Friday, January 31, 2020

Rand Paul calling for publication of whistleblower's name illustrates how America fails its whistleblowers


CNN reported yesterday John Roberts publicly rejects Rand Paul's whistleblower question in Senate impeachment trial.
Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday publicly refused to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky during the Senate impeachment trial that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

"The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted," Roberts said after receiving the question card.

Paul had expressed frustration with Republican leadership during the trial Wednesday night after it was made clear Roberts would not read his question that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower, sources with knowledge of the situation said.
...
There have been several other whistleblower questions, some that even included identifying information, which Roberts has read. It's the alleged name itself that is his red line, sources said.
That wasn't all.  Charles Pierce of Esquire then reported what happened next.
Amazingly, Paul left the chamber and almost immediately called a press gaggle to take issue with what Roberts had done. From the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Paul immediately left the Senate floor and headed to a hastily-arranged press conference in a packed studio one floor above the chamber, where he read his question out loud himself and disparaged Roberts’ “incorrect finding.”
In other words, Paul outed someone he thinks was the whistleblower to the press and public after Roberts specifically refused to do so in the Senate chamber. This takes big clanging brass ones.
All this reminds me of another Vox video from last year that foreshadowed what came to pass during the impeachment trial, How America fails its whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers who work with classified information have a few options. All of them are bad.
...
“Whistleblowing” is when someone exposes a secret in their organization. And in the US, it’s often hailed as a heroic act. But within the government, whistleblowing is often perilous—especially when it involves classified information.

If a whistleblower goes to the media with classified information, that’s illegal. And since the Obama administration, it’s become common for the government to prosecute people who do it by charging them under a law from 1917 that was originally intended to prosecute spies for helping foreign governments. If a whistleblower files a complaint through internal channels instead, the complaint has to go through the head of the intelligence community before it can see the light of day—and after that, there are few protections against disclosing the whistleblower’s identity, and only weak recourses against retaliation.

In August 2019, a CIA officer filed a complaint about an alleged quid pro quo between President Trump and the President of Ukraine. The complaint made it to Congress, and kicked off impeachment proceedings. But the existing laws don’t guarantee that this whistleblower will be protected, either.
Just as Ezra Klein's predictions about impeachment being the ultimate loyalty test are coming to pass, so are the concerns expressed in this video.  As Pierce of Esquire wrote in the article I quoted above:
The whistleblower, whoever he or she is, is now in more danger than was the case when he first came forward anonymously. A good portion of the United States Senate apparently doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. The peril becomes even greater when you factor in the Republicans in the House, and the reckless gnomes of the conservative media.
I second this emotion.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ezra Klein of Vox calls impeachment the ultimate loyalty test — Trump or the constitution?

When I wrote yesterday that "I'm sure I'll return to 'The Worst Wing'...unless an even shinier object catches my eye first" for today's post, I was hoping for the shiny object.  Instead, I'm examining impeachment as I predicted.  I guess that's why I ended yesterday's entry with "Yeah, right."

However, I didn't think I'd go back to a prediction of how the current story arc would likely end from the conclusion of season 3.  I also didn't expect to post something serious instead of comedic.  I'm doing both by sharing Impeachment is Trump's ultimate loyalty test for Republicans from Vox.

Will the GOP choose Trump over the constitution?
...
Donald Trump is the 3rd president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned before the House voted on the articles of impeachment.

But this is the middle, not the end, of the impeachment process – Trump is now officially charged with the abuses of power laid out in the House’s articles of impeachment, but will be tried in the Republican-majority senate. But what will congressional Republicans accept, and what will that mean for future presidents?  What we know so far paints a dangerous picture.
First, even though the trial has not ended by the time I've posted this entry, it's clear that Ezra Klein will be right; Trump will not be convicted, removed, and disqualified from holding political office.  This comes as no surprise; Klein himself argued for impeachment even if it doesn't result in conviction and removal back in October.  Also, Klein forecast the arguments that Republicans would use in defense of Trump.  Many if not most of them were used already in the trial.  Now, Americans will have to hope that the last prediction, that abuses of power will become unchecked in the future, does not also come to pass.  I'm not terribly optimistic, at least as long as Trump is President.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Driving update for January 2020: Pearl passes 50,000 miles


