Sunday, June 30, 2019

CBS and Wired report on the Planetary Defense Conference Exercise for Asteroid Day 2019


Happy International Asteroid Day!  To celebrate the event, which I see as the younger but more established version of Apophis Day, I'm sharing two videos about an exercise NASA and other governmental agencies participated in last month called the Planetary Defense Conference Exercise.  CBS Evening News reported How NASA plans to keep an asteroid from hitting Earth as the conference began.

It's unlikely a large asteroid would come speeding toward Earth. But NASA is preparing just in case. Chip Reid explains.
CBS gave a good overview.  Wired went into more depth at the end of the exercise in How Scientists Are Preparing Earth for an Incoming Asteroid.

Some of the world's best scientists are running drills to practice for a near earth object collision. WIRED's Robbie Gonzalez spoke with Cathy Plesko from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, to find out how we would respond to an incoming collision. Would nuclear detonations work? What does a "City Killer" look like? Would impact in the water be worse than impact on land? Find out more from Plesko.
Plesko mentioned Apophis, which will return twice on April 13 in 2029 and 2036.  That's why I call April 13 Apophis Day.  Asteroid Day commemorates an asteroid impact that happened more than 100 years ago.  The Times of India explains in Tunguska event, 1908: Why Asteroid Day is observed on June 30?

The Tunguska event was a large explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai), Russia, on the morning of 30 June 1908. This explosion took place over thinly populated Eastern Siberian Taiga in 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) of forest. The explosion is generally credited to the air burst of the meteor. The Tunguska event is the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history. The estimates of the energy of the air burst range from 10–15 megatons of TNT to 30 megatons of TNT. The 15-megaton (Mt) estimate represents an energy about 1,000 times greater than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.
Note that the explosive power of the impact that the Planetary Defense Conference was trying to protect Earth from is in the same range as the Tunguska event.  I don't think that's a coincidence.

That's it for June.  Stay tuned for a celebration of Canada Day.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Prosecutors hear from residents of Flint at town hall


I wrote "I'm looking forward to hearing and reading more on this investigation at the end of the month" near the end of All charges dismissed without prejudice against defendants in Flint Water Crisis cases as the Michigan Attorney General's office was planning on holding a town hall with the residents of Flint at the end of this month.  They were true to their word, as they held that town hall last night.  Local news media covered the event and I am sharing their reports, beginning with WDIV's Prosecutors meet with residents after dismissing charges in Flint water case.


I was very cynical about how Bill Schuette handled this case and this segment confirms my cynicism.  I described what Schutte hoped to achieve three years ago in a comment.
Schuette is a Republican, but he doesn't owe Snyder much in the way of favors. He's going to thread a narrow path. On the one hand, he's going to use this to make enough of a show that he'll help himself look "independent" for a general election. He might even harm Snyder as long as it also hurts the current Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, helping himself in the primary. On the other hand, he doesn't want to hurt Snyder so badly that it makes him look disloyal to the GOP. He especially does not want to force Snyder from office. The last thing he wants is Calley as an incumbent Governor to run against in a primary. That will be quite a balancing act!
I think Schuette did exactly what I described in this case, which was to look tough and independent while not going directly after Snyder.  It worked for him, as he became the Republican nominee, not Calley.  However, his strategy resulted in a lot of frustration, which the town hall audience expressed and WXYZ reported in Flint hears from prosecutors who dropped water charges.

Prosecutors who dropped charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal explained their decision in a public forum Friday night, telling frustrated and shocked residents they must look at hundreds of mobile devices and millions of documents that a previous investigative team never reviewed.
The one person named by the audience was Snyder.  I don't blame them for blaming him.

WNEM in Flint covered the event as well and uploaded the segment as Residents meet with prosecutors over Flint water crisis investigation.

Prosecutors who dropped charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal have explained their decision in a public forum.
I still think "The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in this case, but I expect they will indeed grind exceedingly fine," but they can only grind so slowly because of the statute of limitations, which imposes a deadline nine months from now.

I will give the last word to Marijoyce Campbell, who the other outlets showed, but whose public comment MLive reported apparently in full in Flint resident gives impassioned plea for Flint water crisis justice.

Flint resident Marijoyce Campbell, 65, speaks firmly from the heart as she please for justice to the new Flint water prosecution team during a community meeting on Friday, June 28, 2019 at UAW 659 in Flint. Some of those who came to the meeting at UAW Local 659 were angry over how the cases were initially handled and worried about whether anyone will still be held responsible. A few shouted at Fadwa Hammoud, Kym Worthy and other attorneys working on the current investigation as time ran out at the end of the two-hour meeting. Friday’s meeting was billed as the first opportunity for Hammoud and Worthy to explain their decision to dismiss criminal charges against current and former state and city employees and two former emergency managers of Flint. It was also bill[ed] as an opportunity to discuss the investigation going forward.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The return of Toys R Us, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


It's rare that I get to share good news about the Retail Apocalypse, but I have some this week.  CBS Los Angeles reported earlier this week that Toys 'R' Us Is Making A Comeback, 2 New Stores Opening This Year.

The beloved toy store that closed all of its U.S. stores last year has plans to re-open in 2019.
Bloomberg Markets and Finance has more in Toys 'R' Us Plans to Make a Christmas Comeback.

Maybe American kids will only have to live through one Christmas without Toys “R” Us. About a year after shuttering U.S. operations, the remnant of the defunct toy chain is set to return this holiday season by opening about a half dozen U.S. stores and an e-commerce site, according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg's Matt Townsend reports on "Bloomberg Markets: What'd You Miss?"
Matt Townsend doesn't seem very optimistic.  Still, I should have seen it coming.  Toys R Us is like TwinkiesThe products are too valuable and someone will make them.  Not only was that true of Twinkies and Toys R Us, it's apparently true for RadioShack.  The dead, they rise again!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Drinks for the Democratic debates, Part 2


I finished Drinks for the Democratic debates, Part 1 by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, when I do this all over again for the next ten candidates debating!"  Time to start serving the drinks, but first, tonight's participants from DebateDrinking.com.
NIGHT 2
Thursday, June 27
  • Joe Biden
  • Michael Bennet
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Kamala Harris
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Eric Swalwell
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Andrew Yang
I'll get to their drinks over the jump, but first the games.  In addition to DebateDrinking.com, Spectator USA, and A.M. New York, Paul W. of You Might Notice A Trend showed up in the comments to yesterday's entry with the following rules for three of the four top candidates in tonight's debate.
I... can TRY to make a drinking game rule.

