A blog about societal, cultural, and civilizational collapse, and how to stave it off or survive it. Named after the legendary character "Crazy Eddie" in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's "The Mote in God's Eye." Expect news and views about culture, politics, economics, technology, and science fiction.
Let’s close out 2020 by looking back at the moments that inspired us and changed us in a year unlike any other.
2020 changed everything. From the deadly Covid-19 pandemic to protests against systemic racism and police brutality, from changing global leadership to the effects of climate change, Vox explained the moments that mattered — and the ones that brought us joy.
Miss YouTube Rewind this year? In November, YouTube announced that they would not be making a YouTube Rewind for 2020. So we decided to make one for them... 2020 saw a TON of notable YouTube videos and trends including Among Us, Mr. Beast, WAP, Hacksmith's lightsaber build and the PS5 and Xbox Series X reveals! You're welcome YouTube. What was your favorite YouTube video of 2020?
I think that was better than the real thing last year.
These channels lit up the internet in 2020. For this list, we’ll be looking at some of YOUR favorite YouTube channels that you’ve been watching in 2020, chosen through our poll. Our countdown includes jacksfilms, penguinz0, MrBeast Gaming, and more! Did your favorite YouTube channel make the list? Let us know who it is and why you love them in the comments!
I only know about one of these channels, Oversimplified, but all of them look like fun. As I wrote in The top science stories of 2020 from Science Magazine, WatchMojo, SciShow, and 'Nova' on PBS, "I'm aware that WatchMojo and its sister channel MsMojo are premiere clickbait factories, [but] at least they produce high-quality, well-researched clickbait, so I'm going to keep using their videos." The two videos I featured today serve as good examples of that.
November 30th marks the official end of hurricane season. Though activity past this date is still possible (and 2020 has thrown plenty of curveballs...), let's go ahead and recap this record-breaking, catastrophic, please-let-it-be-over season.
The record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season may have been my top climate and weather story of 2020, but there were plenty of others, such as this year's westernwildfires. Weather Nation covered those and more in its Top 10 Weather Events of 2020.
Meteorologist Joe Astolfi takes a look back at the Top 10 Weather Events of 2020.
In addition to the hurricanes and fires, floods, drought, tornadoes, a nor'easter, and a derecho all made the top ten.
Each year, editors and writers choose a top research achievement as Science’s Breakthrough of the Year. This year, that honor goes to the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that have succeeded in large human trials—and are now being deployed around the world. But there are a lot of other advances to talk about, from figuring out the origin of Fast Radio Bursts to the discovery of the earliest known figurative art. Check out a few of the runners-up candidates—and this year’s Breakthrough of the Year—in this video rundown.
Like everything else about 2020, something related to the COVID-19 pandemic was the top story. At least it was good news, not more horror and disaster.
Follow over the jump for the other videos showing the top science stories of the year about to end.
I'm continuing my retrospectives of 2020 with a theme that is more original than recycled, the top TV shows of 2020.* It's the last Sunday of the year, so I decided to write a real Sunday entertainment feature to celebrate.
So many people were stuck at home this past year, but fortunately, we all had the refuge of lots of good television to fall back on when we couldn't go out. From the return of The Boys (and The Seven) to the arrival of Margaret Thatcher and Princess Di on The Crown, our favorite TV shows in 2020 ran the gamut from outer-space Westerns to tales of omnibenevolent football coaches... and beyond.
Which brings us to our best TV series of 2020 nominations.
To recap, the shows IGN nominated as Best TV Series of the Year 2020 were "The Boys," "The Crown," "Devs," "The Good Place," "I May Destroy You," "Lovecraft Country," "The Mandalorian," "The Queen's Gambit," "Schitt's Creek," and "Ted Lasso." Most of those show up in the next two videos, beginning with WatchMojo's Top 10 Best TV Shows of 2020.
The best TV shows of 2020 got us through a crazy year. Our countdown includes "Ted Lasso," "The Last Dance," "The Mandalorian," and more! What's YOUR favorite show of 2020? Let us know in the comments!
While IGN stuck to live-action scripted series, both dramas and comedies, WatchMojo included two animated shows, "Rick and Morty" and "BoJack Horseman," and two documentary series, "The Last Dance" and "Tiger King," in their year-end best of 2020. They cast a much wider net when it came to best television of the year about to end than either IGN or IMDB, which took a different approach to Best Shows We Watched in 2020, going month-by-month instead of creating a top 10 list.