I told my readers to "stay tuned for a driving update" at the end of Meyers and Noah take closer looks at Bolton book and Parnas tape, the plot twists of Episode 4, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing'.  That's because Pearl passed 50,000 miles on Monday, January 27, 2020.  That means it's been exactly 13 weeks or a full quarter of a year (91 days) since Pearl passed 49,000 miles on Monday, October 28.  That translates to averages of 10.99 miles per day, 335.16 miles per standard month, and 4010.99 miles per year.  That's a lot less than the averages of 18.52 miles per day, 564.81 miles per standard month, and 6759.26 miles per year I drove Pearl between September 16 and October 28, 2019.  In fact, it's the least I've driven my car since January 2015, right after my wife and I moved into our house.  Five years ago, I drove my previous vehicle Ruby an average of 9.90 miles/day, 301.95 miles/month, and 3613.5 miles per year between September 2014 and January 2015.

I never thought I'd drive so few miles again in my new, car-dependent neighborhood, but here I am.  I'm crediting it to having my car out of commission for two weeks because of a dead battery, which might show up when I next report on Snow Bear this summer, and then having a four week break between semesters were two reasons that won't likely repeat while I'm driving Pearl.  Otherwise, I might have driven her closer to 13.33 miles per day, 406.67 miles per standard month, and 4866.7 miles per year, like I did during the comparable period last year.  That's still low.

As for my real annual average mileage, I have to go back to December 21, 2018, when Pearl passed 44,000 miles, for the best comparison.  That was 403 days before her odometer rolled over 50,000 miles, which converts to averages of 14.89 miles per day, 454.09 miles per standard month, and 5434.24 miles per year.  That's less than the averages of 16.22 miles per day, 494.59 miles per month, and 5918.92 miles per year I had driven her between October 2018 and October 2019.  I did surprisingly well at keeping my driving down, well below my original goal of 6,500 miles per year I set two years ago.  I'm sure I'll drive more between now and early April, when I expect to post my next driving update, although I will probably still be driving less than 6,000 miles per year.  I would be pleased if that ends up being the case.

Enough of this driving update that is only a driving update, something I haven't done in years.  I'm sure I'll return to "The Worst Wing" tomorrow, unless an even shinier object catches my eye first.  Yeah, right.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Meyers and Noah take closer looks at Bolton book and Parnas tape, the plot twists of Episode 4, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing'


It's time to contine my coverage of the impeachment story arc of "The Worst Wing," which I resumed with Samantha Bee on the first week of Trump's impeachment trial on Sunday.  Today's comedic takes come from Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah, beginning with Meyers' Trump Issues Threats Amid Bolton Impeachment Bombshell: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the president and his goons threatening everyone from sitting congressmen to ambassadors as new evidence emerges in his impeachment trial.
Not one, but two plot twists in this week's episode, Lev Parnas's tape and John Bolton's book, both of which, but especially Bolton's book, making the possibility of the Senate voting to call witnesses more likely.  That's one of the themes of Noah's Bolton & Parnas Throw a Wrench in Trump’s Defense.

Just as Trump’s defense team begins laying out their arguments in the impeachment trial, more damning accounts come out from John Bolton and Lev Parnas about the president’s actions.
Who needs a conspiracy theory about Obama and the British spying on you when all of your supposedly trusted aides and supporters are recording you?  As for Trump denying he knowing Parnas, I'm reminded of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes.


Sure, you don't know him. *snerk*

I'll be covering more of "The Worst Week" later this week to see if these plot twists actually have a long-term effect on the story arc.  In the meantime, stay tuned for a driving update.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Grammy nomination scandal shows that selection matters in addition to voting systems and electorates


As I've written before about awards shows, both electorates and voting systems matter, most recently in '1917' among movie and TV winners about politics and government from Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards.  What I've mentioned less is how the selection process matters as well, although I made a big deal of it about the television acting nominees for the Saturn Awards two years ago and examined the topic when I discussed the documentary nominees the past three years.  When I think an awards show has issues with its selection of nominees for (some of) its categories, don't just examine them, I complain!