Every time Joe Biden tries to talk like a Millennial but ends up sounding like a Baby Boomer, take two shots

Every time Bernie Sanders talks dismissively towards a woman candidate, take a shot

Every time Liz Warren or Kamala Harris sounds like sage wise life forms that WILL SAVE US ALL, cheer and get 10,000 more people signed up to vote, THEN take a shot.
...
Yes, I have a bias.
I like those rules, but I had the following responses to them.
Hey, Paul! Good to see you!

Thanks for the rules. I'll put them in tomorrow's entry.

If Joe Biden sounds like a Boomer, then he's still acting younger than he really is. He was born in 1942, so he's actually a member of the generation before the Boomers, the Silent Generation.

I share your bias. Harris the first choice of my wife and I, while Warren is our second choice. Consider yourself in good company.
Consider adding Paul's rules to whichever game you are playing.

Enough of the drinking games.  Follow over the jump for the drinks.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Drinks for the Democratic debates, Part 1


Four years ago, I wrote a five-part series about drinks for the Democratic debates.  Since the first Democratic debate for the 2020 nomination is tonight, it's time to revive the series.

The first item of business is the drinking game.  Unfortunately, Paul W. of You Might Notice A Trend is not creating drinking games this year; his experience with the 2016 election soured him on the idea.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that I've found three good ones at DebateDrinking.com, the site I used for the general election debates three years ago, Spectator USA, which is the funniest and most complex, and A.M. New York, which is the simplest.  I don't care which one my readers play, but please pick one.

Next, the drinks, one for each candidate in tonight's debate, which DebateDrinking.com lists as follows.
NIGHT 1
Wednesday, June 26
  • Cory Booker
  • Bill de Blasio
  • Juli├ín Castro
  • John Delaney
  • Tulsi Gabbard
  • Jay Inslee
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O'Rourke
  • Tim Ryan
  • Elizabeth Warren
Follow over the jump for the drinks, one for each candidate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Colbert, Meyers, and Noah take closer looks at Trump vs. Iran


Iran was a big story this past week, the kind I'd like to take with either a dose of comedy or of oil.  I feel like laughing at the terrifying possibility that the U.S. nearly went to war with Iran right now, so I'm going to do something I haven't done since April, check in with the late night comedians who aren't on HBO.  I begin with the first to broadcast, Trevor Noah with Trump Brings U.S. to Brink of War with Iran.

Trump calls off a military strike against Iran minutes before launch, raising questions about when he was briefed on key issues surrounding the decision.
Noah may have been the earliest comedian last night to mock Trump's mercurial decision-making, but he wasn't the last.  Stephen Colbert kept it up, along with realizing that he actually had to admit that Trump did the right thing after first approving a bad idea in Trump Was 'Cocked And Loaded' To Strike Iran.

The President said the United States was 'cocked and loaded' to retaliate against Iran. That's not the expression.
First, Noah called a drone a flying dildo, then Colbert made a thinly disguised dick joke.  At least Seth Meyers kept it clean by turning it into a movie joke in Trump Almost Started a War with Iran: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump creating a bunch of problems and then turning around and pretending he “solved” those problems.
Both Colbert and Meyers connected Trump's actions on Iran with those on illegal immigration.  I think that's a good insight, even if it's an easy one.  It reminds me that Samantha Bee is more likely to come up with unique comedic takes on situations than her male colleagues, although I might save her for a reaction to the debates, which start tomorrow.  Time to find drinks and drinking games for the candidates!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Joe Sestak at Voteview and On The Issues


As if there weren't enough candidates in the contest, Newsy reported yesterday Joe Sestak enters Democratic Primary Race.

The former Pennsylvania congressman served in the Navy for 31 years.
Actually, including either Mike Gravel or Wayne Messam, one or the other of whom gets ignored, there are now 25 candidates, not 24.  That makes the field even more crowded.

Now that Sestak has announced, it's time to see where he fits with the other candidates ideologically, both at Voteview since he's a former U.S. Representative and at OnTheIssues.orgVoteview lists Sestak's first-dimension DW-Nominate score as -0.271, which was more conservative than 77% of Democrats in the 111th House.  It also places him to the right of John Delaney, whose ideology score of -0.276 had made him the most moderate (conservative) former member of the House of Representatives running this year.  No longer.  However, Sestak is still more liberal than either Amy Klobuchar, who had an ideological score of -0.253 at the start of June, but has moved slightly to her left since with a score of -0.265, and Michael Bennet, who had an ideological score of -0.209 at the start of the month and has also moved slightly to his left to -0.211.*

While Voteview shows Sestak to be a moderate, On The Issues classifies Sestak as a Hard-Core Liberal with an economic score of 8 and a social score of 88.  That portrays him as the second most economically liberal candidate next to Bernie Sanders with an economic score of 3 and to the left of Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar.  His social score ties him with Beto O'Rourke, which means he also has the second highest social score, ranking him under only Sanders and Mike Gravel.

There is as much of a mismatch between On The Issue's rating of Sestak and Voteview's scoring of his votes as there is between Klobuchar's or Cory Booker's scores.  This time, I don't think it's the passage of time.  Most of the data at On The Issues comes from Sestak's time in Congress, so it's not the result of him moving to the left.  Instead, I think it's the topics selected for assessment at Voteview, which probably highlight differences between the parties, as well as their likely non-independence from each other.  That I suspect the people choosing the questions and scoring the answers have a Libertarian slant doesn't help.  Just the same, it's still the only data that ranks just about all the candidates (Wayne Messam's page is still unscored) until I get the fundraising data next month.  Stay tuned.

*Klobuchar moved farther to her left mostly by voting against confirming a bunch of nominees, mostly judges, and a defense construction bill.  Voteview apparently scored these votes as making her more liberal economically, even if they don't seem to be explictly about economics.

Vox calls the filibuster 'The weird rule that broke American politics'


Last week, Vox explained both the Senate filibuster and its history, calling it The weird rule that broke American politics.

