Sunday, April 30, 2017

Unicorn drinks and music for my readers' Sunday entertainment


Thanks to Kevin Robbins of Hometown, U.S.A., unicorns had a cameo in the comments to Trump's border wall is an environmental disaster, too, when he wrote "It's looking like the chances of the wall being built are about the same as unicorns making a comeback."

I changed the subject slightly with "Well, there are unicorn frappuccinos at Starbucks, but you're right. They aren't real unicorns."

Kevin played along.  "I saw a story about those. Baristas are distinctly not happy happy joy joy about making them."

I agreed. "So I've heard and read. Not only is it a lot of work, it's pretty sour."

We weren't kidding.  Business Insider reported Exhausted Starbucks baristas 'hate' the complicated-to-make unicorn drink that's taking over Instagram.  The article shows that making the drink is a lot of work, just as I gathered.  As for the customer reaction, The Capital Times on Madison.com headline read Yeah, I Ate That: The Unicorn Frappuccino is made for Instagram, not taste buds and said of the reaction, "It’s a lot of fuss over a drink that looks like a My Little Pony fell in a tank of battery acid. In fact, one can’t help but wonder if the Unicorn Frappuccino was ever meant to be consumed, but rather photographed, posted on Instagram and then tossed away."  ZING!

Speaking of zingers, Jimmy Kimmel lampooned the whole phenomenon in NEW Starbucks F**k-it-Ccino .

Starbucks has released their latest caffeinated drink called the “Unicorn Frappuccino.” It has pink powder, mango syrup, sour blue drizzle and all sorts of other stuff. But if the Unicorn Frappuccino doesn’t strike your fancy, Starbucks has another new item specifically to suit our troubled times.
As George Takei would say, "Oh my."

That's not all.  Stephen Colbert had even more to say in Stephen Hate-Tastes Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino.

In the perfect world, unicorns would exist and Starbucks' unicorn frappuccinos would cease to.
Sorry, but this is not a perfect world.

Follow over the jump for more recycled comments along with the recipe for another unicorn drink recipe and some appropriate music.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

People's Climate March 2017


Lately, it's become another Saturday, another protest by the Resistance.  Two weeks ago, it was the Tax March.  Last Saturday, which was also Earth Day, it was the March for Science.  Today, it's the People's Climate Movement's March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice.

The last People's Climate March was held on September 21, 2014, an event I mentioned in passing as part of the context for Climate and environment news from Colorado State University.  That event was in response to the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City two days later.  If anything, it was in support of the official event being productive, not a protest against it.  In a way, it worked, as the Paris Agreement on Climate was signed on Earth Day two years later.  That was good news that I celebrated in Climate change for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Today's event is much more obviously one of resistance and opposition.  Just look at these three videos promoting it, beginning with 350.org's Peoples Climate March: We resist. We build. We rise.


Even the relatively staid Sierra Club takes a militant tone in its Peoples Climate March: Be Heard on Climate, Jobs and Justice.

Join the Peoples Climate March as we march for climate, jobs and justice in Washington, D.C. on April 29! If you can't make it to D.C., find a Sister March near you.
Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate is even more explicitly anti-Trump, if that's possible, in Why We March.

On April 29th, we're fighting back against Trump's polluter-friendly agenda. Join me and thousands of others across the country for the People's Climate March and stand up for our climate.
According to the People's Climate Movement, there is no event in Ann Arbor today.  Instead, the nearest one is in Ferndale, location of the Green Cruise.  I've said over and over again that I'd participate in that, but never have.  I think I'm going to show up today for the Ferndale Climate March.  If I do, I can thank Trump for motivating me.  Also, I might just report on it next week.  Stay tuned for that, after the last post of the month, which will be a Sunday entertainment feature, and the first post of next month, which will be on May Day.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Marching for science in Ann Arbor


I promised four times that "'I'm planning on posting a first-hand account of tomorrow's March for Science in Ann Arbor sometime next week,' just like I did for the Women's March."  It's time to follow through.

I learned my lesson from the Women's March to arrive early so that I could get parking.  Then, I managed to get inside a structure that had one space available after dealing with traffic backups and no parking all the way from the freeway to downtown.  This time, I parked in the nearest structure to the start of the march nearly an hour early when it had 300+ spaces open and had no congestion to speak of.  I was able to get a coffee, stroll to the Diag, find a restroom, and sit on the benches around the edge of the paved area in front of the library, where about 1,000 people had already congregated.  There I sat for about fifteen minutes as more people assembled.

Unlike both the Women's March and Tax March, which began at the Federal Building and ended at the Diag for speeches, the Science March started with an hour of speeches at the Diag and then proceeded to the Federal Building.  One of those speeches was by State Representative Yousef Rabhi, who also addressed the crowd at the Tax March.  Like the Tax March, MLive recorded him speak.


MLive quoted Rabhi in Thousands flood streets of Ann Arbor during March for Science.
State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, who spoke during the rally, estimated there were easily more than 10,000 people there, possibly as many as 15,000.

