Thursday, March 23, 2017

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

I promised a statistics entry and teased it yesterday, so it's time to deliver.

As of 11:59 P.M. E.D.T. on March 20, 2016, I had posted 2724 total entries, the blog had earned 595,621 page views, and the readers and I together posted 1307 comments over the blog's first five years.  As of that same time on March 20, 2017, those totals had reached 3101 entries, 948,385 page views, and 1903 comments during the first six years of the blog.  Consequently, the sixth year of the blog saw me post 377 entries, which earned 352,764 page views and 596 comments from my readers and me.  For comparison, the fifth year of the blog recorded 435 entries, which earned 176,458 page views and 443 comments.*

Follow over the jump for my analysis of these numbers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rusty-Patched Bumblebee finally placed on the Endangered Species List

I know I promised a statistics entry, but first I'm sharing this breaking news about the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee being placed on the Endangered Species List.  Wochit News reports Rusty Patched Bumblebee Officially Declared Endangered.

This week, the rusty patched bumblebee officially became the first bumblebee in the U.S. to make the endangered species list. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the bee is one of the pollinators experiencing serious population declines across the United States. The species was initially set to get protected status last month, but the listing was delayed after Donald Trump ordered a temporary freeze on new regulations following his win in the presidential election. Since the 1990s, the population of the rusty patched bumblebee has fallen over 87 percent, leaving tiny numbers in just 13 states.
That's probably the first good environmental news out of this administration.  I don't expect a lot more, based on what Trump said in Willow Run on the Ides of March.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy Persian New Year and Happy Birthday to Twitter and this blog

Nowruz Mubarak!  Happy Persian New Year to my readers, a happy 11th birthday to Twitter, and a happy sixth birthday to this blog!

I traditionally celebrate Nowruz by explaining the holiday and showing the White House's celebration.  The first one is easy: What is Nowruz How to celebrate Persian New Year.

What is Nowruz? How to celebrate Persian New Year
For nearly 190 million people around the world, Monday is one of the most important days of their calendar.
Nowruz - which means New Day in Farsi - marks the start of Spring.
Its origins are ancient - believed to have been started by Zoroastrians around 3000 years ago - but now it is an important part of modern lives.
But what exactly is Nowruz? BBC Persian's Sahar Zand visited Little Persia in London to explain how her family celebrate the Persian New Year.
Produced by Joe Inwood. BBC
The second one I am likely to discontinue after this year, as the current occupant of the White House is not a fan of multiculturalism and dislikes Iran.  However, I can benefit from conserving my resources last year by showing Nowruz at the White House with Silk Road Dance Company.

Historic White House Celebration of Nowruz with introduction by First Lady Michelle Obama and performances by Silk Road Dance Company of Washington DC, under the direction of Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray.  Founded in 1995, the ensemble has a repertoire of over 200 dances from Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East.
I'm going to miss celebrations of Nowruz at The White House.

Follow over the jump for two news reports about what passes for Twitter's birthday.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Seeker/DNews on Spring for the Vernal Equinox

Happy arrival of astronomical Spring!  USA informs its readers of the exact time of the Vernal Equinox in First day of spring officially arrives early Monday.
It's the day warm weather fans have been waiting months for: Monday is the first day of spring!

Spring officially arrives at 6:28 a.m. EDT (3:28 a.m. PDT) Monday, when the sun will be directly over the equator, marking the spring (aka vernal) equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere. For the folks down under in the Southern Hemisphere, it will be the first day of autumn.
To celebrate, I'm sharing three videos from DNews, which now calls itself Seeker, about Spring in general and the Vernal Equinox in particular, beginning with What Is Spring?

It's the first day of spring, which means longer days, warmer weather, and the advent of flowers blooming. In this DNews video, Trace has the lowdown on what signals the changing of the seasons, plus the nifty way flowers know this intuitively!
That video was from 2013.  Follow over the jump for two more, one each from 2014 and 2015.*

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kellyanne Conway is not Inspector Gadget. She's Maxwell Smart asking "Would you believe?"

