Friday, November 30, 2018

Magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes Anchorage, Alaska


ABC News just uploaded a video on the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Anchorage. Watch Large earthquake rocks Alaska.


The earthquake was reported by the USGS.

While I'm sure that injuries and perhaps some fatalities will be reported later, that none have been reported so far is extremely fortunate. In addition, the cancellation of the tsunami warning is good news. According to Wikipedia, 124 of the 139 deaths from the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake were the result of the tsunami, which killed people in three states, Alaska, California, and Oregon. No tsunami, no death and destruction outside of the Anchorage area.

I plan on following up over the course of the weekend so that I can discuss the earthquake and its aftermath with my students next week. I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about. In the meantime, that's it for November. Stay tuned for the first post of December at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' examines GM's proposed plant closings and layoffs


I'm not done for the month with Trevor Noah reacting to Trump having things not go his way.  Watch Trump’s Broken Promise to General Motors.

It turns out America’s top used car salesman sold General Motors workers a lemon. GM cuts 15,000 jobs amid slumping sales even after Trump’s insistence that the corporation was making a comeback.
The one car I will miss will be the Volt, which can carry a gun rack, even before 60 Volts drove down Woodward in the 2011 Dream Cruise.  Still, that was seven years ago and the Bolt is replacing the Volt, so I suppose it's time for the Volt to retire.  I'm still a bit sad.

As for who to blame, the Detroit Free Press interviewed a University of Michigan economist, who said not to blame Trump.  This includes the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which probably are not helping.  Speaking of tariffs, what is one of Trump's reactions?  Propose more tariffs, this time on imported cars.  I suppose if all one has is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and Trump loves to hammer.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Trump disbelieves his own administration's climate change report to the astonishment of Trevor Noah


The last time I wrote about President Trump denying climate change, it was in the context of Seth Meyers taking a closer look at Trump's remarks about Finland raking its forests.  As I wrote then, "Trump so badly wants to make this about forest management instead of climate change that he will make stuff up."  Now, when faced by a U.S. government report on climate change only a month after the IPCC report, Trump continues to deny climate change.  That inspired The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to post Trump Contradicts His Own Administration’s Climate Change Report.

Despite the Trump administration’s most recent report on man-made climate change, the president continues to deny the science behind global warming; meanwhile, cable news outlets continue to bring on non-scientists to share their personal opinions on the situation.
LOL, Rick Santorum.  I thought I was done with him.  Nope, Frothy is still not taking climate change seriously.  Furthermore, I find his line about the scientists being in it for the money really insulting and ignorant, as well as a step backwards for him.

Santorum is a sideshow.  The main act, Trump himself, continued to double down on climate change denial, as Noah chronicled in Manafort’s Double Flip, Trump’s Climate Change Jibberish and Ivanka’s Email Snafu two days after the clip above was uploaded to YouTube.

It’s a turbulent week for Team Trump as Paul Manafort violates his cooperation agreement with Robert Mueller, the president continues to clumsily refute startling climate change reports, and Ivanka is confronted about her use of a private email.
Ha!  That's the best comedic use of "Arrival" I have ever seen.  As for the use of Trump clips, it reminds me of both Trump is coming and he's building a wall and Darth Trump.  Trump out of context is so much funnier and much less dangerous.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ground control celebrates as Mars InSight lands


It was only six months ago that I posted Verge Science and Seeker on Mars InSight.  Two days ago, Mars InSight landed after a six-month journey.  CNN has the short take in All eyes on Mars as NASA lander touched down.

NASA celebrates Mars landing with an epic handshake. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on the touchdown that inspired lots of touching.
Moos did a great job of chronicling the human reaction.  For a more detailed look by someone who was there at the launch, watch Verge Science reporting NASA’s InSight Mars landing: what it really took.

After a six-month long journey, NASA’s InSight spacecraft successfully landed on Mars. The probe will now begin to collect data on Mars’ crust, mantle, and core, providing a never-before-seen look at the red planet’s inner workings. Getting a new spacecraft on the surface of the red planet is no easy feat – The Verge’s Loren Grush talks to engineers about how they prepared for this landing.
This video did a much better job of explaining the science than the launch coverage.  In addition, it looks like I'm going to get my wish.
That looks like great science that I can use in my geology classes — next year.  Here's to Mars InSight succeeding so the wait is worth it.
I already talked about Mars InSight in one of my geology classes yesterday, so I'm using the probe ahead of schedule.  Here's to more interesting findings about the interior of Mars that I can teach to my students.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Celebrate Giving Tuesday by contributing to Coffee Party USA


Happy National Day of Giving/Giving Tuesday!
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Quite simply, take advantage of all the holiday deals to add to your charitable giving. Combined with your family, friends, local and national organizations and through the power of social media, National Day of Giving can become a tradition worth passing on. Use #GivingTuesday to post on social media.

HISTORY

In 2012, 92nd Street Y in New York City created National Day of Giving to bring focus to the charitable season in the wake of the commercialized Black Friday and Cyber Monday. More commonly referred to as #GivingTuesday, National Day of Giving harnesses the power of social media to give back around the world and throughout the year.
Like last year, I am urging my readers to contribute to Coffee Party USA.  Also, as I did for National Coffee Ice Cream Day and National Coffee Day, I am asking my readers to match my donation of $10.00, which I made yesterday.  Your donation will allow "you to be a part of the important work of Coffee Party USA as we empower and connect communities to reclaim our government for the people."  It will go to improving our website, the new version of which Coffee Party USA debuted in October and registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration DayElection Day 2018 may be over, but there are municipal and some state elections next year and people need to be registered and reminded to vote in them, too.

If donating is not enough, my readers can become a member or volunteer.  Coffee Party USA needs people to help with all the projects listed above and then some, as we plan on doing even more to empower and connect communities to reclaim our government for the people in the future.

Once again, I am asking my readers to match my donation of $10.00.  Thank you and Happy Giving Tuesday!



Coffee Party on!