It turns out that selection of the nominees isn't just a problem for shows that reward movies and television, it's a scandal in the premier music awards show, the Grammy Awards.*  CBS This Morning covered the story, beginning with Suspended Grammys CEO's allegations make waves before awards show.

Just days before the Grammy Awards show, suspended CEO Deborah Dugan’s explosive charges against the Academy are making waves within the music industry. Host Alicia Keys has canceled all interviews and the Academy dropped its ceremonial red carpet rollout, scheduled to happen Thursday. Jamie Yuccas shares how industry professionals are reacting to the fallout.
Not only is Dugan alleging corruption including conflicts of interest, in the selection process, she's calling out the Recording Academy for having diversity issues.  She links the two in the second half of CBS This Morning's report, Suspended Grammys CEO explains why she filed complaint right before awards show.

Days before the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, the suspended CEO of the recording academy is accusing the organization of rigging the voting system. Deborah Dugan says she was put on leave for accusing the Academy’s general counsel of sexual harassment. The Academy says Dugan was accused of creating an “abusive and bulling” environment by a former assistant. Dugan and her attorney, Doug Wigdor, join "CBS This Morning" to discuss the controversy.
While I'm appalled but not particularly surprised by these allegations, I'm glad to hear that she thinks the voting system to choose the winners among the nominees works and that she has faith in the creative members of the Grammy electorate to make the right choices.  The problem is with the nominating committees, where it seems that commercial interests may be influencing the final slates of nominees instead of the vote of the members based on artistic criteria.  As I wrote, I'm not particularly surprised.  After all, it's recorded music that's known for payola scandals, not movies.

This isn't just an issue for awards shows.  FiveThirtyEight included the role of selection in There Has To Be A Better Way To Pick Presidential Nominees … Right?  Sometimes, the selection of candidates determines the winners of elections before they even take place.  As I wrote, not only do electorates and voting systems matter, so does the selection of nominees.  This is as true for political offices as it is for entertainment awards.

*When I mentioned the Grammys as a topic I considered but abandoned for Sunday's entertainment feature, writing Samantha Bee on the first week of Trump's impeachment trial instead, I was thinking about listing the nominees that touched on politics and government.  I wasn't considering this scandal — at least not yesterday.  What a difference a day makes!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Samantha Bee on the first week of Trump's impeachment trial

It's time to return to my continuing coverage of the impeachment story arc of "The Worst Wing" that I interrupted for the Doomsday Clock, Lunar New Year, and Coffee Party USA's 10th birthday for this week's Sunday entertainment feature.*

I begin with a video from Samantha Bee that Infidel 753 linked to today, The Impeachment Trial: Show Us Parnas’ Receipts.

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial has begun, and as expected, Republicans continue their attempts to hide evidence and undermine witnesses, including Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, a man with as many receipts as a grandma on Christmas morning.
While the first half doesn't cover territory much different from what Stephen Colbert said last week, the second half shifts to Trump's defense, which the other comedians have said little about other than making fun of Alan Dershowitz.  That makes for a good introduction to the phase of the trial that began Saturday and continues this week.  As I wrote in Samantha Bee takes her turn laughing at the January Democratic debate, she has more time to prepare, makes fun of different things, and has unique jokes in response, which is why I value her comedic perspective.  I hope my readers do, too.

*It was this, SNL, or the Grammy Awards and Bee was the easiest.  Posting two entries yesterday took more out of me than I thought.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

An early happy 10th birthday to Coffee Party USA on Irish Coffee Day!


An early Happy Birthday to Coffee Party USA on Irish Coffee Day!  I begin the celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the nonprofit for which I'm a director with Broken Peach singing Happy Birthday.



Happy Birthday!