Trump's wiretapping claims and vulnerability to conspiracy theories is still playing out more than a week later.  This time, it was the claim that household appliances, including microwaves, were being used to spy on the Trump campaign.  The best moment came when Kellyanne Conway said that she "was not Inspector Gadget."  That prompted a lot of ridicule by the late night television comics.  Watch the Stephen Colbert segment beginning at 0:39 for Conway making her cartoonish remark.

VIDEO: A roundup compilation of late night talk show hosts rip into Kellyanne Conway microwave remarks...

Conway was lambasted after she was asked about President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims that his namesake tower in New York City was wiretapped by Barack Obama.

She told the Bergen County Record this weekend: 'What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other. You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets.'

She also mentioned 'microwaves that turn into cameras', but later backtracked her comments, joking that she wasn't 'Inspector Gadget'.
Jake Tapper at CNN joined in the mockery by poking fun at Kellyanne Conway's remark to open his show.

CNN’s Jake Tapper led The Lead on Monday with a swipe at Kellyanne Conway‘s “I’m not Inspector Gadget” line earlier in the day on New Day.
I guess Conway knows about Inspector Gadget from watching the show with her children, which means she's watching the reboot.  Here is the original opening for her edification, along with the complete theme that the Late Show band was riffing on.

As for her not being Inspector Gadget, I agree.  She's much more like another character brought to life by Don Adams, Maxwell Smart.  Both Conway and Smart like to play a game of "Would you believe?"

Conway (as Smart): "Would you believe Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped?"
KAOS Agent: "No, I would have a hard time believing that."
Conway: "Would you believe he had the British spying on Trump."
KAOS Agent: "No."
Conway: "Would you believe he put a camera in Trump's microwave?"
KOAS Agent: "Now you're being silly."
Agent 99: "Oh, Max, you know that never works."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Follow-up to last week's wind storm

I expressed my puzzlement in Service interruption from worst storm in DTE history when I wrote "The cause of the high winds baffles me, but the rain and warm winter I can blame on climate change."  That prompted Kevin Roberts to ask in the comments "We've been having some crazy wind here in Northern NY for a week or so. I can't blame that on climate change?"  My response expanded on why I was confused.
Well, you can. I have trouble with doing so because the expected effects of climate change I recall don't include strong winds out of a clear blue sky. Strong winds from more intense rain storms, yes. What we had, no. Those threw me, as they behaved like the Santa Ana winds I thought I left behind when I moved out of southern California.
I got a bit of an answer in WOOD-TV's What causes high winds?

Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Ellen Bacca explains...

Most of that was pretty elementary for me, but the item I found helpful was Bacca showing the low pressure area and snow storm way to the north, which also shows up in the map I used to illustrate this entry.  That it had central low pressure as low as a hurricane's was consistent with the kind of severe weather I expect from climate change, so it helped me make sense of what happened last Wednesday.

Speaking of which, downed power lines, blackouts, fallen trees, and torn-off roofs weren't the only damage from last week's storm.  WXYZ reported on one more casualty of the wind in Wind blows away art in Royal Oak.

Here's to hoping the missing piece of art is found.

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day drinks from Tipsy Bartender and MLive

After writing Hundreds protest Trump in Willow Run for the Ides of March, I wrote "I feel like having a drink after writing that.  Fortunately, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  Perfect timing!"  With that, Happy St. Patrick's Day to my readers!  To celebrate, I'm sharing yet more drinks from Tipsy Bartender.

I begin with DIY Lucky Charms Vodka.

Lucky Charms Marshmallows
Lemon Lime Soda

1. Arrange lucky charms marshmallows by color. Infuse with vodka.
2. Pour mix into shot glass, top with lemon-lime soda, garnish and shoot. Enjoy responsibly!
Next, Shamrock Shooters.