*Yes, I mean "we" and "our."  I am a director and officer of Coffee Party USA.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Black Friday sales up, especially online, for Cyber Monday


Last year's headline read Cyber Monday to set record but Black Friday still king in 2017.  It looks like I can be a good environmentalist and recycle it for this year, as CNBC reported this morning Black Friday online sales up 23.6 percent from a year ago.

CNBC's 'Squawk Box' team discusses the retail sale numbers from Thanksgiving weekend.
Looks like Thanksgiving and Black Friday are the new Cyber Monday.

The optimism got started on Friday, when CNBC reported It's not just Amazon versus other retailers this Black Friday, analyst says.

Oliver Chen, senior research analyst at Cowen, and Steve Sadove, former Saks CEO, discuss their retail outlook for the 2018 holiday season.
I knew I couldn't report on online retail without mentioning Amazon.  Also, I shouldn't be surprised about the effects of the demise of Toys R Us showing up as well.

While sales are up, it is an open question that retailers can make a profit from online sales.  That's the issue in E-commerce is compressing retailers' margins: Fmr. Hudson's Bay CEO.

Liz Dunn, founder and CEO of Proforma, and Jerry Storch, former CEO of Hudson’s Bay, discuss retail trends on Black Friday.
Amazon has a narrow profit margin, but I don't know if that's entirely because of its online sales; other activities of the company, such as buying the Washington Post as well as Bezos's space ventures, might contribute to that as well.  Still, I'm glad sales are up.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  The next recession is coming.

That's it for Cyber Monday.  Stay tuned for Giving Tuesday.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Disney's own government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District


It's Sunday, so it's the day for the weekly entertainment feature.  However, I'm in the mood for something more serious, so I'm sharing The Reedy Creek Improvement District: Disney's Government from Rob Plays.

Sometimes it feels like Disney World is its own small country. So it’s no surprise to learn that Walt Disney World has its own government. It’s called the Reedy Creek Improvement District. How did it come about, why did it come about, and should it continue to exist?
...
Back in May of 1967, Florida Governor Claude Kirk Jr signed new chapters of the Laws of Florida that simultaneously created the city of Bay Lake, the city of Reedy Creek, and the Reedy Creek Improvement District which would hold jurisdiction over both. This district has far more governing power than normal, allowing for their own building codes, called the EPCOT codes. The district is also responsible for running their own services, such as fire stations, EMS, power distribution, water treatment, waste disposal, and road maintenance.

The district is governed by a five person board of supervisors who are elected into their position by the landowners within the district. Who again, is Disney. Or specifically, it’s a set of trusted and loyal residents that Disney allows to live on property. This means that Disney is able to elect a board who will govern the district in a way that benefits their needs as a resort. On paper, Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District are two separate entities, but realistically speaking, they’re one in the same. The district was designed by Disney to operate in a way such that Disney would be able to steer its direction unopposed.

So why did they go through all that trouble? After all, Disneyland doesn’t need its own government to be successful. Universal Studios Florida doesn’t. So why does Disney World?
The answer was the original EPCOT, a real "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," not the theme park that exists today.  Disney actually tried the concept in Celebration, the subject of two videos that I plan on posting in the future.  Still, it has been very useful, not only for Disney, but also for examining sustainability issues related to the parks.  I plan on sharing those videos in a future entry as well.  All of the videos examine issues with cities and tourism as well as some solutions to them, so they are on-topic for this blog.

As an example of the Reedy Creek Improvement District's responsibilities, Rob Plays asked Why Are Disney Traffic Signs Purple?

Subscriber Philip asks “Can you do a video about the colors of the Walt Disney World traffic signs? Are they special colors that relate to colors from particular characters or movies?” Great question Philip! Let’s talk about those famous purple signs at Walt Disney World!
...
So if you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, the signs Philip is referring to aren’t signs around the parks themselves, but the road signs scattered all along Walt Disney World property. These signs are the work of Sussman/Prejza & Co, a Los Angeles design firm that was hired in 1989 to tackle the design for the wayfinding and traffic signs of Walt Disney World and EuroDisney.

As for the colors, according to the firm, they drew inspiration from the mouse himself, Mickey! The black, red, and yellow colors used on the signs were chosen to mimic the color palette of Mickey Mouse. The signs were further fleshed out with complimentary colors which are colors that lie on the opposite side of the color wheel. Red’s complementary color is green, and yellow’s complementary color? Purple.
...
So know we know why the Disney traffic signs are purple, red, yellow, and black, but how are they those colors? How could Disney control the colors of road signs outside of the parks?

Well the answer to that is that Disney has their own governing jurisdiction at Walt Disney World, and it’s called the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district is responsible for overseeing the public services of the property, including the fire department, EMS, water treatment, electric and roadways and bridges. The Reedy Creek Improvement district is a fascinating part of Disney World’s history and a crucial element in what allowed the resort to become what it is today. It’s a topic deserving of its own whole video, and it’s one I plan to create later this year.
Rob Plays didn't waste any time.  His next video was the one I posted first and he uploaded it four days later.

Tomorrow is Cyber Monday.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

National Day Calendar, CNBC, and Retail Archeology help celebrate Small Business Saturday


Happy Small Business Saturday, a day I've been celebrating since 2011, the first year of this blog!  As National Day Calendar points out, that's only one year after the day started.
American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Support a small business and use #SmallBusinessSaturday to post on social media.

HISTORY

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010.
To help celebrate, I have videos relevant to the occasion from CNBC and Retail Archeology.  First, CNBC reported yesterday Small Business Saturday gets a big boost.

The kickoff to the holiday shopping isn’t just for major national retailers. It’s also a crucial sales time for neighborhood retailers. Reporter Kate Rogers meets small biz owners gearing up for the season both in store and in online Etsy stores.
"Shopping Small" has become a big deal.