If it's a birthday, then there must be presents!  I am asking my readers give a gift to Coffee Party USA by making a donation of $10.00 (or more) to match either my monthly dues of $10.00 that I paid three days ago or the $10.00 I donated today for the organization's birthday.  Click on the link, fill in the "other" box with 10.00, click continue to fill in your contact information, then proceed to payment.  Coffee Party USA will thank you for donating.

Your donation will allow you to be a part of the important work of Coffee Party USA, a 501c(4) nonprofit social welfare organization dedicated to empowering and connecting communities to reclaim our government for the people.  Our efforts include educating the public on our website and on our Facebook page, registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day, and reminding them to vote through our Voter Buddy program.  This is an election year, so our work with TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day is especially important.  Americans need to be registered and reminded to vote in this year's elections, both primary and local.

For those who wish to give at a higher level of support and be more involved in the organization, please consider becoming a member.  Beginning this year, members will get to nominate and vote for the Golden Coffee Cups for Movies and Television, so there is an extra incentive to become a member, not just a contributor.  To become more personally involved with the valuable work of the Coffee Party, volunteer.  Not only will Coffee Party USA thank you for it, so will the country!

Thanks for donating.  Let's get to work inciting civility and reason!

Now that you've donated, treat yourself.  In addition to today being National Irish Coffee Day, National Day Calendar lists yesterday as National Peanut Butter Day, tomorrow as National Peanut Brittle Day, and Monday as National Chocolate Cake Day.  Pick one, or enjoy them all.  In the meantime, Coffee Party on!

Originally posted at Coffee Party USA as Celebrate Coffee Party USA's 10th birthday by giving a gift of $10.00.

Happy Year of the Metal Rat!


Happy Lunar New Year!  So long Year of the Earth Pig!  Welcome the Year of the Metal Rat!
The Chinese zodiac cycle consists of 12 animal signs, one for each lunisolar year. This upcoming cycle is the Year of the Rat, the first sign; last year was the Year of the Pig. In folklore, the Jade Emperor held a competition to decide the zodiac animals. The rat asked the ox to carry him across the river, but jumped down before the ox crossed the finish line, winning the race.

According to the China Institute, the rat is a symbol of fertility and abundance. People born during this year (or previous Years of the Rat, such as 1984, 1996, or 2008) are believed to be intelligent, creative, and resourceful, and have the ability to form strong social bonds.

Additionally, each sign is associated with one of five elements — and this year’s is metal. So to get specific, 2020 is also the Year of the Metal Rat. Metal symbolizes stability and longevity, and according to the Daily Telegraph, those born in 2020 will “live a stable life and have the ability turn unlucky events into fortune.”
If that ends up coming to pass for my readers born in the Year of the Rat, great, but as I wrote last year quoting Earth Signs, "neither my readers nor I should take the astrology seriously as 'I consider all of this harmless but fun nonsense that I'm presenting for entertainment purposes'" — along with greater understanding of the diverse cultures of the world represented here in the U.S.

Speaking of which, watch Inside Edition's How do Some Asian Americans Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Lunar New Year falls on January 25 and the holiday is celebrated around the world, but not every family’s traditions look the same. InsideEdition.com reporter Johanna Li and her friend Marcia Hu visits the predominantly Asian American neighborhood of Flushing in New York City to discuss the lucky greetings, unique customs and delicious foods sampled around this time. Plus, find out what it means to be ringing in the Year of the Rat and how you can wish others a happy new year.
After watching the video from Inside Edition I used in History Channel and Inside Edition explain Hanukkah, I'm more impressed with how they depict holidays.  Inside Edition's interviewing people who celebrate the holidays they examine makes their reports not only more credible, but more informative and entertaining as well.

For another depiction of how Americans celebrate Lunar New Year, I turn to KING TV in Seattle, which uploaded Celebrating Lunar New Year at Wing Luke Museum.