"I think this is about as many people as came out to the Women's March in Ann Arbor," Rabhi said, referring to the Jan. 21 march that drew more than 11,000. "This is amazing, and a beautiful day. The earth is smiling upon us."
At the time, I didn't believe him, as it didn't feel as crowded as it did during the Women's March speeches.  After looking at the video, now I do.  That was a much larger group than I thought at the time, which was halfway through the hour of people talking to the protesters.  While I don't think more people attended than the Women's March, I now think it was close.  If the Women's March had 11,000, then the March for Science in Ann Arbor had 10,000.  I guess the decision to start with the speeches first and march later paid off in terms of attendance.

Rabhi also called out all of the people protesting Line 5 under Mackinac and told them (us, as I was one of them) to hold our signs up high.  We did.  I felt both proud and useful, more so than at the Women's March.

Follow over the jump for more that happened at the Ann Arbor March for Science.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

CBC and Futurism report on the March for Science


I twice promised that "I'm planning on posting a first-hand account of tomorrow's March for Science in Ann Arbor sometime next week,", just like I did for the Women's March.  That will happen later this week.  Today, I bring reports on the big picture of the march from two of the sources I used last Saturday, CBC's The National and Futurism.  First, Futurism's The March for Science Spread A Clear Message: Science Is For All.

The March for Science was a huge success. Hundreds of thousands marched in 600+ cities. Here are the highlights!
That was very optimistic.  CBC's The National took a slightly darker view in Global March for Science raises concern over Trump policies.

Scientists and their supporters marched in hundreds of cities around the world Saturday, protesting against proposed U.S. government funding cuts to scientific research.
I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the role of science in uncovering the Flint Water Crisis was featured in the main march.  I barely recall that being mentioned in Ann Arbor.  On the other hand, both videos show all the creative and correctly spelled signs, which Ann Arbor's march had in abundance.  I'll be sure to mention those when I write about my experience last Saturday.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trump's border wall is an environmental disaster, too


I've written about Trump's proposal to build a border wall with Mexico, most notably when I made fun of the idea in Trump is coming and he's building a wall.  As both the end of his Administration's first 100 days and the deadline to pass either a budget or a continuing resolution coincide this week, it looks like his administration is insisting on making that particular campaign promise happen.  CNN reports Shutdown deadline nears, border wall looms.

Fights over money to pay for a border wall, as well as Obamacare subsidies, threaten to trip up congressional talks over a funding bill to head off a government shutdown. CNN's Jason Carroll reports.
In addition to all the other reasons why building a border wall is a bad idea, Seeker/DNews points out U.S./Mexico Border Wall Puts Animals In Danger Of Extinction.

A wall along the United States/Mexico border could seriously disrupt the natural habitats and movements of many animals species that live there.
That's just the video summary.  For more, read Vox's The ecological disaster that is Trump’s border wall: a visual guide.  It has more examples and details about those examples, including the graphic used to illustrate this post.

Fortunately, NBC News reports Trump Signals Willingness to Drop Border Wall Funding in Budget Standoff.  His administration will still want the wall, but at least it isn't as likely to shut down the government in a temper tantrum over not getting it now.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Flint Water Crisis for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


I concluded Entertainment for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News by writing "The next retrospective will be about the Flint Water Crisis, which had two posts in the top forty, one of which was briefly on the all-time top ten.  Stay tuned."  I'm not waiting until Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday to post it; today is as good a day as any to finish the recounting of the forty most read entries of the blogging year finished just last month.  I summarized the rise of both entries in Monthly meta for April 2016, so I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle the stories for each in turn.

The twenty-ninth most read entry of the past year was Slow drip of Flint Water Crisis erodes Rick Snyder's approval from April 7, 2016 with 1509 raw page views on March 20, 2017.  That an entry that ranked so low at the end of the blogging year, however briefly, was in the all-time top ten, became one of the main reasons why I recapped the top forty instead of the top twenty.  Here's the tale of its rise and fall.
"Slow drip of Flint Water Crisis erodes Rick Snyder's approval" from April 7, 2016 earned a series of accolades.  It came in second among entries shared at the Coffee Party's Facebook page, second for April entries, second for the month overall, and tied for first in comments on entries posted during April with four comments (Thanks Paul W. and Les, who apparently came via the Coffee Party).  I also shared it at Greer's and Kunstler's blogs.  All that earned it 1416 page views, 1434 according to the raw counter, attracting 1639 page views on April 8th and 9th, and placed it tenth on the all-time list, kicking out "Doctors to Congress: Fund gun violence research at the CDC and NIH."  It only lasted ten days there.  Sic transit gloria mundi.
John Oliver and FiveThirtyEight on Tax Day knocked this entry out of the top ten after only ten days, a story I told in John Oliver: Top posts for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Follow over the jump for the other entry about Flint that made the year's top forty.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Entertainment for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


At the end of The resistance for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, I promised that the next installment of the series would be about general entertainment not having to do with the election.  I should have added that it wouldn't be about holidays or John Oliver, either, as many posts covered in both installments were also entertainment entries.  Regardless, today is Sunday, time for the weekly entertainment feature, so it's the perfect occasion to fulfill my promise.