Join us on a journey through the TV series that caught our attention in 2020 and deserve to be binged for years to come. These are the shows we watched each month this year.
As the video pointed out, "The Witcher" actually debuted in 2019, so it isn't really from this year, even if a lot of people were watching it in 2020. Also, there are some shows that aren't in anyone else's top ten list, although this list had twelve, not ten, so two of them wouldn't be anyway.
For IMDB's actual top 10 lists of 2020's most popular TV shows, follow over the jump.
2020 was historic for NASA. We launched humans to the International Space Station from America again, made progress on our plans to return humans to the Moon and explore Mars, had an unprecedented encounter with an asteroid, and displayed perseverance and resilience in space and on Earth … all, while helping the country deal with a global crisis. Here’s a look back at highlights from those and other things we did this year at NASA.
When NASA asked if we were ready for 2020, it said its 2020 plans were "Launching Americans from U.S. soil, sending a new rover to Mars, and continuing to prepare for human missions to the Moon." My response was "'Here's to another great year in space for 2020!' If all goes as NASA plans, it will be." All that did happen, so as bad as 2020 was with the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession, it ended up being a good year in space and elsewhere for NASA.
It was also a good year for the European Space Agency, which is cooperating with NASA on several projects. Watch ESA highlights 2020 to see which ones they are.
2020 has been another year of progress for ESA. The launch and commissioning of Solar Orbiter heralded a new era of space science, whilst Eutelsat Konnect revolutionised telecommunications. The new Vega SSMS began a cost-effective new launch system for small satellites, deploying exciting new technologies such as PhiSat and ESAIL. ESA’s Earth Observation activities were also showcased, with the launch of Sentinel-6 and an international effort to monitor the environmental and economic impact of COVID-19. Gaia and Cheops yielded new findings about our universe; ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano returned successfully from orbit. With a lunar programme agreement signed and new steps being taken to control debris, ESA is set to begin 2021 at the forefront of space exploration.
"All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a Christmas song by American singer-songwriter @Mariah Carey. She co-wrote and co-produced it with Walter Afanasieff for her fourth studio album and first holiday album, Merry Christmas (1994). @Columbia Records released it as the lead single from the album on October 28, 1994.
That was the first time Broken Peach has performed this song and uploaded it to the band's YouTube channel, which is all the more reason to place it first.
Follow over the jump for this year's edition's of Broken Peach's holiday standards along with my selection from Tipsy Bartender's videos.*
The state of Georgia will decide how much Joe Biden can actually get done.
The US 2020 election isn't completely over. That’s because, even though we know Joe Biden will be president, we still don’t know if he’ll have a friendly Congress to work with. Congress’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives, is under Democratic control. But control of the upper chamber, the Senate, is still up in the air, because of two remaining Senate races — and they’re both in the state of Georgia.
The results of those “runoff” elections will determine whether Biden’s policy agenda will be ambitious or compromised. But runoff elections are actually really rare in the US. And the story of why Georgia uses them in the first place is crucial to understanding the state that will now determine the next several years of American politics.
For more about the history of southern states such as Georgia having runoff elections, read Vox's Why Georgia has runoff elections, which has the subtitle "Racist lawmakers built Georgia’s election system — and it could affect the balance of the Senate." Sigh. As William Faulkner famously wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
Follow over the jump to move from the history of Georgia using runoff elections to see how the current pair of runoff elections in the Peach State are playing out.
President Trump has not yet signed the bipartisan $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress. He says he wants the individual stimulus checks to be larger, something Democrats have been fighting for. CBS News’ Debra Alfarone joined “CBSN AM” with the latest.
President Trump ordered Congress to revise its bipartisan $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package, calling it a “disgrace.” He’s calling for stimulus checks to be raised from $600 to $2,000 each. CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid joined “CBSN AM” with the latest.
As much as it pains me to write it, I think Trump's right; the stimulus checks should be larger and $2000 sounds about right. Even a stuck clock is right twice a day. On the other, he had plenty of time to make his wishes known before both houses of Congress passed the bill with veto-proof majorities. I suspect Chip Reid is right that this is merely an exercise in showing that Trump is still relevant by creating chaos and that it might just pass after either Trump signs the bill or Congress overrides his veto. If so, that would be a Festivus miracle. If Congress amends the bill to increase the stimulus payment, that would be a real miracle. The worst would be if Trump's actions result in no stimulus package and a government shutdown. That would be a disaster. It's enough to drive me to drink.