The filibuster started as an accident. Today it lets the losers rule Congress.
...
The US Senate is supposed to pass laws. But today, it’s broken. And it’s broken because of something called the filibuster, which has been part of Senate tradition for over 200 years. But the filibuster came into being by accident. And today, some politicians are suggesting we should get rid of it entirely.
The bottom line is that the filibuster was not always with us, so it may not always will be with us.  I expect that if Democrats win control of the presidency and the Senate in 2020, it might go in 2021.  I don't know if I'll be all that upset to see it gone.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ruth Bader Ginsberg wins Best Real-Life Hero at the MTV Movie & TV Awards


I concluded Happy World Rainforest Day! by promising that I would write about the winners of the MTV Movie & TV Awards.*  I present the winners in the categories with political nominees from MTV itself along with my observations of the nominees and predictions of the winners from my post last month.
BEST REAL-LIFE HERO

Alex Honnold — Free Solo
Hannah Gadsby — Nanette
Roman Reigns — WWE SmackDown
Ruth Bader Ginsburg — RBG
Serena Williams — Being Serena
Ruth Bader Ginsburg won awards from both Coffee Party USA and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, but I don't think either will mean anything with the MTV voters, who I think are likely to split their vote between Roman Reigns and Serena Williams.  Either would be wins for diversity, as Reigns is half-Samoan and Williams is African-American.  Between the two, I would prefer Williams.  She's a real hero for her accomplishments in and out of the court.  Reigns, as a wrestler, as as much showman as sportsman, and a lot of his heroics are kayfabe.  Just the same, I'm not voting for Williams.  Once again, it's RGB for me.
Much to my pleasant surprise, Ruth Bader Ginsburg won Best Real-Life Hero.  Of course, I voted for her every day for a week, so I did my part, but I didn't think enough other people would agree with me to beat Roman Reigns and Serena Williams.  This is a case where I'm glad to be wrong.

Unfortunately, Justice Ginsburg did not attend the ceremony, so I don't have a video of an acceptance speech.  Neither did she nor the documentary that featured her win the rest of the three awards for which they were nominated, begining with Best Documentary.
BEST DOCUMENTARY

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal
McQueen
Minding the Gap
RBG
Surviving R. Kelly
While "RBG" won the Golden Coffee Cup for Best Political Documentary and Best Political Documentary at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, it lost to "Free Solo" for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, which disappointed but didn't surprise me.  Here, I suspect both will lose to one of the other three nominees.  "At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal" and "Minding the Gap" are about the struggles of young athletes.  I think the former has an edge with this electorate as it's about a sex scandal, a big deal in this #MeToo era, but the latter is the one with an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.  The one my gut tells me might beat them all is "Surviving R. Kelly," which not only has the #MeToo angle, but is also about the music business.  MTV began as "Music Television," after all, and its voters probably still reflect that.  Not me; I'm voting for "RBG."
As I expected, the Golden Popcorn went to "Surviving R. Kelly."  I wish the Lifetime series luck in being nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Emmy Awards.

I completely blew the next prediction.

BEST FIGHT

Avengers: Endgame — Captain America vs. Thanos
Captain Marvel — Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva
Game of Thrones — Arya Stark vs. the White Walkers
RBG — Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs. Inequality
WWE Wrestlemania — Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
While I'm once again voting for RGB, I'm with Grace; she won't win.  Instead, I agree that Captain America vs. Thanos will instead with Arya Stark vs. the While Walkers being the most likely one to upset the Avenger.  As for the three-way match in "Wrestlemania," I have nothing to say that I didn't already already for Roman Reigns.
Despite both my votes and predictions, the Golden Popcorn went to Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva from "Captain Marvel."  Brie Larson acknowledged some of the other people who made that fight and the resulting award possible by bringing her stunt doubles up on stage with her, something I will show in a video at the end of the post.  By the way, I'm now hoping that the Motion Picture Academy finally recognizes stunts with its own Oscar, something both SAG and the Emmy Awards already do.

I never got around to making a firm prediction in the next category, although I was right as far as I went.
MOST MEME-ABLE MOMENT

Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club — The Lilo Dance
Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood — Ray J’s Hat
RBG — The Notorious RBG
RuPaul’s Drag Race — Asia O’Hara’s butterfly finale fail
The Bachelor — Colton Underwood jumps the fence
Of course I'm voting for The Notorious RBG, but that doesn't mean this meme will win.  Instead, I think it's one of the reality TV memes.  The one I saw was the Lilo dance, but I'm going to watch the one from RuPaul's drag race to see if it compares.  As for "jumping the fence," it makes me hope that "The Bachelor" has jumped the shark.
Jumping the shark or not, Colton Underwood jumps the fence from "The Bachelor" won.  I guess the oldest reality show nominated still has what it takes to compete.

That's it for the categories in which "RBG" and Justice Ginsburg were nominated.  Follow over the jump for the rest of the winners.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Happy World Rainforest Day!


I'm not done with environmental holidays.  After celebrating National American Eagle Day plus an early National Seashell Day and World Giraffe Day on the Summer Solstice, I am now observing World Rainforest Day.
June 22 is World Rainforest Day. The day has been set aside to help protect rainforests by raising awareness and encouraging action to protect them.

Organizers of this annual day say 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink is attributed to rainforests of the Amazon. They absorb carbon dioxide, stabilize climate patterns, and are home to half the world’s plant and animal species. The concern of organizers is that an area the size of 40 football fields is lost every minute of every day.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Nurture your knowledge by reading about rainforests on National Geographic’s website.

Shop smart. Look for Rainforest Alliance Certified products.

When buying palm oil, look for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or Green Palm logo.

On social media, use #WorldRainforestDay and share why rainforests matter to you.

Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/worldrainforestday/

HISTORY

The first World Rainforest Day was June 22nd, 2017. It was created by a collaboration of groups called the Rainforest Partnership. It is an international non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas and is dedicated to protecting and regenerating tropical rainforests through community-based projects in the Amazon.
Follow over the jump for the videos I found for this international day.

Friday, June 21, 2019

VOA News and WFTX-TV report on World Giraffe Day for the Summer Solstice


Happy World Giraffe Day!  I begin this year's observance by noting that the day has finally appeared at National Day Calendar.
World Giraffe Day is an annual event initiated by Giraffe Conservation Federation to celebrate the longest-necked animal on the longest day of the year.

It’s estimated there are 111,000 giraffes in the world. In some areas, traditionally regarded as prime giraffe habitat, numbers have dropped by 95%.

Giraffe facts:
  • Giraffes are typically 14 to 20 feet tall.
  • Giraffes weigh between 1,600 and 3,000 pounds
  • A full-grown giraffe eats more than 100 lb of leaves and twigs a day.
  • Giraffes feed from the tops of trees, using their tongues and lips to pull off leaves.
  • Giraffe tongues are long, reaching around 20–21 in
  • Giraffes sleep less than two hours a day. In general, they sleep with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their hindquarters, but they can also sleep for short periods standing up
  • Giraffe horns are not horns. They are ossicones.No one seems to know what they are for. The horns may help males intimidate one another during mating season, or they may be a sexually selected characteristic (that is, males with more impressive ossicones may be more attractive to females). It’s possible the ossicones may even help to dissipate heat in the blazing African sun.
Enough facts and text.  Voice of America AKA VOA News uploaded a video last year showing efforts to save the giraffe in World Giraffe Day Brings Attention to Their Declining Numbers.