Al Jazeera America's final Emmy nominations from September 21, 2016 wasn't exactly about entertainment, as it reported on the defunct cable channel's news and documentary award nominations, but the post fits better in entertainment than anywhere else.  It was the twenty-second most read entry of the year with 1890 raw page views as of March 20, 2017.  It was also the fifth most viewed entry during October 2016, ending the month with 1724 default page views after reaching a maximum of 1825, 1852 according to the raw counter, at 7:59 PM on October 20, 2016.  It earned its page views after being shared at the Coffee Party USA Facebook page, gaining 611 page views in the first hour and helping attract 708 page views to the plog that same hour.  It earned nearly 1600 page views in the first 24 hours and helped attract 2499 page views to the blog the day it was shared.

Follow over the jump for more entertainment entries.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

March for Science today for Earth Day


Happy Earth Day!  In yesterday's The resistance for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, I mentioned that "I'm planning on posting a first-hand account of tomorrow's March for Science in Ann Arbor sometime next week."  So, just like I did for the Women's March, I'm posting a preview of the event.

I begin with Science Magazine's Behind the scenes at the March for Science.*



How a simple text message launched a global movement.

Next, Scientists: Why We March.

#MarchforScience coming in April 2017. Scientists will not step back while war has been declared on the Planet's Life Support System.
That's why the scientists are marching.  Futurism's March for Science on Earth Day in a City Near You explains why the rest of us should be, too.



Science is under attack. But we can stand up for it.

I've already posted about when and why environmentalism became a partisan issue.  I hope I don't have to blog about how science became one, too.  Just the same, if it does, I will.

*I'm Director of Partnerships for the Coffee Party.  After the march is over, I'm going to contact Ayana Johnson to see if the March for Science is still looking for partners for future events.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The resistance for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


I mentioned "an upcoming retrospective about the resistance" twice in Election leftovers for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  Since it's Flashback Friday, it's the perfect time to share it.

The last post in the top twenty was Thousands across Michigan protest immigration and travel ban from January 30, 2017 with 2080 page views according to the raw counter as of March 20, 2017.  It was also the most read entry during February with 1827 page views, 2054 according to the raw counter by the end of the month.  It earned its page views by being shared at Coffee Party USA Facebook page.

Follow over the jump for more posts about the resistance to Trump.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

John Oliver on marijuana legalization for 4/20


It's April 20, which for the past two years I've used to update my readers on the status of marijuana legalization.  Last year, I referred my readers to Reclassifying Marijuana Would Be Game-Changing at You Might Notice A Trend while posting drink recipes with a reefer theme.  This year, I'm letting "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" do the heavy lifting with Marijuana from two weekends ago.

Under federal law, even legal marijuana is illegal. John Oliver explains why conflicting drug laws pose serious problems.
As I wrote last year, "Here's a toast to marijuana legalization following in the tracks of marriage equality!"  At this rate, it will happen in Canada before the U.S.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Seeker/DNews on when and why environmentalism became a partisan issue


This is Earth Week and Saturday is Earth Day, which is also when the March for Science will be held.  To observe the first and build up to the second, I'm sharing When Did Environmentalism Become So Political?  In it, Seeker/DNews makes a point that I make about the environmental record of Richard Nixon; Tricky Dick signed into law much of the federal legislation of the modern environmental era, making him a very different Republican from the ones who induced me to leave the party in 2000.



When you think of environmentalism, does Richard Nixon come to mind?

Yes, but Nixon as the second greenest U.S. President?  That's something that surprises even me!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

John Oliver and Vox examine gerrymandering


Gerrymandering and what to do about it have been very popular topics on my blog lately.  Two years ago, WXYZ on redistricting reform was the second most read post of blog year five and was the most read of all time for a month.  Last year, PBS Newshour examines gerrymandering in Maryland and North Carolina ended the sixth year of this blog as the eleventh most read post of the year, rising as high as sixth on the all-time list.  So I was excited to see two videos posted last week on this topic.  The first was Gerrymandering: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).*

Lawmakers often reshape voting districts to shift the balance of political power. That's unfair to voters, even those of us with questionable judgment.
Newsweek reviewed this segment, concluding with Oliver's solution.
Oliver suggests that instead of politicians, districts should be redrawn by independent commissions, a practice which some states have already begun to implement. In 37 states, districts are drawn by state legislators.

“There is something very important at stake here," Oliver says. "Lawmakers should not be allowed to dilute our votes by drawing their own lines and essentially picking their own voters.”
As I've written in both of the previous popular entries on this topic, I'm in favor of this solution.

The same day, Vox posted The algorithm that could help end partisan gerrymandering, which could identify districts and maps that Oliver would find offensive.

We are living in the age of the algorithm. So why not apply data science to a decades old issue?
I'm all in favor of applying science to problems, so I like this idea, too.

*John Oliver was the subject of the two top posts for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  Oliver examining gerrymandering might just be an unstoppable combination.  Here's to hoping his interest results in reform actually happening.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tax marches across the country and in Michigan


While Tax Day is actually tomorrow, April 15th is still traditionally considered the deadline to file federal income taxes.  Since it also fell on a Saturday and the U.S. has a President who refuses to release his tax returns, it was also the perfect opportunity for Americans to march in favor of his doing so.  CBC's The National reports Thousands of protesters call on Trump to release taxes showing several of these demonstrations.