The Lunar New Year is traditionally celebrated in Eastern Asia in countries such as China and Vietnam.
In addition to the countries named in the video, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and Mongolia (but not Japan) also celebrate Lunar New Year, along with the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese diasporas worldwide.  This is true in the U.S.; for example, John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce in Queens, the neighborhood depicted in the Inside Edition video above, is Korean-American.

I wrote that I'm writing this entry not just for greater understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures that make up America, but also for entertainment.  To that end, watch Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession 2020 - Year of the Mouse - Disney California Adventure from Attractions Magazine.

Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession is a celebratory parade led by Mulan that honors Lunar New Year and dedicates the new year’s blessings to family and friendship. As a special treat for the Year of the Mouse, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse join the procession in new celebration attire.
I don't know how authentically Chinese it is, but it is authentically Disney, which makes it authentically American.  Speaking of which, of course Disney would replace rat with mouse to feature the company's stars, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and feature Mulan, who will star in a live-action remake of the 1990s animated feature this year.  Now I'm wondering which character they will have as the guest star next year, Ferdinand the Bull or Clarabelle Cow.  If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Clarabelle.

Enough of this year's festivities.  It's time to conclude this post with the generic greetings I've recycled many times over.

Mandarin: Gong Xi Fa Cai/Xin Nian Kuai Le

Cantonese: Kung Hei Fat Choi

Hokkien (Fujian/Taiwanese): Kiong Hee Huat Tsai/Sin Ni khòai lok

Source

Simplified Chinese: 恭喜发财 新年快乐

Traditional Chinese: 恭喜發財 新年快樂

Source

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Doomsday Clock is at 100 seconds to midnight, least remaining time ever — so far


I interrupt my continuing coverage of the impeachment story arc of "The Worst Wing" for the latest on the Doomsday Clock, which The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved yesterday to 100 seconds to midnight, the least remaining time ever, so far.

The news has made the biggest splash among mainstream sources in Australia, where they are seeing the catastrophic effects of climate change first hand as wildfires are a major environmental threat.  I begin with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Australia), which uploaded Doomsday Clock moves closest to midnight in its 73-year history this morning in the U.S.

Australia's ongoing bushfire crisis is driving up global carbon dioxide levels according to a UK climate report.

Carbon dioxide is a key measuring stick in scientific projections of global warming.

And the outlook doesn't look good, with a panel of world scientists and leaders saying we're closer than ever to doomsday.

Randolph Nogel reports.
The Australian wildfires are projected to contribute one-fifth of the increase in carbon dioxide this year?  Wow!  That's an example of a positive feedback loop and those usually lead to catastrophes.

ABC Australia's clip served well as a reaction to this year's announcement.  News.com.au uploaded Doomsday Clock: Apocalypse fears over nuclear weapons and climate change yesterday, summarizing the history of the Doomsday Clock and placing the recent movement of the hands of the clock in context.

The Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight with scientists blaming nuclear weapons and climate change for the jump forward.
As I mentioned above, the Australians seem to jumping on this news because of the climate change dimension; I've never seen them this interested in the Doomsday Clock before.  After all, Australia is the setting of "On the Beach" and "Mad Max," both of which share the premise of Australia surviving a nuclear exchange among superpowers, although the survival is only a few years in the first and the "Mad Max" franchise has changed the nature of the apocalypse in its post-apocalyptic setting from nuclear war to, guess what, climate change.  The Australians have known for a while which is the greater immediate threat to them.

The more-or-less mainstream news outlet that devoted the most time on YouTube to the announcement was Newsy, which also played up the climate angle in Climate effects on the Doomsday Clock.

For more than a decade, scientists have considered the threats from climate change when they set the symbolic Doomsday Clock.
At least this video mentioned signs for hope, including Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine's 2019 Person of the Year, who started and is the symbolic leader of the Youth Climate Strike.  That's in marked contrast to Steven Mnuchin, whose dismissive comments about Thunberg were quoted by ABC Australia in the first video I shared.