June 21st is World Giraffe Day, celebrating the iconic long-necked African animal. But giraffe populations have been decreasing at a rapid pace, and researchers warn they could become extinct in the near future. In northern Kenya, a conservation program is working to protect the native reticulated giraffe, known for its distinctive striped patterns. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
That's an example of what's going in in Africa to save the animals.  Follow over the jump for another example of how the one to four species of giraffes (yes, there is some controversy over the diversity of extant giraffes) are being preserved here in the U.S.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Celebrate the return of the Bald Eagle for National American Eagle Day


I noted yesterday that today is American Eagle Day and also when I celebrate National Seashell Day, which I've observed together since 2017.  For my readers who need reminding, here's the opening paragraph of the holiday's description from National Day Calendar.
Observed each year on June 20th is National American Eagle Day.  This day is set aside to honor our national symbol, raise awareness for protecting the Bald Eagle, assist in the recovery of their natural environments and take part in educational outreach.
For this year's celebration of America's national bird, I am sharing American bald eagles continue remarkable comeback in New Jersey from NJ.com.  It was posted only two days ago, just in time for today's observance.

In 1973, there was one American bald Eagle nest in New Jersey. The pesticide DDT was largely blamed for the near extinction of this large predatory bird species. Today, there are an estimated 200 nesting pairs. The return of the bald eagle is considered one of the biggest environmental comeback stories in the state.
That was the success story of the return of the Bald Eagle in one state.  SciShow talks about the recovery of the entire species as one of 7 Species That Were Saved From Extinction.  The Bald Eagle is #3.

Humans are pretty good at destroying things. Like habitats, animal populations... you catch my drift. But, there have been a few species that humans have helped bring back from the brink of extinction.
I found all of those inspiring examples of how humans can reverse at least some of the environmental damage they cause.  It helps make up for reporting United Nations report warns 1 million species could go extinct last month.

Follow over the jump for the other wildlife holiday I observe today, National Seashell Day, which I observe on the 20th regardless of the day the Summer Solstice falls because the day fell on the 20th when I first noticed it and because World Giraffe Day is always on the 21st.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Food for Juneteenth and a drink for National Martini Day


Last year, I wished "Happy Juneteenth to the cast and crew of 'Black Panther'" on National Martini Day.  This year, instead of being an aside, I wish to make Juneteenth the main event.  To that end, I'm sharing Juneteenth – A Day to Reflect on the History and Legacy of Slavery in the US from VOA News.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved men and women in Texas finally learned that they were free — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in rebelling states. Every June 19th since, African Americans across the nation have held celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. VOA’s Jesusemen Oni has more.
Yes, the U.S. House of Representatives is holding a hearing on reparations today.  That should be interesting and I plan on following up on it later this week or early next week.

Enough serious business.  How about a celebration?  Thrillist Celebrates Juneteenth by sharing The Best Foods To Celebrate Juneteenth With.

July 4 isn't the only Independence Day worth celebrating in America. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is celebrated all over America for the emancipation from slavery in the United States that occurred on June 19, 1865. Families across the country celebrate by breaking out their barbecues and cooking up some of their favorite bites. Here at Thrillist, we take a look at all the foods that are dished out and how you can celebrate as well.
Yum.  Too bad I'm a diabetic and can't eat most of it.  That written, all of you who can eat these foods, enjoy!


Since it's also National Martini Day, I'm sharing the most recent martini recipe from Tipsy Bartender, the Pink Starburst Martini.

This drink tastes just like a pink starburst. Watch as Kendra helps me make this one!
Cheers and drink responsibly!

By the way, this is the first of a string of holidays.  Tomorrow is American Eagle Day and National Seashell Day and the day after tomorrow is World Giraffe Day and the Summer Solstice.  Stay tuned for more holiday celebrations on this blog!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

John Oliver talks impeachment on 'Last Week Tonight'


It's been more than a month since I posted 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' on opioids updates decreasing life expectancy for the eighth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News and John Oliver explains trade, which means I've been neglecting I've been neglecting one of my most popular sources.  It's time to correct that omission with this week's segment about impeachment.

With a national conversation underway about the possibility of impeachment, John Oliver discusses whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Considering I had a serious entry about Justin Amash calling for impeachment earlier this month, it was about time I posted something humorous on the subject.  Speaking of which, I twice shared The Good Fight's Animated Guide To Impeachment, which balanced out the serious Vox explains how to impeach a president.  Next time I bring up the subject, I promise to be serious.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Seeker asks 'How bad are rocket launches for the environment?'


I am both an environmentalist and a space enthusiast, so I couldn't resist watching and sharing a video about the intersection of my two interests from Seeker, which asks How Bad Are Rocket Launches for the Environment?

From Space-X to Blue Origin, rocket launches have increased tremendously over the past year. How do these numerous launches affect the environment?
The answer is "maybe not as bad as we might think, but we really don't know."  Time for more research.  Since I'm also a scientist, I like that answer.  In the meantime, keep exploring and exploiting space.  Until I find out differently, I think it's worth the energy and resources dedicated to the effort and that its benefits exceed the harms.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Kylo catching up to Anakin — Star Wars baby names for Fathers Day 2019


Once again, Happy Father's Day!   As I promised on Mother's Day and repeated earlier today, "I'm saving Star Wars names for Father's Day.  Stay tuned."

I begin by quoting what I wrote in Baby names from entertainment for Mother's Day 2018.
Unfortunately for Kylo, which was the name that increased the most in popularity in 2016, it was the name that dropped the second most in popularity in 2017, 245 places from 904th to 1149th.  The character's real name, Ben, fell 26 places to 729th place.  To add insult to injury, the actor's name, Adam, also fell two places to 77th.  On the other hand, Rey as a male name increased in popularity 99 places from to 769th.  As a female name, it didn't crack the top 1000.  The actress's name, Daisy, also became more popular, rising 20 places to 170th.  Leia also continues to rise in popularity, rising 43 places to reach 279th.  Oh, and Finn climbed eight places to 167th.  I take all these as signs that the Light Side is prevailing over the Dark.
The ultimate fate of Kylo Ren the character will not be determined until "Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker" is released in December, but Business Insider reported that the name is making a comeback.
The name Kylo also rose rapidly in popularity for boys, which appears to be inspired by the "Star Wars" villain Kylo Ren, played by actor Adam Driver in the reboot of the series.
Here's the graph showing Kylo returning to the top ten.


It had the eighth highest increase in popularity, rising 287 places from 1152 to 865, even higher than it ranked two years ago.  Kylo is catching up to Anakin, which fell 89 places from 739 to 828.  The character's real name, Ben, also improved its popularity, moving up 38 places from 730 to 692, also higher than it was two years ago.  Speaking of real names, the actor's name, Adam, fell just one place from 77 to 78th.