1 Part Creme De Menthe
1 Part White Creme De Cacao
1 Part White Chocolate Liqueur
Whipped Cream
Lucky Charms Marshmallows

1. Combine liquors with ice and shake well.
2. Strain mix into shot glasses and garnish with whipped cream and lucky charm marshmallows. Enjoy responsibly!
That's it from Tipsy Bartender for this year.  I could dig through the back catalog, but as I've written before, I'm an environmentalist.  I not only recycle, I conserve my resources, so I'll save the older videos for a St. Patrick's Day in the future when there aren't any new ones being produced.  Instead, follow over the link for six videos from MLive featuring the drinks bars and cafes in Flint, Michigan have on tap for today.  Sorry, no recipes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hundreds protest Trump in Willow Run for the Ides of March

The Ides of Trump was not the only protest against the president yesterday.  Trump flew into Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti and was greeted by both detractors and supporters.  MLive shows both in Trump protest meets Trump support at Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township.

The scene outside Trump's visit to Michigan on March 15, 2017.

The Michigan Daily has more in Protesters gather outside Trump's Ypsilanti rally.
As wind speeds surged and temperatures plummeted Wednesday afternoon, activists gathered near the Willow Run manufacturing complex in Ypsilanti to protest President Donald Trump’s arrival and speech in the city.

With just two days’ notice of the presidential visit, several grassroots organizations from the community organized the protest. Despite the lack of time available, they still managed to draw a crowd of about 400 people.
It seemed bigger in the video, but it still looked impressive.

What about the other side?
The protest took place on one side of Airplane Road, just outside the Willow Run facilities. On the other side of the road stood a handful of Trump supporters, who came to counter the protest with a large float sporting Trump signs and American flags.
That's what the video showed, hundreds against Trump, maybe twenty supporting him.

Now, why was he in town?
Trump arrived at Willow Run — the future site for the American Center for Mobility’s autonomous and connected vehicle-testing facility — to hold a roundtable with executives from the automotive industry and speak to select employees. During the speech, he announced plans to review the EPA’s auto-emissions standards, and roll back restrictions he deems unnecessary.
WOOD-TV has video in Trump announces challenge to Obama-era fuel standards.

President Trump is set to announce in Michigan plans to re-examine federal requirements that regulate the fuel efficiency of new vehicles.
Ugh.  If I had known that's what Trump was going to do and I could get off work, I'd have been protesting, too.

Trump believes that Americans face a choice between jobs and the environment and he chose jobs -- never mind that we can have both.  Also never mind that when the U.S. auto industry was resisting making more fuel-efficient cars while Japan's auto companies were embracing doing so, the value of Ford and GM went down, while Honda's and Toyota's values went up, as seen in this slide from "An Inconvenient Truth."

Then again, Trump is not a big one for data and facts.  Instead, he'd rather listen to Alex Jones, who thinks that climate change is a hoax.  I wish I could say the same about Alex Jones.

I feel like having a drink after writing that.  Fortunately, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  Perfect timing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Ides of Trump!

Beware The Ides of March!  Today, I'm going to leave Rome behind and discuss politics from modern America, namely The Ides of Trump protest.  Snopes tells the story in ‘Ides of Trump’ Postcard Campaign Takes Aim at President’s Agenda.
Americans who oppose the policies of President Donald Trump plan to make their objections known on 15 March 2017 by flooding the White House with postcards in an event dubbed the “Ides of Trump” by organizers, who say they hope to see delivery of a million or more cards expressing disapproval of Trump and his agenda to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the days following.

The name is a twist on the expression “Ides of March,” which most people probably know from its use in the Shakespeare play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, in which a soothsayer ominously warns the doomed title character to “beware the Ides of March” (although to the Romans the phrase only meant “the 15th of March”).
The Ides of Trump was the brainchild of two Californians, Zack Kushner of Berkeley and Ted Sullivan of Los Angeles, who it was inspired by the Women’s March and has received a [lot?] of interest, not just from Americans but from Netizens all over the world. “To be honest, we have no idea the number of people participating,” Sullivan said via e-mail. “This is a true grassroots movement.”

