.  I'm glad to see the TCA concurs.

The nominees for Individual Achievement in Comedy also show that the actresses are stronger than the actors this year.  The one speculative fiction nominee is Kristen Bell for “The Good Place.”  She's competing against four other actresses, Pamela Adlon for “Better Things,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep,” Issa Rae for “Insecure,” and Phoebe Waller-Bridge for “Fleabag,” and two actors, Aziz Ansari for "Master of None" and Danny Glover for "Atlanta."  I'm rooting for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but I wouldn't be upset if Bell won.  However, I expect Glover might instead.

Speaking of comedy, "The Good Place" is competing for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy along with "Atlanta," "black-ish" (last year's winner), "Fleabag," "Master of None," and "Veep."  I'm rooting for "Veep," just like I'm rooting for Louis-Dreyfus, but expect "black-ish" to win instead.

There is one last category with speculative fiction shows.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUTH PROGRAMMING
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” PBS (2016 Winner in Category)
“Doc McStuffins,” Disney Junior
“Elena of Avalor,” Disney Channel
“Odd Squad,” PBS
“Sesame Street,” HBO
“Speechless,” ABC
The one that looks like the most conventional fantasy is "Elena of Avalor."  All the rest have some degree of fantasy involved except "Odd Squad," which is science fiction, "Sesame Street," which is a fairly conventional educational program, and "Speechless," which is an innovative but reality-based sitcom.  The only one I'd watch would be "Speechless," which is as much for adults as for kids, but I'm rooting for "Elena of Avalor."

That's enough fantasy.  I might write about the reality and news and information program nominees later.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Driving update for June 2017: Dez


I mentioned my wife's car in Driving update for June 2017: Pearl plus Tesla worth more than GM or Ford.
I was hoping for fewer miles because of a week off and not having [to] make up for Dez not being in the shop, but apparently I managed to drive slightly more just the same.  However, I'll have to wait until Dez passes 55,000 miles to see what the total driving impact for the family really is.  That should happen late this month or very early next month.
Dez passed 55,000 miles on Wednesday the 21st, so it's time for another driving update.

It took my wife 85 days to drive Dez 1000 miles, which translates to 11.76 miles per day and 358.82 miles per standard month.  That's more than the average of 7.19 miles per day or 219.42 miles per standard month she drove Dez between November 2016 and March 2017.  The reason for the increased driving is the same one that I cited in March for Pearl not getting a third update since November before Dez got her first; my wife drove the car to Chicago and back to visit our daughter.  More of that trip accrued to this update than the last one.

As I mentioned above, the important statistic is how much both of us drove our cars.  During the same 85 days that my wife drove Dez 1,000 miles, I drove Pearl 1,650 miles for a total of 2,650 miles.  That translates to 31.18 miles per day and 950.88 miles per standard month.  That's more than the 26.26 miles per day and 800.90 miles per month we drove between November and March.  It's also more than the 24.93 miles per day and 760.4 miles per standard month we drove both cars over the comparable period last year.  It's amazing how much one trip to Chicago and back affects total miles driven.  Let's see if the next update shows us returning to last summer's baseline.

Speaking of baseline, it's time for a comparison of our driving habits to those of the rest of the country.  From Doug Short.
The Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Commission has released the latest report on Traffic Volume Trends, data through April.

"Travel on all roads and streets changed by 1.2% (3.3 billion vehicle miles) for April 2017 as compared with April 2016." The less volatile 12-month moving average was up 0.1% month-over-month and 0.8% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is up just 0.04% month-over-month and up only 0.2% year-over-year.

Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1971. It illustrates the "Moving 12-Month Total on ALL Roads," as the DOT terms it...The latest data point is another all-time high.

Looks like my wife and I are contributing to the trend of increased driving.  That might increase more, as oil and gas prices are down year over year, but that's a story for another entry.  In the meantime, stay tuned for the Sunday Entertainment Feature.  I plan on writing about the Television Critics Association Awards.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Icebergs and ants, two stories I tell my students


Seeker, formerly DNews, posted two videos recently about stories I tell my students.  The one that caught my eye first was The Insane Plan to Tow an Iceberg to the Middle East.

A United Arab Emirates company wants to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to the desert for drinking water, but is their plan feasible?
...
A United Arab Emirates Company Wants to Tow Icebergs From Antarctica to Combat Drought
"Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it doesn't get more desperate than the Emirates Iceberg Project - a new plan to lug giant ice cubes halfway across the world to combat drought in the United Arab Emirates."
I first encountered this idea back in the 1960s while I was reading the Time-Life book "Water."  Fifty years ago, it struck me as a science fiction project, complete with nuclear powered tugboats, but for at least the past decade, I've been telling this story as a way of illustrating the impracticality of using polar ice as a source of water.  After all, if the idea has been around for 50+ years, why hasn't anyone actually tried it?  It isn't better than the alternatives, such as desalinization, that's why.  Now that this video exists, I can show it to my students and say, "See, I'm not making this up."

The other video is one I could have used this week, as I lectured about fungal symbioses in the biodiversity class I teach in the summer.  Watch Ants Are Growing Food and They're Better at It Than We Are.

Believe it or not, ants started farming way before we did. How do they do it?
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Ants Mastered Sustainable Agriculture 30 Million Years Ago
"Ants cultivated designer crops in controlled environments millions of years before humans figured out how to push seeds into the ground to grow food, scientists reported in a study Wednesday. It has long been known that dozens of ants species tend and harvest fungi in subterranean farms, mostly to feed a colony's larvae. A few species have taken that process to the next level, modifying fungi so thoroughly they can no longer survive in the wild, much in the way some genetically altered crops consumed by humans are not viable without pesticides or other inputs."

Dry habitats were crucibles of domestication in the evolution of agriculture in ants
"The evolution of ant agriculture, as practised by the fungus-farming 'attine' ants, is thought to have arisen in the wet rainforests of South America about 55-65 Ma. Most subsequent attine agricultural evolution, including the domestication event that produced the ancestor of higher attine cultivars, is likewise hypothesized to have occurred in South American rainforests."

Symbiotic adaptations in the fungal cultivar of leaf-cutting ants
"Centuries of artificial selection have dramatically improved the yield of human agriculture; however, strong directional selection also occurs in natural symbiotic interactions. Fungus-growing attine ants cultivate basidiomycete fungi for food. One cultivar lineage has evolved inflated hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants."
Unlike towing icebergs, which I really think is a cool (pun intended) but stupid and impractical idea, studying ant agriculture would be worthwhile.  As Barry Commoner said, "Nature Knows Best."  Speaking of worthwhile, I think I will show this video to my class next week.  I haven't tested them on the material yet, so my students can still use it.