Demonstrators held 'tax marches' in cities across the country Saturday, calling for U.S. president to release the last 10 years of his tax returns.
I love the Trump chicken, which first appeared in Happy Year of the Fire Rooster!  It's the perfect symbol for him on this issue.

The National didn't mention it, but there were protests in Michigan, too.  The Detroit News listed marches in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Farmington, Hamtramck, Grand Rapids, Pentwater and Marquette.  The largest was in Ann Arbor, which had nearly 1,000 more attendees than Detroit.  Follow over the jump for videos from MLive covering the protest.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Drinks from Tipsy Bartender for 2017


Happy Easter!  It looks like I'm alternating between my two default holiday themes for Easter.  When I first started observing the occasion in 2015, I posted Easter drinks from Tipsy Bartender.  Last year, it was a drum corps "Superstar" for Easter, which was just a well, as Tipsy Bartender skipped posting Easter recipes last year and I had exhausted all of their inventory -- no resources left to conserve.  This year, despite my promise to post more drum corps music for the holiday, I'm not feeling it.  Maybe next year.  Instead, I'm returning to Tipsy Bartender for inspiration, as the channel posted two Easter recipes the past two days.  Add the recipe I used to illustrate this entry and the number of Easter-themed drinks from Tipsy Bartender has doubled since two years ago.

The first of the two recipes is for Boozy Easter Bunnies.

BOOZY BUNNIES
1 Part Irish Cream
1 Part Amaretto
1 Part Butterscotch Schnapps
Splash Milk
Hollow Chocolate Bunnies

PREPARATION
1. Gently cut the top off of hollow chocolate bunnies. Set aside.
2. In an ice filled glass combine irish cream, butterscotch schnapps, amaretto and milk. Shake well.
3. Strain mix into bunnies and add straws. Enjoy responsibly!
The second recipe is for Easter Egg Shots.

EASTER EGG SHOTS
1 oz. (30ml) Irish Cream
1 oz. (30ml) White Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz. (15ml) Peppermint Schnapps
Splash Milk
Cinnamon
Artificial Hay
Easter Eggs

PREPARATION
1. In an ice filled glass combine irish cream, white chocolate liqueur, peppermint schnapps and milk. Shake well.
2. Cut the top off of hollow easter eggs.
3. Place artificial hay in base of martini glass and place easter eggs in center.
4. Strain mix into egg and garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy responsibly!
I think Skyy is interested in these recipes as much for the candy as he is for the booze, if not more so.  I don't blame him, although that's not the case for his Halloween drink recipes; those aren't nearly as candy-centric as his Easter drink recipes are.

Once again, Happy Easter and drink responsibly!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Driving update for April 2017: Pearl


Thursday the 13th, Pearl the Prius turned over another 1,000 miles for the odometer to read 33,000 miles.  That means it's time for another driving update.

It's been 56 days since Pearl passed 32,000 miles on February 16th.  That translates to an average of 17.86 miles per day or 544.64 miles per standard month of 30.5 days.  That's much less than the average of 24.39 miles per day and 743.9 miles per month of the last update.  It's also in the range of 16.95 miles per day or 516.95 miles per standard month that I was driving the car between November and January.  However, it is more than the 15.85 miles per day I had been averaging when I posted Driving update for March 2017: Dez.  The week off from work at the beginning of March wasn't enough to keep my mileage down.  However, it was exactly what I drove the same time last year, when I averaged 17.86 miles per day or 544.6 miles per standard month.  At least I'm not up year over year for the same month!

I expect my miles will be less at the next update, as I will be off for the first week of May, after which I will be driving to fewer meetings and will no longer be teaching at the more distant campus.  Then again, I expected that last year, but ended up driving more because Dez was in the shop for a week.  Here's to hoping that doesn't happen again.

On a related note, the fear premium from the Syria missile strike hasn't kept building, but it hasn't abated either.  Oil-Price.Net lists Friday's closings for WTI as $53.18 and Brent as $55.89.  Both are up a little since last week's $52.24 for WTI and $55.24 for Brent, but down from earlier in the week, when Reuters reported WTI at $53.76 and Brent at $56.65.  As for retail gas prices, Gas Buddy calculated the average price of unleaded regular in metro Detroit as $2.52, down a penny from last week.  Some price spike!

Normally, I'd tell my readers to stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment post, but tomorrow is also Easter, which will probably take priority unless I find an entertainment angle for the holiday.  That could still happen.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Election leftovers for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


Happy Flashback Friday!  I promised "a retrospective about the rest of last year's top election entries" in Climate change for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News and today is the perfect opportunity to follow through.