On the light side, Rey as a boy's name continued its climb, rising 21 places from 772 to 751.  As a female name, it once again failed to crack the top 100.  Luke rose just one spot from 30 to 29.  So did Finn, from 166 to 167.  On the other hand, Leia fell 14 places from 282 to 296.  The Light Side is catching up to the Dark Side, at least in popularity among baby names last year.

By the way, it's not just human babies being named after Star Wars characters.  ABC 6 in Philadelphia reported in January Missouri zoo names baby otters after Star Wars characters.

The Kansas City Zoo's names for three baby otters have fans joining the light side, including one well-known "Star Wars" alumnus. The Kansas City Star reports that the Asian small-clawed otter triplets born last October have been dubbed Han, Luke and Leia. The otters were introduced to zoo-goers for the first time on Friday.
May The Force be with all newborns given Star Wars names this past year, including the otters.

U.S. birth and fertility rates continue falling and setting record lows for Father's Day


Happy Father's Day!  Just as I did last year, I am "writing about the lower birth rate for Father's Day, even though that is usually considered a concern of mothers.*

Just like last year, the birth rate hit another record low, as CBS News reported last month.

America's baby bust isn't over. The nation's birth rates last year reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, a government report shows, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years. The provisional report, released Wednesday and based on more than 99% of U.S. birth records, found 3.788 million births last year. It was the fourth year the number of births has fallen, the lowest since 1986 and a surprise to some experts given the improving economy.
Gizmodo included even more facts in its article on the subject.
[T]he national birthrate, measured as the number of births per every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44, also took a drop for the fourth year in a row. Overall, the country hasn’t seen this few births since 1986.
...
There’s also been a continuing decline in the fertility rate, defined as the number of children a woman has over her lifetime. In 2018, the rate was 1.72 births per every woman, a decline from 1.76 births in 2017. Experts consider a rate of 2.1 births to be a baseline for ensuring that younger generations can continue to replace the aging population with no problems, a threshold the U.S. has consistently failed to meet for a decade.
I found the CBS News report, while good on the facts, short on analysis.  That's not the case with the following clip from KSNT News from Topeka, Kansas, Report shows U.S birth rate is declining.


In addition to the reasons for the declines among most age groups and increases among older women, the expert from the Cleveland Clinic connects the increase in premature births to the trend towards delayed childbirth.  That's decent analysis of the data.  Still, it misses some of the economic dimensions of both the causes and effects of lower birth and fertility rates.  For those, I turn to Gizmodo.
But there are likely other worrying things that are making pregnancies among women in their 20s less common, namely the lingering after-effects of the Great Recession. Research has consistently linked a struggling economy to fewer births, and in the U.S., this latest decline began in 2008, when the recession hit.

While some people’s financial fortunes (mostly the rich) have since recovered and the economy as a whole is considered healthy, it’s people in their 20s who are often still struggling to stay afloat. And this financial stranglehold is clearly affecting some young adults’ plans for parenthood. A 2018 survey commissioned by the New York Times, for instance, found that nearly two-thirds of adults cited the expenses of child care as a reason for not having children. In fact, it was the most commonly-cited reason.
I first made this point in Next Media Animation thinks low birth rates in the U.S. and China aren't all good eight years ago.  I expected that as the economy improved, birth rates would pick up.  That hasn't happened.

Gizmodo also analyzes the possible effect of lower fertility rates.
Again, as with the birth rate, this isn’t necessarily a doomsday scenario. Many similarly wealthy countries, such as Canada, have rates even lower than that. In some ways, a lower fertility rate could be viewed as a sign that an industrialized country is doing relatively well. It can mean, as mentioned above, that more women have the reproductive freedom to have (or not have) children at their choosing. The closer the birth rate becomes to that of countries like Greece and Japan, though, the more trouble that could spell in the future, with a growing aging population that can strain a country’s resources and labor shortages.
That's a concern elsewhere as well, as France 24 English reported in Drop in world fertility rates leading to 'baby bust' last year.

Women are having fewer babies in developed countries. That's the conclusion of a new global report that warns the current population in some of the world's wealthiest nations can't be maintained at the current birth rate.
I'm ambivalent about this development, as I wrote last year.
I have been in favor of zero population growth for as long as I can remember.  However, I'm not sure the U.S. economy is set up for a stable or slowly declining population, a point I made in the Hipcrime Vocab: Why Slowing Population Growth is a Problem.  We are going to have to figure how to do so.  Otherwise, I might live long enough to experience the wisdom of the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."
I repeated a similar sentiment in my comment on Going South at Kunstler's blog last month.
It always struck me as odd that, if the economy is supposedly so good with a 50-year low unemployment rate, U.S. birth and fertility rates are falling and the fertility rate is at a record low.  The answer is that, as our host pointed out, the economy isn't actually that good because it's unequally distributed.  On the one hand, it's leading us (as in the U.S.) to do our part to slow the growth of population and affluence, the P and A in I (impact) = P * A * T, where T is technology, which ideally could counteract the effects of the other two variables.  On the other, I and other advocates of zero population growth should be careful what we wish for.  We might not like how we get it.
That includes accepting more immigrants to counteract lower population growth and stagnant or shrinking economies.  I'm O.K. with that, but Trump is in office in large part because many Americans are not.

Enough finding a dark lining in a silver cloud.  It's Sunday, so it's time for an entertainment feature.  As I promised on Mother's Day, "I'm saving Star Wars names for Father's Day.  Stay tuned."

*That written, there are "Men Going Their Own Way" (MGTOW) types who are allies of the men's rights advocates (MRAs) that I criticized in Recycled comments about the men's rights movement that are cheering this development in the comments to the videos I posted because it means men are avoiding marriage, fatherhood, and child rearing and support.  They're not entirely wrong factually, although I think they are wrong morally as well as giving themselves and men in general too much credit.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

OnTheIssues.org's take on the Democratic presidential candidates from left to center


I concluded Democratic presidential candidates from left to center from Voteview with a promise to revisit the topic.
[T]his won't be the last time I plan on examining the ideology of the candidates.  On The Issues has pages and ideological evaluations of just about all the candidates, including ones who never served in Congress.  Compared to Voteview, it's more complete, but less objective and based on rhetoric, not action....Still, ranking the candidates by ideology, and comparing it to their DW-NOMINATE scores, if available, should be both entertaining and informative.
Since the participants in the debates later this month have been selected, it's time to follow through.