Of course, nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war are still central concerns of the people who set the hands of the Doomsday Clock.  One of them speaks about that threat in Wait Just a Minute: Rachel Bronson on the Doomsday Clock from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced this morning. In this episode, Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin, takes a minute to explain how the Doomsday Clock works, examine if nuclear weapons make the world safer, and recommend her favorite movie involving nuclear warfare.
I agree with Bronson about "Dr. Strangelove," but now I'll have to check out "Command and Control," which I don't recall ever hearing about until she mentioned it.

One presidential candidate picked up on the message, Tulsi Gabbard, who uploaded Doomsday Clock: It's time to wake up! to her YouTube channel this morning.

It's time to wake up! As president and commander-in-chief, my foremost responsibility will be to protect the lives, safety and freedom of the American people -- and that means preventing a nuclear holocaust. My personal commitment to you is that on the first day of my presidency, I will contact the leaders of China and Russia to set up a summit to end the new cold war and nuclear arms race, which will inevitably result in a nuclear holocaust.
Wow, Tulsi said a bunch of things I agree with, not least that talking about them makes one sound like a crackpot.  Heh.  Still, it means that she's a fellow Crazy Eddie.  That doesn't mean I'll vote for her. I would rather vote for Andrew Yang, another Crazy Eddie.  Even he is a ways down my list.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Colbert's monologue goes into overtime with the second day of impeachment arguments, more of Episode 3, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing'

I told my readers to "Stay tuned to watch more of the train wreck of 'The Worst Wing.'  I know I will be." at the end of Colbert and Kimmel recap the opening of Episode 3, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing'.  I couldn't resist watching Stephen Colbert's monologue from last night, Rep. Adam Schiff Passionately, Courageously Lays Out The Case Against Donald Trump.  Once again, the title summarizes yesterday's events well.

On the second day of Donald Trump's impeachment trial, lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff showed remarkable courage and poise in presenting the case against the President.
That was a good joke about "pettifogging," which means “worrying too much about details that are minor or not important” according to Merriam-Webster’s Learning English dictionary as cited by Voice of America.  It's always a good day when I learn something new.

As Stephen himself noted, there was so much to talk about that he had more of the monologue after the break in Trump Brags About Obstructing Congress By Withholding Ukraine Evidence.

Speaking to reporters in Davos, President Trump projected confidence that he won't be convicted in his impeachment trial because the White House has been successful in keeping "all the material" out of Congress's hands.
This clip corrected one of the deficiencies of the monologue from the night before, which didn't include any clips showing or quoting Trump in Switzerland.  It helped that the President actually said something germane to impeachment, which doesn't help his case.  One thing that participants in a legal proceeding shouldn't do is talk about their case outside of court.  That's their lawyer's job.*

Speaking of lawyers, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert writers riffed off Hakeem Jeffries quoting Notorious B.I.G. with last night's cold open, Notorious B.I.G. Inspires A Rap Battle At Trump's Impeachment Trial.

Not to be outdone by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and the Notorious B.I.G. reference he made during Trump's impeachment trial, the President's lawyers decided to show off their own rap skills.
Ha, ha, ha.

I'll have more about the latest episode of "The Worst Wing" tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


*Another reaction I had to the clip was in reference to Pete Buttigieg saying he'd bring chips and salsa to a barbecue.  If he ever gets asked that again, he should say he'll bring sweet potato pie.  That might actually work.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Colbert and Kimmel recap the opening of Episode 3, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing'

Like watching a train wreck, I can't keep my eyes off the continuing saga of "The Worst Wing."  Yesterday, I posted Meyers and Colbert preview Episode 3, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing' — the impeachment trial begins.  Today, I checked in with Stephen again, whose monologue's title, Trump Flees To Switzerland While His Impeachment Trial Kicks Off In The Senate, perfectly encapsulated the main events.

Is breaking the law illegal? Now that President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is underway in the Senate, we may soon find out.
Cipollone personified the old adage "If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table."  Cipollone literally pounded the table in that clip.  As for the content of his comments, my friend Nonnie at Hysterical Raisins was less than impressed.


I'm surprised Nonnie didn't make his nose longer.