The sixteenth most read entry of the blogging year just ended was 1968 has arrived with a Weimar moment in San Jose from June 4, 2016 with 2488 page views according to the raw counter.  I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle the story of its first month from June's stats and top posts.
The winner of the best new entry award for June 2016 was "1968 has arrived with a Weimar moment in San Jose" from Jun 4, 2016.  I shared it at both the Coffee Party Facebook page and Kunstler's blog, attracting 2355 page views to the entry (2378 according to the raw counter), placing it first for June's entries and second overall.  Linking at the Coffee Party Facebook page helped the blog earn 2209 page views in 24 hours, 611 in the first hour after the link was posted.  The post is now in seventh place on the all-time top ten list, having knocked "Colbert explains the climate deal and says goodbye to oil" out.
Here's what I wrote about the entry in a comment to Kunstler's Nausea Rising.
Two weeks ago saw 1968 arrive with a Weimar moment in San Jose.  While I understand the protestors' fear and anger, as they see Trump posing an existential threat, I think violent protests will be counterproductive to their cause, which is stopping Trump.  Fortunately for them and the rest of the anti-Trump forces, Trump himself is busy pissing off all the wrong people, ranging from the judge in the Trump University case to the Executive Editor of the Washington Post, who was the editor of the Boston Globe featured in "Spotlight."  Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.
I could have included this post in the upcoming retrospective about the resistance, but technically those don't start until after the election.

The entry remained in the all-time top ten for four months until Newspaper endorsements roll in while comedians laugh at Gary Johnson knocked it out, a story told in Minor parties for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie NewsSic transit gloria mundi.

Follow over the jump for another post about the election that didn't fit in any other category.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A month of near misses for Apophis Day 2017


Yesterday was Yuri's Night, the day I celebrate the promise of space on this blog.  Today is Apophis Day, when I contemplate the perils space poses to Earth, particularly in the form of large meteors and small asteroids that can collide with the planet.  It's this blog's equivalent to Asteroid Day, which got a later start but which has much better publicity.

With no further ado, I'm posting this year's version of the theme from last year's Impacts and near misses for Apophis Day 2016, featuring four near misses from the past month or so, beginning with Small Asteroid Flies Within 9000 Miles of Earth from Space.com.

The 10-foot (3 meter) space rock came within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites when it flew by the Earth on March 2nd, 2017. The asteroid was designated 2017 EA and was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey 6 hours before its closest approach.
That was close!  Follow over the jump for two more near misses that happened during the past month plus a near miss that will occur in the very near future.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Celebrate Yuri's Night 2017 with 'Star Trek' actors and NASA


Happy Yuri's Night!  As I wrote last year, this is the day of the year when I celebrate the promise of space.  I've been doing a lot of that lately with SpaceX and the NASA budget, but I'm going to mark the occasion with this message from the original Chekov from Star Trek as Walter Koenig Shares Why He Celebrates Yuri's Night.

Walter Koenig, who famously portrayed Pavel Chekov in Star Trek and Alfred Bester in the Babylon 5 series explains how Yuri Gagarin's flight was a step forward for humankind and a step towards humanity's future.
I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I embedded the video.

Koenig wasn't the only former Star Trek actor to celebrate Yuri's Night.  Last year, Robert Picardo, the doctor from "Star Trek: Voyager" included a celebration of Yuri's Night in April's Planetary Post from The Planetary Society.

Welcome to the third installment of The Planetary Post, our monthly newsletter from Robert Picardo featuring the most notable space happenings. This month we head to the California Science Center to celebrate Yuri’s Night, one of the biggest space celebrations in Los Angeles.
That was a lot more fun than Koenig alternating between hope and DOOM.  It also called for an update of current space events via This Week @NASA for April 7, 2017 instead of a bunch of year-old space news.

NASA held a news conference April 4 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with participation from NASA headquarters, to preview the final phase of the Cassini spacecraft’s mission to Saturn. On April 26, Cassini will begin its “Grand Finale” – a series of deep dives between the planet and its rings. No other mission has ever explored this unique region that is so close to the planet. Cassini will make 22 orbits that swoop between the rings and the planet before ending its 20-year mission on Sept. 15, with a final plunge into Saturn. The mission team hopes to gain powerful insights into the planet's internal structure and the origins of the rings, obtain the first-ever sampling of Saturn's atmosphere and particles coming from the main rings, and capture the closest-ever views of Saturn's clouds and inner rings. Also, Next Space Station Crew Travels to Launch Site, New Target Launch Date for Orbital ATK Mission to ISS, Lightfoot Visits Industry Partners, Human Exploration Rover Challenge, and John Glenn Interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
With that, my readers and I are up to speed.  Stay tuned for Apophis Day, when I celebrate the perils space poses to Earth.  I hope my readers appreciate the juxtaposition as much as I do.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Climate change for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


As I wrote twice in Gerrymandering and other general politics for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, the subject of today's retrospective is climate change.  Like holidays, climate change is a recurring subject of retrospectives on this blog going back to its very first year.  It's good to know some things don't change.

The twelfth most read entry of the previous blogging year was Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump and climate change from December 22, 2016 with 2964 page views according to the raw counter as of March 20, 2017.  While it was posted in December, it was the most read entry of January 2017 after being shared at the Coffee Party USA Facebook page, ending the month with 2631 page views, 2925 according to the raw counter.  While it rose quickly, it showed no signs of making the all-time top ten, so I didn't put in a lot of effort tracking its progress.  Besides, I think I was on vacation at the time I shared the post, so I had better things to do.

Follow over the jump for more of last year's top posts on climate.