As I did for the rankings using Voteview, I'm sharing the methodology.
Candidate's Political Philosophy
The below is a way of thinking about the candidate's political philosophy by dividing the candidate's VoteMatch answers into "social" and "economic" questions.  It is only a theory - please take it with a grain of salt!

Social Questions:  Liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictive answers.

Economic Questions:  Conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictive answers.
...
Social Score

This measures how much the candidate believes government should intervene in people's personal lives or on social issues. These issues include health, morality, love, recreation, prayer and other activities that are not measured in dollars.
  • A high score (above 60%) means the candidate believes in tolerance for different people and lifestyles.
  • A low score (below 40%) means the candidate believes that standards of morality & safety should be enforced by government.

Economic Score

This measures how much the candidate believes government should intervene in people's economic lives. Economic issues include retirement funding, budget allocations, and taxes.
  • A high score (above 60%) means the candidate believes in personal responsibility for financial matters, and that free-market competition is better for people than central planning by the government.
  • A low score (below 40%) means the candidate believes that a good society is best achieved by the government redistributing wealth. The candidate believes that government's purpose is to decide which programs are good for society, and how much should be spent on each program.

This measures how much the candidate believes government should intervene in people's economic lives. Economic issues include retirement funding, budget allocations, and taxes.

How We Score Candidates

How we determine a candidate's stance on each VoteMatch question:
  1. We collect up votes, excerpts from speeches, press releases, and so on, which are related to each question. Each of these are shown on the candidate's VoteMatch table.
  2. We assign an individual score for each item on the list. The scores can be: Strongly Favor, Favor, Neutral/Mixed, Oppose, Strongly Oppose. The scoring terms refer to the text of the question, not whether the candidate strongly opposed a bill, for example.
  3. We then average the individual scores, using the numeric scale: Strongly Favor = 2, Favor = 1, Neutral/Mixed = 0, Oppose = -1, Strongly Oppose = -2.
  4. /OL>
    • If the average is above 1, the overall answer to the question is Strongly Favor.
    • If the average is above 0, the overall answer to the question is Favor.
    • If the average is exactly 0, the overall answer to the question is Neutral.
    • If the average is below 0, the overall answer to the question is Oppose.
    • If the average is below -1, the overall answer to the question is Strongly Oppose.
    ...
    • To get the political philosophy of the candidate, we sum up the answers on two scales, the Personal/Social scale and the Economic Scale. Some questions aren't used in the political philosophy calculations.
    • The VoteMatch table indicates the number of scale points from each answer (any one question can provide from 0 to 10 scale points on one scale or the other).
    • The combination of social/moral scales and economic scales produces a political philosophy description.
Enough of On The Issues' methodology.  Mine was to rank the candidates by economic score from low (left) to high (right, or in this case center) to make it comparable to the liberal-moderate (there are no true conservatives running for the Democratic nomination) ranking I used two weeks ago which was based on the economic dimension.  I then used the social score to break ties in the economic score with high scores being considered more liberal and low scores being considered more conservative.

Follow over the jump for the rankings.

Friday, June 14, 2019

All charges dismissed without prejudice against defendants in Flint Water Crisis cases


I told my readers to "stay tuned" at the conclusion of  as I promised to "write about the latest news about the Michigan Attorney General's prosecutions in the Flint Water Crisis."  The cases took a shocking turn as MLive reported this morning State drops criminal charges in Flint water cases.

Eight remaining Flint water prosecutions have been dismissed by the Department of Attorney General, officials said Thursday, June 13, 2019. Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy issued a statement saying the cases are being dismissed without prejudice -- meaning they could be refiled -- in order to conduct a full and complete investigation, a shocking conclusion to the high-profile criminal prosecutions.
This video presented the headlines and facts, although I think its interpretation that this is the conclusion of the case is premature.  WXYZ had the reactions from officials and people on the street in its two videos, beginning with last night's Flint Water Crisis: Charges Dropped.


WXYZ captured the desire for justice from both expert observers and the people affected, which included the possibility that charges will likely be refiled and the resulting cases will be stronger.

Similar reactions from new interviewees and more, including an indignant one from one of the activists in Flint, appeared in this morning's Michigan AG's office drops Flint Water Crisis charges, pending further investigation.

The Michigan Attorney General's office announced Thursday that they have dismissed all pending criminal cases connected to the Flint Water Crisis that were brought by the former Office of Special Counsel.
The quote from Former Attorney General Bill Schuette reminds me that I was very cynical about how he handled this case and still think Dana Nessel's more direct approach is a necessary improvement.

Speaking of Nessel, her office was quoted by Fox 47 in Investigators to Hold Town Hall in Flint.

The attorney general says her office will not respond further on the investigation until prosecutors speak directly to the people of Flint.
I'm looking forward to hearing and reading more on this investigation at the end of the month.  Until then, this news just reinforces my observation that "The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in this case, but I expect they will indeed grind exceedingly fine."  If anything, they're grinding even slower than I expected, but also much finer.

In the meantime, stay tuned for my follow up Democratic presidential candidates from left to center from Voteview tomorrow.

WUSA on D.C. statehood for a 51st or 52nd star on Flag Day


Happy Flag Day!  Two years ago, I observed the holiday with A 51st star for Puerto Rico on Flag Day.  That kicked off a series of popular posts that I chronicled in Samantha Bee helps update 'Vox on Puerto Rico statehood and John Oliver on territories,' the fourth most read entry of the seventh year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News last year, which included John Oliver on D.C. Statehood, and Another bill introduced to admit Puerto Rico as a state, an update on Puerto Rico statehood for the eighth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News this year, in fact, last month.  For this year's celebration, I'm giving the District of Columbia its time in the spotlight, as WUSA reported last month DC statehood to have its first hearing this summer.



A vote is expected July 24.

That's good news for the residents of the nation's capital.  However, it may not come to pass because of opposition in the Senate and the possibility that it might take a constitutional amendment to allow it to become a state.  WUSA had a debate of sorts about those very issues earlier this month, beginning with Rep. Jamie Raskin: Puerto Rico could be key to DC getting statehood.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) says including DC and Puerto Rico should both become states.
I'll return to Raskin's proposal after the next segment, 'This is historic' Delegate Norton discusses path forward for DC statehood, where she continues the debate with Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute, who pours cold water on the idea.

House Majority Leader and Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer joined DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in the fight for DC Statehood today. He officially signed on as a co-sponsor for HR-51 which would make DC the 51st state and give residents a vote in Congress. Delegate Norton and Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute go Off Script on the chances of statehood becoming a reality.
I'm on the side of Raskin, Hoyer, and Norton, as I think the residents of Washington, D.C. deserve equal self-government.  I'm sure that Pilon is right about how the federal district is governed and am afraid that he might also be right about the majority of Americans or at least their elected representatives may not be in favor of shrinking the district to make a state possible.  Sigh.