Follow over the jump for the two most recent videos from Retail Archeology, which are about small businesses in and around Phoenix, Arizona.  Sorry, no Michigan businesses this time.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Bon-Ton Stores bankruptcy and liquidation, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day


Once again, Happy Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day!  I'm continuing my coverage of the Retail Apocalypse on this major shopping day by following up part of my closing to Macy's surviving the Retail Apocalypse on Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, where I wrote "I think I might cover the end of Bon Ton next."  This turned out to be a bigger story than I thought, as the Bon-Ton stores encompassed 262 locations in 25 states, as Company Man explains in The Decline of Bon-Ton...What Happened?

Bon-Ton is shutting down. It's a bigger story than many may realize because they're also the owner of 6 other department store chains. This video talks about how all these stores came together, where they stand now, and theorizes what caused their demise.
Out of the seven chains, I'd heard of two of them, The Bon-Ton and Carson's AKA Carson Pirie Scott.  My wife is from Illinois and she wondered where the nearest Carson's was.  There had been one at Laurel Park Place in Livonia, Closure of Northland Mall approved" TARGET="">where I used to mall walk
, a half hour away, but we never found it in time for her to go shopping there.  However, all is not lost, as USA Today reported in September: After closing its stores, Bon-Ton is ready for its comeback as new company buys its brand.
Bon-Ton, the bankrupt retailer that shut its stores last week after being in business for over 100 years, is poised to reopen now that a new owner has scooped up its brand.

A subsidiary of the tech company CSC Generation Holdings told USA TODAY that it has signed a deal giving it the rights to Bon-Ton and its subsidiary department store chains, Boston Store, Bergner's, Carson’s, Elder Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers. The agreement will need to get the green light from the Delaware Bankruptcy Court to become final.  

The new Bon-Ton will emphasize its online shopping experience. But CSC says it is "also in advanced discussions with landlords about reopening stores in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.'' Those locations would likely be staffed by former Bon-Ton employees.

By focusing on e-commerce, and making plans to reinvent its physical stores with personal styling services and extended hours on the days when more people might be inclined to shop, Bon-Ton is attempting to be more competitive in a retail environment transformed by Amazon and fast-fashion chains like Zara.
Here's to hoping that the new ownership is able to succeed in a post-Retail Apocalypse environment, including hiring former Bon-Ton employees the way Macy's claims it did.  If true, at least the creative destruction of the company didn't result in their prolonged unemployment.

That's it for the Retail ApocalypseBlack Friday/Buy Nothing Day.  Stay tuned for Small Business Saturday.

Macy's surviving the Retail Apocalypse on Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day


Happy Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day!  This major shopping day, which is still bigger than Cyber Monday, makes for a perfect occasion to update the Retail Apocalypse.  Today's featured chain isn't Sears, but Macy's, which CNBC named as a chain that might benefit from the demise of Sears.  Ironically, CNBC put Macy's in the spotlight yesterday with The Rise And Fall Of Macy's.

Macy’s was once the largest department store in the world. But its size is now a burden. It’s closing stores and rethinking its strategy going into its most critical period of the year.

Macy's is testing smaller stores to slash expenses on staffing and inventory. Currently, the department store chain is trying the idea at four locations, including at Stamford Town Center in Connecticut, to cut its real estate by as much as a fifth there and turn those shops into "neighborhood stores." It mimics similar initiatives already taken by rivals Kohl's and Nordstrom. Kohl's is dividing some of its bigger stores to allow room for new tenants like grocer Aldi, while Nordstrom is trying a small-shop concept known as Nordstrom Local in Los Angeles. Even mall operators like Macerich are looking at store space in a new way, rolling out stores that showcase a number of brands for a short period.

"If your store is too big and your dollars per square feet are too low and you can't lease the space to someone else, then you've got to hive off a floor," Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette told the Journal in an interview. "If we were building stores today, we'd build them smaller."

Not needing so many locations — and with some being unprofitable — Macy's in early 2017 shut 100 stores as it's been working to whittle down its real estate. It's also been working with Brookfield Asset Management to allow the real estate firm to redevelop all or part of 50 select properties. Macy's had roughly 690 locations, including those under the Bloomingdale's banner, still open as of the latest quarter.
Ironically, Macy's was one of the first store closings I covered in writing about the Retail Apocalypse even before I knew about the phrase in Closure of Northland Mall approved.  Back then, I treated it as a failure of the mall, which had been a long time coming, not as a failure of the chain or of brick-and-mortar retail.  Now, I know better.

While CNBC had a skeptical, if not downright pessimistic, take on Macy's performance and prospects, Bloomberg Markets and Finance's reporting was much more upbeat in Macy's CEO on Black Friday, Holiday Shopping Season.

Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer at Macy's, discusses consumer traffic in-store and online for Black Friday, holiday hiring, and investing in stores and digital sales. He speaks with Bloomberg's Emma Chandra on "Bloomberg Markets: The Open."
Here's to hoping that Gennette is correct about his assessment, and not just putting the most positive spin on the situation.

Speaking of positive spin, he talked a lot about how the demise of Bon Ton was good for Macy's, including hiring their former employees.  I think I might cover the end of Bon Ton next.  I also have videos about Macy's by Wochit Business and Retail Archeology to share.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Music and a drink for Thanksgiving 2018


Once again, Happy Thanksgiving!  I told my readers to "stay tuned" at the end of Olaf and other Disney balloons in Macy's Parade plus my favorite marching bands in today's parades, as I promised that "I'm not done with the holiday, as I plan on posting a Tipsy Bartender drinks for Thanksgiving entry later today."  I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling a modified version of Midweek Cafe and Lounge, Vol. 91, which I posted at Booman Tribune yesterday.  I'm acting DJ and bartender for this weekly series while the regular host Don Durito is on walkabout.  For today's theme, I'm picking songs from Billboard's Thanksgiving Songs: Music About Food, Giving Thanks, and the Holiday.

The first song on the list just happens to tie into my love of awards shows, in this case,  the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.  As I reported in 'RBG' wins Best Political Documentary, 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' Best Documentary, Quincy Jones received Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary and the documentary "Quincy" won Best Music Documentary.  With no further ado, here is Groovy Gravy.


Next, James Brown with Mashed Potatoes, U.S.A.