When asked what message they’re trying to send to Trump, Sullivan boiled it down to a four-word phrase: “The one message we’d hope to get across to him is ‘not on our watch.’
The Huffington Post also has an article on the Ides of Trump protest, along with images of many of the postcards being sent to The White House today.  Here is one of my favorites:

If I were participating, I'd send one saying "Fire Bannon."  I'll explain my reasons for that demand in a future entry.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A pie for Pi Day 2017

Happy Pi Day!  To celebrate, I'm returning to one of the sources of inspiration for last year's Pi facts and pie for Pi Day, Rosanna Pansino, who "baked" one of her Nerdy Nummies, Chocolate Oreo Mousse Pi Pie for Ultimate Pi Day two years ago.

Today I made a Chocolate Oreo Mouse Pi Pie in celebration of Ultimate Pi Day! This only happens once every 100 years.
* (1) Bag Oreos
* (1) Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
* (1) Pinch Salt
* (1/4) Cup Sugar
* (1) Bag Semisweet Chocolate Chips
* (3) Cups Heavy Cream - Separated
* (6) Tablespoons Butter
* (1) Tub Cool Whip
Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Vox explains how to impeach a president

It's no secret that I don't like Trump and think he should be resisted.  I'm not alone; Trump is unpopular enought that other people have called for Trump to be impeached and removed from office.  I'm not the least bit optimistic about this, at least before 2019, and will let Vox explain why in How to impeach a president.

What we can learn from Reconstruction, Watergate, and the Clinton saga.
The founding fathers included impeachment in the constitution so that Congress would have a way to remove leaders who had "rendered themselves obnoxious," in the words of Benjamin Franklin. But the way they set up the process, it's nearly impossible to remove a president from office without substantial support from the president's own party. That's what happened during Watergate: some congressional republicans protected Richard Nixon, but others demanded to know the extent of his involvement in a break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent cover-up. In the words of then-Senator Howard Baker, a Republican from Tennessee, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" It was pressure from Republican leaders like Barry Goldwater that made Nixon resign before the House could vote on articles of impeachment-- Goldwater convinced Nixon that too many Republicans were willing to vote to remove him from office, he'd never survive a Senate vote.

The opposite was true during the impeachment proceedings for Bill Clinton. After it became clear he lied during a deposition for a sexual assault suit brought by a former employee, Paula Jones, about his relationship with a different employee, Monica Lewinsky, Republicans in Congress argued the offense was serious enough to be impeachable. Democrats disagreed, and although the House voted to impeach Clinton on a party-line vote, not a single Democratic senator voted to remove him from office. If a President still has the support of a majority of his political party, history suggests the chances for impeaching and removing him from office are slim to none.

While legal scholars, activists, and some Democratic members of Congress have pushed for articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, it seems unlikely at this point that a substantial number of Republicans would break rank in the Senate to create a 2/3 majority in favor of removal from office.
While Trump "rendered himself obnoxious" even before he entered office, I agree that he'd have to lose the support of at least one-third of the Republiicans in the U.S. Senate for him to be removed from office.  That ignores that articles of impeachment would not be passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, let alone be passed out of the House of Representatives, so long as Republicans hold a majority and Trump retains the support of most of his party.  I would not hold my breath for that changing.  That doesn't mean we should despair.  In this case, the Borg are wrong; resistance is not futile.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring ahead, although it's probably not good for you

Daylight Saving Time begins in two hours.  While I've posted about its origins before, I think my readers and I can always benefit from another take on the subject.  Here's KSL's News Bytes - Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time this year will begin at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 12 and being in the spirit of upcoming time change, we decided to break down exactly where Daylight Saving Time came from.
I've also written about the health issues arising from Daylight Saving Time.  WXYZ offers a fresh take on those as well in Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday.