A Festivus for the rest of us! There are plenty of reasons to celebrate this time of year. We asked Bryan Schneider, the bar director for Quality Branded — which runs NYC hot spot Squares, where Kendall Jenner and A$AP Rocky have been spotted — to dream up a crowd-pleasing holiday cocktail for Us.
*I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle the following cartoon for the occasion.
As I wrote many times and repeated just last week, "I'm looking forward to not having to pay attention to Donald Trump again. I'll just have to wait until January 20, 2021 for that to be completely true."
Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Cleveland Indians would be changing their nickname, six months after that had already been known.
The NYT story said the baseball team would make a formal announcement this week about changing its name, but for the 2021 season it would still use it and current uniforms, while deciding on a new moniker.
Based on the NYT story, many other news organizations, in print, television and social media, also reported for the first time that the Indians were changing their name.
In fact, that had been known since July 2020. Shortly after the Washington Football Team announced it would no longer be using the name “Redskins”, that same month, the Indians announced they were considering dropping their controversial name, just as they had already dropped their even more controversial mascot logo “Chief Wahoo” the year before.
Prompted by the NYT story, the Cleveland Indians officially released a statement Monday that they would be selecting a new name, and significantly, that it would have no Native American connections. Which rules out “Tribe.”
What are some skywatching highlights in December 2020? Catch the year's best meteor shower, the Geminids, in the middle of the month. Then witness an extremely close pairing of Jupiter and Saturn that won't be repeated for decades. And mark the shortest day of the year on the northern winter solstice.
What an eventful month in the night sky this month!
Each year, Earth’s northern hemisphere enters the winter solstice on Dec. 21 -- the shortest day of the year -- officially marking the start of winter. This year, bright planets Jupiter and Saturn will align perfectly on Dec. 21 to create what is commonly called the Christmas Star or the “Star of Bethlehem.”
My wife and I went out to see Jupiter and Saturn early last night and they were so close I could barely distinguish the two. If it's clear tonight, we'll try to see the actual conjunction of the two gas giants again. Wish us luck!
Vice President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett) and his wife Karen (Lauren Holt) receive the COVID-19 vaccine live on national television.
Oh, look, this sketch is like a "Christmas Carol" with three Vice Presidents, past, present, and future, onstage at once. Let's not forget the cameos by Rudy Giuliani and Ben Carson. No, Doctor Pyramid, no one will believe you were once a brain surgeon after the past five years. At least you were too boring to write about for the past four. Maybe if you had been handling the COVID-19 pandemic instead of Pence, things might have worked out better and people would accept that you still have "gifted hands." Nah, because Donald Trump would still have been a bad example and worse leader on the pandemic.
Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Barring a reverse Christmas miracle" — like a self-coup — "this is the last Weekend Update with Trump still in office." The cheer at the end of that line reminded me of the old Tonight Show skit where Ed McMahon would tell Johnny Carson as Karnak the Magnificent "I hold in my hand the last envelope," to which the audience would erupt in applause and Carson as Karnak would respond with a colorful insult in the form of a curse. I doubt Trump will be able to come up with anything as creative or funny in a retort, although he can always be more vicious.
Before I move on, I have this to say about the op-ed suggesting that Jill Biden not use Dr. Biden because she doesn't have an M.D. — go to Hell. As someone with a Ph.D. who worked hard to be called "Doctor," I fully support the future First Lady's right to be called Dr. Biden, even though she has an Ed.D., not a Ph.D. In fact, because of this controversy, I plan on making a Dr. Biden label for her.
Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news and make each other read jokes they've never seen before live on air to close out 2020.
In case my readers don't get the joke about Scarlett Johansson, she's married to Colin Jost (lucky man!) and she's known for taking roles that people think should go to actors more representative of the role, so Che was making him tell an unflattering joke about his own wife. Now we know that he didn't look at that joke first!
That's it for "SNL" for the year and blogging for today. Off to correct more exams!
Since this was the last Jimmy Kimmel Live of the year, it reminded me that it's time to start posting retrospectives of the year. I'd like to save that until between Christmas and New Year. Let's see how long I can hold off.
It turns I couldn't, simply because two of my favorite late nighttalk show hosts, my other go-to source of material when I don't want to write or think too much, had their last shows of the year last night and opened with recaps of the year about to end.