For the last song in today's entry, I'm sharing Thanksgiving Theme by Vince Guaraldi from the Peanuts specials.


I had to have some music for Snoopy to dance to.


This year's Thanksgiving drink from Tipsy Bartender is Pumpkin Pie Shots.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy these shots and say hello to Natalie!

PUMPKIN PIE SHOTS
1 Part Whipped Cream Vodka
1 Part Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
1 Part Rum Cream
1 Spoon Pumpkin Puree
Garnish: Graham Cracker Crumbs/Whipped Cream/Pumpkin Spice
That's it for this year's drink recipes.  I'm saving the five recipes I didn't use last year for future entries.  Not only do I recycle, I conserve my resources.

That's it for Thanksgiving for now.  Stay tuned for a post about Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day tomorrow.

Olaf and other Disney balloons in Macy's Parade plus my favorite marching bands in today's parades


Happy Thanksgiving!  Today, I'm combining balloons and marching bands in my preview of the Macy's and Detroit Thanksgiving parades.  First, Olaf from "Frozen" is returning to the Macy's Parade this year as is Dino the Sinclair Oil dinosaur.  Olaf is featured in Top 10 Disney Balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade | Disney Parade History.

Disney is no stranger to parades, since they run daily Disney parades at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but did you know that the Walt Disney Company has a history with the Macy's Thanksgiving parade that dates all the way back to1934 with the first Mickey Mouse balloon? The Macy's parade, formerly known as the Macy's Christmas Parade, has become known for its giant balloons so sit back as we go through a little Disney history and countdown the Top 10 Disney Balloons and Floats from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!
I'll be watching for Olaf.

I'll also be watching for the marching bands in the Macy's Parade.
Cicero-North Syracuse High School Northstars Marching Band, New York
Grants Pass High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Oregon
Homewood High School Patriot Marching Band, Alabama
James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Keller High School Marching Band, Texas
Lafayette High School Mighty Lion Marching Band, Louisiana
The Ohio State University Marching Band, Columbus, Ohio
Park Vista High School Marching Band, Lake Worth, Florida
Riverside City College Marching Tigers, Riverside, California
Woodland High School Wildcat Marching Band, Cartersville, Georgia
Macy's Great American Marching Band, USA
NYPD Marching Band, New York
Out of all the marching bands, the most famous is almost certainly The Ohio State University Marching Band, but I'm not featuring them, as I'm a Michigan alum and I'm almost certain they will march in the Rose Parade, so I'll have a chance to feature them then.  Instead, my favorite band in the parade is the Riverside City College Marching Tigers from Riverside, California.  Follow over the jump for them plus my picks for this year's WDIV Battle of the Bands.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving travel up as gas prices falling but still high


An early Happy (American) Thanksgiving to my readers!*  In Seth Meyers checks in on minority voter suppression, I wrote "it's time to go full Thanksgiving in time for the holiday."  I begin by passing along CBS This Morning reporting yesterday Record number of Americans expected to travel for Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving travel rush is underway. AAA predicts more than 54 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles away by Sunday. The holiday weekend is predicted to be the busiest for Thanksgiving travel since 2005. Kris Van Cleave reports.
All of this is despite the highest gas prices since 2014.  Still, oil prices are falling, as CNBC reported in Oil stocks in bear market.

CNBC's Brian Sullivan reports on the crude oil wreck and stocks that are feeling the impact.
The effect of the collapse in oil prices should be lower gas prices, which CNBC reported in GasBuddy: The other shoe has yet to drop with prices at the gas pump.

Dan McTeague of GasBuddy.com discusses the landscape for gas prices as we head into the holiday season, and the lag time between falling oil prices and prices at the pump.
Neither the experts nor I expected oil and gas prices to fall, especially not as steeply as they did.  All of us expected sanctions on Iran to drive prices up or at least support them.  Instead, the Administration has granted so many waivers that the sanctions have had very little effect.  That's a point brought up in Bloomberg's Trump, Saudis Make Fundamental Oil Analysis Impossible, Analyst Sen Says.

Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Emery Aspects, examines President Donald Trump's influence on oil prices. She speaks with Bloomberg's Jonathan Ferro on "Bloomberg Markets: The Open."
Once again, Trump is creating chaos.  At least this time, it's helping U.S. consumers.  Give thanks for that silver lining in the cloud of Trump.

*I already wished my readers a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, so I have to make the distinction.

Seth Meyers checks in on minority voter suppression


I took a serious look at voter suppression tactics in Vox explains voter purges.  Now it's time to take a more light-hearted approach.  Watch Seth Meyers in The Check In: Minority Voter Suppression.

Seth takes a break from breaking news to check in on the instances of voter suppression during the midterm elections that have been plaguing minority communities across the country.
That's the bad news.  The good news is that one particular example of voter suppression, Florida's lifetime disenfranchisement of felons, has been repealed.  Watch Florida Votes To Restore Voting Rights For Felons | MSNBC.

Florida voters have restored the rights to vote for felons with its approval of Amendment 4 to its state constitution. The amendment, which passed with at least a 2 million-plus margin, paves the way for potentially millions of convicted felons in the state to vote.
That's right up there with three Michigan proposals — recreational marijuana legalization, redistricting reform, and election reform — passing for encouraging results from this year's elections.

With that, it's time to go full Thanksgiving in time for the holiday.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump's remarks about Finland raking its forests


I took a serious look at California's Camp and Woolsey fires two days ago.  Now it's time for a more humorous one as Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump's weird lie about raking in Finland.

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump making up another weird thing about a foreign country while attacking a retired admiral for not getting Osama bin Laden sooner.
Trump so badly wants to make this about forest management instead of climate change that he will make stuff up, although I suspect he conflated what he saw the firefighters doing with his conversation with the President of Finland.  That may explain his comment, but does not excuse it.

Enough laughs.  For a more serious rebuttal of Trump's remarks, read Finnish Biologist Corrects Trump On Rakes at Talking Points Memo.  Ignore the spelling errors and weird grammar, as English is not the man's first language; his explanation of the Finnish environment and forestry practices looks to me, who is also a biologist, to be correct.