As I wrote in November, "I used to like Daylight Saving Time, but I'm beginning to wonder if the dozen states considering getting rid of it have the right idea."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wild boars may prevent people from returning to towns near Fukushima

I know I hinted twice that I would celebrate Purim on this blog, I've decided to skip it this year because today marks the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima triple disaster.  That is an occasion much more on topic for the blog's themes, so today I observe an anniversary of DOOM instead of joy.*

After six years, conditions have managed to improve near the ruin nuclear plant, enough that people might return.  Gizmodo has the story.
In just a few weeks, the residents of a Fukushima city will finally be allowed to return to their homes. Trouble is, the place has been overrun by hundreds of belligerent and potentially radioactive wild boars, prompting public safety concerns.

At the end of March, the six-year-long evacuation order will be lifted for Namie, a city located just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the damaged nuclear power plant. Radiation levels, now measured at 0.07 microsieverts an hour, are the same as they are in other areas of Japan. Namie is the closest area to the nuclear meltdown residents have been allowed to return to since the disaster on March 11, 2011, but the continued presence of wild boars in the region is making prospective homecomers nervous.
Newsy has more in Boars overrun Fukushima.

High radiation levels drove people away from many areas of Fukushima.

I shouldn't have been surprised.  As the video noted, Chernobyl became an impromptu wildlife refuge, complete with radioactive wolves, so the evacuation zone around Fukushima becoming one as well should have been expected.

Finally, the idea of Fukushima being infested with radioactive boars evoked the image of the giant boar demon from the opening scene of "Princess Mononoke."  I wasn't the only one to think that, as Gizmodo used the following illustration for their article.

Geeky minds think alike.

*No, I won't observe it tomorrow, as that is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.  I'll save it for next year, when it falls on the evening of February 28th -- perfect timing!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Service interruption from worst storm in DTE history

Yesterday was the first day I did not post an entry to this blog since March 29, 2011, almost six full years ago.*  The reason was the largest weather-related power outage in DTE Energy's history.  The Detroit Free Press told the story in High winds cut power to record-setting 1M in Michigan.
DTE Energy is calling it the largest weather event in its history: Gusts over 60 m.p.h. hammered southeast Michigan Wednesday, cutting power to more than 1 million utility customers between the area's two major power companies.
DTE Energy reports more than 700,000 customers in total were affected by Wednesday's power outages, and Consumers Energy reports more than 300,000 in total affected.
Power went out at my house just before noon on Wednesday and didn't come back on until between five and six in the afternoon Thursday, for about 30 hours of no electricity.  On top of that, I had no service from my internet provider until after 7:00 P.M. today, less than an hour ago.  The outage must have hit their local servers.

As for the cause, blame the weather and changing climate as high winds, rain, and record mild temperatures all played a part.
DTE Energy reports more than 4,000 power lines were pulled down by falling trees from "sustained wind gusts equating to tropical storm levels, just shy of category one hurricane strength."

"Due to the unusually warm weather this winter, as well as significant rainfall, the ground is very soft and saturated. That, combined with the high winds, caused trees to uproot, falling onto DTE's poles and power lines, resulting in widespread outages," according to a DTE Energy news release.
The cause of the high winds baffles me, but the rain and warm winter I can blame on climate change.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still out of power, but service is being restored, as WXYZ reported in DTE working to cut power outages by half tonight.

I may have been inconvenienced, but others are having it much worse.

*I could post more videos of the damage, like I did for 10th worst storm in DTE history, but I'm too tired and not feeling it right now.  Also, I could backdate an entry to fill in the calendar for yesterday, but I've decided I want that missing day to stand as a silent monument to the storm.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Equality in work and politics for International Women's Day 2017

I opened Happy National Pancake Day 2017! by declaring "I love holidays, even fake ones" and closed it by noting that "There are a bunch of holidays, real and fake, coming up this month, with Purim, Pi Day, The Ides of MarchSt. Patrick's Day, and Nowruz all on this blog's calendar."  It turns out that I missed on that I had celebrated here twice before, International Women's Day, which is today.*  Like National Pancake Day, I skipped it last year because of the election, and like yesterday's combination of commerce and charity, I'm resuming observing it this year.  Happy International Women's Day!

I begin the celebration by sharing 2017 International Women's Day from the United Nations.