Monday, April 10, 2017

WOOD-TV on fake news shared on Twitter in Michigan during the election


I began the month by sharing a video from DNews/Seeker with my readers explaining why people fall for fake news.  Today, I'm offering last Thursday's clips from WOOD-TV about the prevalence of fake news on Twitter before last fall's election.  How prevalent?  This prevalent: Fake news accounted for 25 percent of shared campaign links.

A study by London's Oxford University shows that a big chunk of political stories shared out on Twitter before the election in Michigan was fake.
Here is the next segment: Oxford study: ‘Fake news’ flooded Michigan in November.

A study done at London’s Oxford University took a look at election-related posts on social media Goliath Twitter and found that a big chunk of campaign-related news shared in Michigan was of the fake news variety.
Good lord.  As the Seattle Times headline read two weeks ago, "The information war is real, and we’re losing it."

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hugo Awards successfully fighting off Rabid Puppies


In yesterday's entry, I told my readers to "stay tuned for Sunday's entertainment feature, when I plan on writing about the Hugo Awards."  Since it's now Sunday, I'm sharing the media nominees from io9's Here Are the 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists, beginning with the movies and entire series.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)

Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)

Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)

Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)

Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)

Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)
Just looking at the nominees, I could tell that the Rabid Puppies had very little effect on the outcome.  Both "Ghostbusters" and "Hidden Figures," which feature female casts, are exactly the kind of works the Puppies slates attempted to keep out of the voting in previous years.  It turned out they were hardly trying.

Metafilter's post, Hugos 2017: a tale of puppies reported that the Sad Puppies didn't bother to make any recommendations and the Rabid Puppies, instead of full slates, which this year would have been three entries per category, only made one or two.  In the long form/"film" category, File 770's Measuring the Rabid Puppies Effect on the 2017 Hugo Ballot listed it as "Deadpool," which was a worthy nominee anyway.  In fact, all of them are acceptable nominees, although I'm surprised that "Ghostbusters" beat out the "Star Trek" movie or "Fantastic Beasts."  As for "Stranger Things" being here instead of an episode being nominated in the short form category, that's a pleasant surprise.  It really is the year for "Stranger Things," even though I think "Arrival" will win this category in a walk.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)

Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)

The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)

Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)

Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)

Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
When I looked at this list, I first thought that "The Expanse" episode was the Puppies choice; it's their kind of show.  However, File 770 reported that it wasn't; a third episode of "Game of Thrones," "The Winds of Winter,"  was instead.  It earned enough votes to make the top six, but was disqualified because a series can only have two episodes nominated and "Game of Thrones" already had two in the top six, presumably with more votes.

The only entry I found surprising was "Splendor & Misery" by Clipping.  It's a music album, not a movie.  The commenters at Metafilter love the selection, but I have a hard time seeing it here instead of an episode of "Westworld" such as "The Bicameral Mind."  In my opinion, that was the best episode of the best science fiction show on television last year and I have a hard time seeing it not recognized, which the Science Fiction Writers of America did.  From The Verge, here are this year's Nebula Award nominees for dramatic presentation.
Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment / FilmNation Entertainment / Lava Bear Films / Xenolinguistics

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures

Kubo and the Two Strings, directed by Travis Knight, screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards, written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm / Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures|

Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’,’ directed by Jonathan Nolan, written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO

Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures / Walt Disney Animation Studios
"Westworld" was the only television series recognized by the writers, but the fans didn't even bother to nominate it.  Time to start hyping it for the Saturn Awards.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fear premium returns with Syria missile strike


I haven't posted an update on oil prices since Supply and demand still work for oil last October.  My last gas price report here came even longer ago than that in June's Oil falls after Brexit vote, pushing prices even lower.  That's because local gas prices have been relatively stable, world oil prices have been rising so slowly as to be boring, and the election and subsequent transition have been much better shiny objects.  That changed Thursday night, when Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on Syria.  That event has had predictable effects on oil markets, as CNN reported yesterday morning in Oil prices leap after US missile strike.

Crude oil prices spiked after the US launched missile strikes against Syria. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
CNN's report was based on oil futures.  Reuters showed those increases lasted until closing in Oil rises after U.S. missile strike in Syria, weekly gain 3 percent.
Oil prices rose on Friday, trading near a one-month high and closing the week up 3 percent after the United States fired missiles at a Syrian government air base, raising concern that the conflict could spread in the oil-rich region.
...
Brent crude futures settled up 35 cents at $55.24. Brent reached a session high of $56.08, the highest since March 7, shortly after the U.S. missile strike was announced. For the week, Brent was up 4.4 percent.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 54 cents at $52.24 a barrel, off the session high of $52.94.
The wholesale price spike has already had an effect on retail gas prices, as Fox 4 in Ft. Myers, Florida, reported in Gas Prices Rise after Syrian Airstrike.

Overnight, U.S. gas prices went up 3 cents.
I saw the effects of the price spike when I drove through my old neighborhood yesterday to buy gas.  The two stations down the street (the third has been demolished) were selling regular at $2.49, while the one at the corner near my old house was offering the same grade at $2.29.  After using my rewards card, I was able to buy it as $2.26.  Of course I filled up, since I expected prices to rise.  That may have been premature.  Three hours later, the two stations down the street dropped their prices 14 cents to $2.35.  Given my four years of close observation of the three stations' interactions, that was very unusual; normally, the corner station with the high price lowered it to remain competitive.  That behavior, which has all three stations selling well below the Detroit average of $2.53, suggests that the spike may be just that, a temporary panic-driven rise.