For his final monologue of 2020, Stephen Colbert recaps the year that brought us the clumsiest coup in history, a global pandemic, one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, a presidential election, and so much more. Join us for this epic trek down recent memory lane.
As we wrap up a year that most of us would like to largely forget, James Corden runs through a rapid-fire recap of 2020. It began normal with Parasite winning the Oscar and J. Lo rocking the Super Bowl halftime show, but took a turn when COVID-19 worked its way across the globe. And it only got more dramatic from there.
Wow, that zipped along! I wish I could say the same about 2020.
I'm afraid "nothing is ever over as long as Donald Trump can make money off of it" will come true. While "I'm looking forward to not having to pay attention to Donald Trump again,...wait[ing] until January 20, 2021 for that to be completely true" may not be enough. Sigh.
The Northeast got hit by a huge snowstorm, Vice President Mike Pence plans to get the vaccine on television, Trump is floating the idea of refusing to leave office, the Mayor of Atlantic City is auctioning off a chance to blow up one of Trump’s former casinos, a list of COVID-themed baby names that will never see the light of day, a special gift from Jimmy & Guillermo, a holiday themed edition of Masking Questions, and Jimmy interviews 9-year-old Daniel & his mom Danielle from Brooklyn after seeing a very funny video of him cursing about the F**king lockdown.
Since this was the last Jimmy Kimmel Live of the year, it reminded me that it's time to start posting retrospectives of the year. I'd like to save that until between Christmas and New Year. Let's see how long I can hold off. Until then, back to grading!
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrates 50 years of protecting human health and the environment in the United States, on tribal lands, and around the world.
Since 1970, EPA has made significant progress in protecting the nation’s water, cleaning up our air and land, and safeguarding human health. Historic milestones include setting the nation’s air quality standards to protect human health, regulating the quality of public drinking water, creating the Superfund program to clean up hazardous waste sites, protecting children from exposure to lead-based paint, and recently, launching the first ever United States Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issue of Marine Litter and new, modern National Recycling Goal of 50% by 2030.
EPA's administrators from 1970 to present day talk about their tenure at the helm of the agency, some of the environmental issues of the time and their accomplishments.
I must admit, I grimaced when ScottPruitt and AndrewWheeler spoke, but at least they said relatively reasonable things. This includes Wheeler's bragging about the EPA's accomplishments in the press release I used to open this entry.
“EPA has delivered on our mission to protect human health and the environment for every American, regardless of their zip code,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Since 1970 air pollution has fallen more than 77 percent, down at least 7 percent in the last 4 years alone. Under the Trump Administration, our nation’s air, water and land are the cleanest and safest they have been in our lifetimes. This is something to celebrate.”
I wonder how much of that decrease in pollution is the result of regulations from previous administrations that Wheeler decided to keep instead of kill. Frankly, I'll be glad when Wheeler and the rest of Donald Trump's administration leave next month and better people take over.
In recognition of EPA's 50th Anniversary, we honor these Charter Members who were directly involved in the establishment of EPA and the commencement of operations on December 2, 1970 after a signed executive order by President Richard M. Nixon. These members set the foundation for the agency through leadership, integrity, honestly, commitment, and dedication. Throughout the years, they encouraged and inspired other potential leaders to pursue excellence while continuing to achieve the agency's mission to protect human health and the environment.
The EPA Administrators may take the credit, but these are the civil servants who actually did the work. I thank them for their service to the country and congratulate them for their efforts to cleam up the environment. May the EPA help improve the environment for 50 years more!
I have a lot of real world work to do between correcting assignments and exams and Coffee Party business (no, I'm not traveling because of the COVID-19 pandemic; we're conducting it by Zoom), so I'm returning to my go to series when I'm doing one or the other and in this case, both, the Student Sustainability Video Festival, where I share the videos my Environmental Science students used in their presentations.
Trendy clothes are cheaper than ever. That sounds great for the people who buy them, but it's horrible for the people who make them.
I found Oliver's comparison of cheap clothes to cheap food both hilarious and particularly apt. It's similar to one that Joel Salatin makes in "Food, Inc." where he asks if people want to buy the cheapest car. My answer is only if they can't afford somethingbetter. The same with food. Maybe people should think the same of clothes.
Americans are blithely trashing more clothes than ever. In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. The EPA estimates that diverting all of those often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road.