United Nations - UN Secretary-General António Guterres' hails women for their many contributions on International Women's Day, 8 March 2017. This year's theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.
Yes, we need everyone, male and female, to deal with climate change, sustainable development, and conflict resolution.  The Crazy Eddie in me likes that.

One of the places where women can achieve equality and parity in the workplace is through politics.  CNN has that story in More women running for office to oppose Trump.

CNN's Kyung Lah interviews women who were inspired to run for political office and get involved in politics after President Donald Trump won the election.
Trump's election is doing more than just inciting women and men to march in protest.  I wish all these candidates luck, strength, and skill in their efforts.  We will all need them.

*Another is World Wildlife Day, which falls on March 3rd.  I saw that and thought, darn, a great holiday to observe on this blog, just like World Oceans Day.  Then I looked again at the date of More evolution in action among urban animals and realized that I had posted it on March 3rd.  I had celebrated World Wildlife Day and didn't even know it!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy National Pancake Day 2017!

I love holidays, even fake ones.*  Last Saturday, it was Marching Music Day.  Today, it's National Pancake Day, which I celebrated two years ago.  Since I skipped last year, I'm sharing WXYZ's National Pancake Day from 2016, which is why they mention the election.

I'm probably not partaking, as I'm on a diet.  For those of you who are, have fun for a worthy cause!

*There are a bunch of holidays, real and fake, coming up this month, with Purim, Pi Day, The Ides of March, St. Patrick's Day, and Nowruz all on this blog's calendar.  Looks like a festive month!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Trump's wiretapping claim shows his vulnerability to conspiracy theories

The latest installment in Trump and Putin's Bad Bromance came Saturday, when he claimied, without evidence, that Obama wiretapped him.  He followed that up by asking Congress to investigate Obama over wiretap that his White House refuses to provide evidence for.  That didn't completely get people's minds off the Trump campaign's relationship to Russia, but it did suck up all the oxygen on the Sunday talk shows.  I offer CNN's Rogers: Trump is feeding 'conspiracy meter' as an example of the range of reaction, most of which did not support Trump.

Jake Tapper dissects this week in politics with our State of the Union panel Rep. Mike Rogers, Jennifer Granholm, Dana Loesch, and Bakari Sellers.
First, Jennifer Granholm and Mike Rogers -- Michigan represent!  Second, that list that Bakari Sellers ran through works very well as Trump's greatest conspiracy theory hits.  This is not a new feature of Trump's.  It was noted more than a year ago in The Federalist's Military Strategist Explains Why Donald Trump Leads—And How He Will Fail.
While he’s very shrewd and swift in observing, orienting, deciding, and acting when he’s on familiar terrain, Trump draws information from a fairly closed loop.
The way Trump has dealt with facts in his public statements is a tipoff. Political speech routinely incorporates assertions of fact that range from debatable to unverifiable to provably false, and sometimes this is a sign of shrewd cynicism rather than self-deception.

But Trump has repeatedly made statements that he and his team had clearly made no effort to verify in advance, drawn from sources whose credibility should have been huge red flags, even though they were outside the common cultural and media conventional wisdom and therefore likely to be challenged.
Trump has repeatedly made statements that he and his team had clearly made no effort to verify in advance, drawn from sources whose credibility should have been huge red flags.

The recent dustup over Trump’s claim—which was, at best, severely exaggerated—that he had seen video of thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in Jersey City is a classic example of this. So is the fact that Trump cites Infowars reporting in campaign speeches based solely on having clicked a link on the Drudge Report, and has gone on Alex Jones’ conspiracy-theory-soaked show to trade praise with Jones.
When I first mentioned Alex Jones on this blog, I called him a "tinfoil hat wearer."  I still think so.  So, apparently, does Stephen Colbert.  Watch Infowars' Alex Jones Is Trump's CAPS LOCK Advisor.

Trump's new confidant is a right-wing conspiracy theorist whose rants are best enjoyed on mute.
New?  Trump has been listening to Jones for years.  Still, I'm glad the mainstream media has found the Trump-Jones connection worth examining.  That's the good news.  Here's the bad news.