Monday, November 19, 2018

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' on the irony of 'drain the swamp'


A search of this blog reveals that I have not mentioned "Drain the Swamp" at all before today.  "Lock her up," the slogan that came out of 2016's "October Surprise," at least had a post to itself.  That changes today, as I'm sharing Drain the Swamp: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).

Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” But considering the culture of corruption inside of his administration, Washington is looking awfully...swampy.
I've written about Scott Pruitt and his ethics scandals before, but I have only mentioned Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for his policy decisions, not his potential for corruption.  Since I used to be a National Park Ranger and so was an employee in the Department of the Interior, I'm surprised that I haven't.  Thank you, John Oliver, for doing my work for me.  Now that I have the opening, I'll be sure to follow up.

As for the phrase "drain the swamp," I'm not sure that it means the same thing to Trump and his supporters that it means to everyone else.  It looks more like his administration is draining the swamp of the bureaucrats and experts who actually try to regulate the swamp than the actual corrupt swamp creatures they are trying to police.  That reminds me of the famous line from "The Princess Bride," "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."*


*That reminds me that William Goldman, who wrote "The Princess Bride," died this week.  He also wrote the script for "All the President's Men."  Between the two, he deserves a mention here.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Mickey Mouse turns 90


For this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm celebrating Mickey Mouse's birthday with Offhand Disney's Mickey Mouse's 90th Birthday: 1928 to 2018.

November 18th is a very special day. Mickey Mouse turns 90 years old, and I figured what better way to celebrate than to follow the mouse himself through his entire life. From Plane Crazy to the Runaway Railway, we'll talk about it all.
I'm not done with this event, as I might write about Mickey Mouse balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, happy birthday, Mickey!

California's Camp and Woolsey fires air pollution seen from space and felt on ground


While I've been busy with national and Michigan stories, I've been avoiding writing about a major story that is taking place where I grew up, the latest destructive fires in California.  No more, as I found out last week that the home where I grew up was in a mandatory evacuation zone.  In the 25 years I lived there, that never happened.  In addition, I don't recall my family ever telling me that had happened during the three decades I've lived in Michigan until this past week.*  When I write that this story hits close to home, I mean it!

I begin with Popular Science, which uploaded This is What Wildfires Look Like from Space.

Satellites have captured images the wildfires currently devastating California. The Camp fire is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history. Meanwhile, the Woolsey and Hill fires are raging in southern California. The size and destructiveness of the blazes can be seen by NASA satellites.
When I wrote 2018 on track to be fourth-warmest ever, I quoted Newsy observing "The heat certainly contributed to California's intense wildfire season."  Popular Science agrees with that assessment, as do I.  I have no patience for views that deny that, including the President's.

Follow over the jump for video reports about each of the fires currently or recently burning, beginning with the Camp Fire.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Seth Meyers checks in on Andrew Wheeler as Trump announces he'll nominate Wheeler for permanent head of EPA


Last April, I observed that then-EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt was in a precarious position.
Scott Pruitt is in the middle of an ethics scandal over a sweetheart deal with an energy lobbyist over renting a room for cheap.  He might be fired.  He could instead replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  This is a fluid situation, so stay tuned.
Pruitt resigned in July and his deputy Andrew Wheeler replaced him as acting Administrator.  Yesterday, President Trump announced that he plans on making that promotion permanent.
President Donald Trump announced Friday he plans to nominate the acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, to permanently lead the agency.

Trump announced the move during a Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House, where he introduced Wheeler along with other top administration officials in attendance.

"Acting administrator -- who, I will tell you, is going to be made permanent," Trump said. "He's done a fantastic job. And I want to congratulate him. EPA, Andrew Wheeler."
Trump's idea of "a fantastic job" certainly won't be mine.  Neither was it Seth Meyers', who did a segment on Wheeler in August: The Check In: Andrew Wheeler and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Seth takes a break from breaking news to check in on the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler.
I'm with Seth; going from someone who drank organic juice with kale to someone who drinks Coke does not look like a step up environmentally, but that's just trivial optics, if good comedy.  More important is the take of the Sierra Club, who was quoted by CNN.
"Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a thief the keys to a bank vault," said Michael Brune of the Sierra Club. "As Acting EPA Administrator, Wheeler has kept his door open to coal, gas, oil and toxic chemical corporations, prioritizing their profits over the health and safety of our families."
Looks like the Sierra Club agrees with Meyers that Wheeler is just as bad for the environment as Pruitt, he's just more patient.

CNN also quoted a Democratic senator on the prospects of Wheeler's confirmation.
"Mr. Wheeler must come before our committee so that members can look at his record as acting administrator objectively to see if any improvements have been made at the agency since he took the helm," Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the committee overseeing EPA.
Normally, I'd wish Wheeler good luck, but I don't think he deserves it.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta's press pass


Earlier this week, the White House took away the hard pass it issued to CNN's Jim Acosta.  CNN sued.  This morning, the judge in the case issued a ruling in CNN's favor.  The Hollywood Reporter posted an excellent summary of the case so far in Judge Grants CNN's Motion, Temporarily Returns Jim Acosta's White House Press Pass | THR News.

A District Court judge granted a motion made by CNN and White House reporter Jim Acosta on Friday, temporarily returning the reporter's suspended press pass while the case proceeds.
Note that THR reported that the judge is a Trump appointee and that this was about due process as much as it was about press freedom.  That does show that at least courts are still functioning as institutions protecting the rule of law.  That's a point that also appears in CNN's analysis of the breaking story, Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta's press pass.

Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with CNN on Friday, ordering the White House to reinstate chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass.
While CNN is hardly a neutral source, being a party to the action, I think it did a good job of reporting and analysis.

I'll do my best to continue following this story, which is an important one for press freedom and holding government accountable.  Stay tuned.