Yikes! On the one hand, replacing Forever 21 with a clothing outlet that produces more sustainable clothing would be an improvement. On the other, that's not likely to happen. Instead, until Americans, especially young women, change their fashion tastes, they will just buy fast fashion online and more malls will be stuck with empty anchors and other stores, creating more dead mall[s]. Sigh.
This doesn't even include all the social costs that Oliver documented in his video, which are also considered part of sustainability.
Wow, the whole point of this series is to post something that doesn't require a lot of analysis and writing. I guess I had more to say about the subject than I thought when I chose it!
“Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate.” That is what the brilliant young scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao told actor and philanthropist Angelina Jolie about her process, over Zoom, from her home in Colorado, during a break in her virtual schooling. Just 15 years old, Rao has been selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME’s first ever Kid of the Year. She spoke about her astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying, and about her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over.
I'd heard of Gitanjali Rao and her work to purify drinking water in response to FlintWaterCrisis, but I don't recall seeing and hearing her before. She really is remarkable and deserving of the honor. When her second grade teacher told her that she could change the world, she wasn't kidding. Here's to a long and successful career in science and technology where she helps make the world a better place.
Eric Yuan, the 50-year-old founder and CEO of Zoom had worked for a decade to build a no-frills, highly functional conferencing platform for businesses. Now it's being used in all sorts of unexpected places, from delivery rooms to grade schools.
I am going to be a good environmentalist and recycle my the first part of my response.
I've been using Zoom as a director of the Coffee Party for years, so I became an early adopter. Because of that, I say two things to my readers. First, welcome to the club. Second, we are living in science fiction times, and not just because of the pandemic.
I now know who to thank for creating this app that has made running an organization remotely more efficient, convenient, and enjoyable. Thanks, Eric Yuan!
At 11:58 a.m. on June 8, LeBron James logged on to a video call from the living room of his Los Angeles–area home. As the clock hit noon, James, who abhors tardiness, took command of a virtual meeting that included more than 20 top athletes, entertainers and political pros. He set a serious tone: across the country, people were filling the streets to march against racial injustice and demand systemic change. What could this group do about it?
While I'm lumping this honor in with the Entertainer[s] of the Year — sports is a form of entertainment — it recognizes LeBron James as also being one of the racial-justice organizers recognized as some of the Guardians of the Year. Not only did he and other athletes join the movement against police brutality, they also made a difference in the 2020 election by convincing team owner to convert sports stadiums into polling places. Time recognized the Guardians of the Year as "defend[ing] the ideals sacred to democracy." So did James. Congratulations!
Follow over the jump for TIME's 2020 Entertainer of the Year.
Wolf Blitzer (Beck Bennett) interviews Dr. Fauci (Kate McKinnon) and Dr. Birx (Heidi Gardner) about the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine.
I couldn't resist some comedy about good news featuring one of Time Magazine's Guardians of the Year. May the real Dr. Fauci be more appreciated when the COVID-19 pandemic is over than Kate McKinnon's portrayal of him hopes. As for Dr. Birx, bleach may not remove the stain on her reputation because bleach is the stain on her reputation.
Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like President Trump’s election lawsuits getting denied by the Supreme Court.
I'm afraid "nothing is ever over as long as Donald Trump can make money off of it" will come true. While "I'm looking forward to not having to pay attention to Donald Trump again,...wait[ing] until January 20, 2021 for that to be completely true" may not be enough. Sigh.
Frontline health care workers didn't come away empty-handed, as they were just named Guardians of the Year, which I think is appropriate. I guess they couldn't be both Person and Guardian. I'll have more on them along with Athlete of the Year and Entertainer of the Year over the weekend. Congratulations to all the honorees and stay tuned to all my readers.
Guardians put themselves on the line to defend the ideals sacred to democracy. In 2020, they fought on many fronts. On the front line against COVID-19, the world’s health care workers displayed the best of humanity—selflessness, compassion, stamina, courage—while protecting as much of it as they could.
In Washington, Dr. Anthony Fauci led not only the battle against COVID-19 but also the fight for truth—clear, consistent messaging being fundamental to public health. With steadfast integrity, Fauci nudged, elided and gently corrected a President used to operating in a reality of his own construction, buoyed by the fervent repetition of lies.
As I wrote yesterday, "I would have picked Dr. Anthony Fauci and the frontline health workers for 2020's people of the year." I'm glad they got recognition as the Guardians of the Year as a consolation prize.