Here's to everyone, including Trump, learning that the voices in Alex Jones' head are not reliable sources.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hollywood gets political at the 2017 Academy Awards

Two months ago, Hollywood got political at the Golden Globes.  That happened again last week, as ABC News reported Oscars 2017: Politics Take Center Stage.

Host Jimmy Kimmel live tweeted at President Trump while Iranian director of "The Salesman," Asghar Farhadi, delivered an acceptance speech read in his absence in protest of Trump's executive order on immigration.
ABC News included more of Farhadi's speech in Oscars 2017: Best acceptance speeches during the 89th annual Academy Awards, some of which made political and social statements unrelated to Trump.

Listen to Academy Award winners thank their cast, crew, friends and family during their acceptance speeches during the 89th annual Academy Awards.
Finally, here is the New York Times commercial that irked the Tweeter-in-Chief so much.

The New York Times has a new marketing campaign: “The truth is more important now than ever.”
Here's to the New York Times (and the rest of the news media) working hard to uncover the truth in a time when the truth is most needed.

I'll have more on the Oscar winners and losers later this week.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

March Forth with Santa Clara Vanguard at the 2017 Rose Parade on Marching Music Day!

I'm a sucker for holidays and a big fan of marching bands and drum and bugle corps, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm celebrating Marching Music Day, which is today, March Fourth.  To mark the occasion, I'm revisiting My favorite marching bands and one corps in the Rose Parade today.  In that entry, I previewed the performances of the Santa Clara Vanguard drum and bugle corps (SCV) and three competitive high school marching bands, Arcadia, Broken Arrow, and Lawrence Township with performances from previous appearances at the Rose Parade for the marching bands and a clip of last year's DCI Championship performance for SCV.  Today, I'm posting this year's performances both at the Rose Parade and at Bandfest (or the equivalent, as the second day of Bandfest had less than ideal weather for marching).*

SCV participated in the opening of the parade.

This was the opening ceremonies for the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade.
That was from HGTV.  The rest of the videos are from Music213.

Santa Clara Vanguard got to close the 2017 Pasadena Rose Parade, too.

Santa Clara Vanguard performing their musical selections at the 128th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Monday, January 2, 2017. Santa Clara Vanguard kicks off their 50-year anniversary by participating in the 2017 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Formed in 1967 in Santa Clara, California, the entire SCV organization strives to crate a positive atmosphere where young people can grow and mature into resposnsible young adults; succeeding both as individuals and as members of this group. Over the years, the Santa Clara Vanguard has developed a long-standing reputation for excellence This fantastic group is a six-time Drum Corps International (DCI) World Champion.
And here is SCV at Bandfest.

Santa Clara Vanguard performing at the 37th Annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Bandfest at Pasadena City College on Friday, December 30, 2016.
Follow over the jump for the marching bands.

Friday, March 3, 2017

More evolution in action among urban animals

Last month, I explored how Eastern Coyotes AKA Coywolves were evolving and becoming better adapted for urban life.  It turns out it's not just coyotes.  Newsy reports how coyotes and other animals evolve to live in cities.

Animals are evolving to live in cities. They can change their behavior and biology to thrive in a place meant for humans.
While I knew about how coyotes changed their behavior around people (the neighborhood in Los Angeles where I grew up had coyotes coming down out of the hills to hunt cats 50 years ago), I didn't know about how birds change the pitch of their songs or how city mice have larger brains than country mice -- city living makes animals smarter too!

Speaking of coyotes in urban settings, Fox 47 in Lansing passed along Coyote sightings rising in residential neighborhoods two days ago.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering new advice to help neighbors make their homes less appealing to coyotes as the number of coyote sightings in residential neighborhoods increases. Biology experts said coyotes are looking for food and residential neighborhoods can make that search easy. Put away your trash bins, bird feeders and pet food so coyotes are not attracted to them. Keep these kind of items away from your yard.
I learned something from both videos, making the time watching them well spent.  Any day I learn something is a good day and I hope its a good day for my readers, too.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Warmest February on record in seven Michigan cities as well as major cities across U.S.