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' takes on the Florida recount


I may be done with Michigan's election results, but I'm not done with the election.   Neither is "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah."  Watch Florida's Midterm Election Drama

Between incompetent election officials, poorly designed ballots and outdated machinery, it’s no wonder the Florida recount is a huge mess.
Good lord, what's with Florida and recounts made worse by incompetence, partisanship, and poor technical support?  Don't answer; it's one of my rare rhetorical questions.

The recount drama is not over, as Fox 47 reports Hand recount underway in Florida US Senate race.

A machine recount that ended Thursday showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott narrowly leading.
I expect Rick Scott will eventually win.  In the meantime, I anticipate more bizarre news out of Florida.  That's normal.  I wrote six years ago  "this is Florida, which is known for the crazy news it produces.  As an expatriate Californian, I'm perversely glad that it had the insane reputation that it does; it makes California, especially southern California, look good."  I'd say "Florida, stay crazy" except that this is one of those cases where The Sunshine State is causing trouble for the rest of us and not just being entertainingly weird.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

America Recycles Day


Happy America Recycles Day!  Since I have been celebrating this day off and on since 2013, but have never shared the description of the day from National Day Calendar before, here it is.
Each year on November 15, millions of people across the United States take part in America Recycles Day, a day which was created to raise awareness about recycling and the purchasing of recycled products.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Recycle, buy recycled goods and help teach others the benefits of recycling and continue to do so each day! Use #AmericaRecyclesDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

America Recycles Day was started in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition and is declared each year by Presidential Proclamation, encouraging Americans to commit to recycling.  Since 2009, this day has been a program of Keep America Beautiful.  There are thousands of events that are held across the United States to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and offering personal pledges that can be signed, committing to recycling and buying products made from recycled materials.
Just as I did for World Diabetes Day yesterday, I have videos about the day and recycling to share.  Follow over the jump!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

World Diabetes Day


Today is World Diabetes Day, a day that has become special to me because I am a Type I diabetic.  I begin the celebration by being a good environmentalist and recycling the day's description from National Day Calendar.
Around the globe on November 14, World Diabetes Day raises awareness and provides education concerning a disease that affects over 400 million adults internationally.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by 2040 approximately 642 million adults will have diabetes. With diabetes causing 5 million deaths in 2015, this projection is a source of concern. Awareness, education, action and research all can make a difference.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Visit www.worlddiabetes.org to learn more about both type 1 & 2 diabetes.  Find out how to get screened, to prevent type 2 diabetes and more about treatment.  Use #WorldDiabetesDay to share on social media.

HISTORY

The International Diabetes Federation & the World Health Organization created World Diabetes Day in 1991 to raise awareness of the rising threat of diabetes around the world. In 2006, the day became one of the official United Nations Days.
Continuing on, I'm sharing three videos from World Diabetes Day on YouTube.  First, What is diabetes?

415 million people worldwide, or 9% of adults aged 20-79, are estimated to have diabetes. If these trends continue, by 2040 some 642 million people will have diabetes.
Next, Do you know the symptoms of diabetes?

The development of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden while the symptoms can often be mild in people with type 2 diabetes, making type 2 of diabetes hard to detect. If you show these signs and symptoms, consult a health professional.
I had sudden onset of all these symptoms except the lack of energy on August 21, 2017, the day of the Great American Eclipse.  That certainly made the day even more memorable, although not in a good way.

I conclude with a video about the 2016 World Diabetes Day theme, eyes on diabetes, What is diabetic retinopathy?

The increased prevalence of diabetes means that more and more people are developing diabetes complications, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Ugh, another reason to keep my blood sugar controlled, although I worry more about my feet.

Tomorrow is another national day, America Recycles Day.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Delivering donuts on World Kindness Day


Happy World Kindness Day!  I begin by being a good environmentalist and recycle what I quoted last year from National Day Calendar.
On November 13 as part of World Kindness Day, we are encouraged to spread kindness like an infectious cold. We want to share it more than usual because studies show when others observe kindness in action they are more likely to carry out an act of kindness, too.

So, imagine if you head out for the day and your neighbor’s garbage can has tipped over. Instead of ignoring it and letting the wind make a mess, you pick it up and return it to the corner. Three other neighbors notice and give you a smile and a nod on their way to work.

One of those neighbors notices a stranded driver on the side of the road on his commute to work. He remembers your thoughtfulness and offers assistance to the stranded driver. Several passersby take notice.

At a business office, a woman struggles with a paper jam. She’s had a horrible day. The customer has been waiting, but she remembers the stranded driver she passed earlier in the day. The customer lets the office worker know to take her time. Everyone has a bad day.

We each have the potential to improve each others lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit.

HOW TO OBSERVE

On World Kindness Day, let your compassion shine brightly.  Get caught showing as much kindness as possible.
Last year, I documented the  World Dance for Kindness.  Today, I follow WKYC reporter Jasmine Monroe as she picks up and delivers donuts to public workers who make the world a better, safer place.  First, Monroe picks up the donuts in World Kindness Day 2018: How to make the world a better place.

Nov. 13, 2018: We take part in World Kindness Day throughout Cleveland.
Next, Monroe is Spreading the smiles on World Kindness Day: Cleveland Fire Department.

Nov. 13, 2018: We dropped by the Cleveland Fire Department with a special delivery for World Kindness Day.
Monroe makes her final stop in World Kindness Day in Rocky River: Thanking school bus drivers.

Nov. 13, 2018: In honor of World Kindness Day, we sent Jasmine Monroe out to thank some school bus drivers in Rocky River.
These videos made being kind look fun.  I hope my readers follow Monroe's example.  Just don't give any donuts to me.  I can't have any because of my diabetes.  Speaking of which, World Diabetes Day is tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

R.I.P. Stan Lee


CBS News brings the sad tidings that Marvel legend Stan Lee has died at 95.

Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel Comics co-creator and publisher, has died at 95. Gamespot Editor-in-Chief Randolph Ramsay joins CBSN to discuss Lee's legacy.
For more about his legacy, PBS NewsHour explains How Stan Lee helped 'revolutionize' comic books.