Follow over the jump for more on Raskin's proposal that Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico be admitted together.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Vox explains the Green New Deal plus building a sea wall on Staten Island to prepare for climate change


The last time I examined the Green New Deal, I shared Vox explaining how coverage of the Green New Deal informed people more about the politics of the idea than about its substance, something the video I embedded contributed to.  Today, Vox actually describes the substance of the proposal in The Green New Deal, explained.

What's actually in the Green New Deal?
...
The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan to fight the effects of climate change. It’s the only American plan that actually acknowledges the size of the impending crisis. And it contains some difficult truths that we might not want to hear.
Vox has more here.

When I first read about all of the social programs in the Green New Deal, I thought "that's nice and I'm in favor of them, but what do they have to do with fighting climate change?"  This video is the first time I've heard that they are there to mitigate all of the economic disruption that will happen in a rapid radical restructuring of the U.S. economy as a result of decarbonization while still maintaining as much of our First World way of life as possible.  Now I understand why the Green New Deal includes them, so I'm even more in favor of them.

If the U.S. doesn't decarbonize its economy and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then we will have to prepare for the 400 ppm world we are creating, which will also be expensive.  Vox in partnership with one of its sister sites Curbed has a video about one of the projects for that future that is already being planned, New York is building a wall to hold back the ocean.

Climate change is leading to increasingly violent storms. Can seawalls hold back floods?
...
Staten Island recently received funding for a nearly 5-mile-long seawall to protect its coast. But the plan raises a lot of questions. We’re living in a dangerously dynamic world: Hurricanes are getting worse, wildfires are rampant in California, extreme heat is melting roads in India, and sea levels continue to rise. Will a wall really be enough to protect our coastal cities?

Alissa Walker from Curbed talked to us about how it’s too late to stop the changing climate, but not too late to change how we think about infrastructure.
In reality, we will have to do both, decarbonizing our economy and preparing for all the changes that will be coming because of all the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases humanity has already pumped into the atmosphere.  I hope we're up for the challenge.  We have to be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

'Free Trip to Egypt' and #PledgeToListen Day of Unity tonight, an invitation on behalf of Coffee Party USA


As a director of Coffee Party USA, I invite my readers to participate in one of our partner events, the #PledgeToListen Day of Unity screening of the documentary "Free Trip to Egypt."  I'll let the film's creator Tarek Mounib explain.
Friend,

I had an idea - to bring together two peoples of different cultures, try to connect in kindness instead of fear, and document the experience in a film. Joining forces with Adam Saleh, an American Muslim YouTube celebrity and comedian to lighten the trip, I set out across America searching for potential travelers with different backgrounds, beliefs and opinions. The group of daring, open-minded Americans who came to Egypt explored the real land, people, and ways of life beyond the media images. What happened on our journey exceeded even my greatest hopes for this project.

On June 12, I am excited to share this project with you! The film, Free Trip to Egypt, is a remarkable cinematic sojourn of revelation and self-discovery for the participants, the filmmakers, and the viewer alike.

The film will be shown in 500 Theaters across the United States on June 12th, 2019 and will be immediately followed by a live panel discussion streamed into the theater from Washington DC.

Find a theater near you!

But we don't want to stop there! The film created a desire to bring more listening to the world and #PledgeToListen was born.
Here's the #PledgeToListen.
I pledge to listen to you. Will you listen to me?

I pledge not to demonize anyone who holds certain opinions, views or beliefs, but instead will try to understand their reasons and their arguments and express my own views in return. That’s it.
Here's the trailer.

On June 12th, join us for a nationwide, one-day-only, screening of the film Free Trip to Egypt across 500 theatres in the United States and join the #PledgeToListen Day of Unity.
I close with this excerpt from a review in The Hollywood Reporter.
It should be eye-rollingly obvious to point out that, wherever one goes in the world, there are friendly, welcoming people to meet. Obvious, anyway, to people whose knowledge of the outside world doesn't come mostly from xenophobes. Gently observing how many of our fellow Americans are full of fear while trying, in its tiny way, to do something about that, Ingrid Serban's Free Trip to Egypt offers just that to a handful of travelers. Focusing on the warm connections these nervous Americans made while touching gingerly on moments of mild conflict, the doc is best suited to viewers like the people onscreen: men and women of goodwill who just need to meet some Arabs in person. How many such people will seek the film out is an open question, but a collection of celebrities including filmmakers, politicians and an ex-wife of Donald Trump have rallied behind a June 12 nationwide Fathom event to spread the word.

Tarek Mounib, who says he grew up as the only Muslim kid in Halifax, recalls having the idea for this project while working in Switzerland. That's nearly all we learn about a man described vaguely in press releases as an entrepreneur; judging from his early efforts to make the scheme a reality, consciousness-raising tourism is not his field of expertise.
...
To a person, Tarek's beneficiaries come home feeling changed by the experience. Unfortunately, he and Serban aren't so gauche as to ask if they've reevaluated any political stances as a result; the film is content with the unspoken assumption that this expanded awareness of shared humanity will make the world better. If only someone had the budget to send tens of millions of other frightened Westerners on similar trips.
Coffee Party USA and I don't have that budget, but we can suggest that people watch the film, which we also hope will make the world a better place.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Justin Amash quits Freedom Caucus amidst call for impeachment


Much to my surprise, I've never mentioned U.S. Representative Justin Amash on this blog before.  That ends today, as ABC 13 in Grand Rapids reported this morning Amash leaves House Freedom Caucus in wake of impeachment talk.

The decision to step down from the conservative group that he started back in 2015 was because he didn't want to be a "further distraction." Justin Amash is still dealing with the aftereffects of saying Trump committed "impeachable conduct" as laid out in the Mueller report.
Yes, Amash is the first Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives to call for impeachment, which the following video from Bloomberg pointed out three weeks ago.

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a libertarian who’s often at odds with most other congressional Republicans, said Donald Trump has engaged in “impeachable conduct,” drawing a rebuke from the president as a “total lightweight.”

Amash said on Twitter Saturday that he’s concluded -- after reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted 448-page report -- that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” the findings using “sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies.”

“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” said Amash, 39, who arrived in Congress as part of the Tea Party wave in 2010.

Amash’s manifesto-like string of more than a dozen tweets stopped short of actually calling for Trump’s impeachment.
The Bloomberg video noted that this isn't the first time Amash has defied Trump, citing two votes he cast against Trump's policies.  In fact, Amash has been the most likely Republican to support impeachment, as CBS News reported two years ago GOP congressman among first to say Trump impeachment possible.