I mentioned that the weather was warming up, with near record temperatures expected a couple of weeks ago in Driving update for February 2017: Pearl.  Those record temperatures arrived and stuck around for most of the rest of the month.  The result, as MLive reported yesterday, was the warmest February in over 100 years of records in some Michigan cities.  Seven cities had their warmest February ever, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, and Saginaw/Bay City.  Three, Detroit, Flint, and Traverse City, had their second warmest February on record.  Eight of those records go back to 1998, which was a warm winter caused by an El Nino.  I remember playing soccer with my son in my former Ann Arbor home's snow-free back yard wearing only light jackets that year.  That last month was warmer than 1998 in seven Michigan cities strikes me as remarkable.  Only in Flint does the 1998 record still stand.

It was also the warmest February on record over much of the eastern part of the U.S., including Washington D.C., New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Baltimore.  The Washington Post story provided a startling perspective, reporting "The average temperature in D.C. last month was 8.7 degrees warmer than a normal February and nearly 1 degree warmer than a normal March."  Wow!

As for the local effects of the warm February, WOOD-TV reported on three tornadoes in SW Michigan Tuesday.

The National Weather Service says three EF-1 tornadoes touched down in Southwest Michigan Tuesday night.
As the segment noted, these are only the second, third, and fourth tornadoes reported in Michigan during February.  And I thought Michigan being struck by tornadoes on the Ides of March five years ago was early!

WOOD-TV also noted that Warm February temps mean less maple syrup.

The warm weather Michigan has been experiencing lately is threatening syrup production, shorting the season and cutting sweetness.
At least we're not having early warm weather followed by a cold snap that's bad for the fruit crop, except for wine grapes, not yet at least.  That could still happen.

Finally, WXYZ reminds viewers that An early spring may be bad for your health.

AH-CHOO!  Welcome to the 400 ppm world.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SpaceX announces it will take tourists around Earth's moon next year

Last week, I posted a Falcon 9 first stage landing video, which was a triumph for SpaceX.  This week, Elon Musk's space company made even bigger news by announcing the first tourist trip around the moon planned for 2018.  Al Jazeera English reports.

US tech company SpaceX says it plans to send two space tourists around the moon late next year.

SpaceX, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, says it will use a special spacecraft which doesn't require astronauts.

Al Jazeera's Victoria Gatenby reports.
Before I offer my reaction, I'm sharing those of the people interviewed by CBS Los Angeles in SpaceX To Send 'Private Citizens' On Flight To The Moon.

Hawthorne-based aerospace company SpaceX has announced its plans to send the passengers following a series health and fitness tests later this year.
I concur that this is likely to be overly ambitious.  The Falcon Heavy hasn't been launched yet, so it isn't human-rated.   As for the Dragon 2 capsule, it may be, but according to Tech Crunch, the timing will be close.
Still on track for 2017 is an uncrewed demo launch, now targeting Q4 with the updated timeline. Dragon’s being designed with reuse of up to 10 missions possible, SpaceX notes, and other testing happening for crewed missions during 2017 include testing of spacesuits, parachutes, the crew access arm and more.

This puts SpaceX and rival Boeing in closer proximity in terms of crewed commercial mission launches, with the latter aiming for a first test flight in June 2018, and a crewed test to follow in August. If SpaceX hits its revised timeline, we should see the demo without astronauts launch in November 2018 [Based on the preceding paragraph, that is probably a typo; it should read 2017.], with the first crewed launch in May 2018, so still ahead of Boeing’s time frames.
The Al Jazeera America video mentioned Musk's relationship with Trump.  Trump policy on space was one of the few things about Trump's campaign that I liked, even if I thought it would come at too high a cost.  So far, my thoughts about the cost have been right.  Here's to hoping Musk and SpaceX succeed, so I'll at least get some lemonade out of the lemons America has been handed.