We remember Stan Lee, writer and editor of Marvel Comics and creator of iconic characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four. William Brangham has the story of this pop culture legend.
That's about Lee as a comics creator.  Beyond the Trailer discusses his effect on the movies as well in Stan Lee dead at 95 - Tribute.

Stan Lee Tribute today. Beyond The Trailer's breakdown of Stan Lee's history and legacy at Marvel on his death at 95. Excelsior!
...
Stan Lee Dead at 95, Tribute today. Beyond The Trailer host Grace Randolph's breakdown of Stan Lee's legacy and his history at Marvel. Why Stan Lee was a comic book legend and figurehead. Share your own reaction to Stan Lee's death and his history at Marvel.
Thank you, Grace, for pointing out how Stan Lee made comics an accepted staple of American culture.  It was exactly the angle I was looking for.

Speaking of angles, Grace asked for the personal reactions of her viewers.  Mine was that I was never a fan of Marvel Comics — I preferred DC Comics — but I became a fan of Marvel movies, enough so that I have a Marvel label on this blog.  That's in large part because of the commercial success of Marvel movies, as Deadline pointed out.
In lieu of moving upward to a more respectable medium, Lee helped transform the four-color American comic book into a powerhouse of pop culture creation and a major concept factory for Hollywood.

In fact Marvel’s three most recent blockbusters, all released over a mere five months, were adaptations of Lee creations — Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp — and have grossed more than $3.7 billion, nearly matching the price Disney paid for Marvel in 2009. Since that purchase, Marvel has generated six of the top 20 global-grossing films, topped this summer by Infinity War crossing the $2 billion mark. On television, Marvel heroes are featured in 10 live-action series (spread across ABC, Fox, Netflix, FX, Hulu and Freeform) as well as five more animated franchises.
Speaking of the popularity of Marvel movies, Deadline reported on their wins at the People's Choice Awards, which took place the day before Lee's death.
Marvel conquered the film side with Avengers: Infinity War winning Movie of 2018...The Marvel Cinematic Universe saw multiple wins with Scarlett Johansson winning Female Movie Star of 2018 and Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman and Danai Guriria winning Male Movie Star and Action Movie Star of 2018 respectively.
Congratulations to all the winners.  That fulfills my promise to "[write] about the winners of the 2018 People's Choice Awards" that I made in 'RBG' wins Best Political Documentary, 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' Best Documentary, at least for now.

In the meantime, thank you Stan Lee for making the world a more fun place.  Excelsior!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sears and KMart open on Thanksgiving, plus Sears warranties during bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


I ran across a couple of other news items while putting together Sears Holdings to close 40 more stores during bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse.  First, Wochit News reported Bankrupt Sears And Kmart Are Kicking Off Their Black Friday Sales On Thanksgiving.

It has been a rocky run for Sears and its sister store, Kmart. In October, parent company Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced it would be closing more than 100 stores before the end of the year.

But it's not giving up without a fight. The beleaguered chain is ramping up for the holiday shopping season and reminding customers that it's still very much open for business.

This year, Kmart stores will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, before reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday — a slight extension on last year's opening hours. Most Sears stores will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at midnight, then reopen at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

Shoppers should expect to see some big discounts, especially as the company looks to clear inventory from the 142 stores that it said it would be closing before year-end.
Oh, my, the stink of retail desperation is strong with this one — not that I blame Sears Holdings.  The company and its creditors need every dime they can get.  They just won't get any from me, as Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day for me.

Next, Fox 47 asked Will Sears honor your appliance warranty during its bankruptcy?

Many Sears customers have warranties and service plans. How safe are they?
Consumers are finding out that "lifetime warranties" are good for the lifetime of the business, not the lifetime of the item or the customer.

Both of these stories share the same message — Sears and KMart are "not dead yet."


No, but it probably won't be long.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

'RBG' wins Best Political Documentary, 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' Best Documentary


I concluded 'The Commandant's Own' and 'The President's Own' for a musical Veterans Day 2018 by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for a report on the winners of Best Political Documentary nominees at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards."  I begin with my prediction for Best Political Documentary.
Out of this field, the most nominated entries are "Dark Money" and "Hitler's Hollywood" with four nominations each. "Dark Money" earned nominations for Best Documentary, Best Director for Kimberly Reed, and Best Editing in addition to Best Political Documentary.  The nominations for "Hitler’s Hollywood" are Best Documentary, Best Political Documentary, Best Director for Rüdiger Suchsland, and Most Innovative Documentary.  For this award, I suspect the contest will end up being between these two and "RBG," which is the third nominee for Best Political Documentary also nominated for Best Documentary.
"RBG" won this award.  I was rooting for it and wasn't surprised, as Box Office Mojo shows "RBG" being currently the second highest grossing documentary of 2018 with $14,017,361.  The critics do pay attention to box office.  In addition, the press release also reported on its other award.
Host Bill Nye lead the celebration of this year’s honorees for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary  — Scotty Bowers (Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), Alex Honnold (Free Solo), Joan Jett (Bad Reputation), Quincy Jones (Quincy), David Kellman and Bobby Shafran (Three Identical Strangers), John McEnroe (John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection) and Leon Vitali (Filmworker).
To celebrate these awards for both the movie and Ginsberg herself, I am sharing RBG - Official Trailer

At the age of 84, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior's rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring Ginsburg 's exceptional life and career from Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films.
Congratulations and good luck on earning more nominations for the film.  In particular, I am rooting for it to earn an Oscar nod for Best Documentary Feature.

Now to review my predictions for Best Documentary.
Based on the number of nominations, "Free Solo" looks like the favorite for this award.  However, Box Office Mojo identifies the three most popular based on ticket receipts.  "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" the biography of Fred Rogers, earned $22,609,437 to be the top grossing documentary of 2018 so far.  "RBG" is currently in second among documentaries with $14,017,361, while "Three Identical Strangers" is close behind at $12,320,845.*  Because of that, I think the contest is really among these four movies plus "Minding the Gap," which is on Hulu, so it doesn't have a box office to compare, unless the winner of the next category sneaks past them.
The award went to "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" along with Best Director for Morgan Neville and the award for Best Editing.  At least I sort of called Best Documentary, as I thought box office would be a major factor, but I completely blew my predictions for Best Director.
Based on the number of nominations and type of nominations, I think this will be among Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi for "Free Solo," Bing Liu for "Minding the Gap," and Chapman Way and Maclain Way for "Wild Wild Country" with Chin and Vasarhelyi favored.
Um, no.  At least I spared myself the embarrassment of calling Best Editing wrong, as I did not make a prediction for that award.