Guardians put themselves on the line to defend the ideals sacred to democracy. In 2020, they fought on many fronts. When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in May, it was proof—if anyone needed it—that Black lives are still not treated as equal in America. The movement for racial justice found its voice in multitudes, including a mother in Kenosha delivering her frank report to Joe Biden.
This particular selection of the face of the movement against police brutality hits home for me, as my wife was living in Kenosha when we met nearly 14 years ago. She knows where the shooting and protests took place.
Something stood out about this year's honorees. Out of "the magazine’s shortlist for its Person of the Year: President-elect Joe Biden, President Trump, the movement for racial justice, and Dr. Anthony Fauci and the frontline health workers," the only one not recognized was soon to be Ex-President Donald Trump. Heh, heh. Loser.
Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief of TIME, joins TODAY with an exclusive look at the magazine’s shortlist for its Person of the Year: President-elect Joe Biden, President Trump, the movement for racial justice, and Dr. Anthony Fauci and the frontline health workers. “It’s been a really challenging year to make this call,” Felsenthal says.
Hanukkah, which begins at sundown...is one of the most joyous of Jewish holidays. Learn more about the traditions and history behind the Festival of Lights known as Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah). The celebration lasts for eight nights and days each year around the same time as Christmas.
Hanukkah is about more than latkes and dreidels. What new facts did you learn about the history of this holiday?
Other than the lack of spoken narration, I thought that was a very good explanation of the history and current practice of the holiday. For some comic explanations, I'm sharing Kids Tell Us What They Know About Hanukkah from Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Tonight is the second night of Hanukkah and while Christmas gets all of the attention, Hanukkah is important too. Most children are familiar with the story of Christmas, but they are less educated about the miracle of Hanukkah. So we went out on the street and asked kids who don't celebrate Hanukkah to tell us what they know about it.
That was cute and silly. It also worked really well for me, as it ended in a hip-hop rendition of the start of a Hanukkah song. That leads right into Daveed Diggs - Puppy for Hanukkah from Disney Channel.
I want a puppy for Hanukkah! And I'm gonna get just what I wanted!??Check out Daveed Digg's official music video ""Puppy for Hanukkah!""
Now, that's a hip-hop Hanukkah song I can get behind, song by a member of the cast of "Hamilton." Better yet, there is a lyric video that I can use next year. Nothing like being an environmentalist who conserves his resources!
HappyNobelPrizeDay! Today, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death in 1896, is the day the Nobel Prizes for peace, economics, medicine, physics, chemistry, and literature are presented to their recipients. Normally, that ceremony would take place in Stockholm, Sweden, for all the prizes except the peace prize, which would happen in Oslo, Norway, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the presentation happened remotely.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to the World Food Program, a UN org that combats hunger worldwide by helping feed nearly 100M people across 88 countries.
Bloomberg Quick Take had a worse video, but a better description that expanded on the reasons for the World Food Program earning the award.
The organization is being honored “for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Friday.
The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is “more conspicuous than ever,” the committee said. The World Food Program is the world’s biggest humanitarian group to specifically address hunger and to work toward food security, it said.
Last year, the World Food Programme helped close to 100 million people in 88 countries in the face of acute food insecurity and hunger. The WFP is also the main body through which the United Nations works toward eradicating hunger as one of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The committee chose to highlight hunger in this year’s peace prize after a deterioration in circumstances over recent years. In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years, it said. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.
This isn't the first time someone trying to feed the world earned a Nobel Peace Prize. The other that I have mentioned on this blog is NormanBorlaug, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contributions to the Green Revolution. I teach about both Borlaug and the Green Revolution in my classes. When I return to the classroom, I plan on adding the World Food Program to that lecture.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the pair for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.
This video shows that auction theory isn't just an academic interest; it applies directly to government functions as exemplified by the auction of radio frequencies. The airwaves are public property, which is why the government regulates broadcasters through the Federal Communications Commission and auctions off radio frequencies. Auction theory is one way of insuring accountability and transparency in the process.
Follow over the jump for this year's science and literature prize winners.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly backed a $740 billion defense policy bill that President Trump has pledged to veto, heading toward a confrontation with the Republican president weeks before he is to leave office.
In 1996, in 47 USC 230 (Section 230), Congress said that websites aren’t liable for third party content, even if the third party violates state criminal law.