Congressman Justin Amash, R-Michigan, said Wednesday that if true, Trump's allegations regarding former FBI Director James Comey are grounds for impeachment.
That was on May 17, 2017, just about two years to the day before Amash tweeted that Trump had engaged in impeachable conduct.  Anyone who was surprised that Amash would be in favor of impeachment has not been paying attention.

Finally, the man has principles.  I may not agree with them, but I'm glad he has them and sticks to them.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Andrew Yang links universal basic income to automation and the Retail Apocalypse on 'Real Time'


Just as Jay Inslee made climate change his signature issue, Andrew Yang has made universal basic income (UBI) his.  It's a science-fiction solution to a science-fiction problem, automation taking human jobs.  No surprise, I like it.

He was on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last week and made his case for it.  Watch his interview and listen to his argument.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang joins Bill to discuss his vision for America.
I really appreciated how he connected America's dying malls closing to Amazon's outcompeting brick-and-mortar retailers, in large part because of automating its warehouses.  It put the Retail Apocalypse in a larger perspective than just Amazon's dominance in online shopping picking off weak players like Sears, Kmart, and JCPenney.  I'm glad he's thinking about the issue that deeply.

I plan on writing more about Yang and the other Democratic presidential candidates when I follow up on Democratic presidential candidates from left to center from Voteview.  Yang has never held elected office, let alone served in Congress, so he doesn't have a Voteview score, but he does have a page at OnTheIssues.org and I will use that site to arrange the Democratic contenders from left to center in a future entry.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

James Corden a big winner among political nominees at tonight's Critics' Choice Real TV Awards


The big awards show tonight is the Tony Awards, the T in EGOT.  Even though there are political and fantastic nominees, "The Ferryman" about The Troubles in Northern Ireland and "Hillary and Clinton" — self-explanatory  — for the former and "Hadestown" for the latter, I'm just not feeling like writing about them.  Instead, for this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I feel like blogging about the Critics' Choice Real TV Awards, which are airing on VH1 tonight at 11:00 P.M. EDT.  This isn't the first time I've made a choice like this; I made a similar decision in 2015, writing about the
Critics' Choice TV Awards winners for speculative fiction
.

Even though people think of reality TV as frivolous, a lot of the categories are for documentaries and talk shows; all that matters is that they are not scripted fiction.  Therefore, they can be quite serious, even as they are being entertaining.  On that note, I begin with a category that is about government, not politics.  The winner has already been chosen, even though the show has not yet aired, and is marked with double asterisks.  I hope I'm not spoiling too much.
Crime/Justice Show

Betrayed (ID)
**Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix)
In Pursuit with John Walsh (ID)
Making a Murderer: Part 2 (Netflix)
The Innocent Man (Netflix)
"Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" has another nomination, but not in the next category, which is more political.
Ongoing Documentary Series

Chef’s Table (Netflix)
**POV (PBS)
The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth (Showtime)
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (CNN)
Vice (HBO)
Other than "Chef's Table," all of these series cover politics and government.  I'm not surprised "POV" won, as I've written about it in 'Abacus,' 'Edith and Eddie,' 'Heroin(e),' and 'Last Men in Aleppo' — Oscar nominees at the 2018 News and Documentary Emmy Awards and 'Dark Money,' 'Hitler's Hollywood' and 'RBG' lead Best Political Documentary nominees at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.  The latter shows that the Broadcast Television Journalists Association knows the series.  Congratulations!

Now for the other nomination for "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes."
Limited Documentary Series

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix)
Our Planet (Netflix)
Punk (Epix)
Shut Up and Dribble (Showtime)
**Surviving R. Kelly (Lifetime)
I picked "Surviving R. Kelly" as the likely winner of Best Documentary at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, so I'm not surprised it won here, although I would have been rooting for "Our Planet."*  It's nice to know that the critics liked the show as much as I think the fans voting at MTV.com have.  That written, I'm saving my congratulations until next week, when I expect "Surviving R. Kelly" will pick up the golden popcorn container.

Now for a category that is only incidentally political.
Short Form Series

9 Months with Courteney Cox (Facebook Watch)
Biography Presents: History, Herstory (HISTORY)
**Carpool Karaoke: The Series (Apple TV)
Comeback Kids (The Dodo)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Between the Scenes (Comedy Central)
James Corden can add this trophy to his three Emmy Awards he won last fall, one of which is for "Carpool Karaoke: The Series."  Personally, I'd have been rooting for Trevor Noah.

I am saving my congratulations for now, as Corden won two more awards, the first of which I will get to after the next category.
Talk Show

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)
**My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (Netflix)
Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Warner Bros. Television/Syndicated)
The View (ABC)
Congratulations to David Letterman.  He did better here than he did at last year's Emmy Awards, where I wrote he should just be happy to be nominated.  This time, I'm happy to say "Congratulations!"

Now for Corden's second award.
Late-Night Talk Show (TIE)

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
**Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
**The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
I would have been rooting for John Oliver, as his show has many Emmy Awards, so I'm glad he shared the award.  Congratulations!  However, I'm surprised it was Cordens's show that tied.  If I had been forecasting a tie, which I wouldn't have, I'd have picked one of the other three nominees, as Corden's show is the least to my taste.  However, the critics are looking at factors I'm not, such as general entertainment value and creativity, so I'm not terribly surprised.

I conclude with Corden's final award.
Show Host

RuPaul Charles – RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Stephen Colbert – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
**James Corden – The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
Busy Philipps – Busy Tonight (E!)
Jerry Seinfeld – Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)
I'd have been rooting for RuPaul Charles, who won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Best Host, but that was against hosts of other reality shows, not variety talk shows.  My second choice would have been Stephen Colbert.  Still, I think Corden is a worthy winner, so congratulations three times over!  To sum up his victories, I am sharing the relevant paragraph about his wins from IndieWire.
“The Late Late Show with James Corden” also earned multiple awards, for both Late-Night Talk Show (a tie with “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”) and Show Host for Corden, whose “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” won the Short Form Series category, sending the Brit home with three awards total.
The only show that won more awards was “Queer Eye,” which led all winners with four awards, Ensemble Cast in an Unscripted Series, Lifestyle Show: Fashion/Beauty, Male Star of The Year for Jonathan Van Ness, and Structured Series.  Congratulations!

Since I like completing a circle by going back to the first topic I mentioned, Corden is the host of tonight's Tony Awards, so he gets to be on two awards shows on the same night.  Ah, the wonders of tape delay!

*That's O.K.  "Our Planet" won Animal/Nature Show, which is what I would have wanted.