Again, I am celebrating "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" winning Best Documentary, Best Director, and Best Editing by sharing WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? - Official Trailer [HD].

From Academy Award® -winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom), Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.
Oh, my, that trailier left me in tears.  I can't imagine what the movie itself would do.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the winners along with a comparison to my predictions when I made them.

'The Commandant's Own' and 'The President's Own' for a musical Veterans Day 2018


Happy Veterans Day, everyone!  Today, I'm celebrating by recycling a drum corps Veterans Day, which I used again last year as 'The Commandant's Own' for a drum corps Veterans Day 2017.  This year, I'm featuring both the U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, AKA "The Commandant's Own," and the United States Marine Band, AKA "The President's Own."  As I wrote last year, "Not only is today Veterans Day, yesterday was the Marine Corps Birthday and the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps was founded on November 4, 1934.  A triple celebration for a single organization!"

I begin with a video of "The Commandant's Own" from March of this year, which is the best I could find of the 2018 Marine Corps Drum And Bugle Corps production "Furia."


For my readers who want a video from the Drum Corps International Championships, I have DCI Finals 2018 || "The Commandant's Own" USMC Drum and Bugle Corps || synth cam.




As a bonus, I'm sharing the United States Marine Band, AKA "The President's Own," performing "March of the Women Marines" by Louis Saverino, also from March 2018.

On March 11, 2018, the Marine Band presented a Living History program titled Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Band Tribute. The program told the story of the talented and adventurous women who served our country in a most unique and unprecedented manner. Author of the book Bands of Sisters: U.S. Women’s Military Bands During World War II, Dr. Jill Sullivan served as a guide through the personal accounts of those very women who blazed a trail for many to follow. The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Band of Camp Lejeune was established under the watch of “The President’s Own” to support bond drives and was active during World War II from 1943–45. In 1944, the ensemble even sat in for one of the Marine Band’s popular “Dream Hour” broadcasts, a program that will be reenacted in its entirety as part of this concert. The performance took place in Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va. Conducted by Capt. Michelle A. Rakers.
While this concert didn't explicitly celebrate the event, it very nearly coincided with the 45th anniversary of women being included in "The President's Own" in 1973.  Even more to celebrate!

Stay tuned for a report on the winners of Best Political Documentary nominees at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Sears Holdings to close 40 more stores during bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


I have more news on the Sears Holdings bankruptcy, the first since I posted Sam Seder on the Sears bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse two weeks ago.  Wochit News reported Thursday Sears To Close Another 40 Stores.

Sears is closing another 40 stores Sears and Kmart stores, reports Business Insider. The closings are in addition to the 142 stores planned to close before the end of the year. The new list of closings, scheduled for February, will bring Sears' store count to around 500. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, after years of closing stores and selling assets. This will bring Sears' total store count down to around 500, down from nearly 2,000 stores in 2013.
Eric of Retail Archeology included the Arizona location in Paradise Valley Mall: More Trouble In Paradise | Retail Archaeology Dead Mall Tour.

In this episode we return to Paradise Valley Mall a year later to see how things are going there.
He expressed surprise that the store was as well-maintained as it was while still having so little business and expected it would be on a store closing list soon.  Sure enough, it was.  I left a comment on the video reporting the closure and told him I was looking forward to his coverage of the liquidation sale.

Another store on the list is in the Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Its closure does not come as a surprise, either, as WOOD-TV reported in March of last year Sears struggles may mean trouble for Battle Creek mall.

Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek is looking at losing all three of its anchor stores.
With the Sears location closing, Lakeview Mall will have lost all of its anchors by early next year.  While this has been a long time in the making, hope is not lost as WWMT reported yesterday Battle Creek city leaders develop new plans to re-vitalize Lakeview Square Mall.
City leaders admit the loss of Sears is a problem, but they are not giving up hope and have a unique plan they think will help Lakeview Square Mall grow.
...
"Obviously we are very disappointed to see Sears depart the mall. It's been a long time anchor there," said Battle Creek Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing.

Dearing knows the score and has been working on a plan to change Lakeview Square. To keep it viable, he thinks there needs to be more specialty mom-and-pop shops that you can see from the outside. He also thinks the mall needs to open itself up to more non traditional uses.

"That's some of what we've been working on with the mall. We brought them a skate park that we thought was a good fit there. It seems to have worked out really well but it isn't a traditional retail use," Dearing said.

Dearing said the city is working to bring a hotel to the mall, but some hurdles need to be addressed.
I wish this group of Crazy Eddies luck; they're going to need it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sessions resignation good for marijuana legalization


The day before yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned under pressure.  While this is certainly bad for the investigation into Russian election interference and related matters, it appears to be good for marijuana legalization.*  It was definitely a positive for marijuana-related stocks, as CNBC reported in It's been a big political day for pot, here's why more good news is ahead.

Pot scores big political victories. And pot stocks soar on Jeff Sessions' resignation. With CNBC's Aditi Roy and Melissa Lee, and the Fast Money traders, Tim Seymour, Karen Finerman, Steve Grasso and Dan Nathan.
Not only did Michigan legalize recreation use, but Missouri and Utah (!) voted to legalize medicinal use of marijuana.  The prediction I first made on this blog in 2012 that marijuana will be legalized is slowly becoming true.  It will join marriage equality, the other part of that prediction, in becoming reality.

I promised that "WXYZ, WOOD-TV, and other[s] have more on Proposal 1 passing, which I will share in a later post."  I'll get to that.  Stay tuned.

*I don't think this will make up for that problem, but it does help.