I'll keep watching the situation.  If both Syria and the oil markets remain volatile, I'll report on them.  Until then, stay tuned for Sunday's entertainment feature, when I plan on writing about the Hugo Awards.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Gerrymandering and other general politics for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


Happy Flashback Friday -- another perfect opportunity for a retrospective!  As I wrote yesterday, today's entry "will be about politics having nothing directly to do with the election.  Yes, those actually exist."   In reality, they have everything to do with elections in general, but don't particularly have anything to do with last year's election in particular.  They also don't have anything to do with climate change, which will be the subject of the next retrospecive -- but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The eleventh most read entry of the last year was PBS Newshour examines gerrymandering in Maryland and North Carolina from October 1, 2016.  It ended the year with 3022 page views according to the raw counter.  It was also the fourth most read entry during October 2016, the third most read actually posted during the month, ending October with 2805 page views, 2989 according to the raw counter.  Like most of the top entries and all the posts included in today's retrospective, I shared it at the Coffee Party USA Facebook page, where it earned 877 page views and helped attract 909 page views to the site in the first hour.  In the next 24 hours, it got 1714 more page views for a total of 2591, 2640 since it was first posted.  It also helped attract 3099 page views to the site the day it was posted.  It  knocked John Oliver and FiveThirtyEight on Tax Day, which had 2044 page views at the time, out of tenth place on the all-time list at 10:00 A.M. on October 2, 2016.  It passed Clinton wins the news media while Sanders wins the Internet to claim ninth place at Noon.  Then it climbed over 1968 has arrived with a Weimar moment in San Jose to reach eighth at 3 P.M., Republicans on climate change and energy at the CNBC debate at 4:00 P.M. to rank seventh, and WXYZ on redistricting reform at 6:30 PM to place sixth.  Yes, the two top entries about redistricting/gerrymandering were next to each other on the all-time list.  That lasted until the first two entries about the Michigan recount knocked them out on successive days.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

Follow over the jump for more general politics posts.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Holidays for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


Happy Throwback Thursday!  It's the perfect opportunity to resume the retrospective of the top entries of the past blogging year with the subject I promised after entertainment and the election -- holidays!  This is one of the favorite themes for this blog, both for me and my readers, as every blogging year has produced at least one retrospective about holidays, even if the first year's post about a holiday didn't make the top ten until a year later.  Looks like my readers and I both love holidays!


The eighth most read entry posted last year and the ninth most read on the all-time list as of March 20, 2017 is Happy Sweetest Day 2016!.  Posted on October 15, 2016, it finished the blogging year with 3330 page views, 3452 according to the raw counter.  It was also the most viewed entry posted during October 2016, as well as the second most read entry overall for the month, with 3222 page views, 3335 according to the raw counter.  This post earned 2000+ page views in twelve hours purely by other people sharing it on Facebook.  It passed Republicans on climate change and energy at the CNBC debate, which had 2401 page views at the time, between 3:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. on Sweetest Day to earn a place on the all-time top ten.  It earned 2991 page views in the first 24 hours, enough for it to place seventh on the all time list.  During the morning of October 16th, it passed CNN and MSNBC interview Libertarian candidates William Weld and Gary Johnson to rank sixth.  Not bad for a throwaway holiday entry that I only posted because previous Sweetest Day entry proved very popular, becoming the sixteenth most read entry of the fifth year of the blog.  This one exceeded its predecessor.

By the way, it's now tenth on the all-time list, with first the three entries about the Michigan recount pushing it down, but also Rusty-Patched Bumblebee finally placed on the Endangered Species List, which is the first entry of the seventh year of this blog to reach the top ten.

Follow over the jump for more popular holiday entries.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

National Walking Day 2017


I've observed National Walking Day once on this blog, back in 2013.  Since then, I'd forgotten about it until Facebook's "On This Day" feature showed the post.  It's pretty much the kind of holiday I like to observe, although I'm more for walking as a method of getting somewhere than as exercise, which the holiday really is about.  Watch American Heart Association National Walking Day 30 PSA to see the point.

Heart disease is this country's No.1 killer. But by exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day you can reduce your risk. That's what the American Heart Association's start walking movement is all about:

Walk more. Eat better. Live a longer, healthier life.

Countless people across the country are jumping on board. Join them. Get walking and start taking a more active role in your health!
This event is happening here in Michigan, too, as WOOD-TV's Eight West program shows in Celebrate National Walking Day.

April 5th, we're celebrating an exercise with the lowest drop out rate.
I'm one of those people with a Fitbit who is trying to get their steps.  Tomorrow will be an easy day to meet that goal, as I'll be in a walkable neighborhood.  Today may be a challenge, as I won't be and it could be raining.  I might have to get on a treadmill for my 30 minute walk.  Hmph.  As I wrote, I prefer walking as a method of getting places than as pure exercise.  Besides, that treadmill uses electricity, so walking on it doesn't save fossil fuel energy, which is what I really want.