As much as I find [Kevin] Bollaert’s activities reprehensible, I agree with Goldman. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will likely protect him from the harassment and privacy violations, and they should. Then again, I have a dog in this fight, as I’ve been a beneficiary of the third-party protections of the Communications Decency Act. They helped me, and I don’t want them eroded for anyone else, even scum like Ballaert.
In a collaboration with Retro Report, Open Sourced by Vox looks at how today's heated political arguments over censorship and disinformation online began with a 26-word snippet of a law known as Section 230. Both Democrats and Republicans want it changed, but what would that mean for the future of the Internet?
Trump wants to repeal Section 230 so that Twitter and Facebook can't flag his posts, which he considers censorship. Personally, I think that concept of censorship is kooky, but that's not the worst of it. As the Vox video describes, changing that part of the law could cause chaos on the internet, where a lot of commerce happens, to say nothing of free expression like mine. Any change would have to require a lot of thought and care so that companies have protection so long as they exercise responsible and reasonable moderation. Unfortunately, one side of the aisle wants even less moderation. Consequently, I don't think Congress will come up with a solution if the two sides don't agree on the problem. Sigh.
I may have more on this debate, if only to cover the Senate passing the NDAA and Trump deciding whether to follow through on his veto threat. In the meantime, stay tuned for NobelPrizeDay.
Seth takes a closer look at Donald Trump focusing on overturning the results of the 2020 election and counter-programming Joe Biden’s inauguration while the nation weathers the worst stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AsI'vewrittenmanytimes and repeated again yesterday, "I'm looking forward to not having to pay attention to Donald Trump again. I'll just have to wait until January 20, 2021 for that to be completely true." Unfortunately, Seth may be right; Trump will likely try to keep attention on himself and I might have to put even more effort into ignoring him. Sigh.
The president's coup attempt isn't working out too well in Georgia where Gov. Kemp rebuffed his personal appeal to overturn the election results and the state went ahead with certification of the vote, cementing Joe Biden's win.
Strictly speaking, what Trump is attempting, however ineptly, is not a coup d'état; it resembles watered-down version of an autogolfe or "self-coup", although it would be lacking some of the characteristics of even that.
A self-coup (or autocoup, from the Spanish autogolpe) is a form of putsch or coup d'état in which a nation's leader, despite having come to power through legal means, dissolves or renders powerless the national legislature and unlawfully assumes extraordinary powers not granted under normal circumstances. Other measures taken may include annulling the nation's constitution, suspending civil courts and having the head of government assume dictatorial powers.
Trump and his allies are trying to overturn the results of an election to keep him in power, but they are not trying to assume extraordinary powers for themselves or dissolve legislatures and courts. The entire effort requires democratic and republican structures to succeed. In fact, they're attempting to get the courts to assume extraordinary powers, which the courts are refusing to do, and their scheme requires legislatures increasing their powers to make it work, which, so far, they are also declining to do.
After all, Trump and the people advising him know that, as I also repeated yesterday, "The real election is the ElectoralCollege, which votes on December 14, 2020. That's followed by a joint session of the new Congress on January 6, 2021." Trump is trying to game those steps to get electors who will vote for him. If that fails, Republican Representatives and Senators will challenge the electors during the joint session. Both could result in Trump being re-elected while thwarting the will of the voters. That would feel like a coup, even if it technically isn't one.
Trump resorts to talking about vegetables at a rally, Senator Perdue doesn’t show up for his debate, Senator Loeffler uses the American dream to dodge questions about her shady stock trades, and the GOP’s election fraud claims may discourage Republicans from voting in Georgia.
I have two reactions to this. The first is to repeat what I wrote last week.
Nothing like a conspiracy theory shooting its supposed beneficiaries in their feet. Normally, I would try to debunk the conspiracy theory while making fun of it. In this case, I'll just make fun of it. As Napoleon is reputed to have said, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Don't listen to me, Georgia Republicans. Just keep drinking the Qool-Aid.
The second is that all three comedians called Kelly Loeffler a robot. She certainly sounded like one, but if I want to watch a woman doing an impression of a robot, I'd rather watch Dolores and Maeve from Westworld or the fembots from Austin Powers. Better yet, how about one of Pete Davidson's famous ex-girlfriends Ariana Grande transforming into a fembot in 34+35 (official video)?
The official “34+35” music video by Ariana Grande.
I'd rather watch and listen to Grande acting like a robot than Loeffler. How about you?