If I don't walk 30 minutes today, I'll be sure to do so on Saturday, when my geology classes go on their field trip.  That's always a fun way to get my exercise.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Videos for my biology classes--dinoflagellates, thylacines, and pandas


I blog for a number of reasons, but one is a form of professional development.  In addition to organizing my research, I will park videos here that I plan to use in my classes using the stories I tell my students label.  Since I'll be teaching my evolution, ecology, and biodiversity class starting next month as well as new sections of my environmental science class, it's time for me to stock up.  Here are three videos that popped up on my YouTube subscriptions over the past few days.

The first is from AAAS/Science Magazine: Hunting microbe wields a “gatling gun” harpoon.

Single-celled organisms have intricate microscopic weapons evolved for capturing prey.
As soon as I saw the preview image, I knew this was about dinoflagellates.  At least now I have something interesting to tell my students about them other than red tides and bioluminescence.

Follow over the jump for two videos about mammals that work equally well for my advanced students as for my general onces.

Monday, April 3, 2017

SpaceX launches and recovers a reused rocket


I've written before about Elon Musk and SpaceX's plan to colonize Mars and take tourists around Earth's moon.  Key to making both of those happen is being able to reuse at least the first stage of the Falcon rockets SpaceX manufactures and uses for space launches.  Last week, that occurred for the first time, as NTDTV reported in SpaceX reusable rocket completes second space flight and landing.

SpaceX has achieved an industry first. The company sent the same rocket up to space for the second time.
While I'm still skeptical Musk and SpaceX can achieve their goals in the time frame they have set for themselves, I am rooting for them nonetheless.  Here's to them proving me wrong.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Entertainment and the election for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News


"Stay tuned for a retrospective on entertainment and the election," I wrote to conclude Minor parties for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  Since today is Sunday, when I usually post my weekly entertainment feature, it's time to post that retropsective.

The seventh most read entry of the blogging year just finished and the eighth most read of all time is Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump" from May 1, 2016, which earned 3421 page views, 3564 according to the raw counter.  Once again, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle the story of its rise from Monthly meta for May 2016.
"Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump" from May 1, 2016 may have come in second in page views with 3422 (3486 according to the raw counter), but it tied for first as the most liked on Google+ with 4 pluses.  It earned the page views from being shared at the Coffee Party Facebook page, which helped draw 897 page views to the site in the first hour and 3472 page views in the first day from being posted at the Coffee Party Facebook page.  It got 3000+ page views in the first 24 hours.  I later shared it at both Kunstler's and Greer's blogs.  Those links didn't add much to the readership.  It got its pluses from being shared at the political groups on Google+.  It ended the month as the third most read entry of all time, knocking "James Robertson ABC's Person of the Week" out of the top ten.  That had been the top post for the fourth year of this blog.  Sic transit gloria mundi.
I wrote in Popular entries from the back catalog for the fifth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News that "James Robertson ABC's Person of the Week...was pushed out by Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump in May 2016, a story that I'll repeat in detail next year."  It turns out that I had already written it and just repeated it.  That's an example of a point I make to my students; recycling saves energy.

It also turns out that I have no record of having shared the link at Greer's blog before I wrote the above, not that it would likely have made a difference, so I have retract that claim.  However, I did share it as a comment to Send Out the Clowns at Kunstler's blog, where I wrote the following.
In advance of last week's premiere of Season 6 of "Game of Thrones," SurveyMonkey conducted a poll and found that Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump.  The show's fans preferred Sanders to both Clinton and Trump.  That a fictional character might win an election is par for the course.  Last December, Reuters found that both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi would beat Clinton and Trump.  Even Darth Vader would beat Trump!

That's not all.  Vox looked at the candidates and figured out who they'd be in Westeros.  Clinton, no surprise, would be Circei Lannister.  Trump wouldn't be any known character, but he'd fit right in with the Lannisters, too, maybe as Joffrey all grown up.  Americans want a Lannister, but poor Tyrion won't be on the ballot.  Instead, Trump is coming and he's building a wall.
Trump as Joffrey all grown up also made an appearance in Hollywood gets political at the Golden Globes, which rounds out the conceit of last year's candidates as "Game of Thrones" characters.

Follow over the jump for more about the intersection of politics and entertainment from the previous blogging year.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Why people fall for fake news from DNews/Seeker for April Fools Day


Happy April Fools Day!  Today is a day known for fake news.  To prepare my readers for the onslaught of bogus news stories meant to amuse and deceive, I'm sharing Your Gullible Brain And The Spread Of Fake News from DNews/Seeker.

Researchers think they've figured out why some people easily believe things that aren't true.
...
"Erroneous beliefs are difficult to correct. Worse, popular correction strategies may backfire and further increase the spread and acceptance of misinformation. People evaluate the truth of a statement by assessing its compatibility with other things they believe, its internal consistency, amount of supporting evidence, acceptance by others, and the credibility of the source."
Here's to figuring out the hoaxes intended for entertainment, then using the same skills to protect oneself from the fake news with more serious intent than mere amusement.