Before I move on, I'll agree with Stephen; Cipollone could have used a thesaurus.

While Stephen mentioned President Trump going to Switzerland, he didn't quote him or show clips.  That wasn't the case with Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue last night, Trump Impeachment Begins & Pedestrians Lie Again.

We celebrate our 3,000th show, Jimmy reads terrible reviews of our first show ever, all one hundred United States Senators took an oath swearing 'impartial justice' in the impeachment trial, questions linger about whether the Senate will vote to call witnesses, a Conservative Political Action Committee called 'American Action Network' is running commercials with the same actress claiming to be a teacher in multiple states, Trump attended the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, and we went out on the street for a new impeachment edition of #LieWitnessNews.
Damn, that's a long sentence, but it adequately summarizes the monologue.

I really should say more about Trump's dismissive comments about the environment, but I'll save that for another time.  Instead, I'll note that LieWitness News shows that voters need to be better educated, or at least street smart enough to know when they are being punked.  Sigh.

Stay tuned to watch more of the train wreck of "The Worst Wing."  I know I will be.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Meyers and Colbert preview Episode 3, Season 4 of 'The Worst Wing' — the impeachment trial begins


I concluded Meyers, Colbert, and Noah take closer looks at impeachment moving to the Senate and Parnas testimony to begin season 4, episode 2 of 'The Worst Wing' by telling my readers "That's it for Episode 2 of 'The Worst Wing.'  Episode 3 should begin next week when the impeachment trial in the Senate really gets going.  Stay tuned."  Now that MLK Day is passed, it's time to get back to work.  Both Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert wasted no time by previewing the episode, AKA this week in the Trump Administration and campaign, and its plot about the impeachment trial beginning in earnest.

Late Night with Seth Meyers may air later, but it uploaded Trump Prepares for Impeachment Trial After Lev Parnas Bombshell: A Closer Look to YouTube first.

As he faces only the third Senate impeachment trial in history, the President is desperately trying to soothe his ego and pretend he doesn’t know the key players in the scandal.
Seth's segment looks like the openings of many shows that air weekly, which begin with the narration "Previously on 'The Worst Wing...'" and then show a series of clips from previous episodes that bear on tonight's show.  It's a recap, not a preview, but it prepares the viewers for what they are about to watch.

On the other hand, Stephen Colbert's monologue, Trump's Legal Team Insists That 'Abuse Of Power' Is Not Impeachable, does preview how the week in Washington is likely to begin.

President Trump's lawyers hit the Sunday political shows to push the idea that there should be no impeachment trial because the abuses of power Donald Trump is accused of are not technically crimes.
First, a bunch of "vengeful zombies" is on the nose.  As someone who blogs about zombies, I appreciate the image.  Second, Trump's hiring Dershowitz and the rest of his legal team because they perform well on television reminds me that I wrote "Trump isn't staffing an administration; he's casting a reality show."  This even extends to his defense team, which Wonkette lampooned in Let's Meet Donald Trump's All-Star Impeachment Defense Team Of ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?*  I am already finding them entertaining, in a comic book/James Bond supervillain kind of way.  Good for them, but bad for the republic, that they have a jury in the Senate who will likely be receptive to what passes for their arguments.

Stay tuned, as the episode has just gotten underway.  I'm sure I'll be back with more recaps from comedians and maybe a serious news source or two as the week goes on.  In the meantime, here's a reminder of where I got the meme "The Worst Wing."


*Yes, I know Wonkette is biased, as I noted in Wonkette reacts to its Media Bias Chart placement, an update to 'A comparison of two measures of media bias shows readers and viewers respond to both ideology and quality', but they are both perceptive and funny.

Monday, January 20, 2020

'Harriet' and 'Parasite' headline diversity among Oscar nominees for MLK Day 2020


Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle my salutation to my readers from celebrating diversity in awards shows nominees and winners for MLK Day.
A happy and contemplative Martin Luther King Day to my readers!  To celebrate, I'm continuing the tradition I began with 'Glory' from 'Selma' for MLK Day and continued with Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day and 'Hidden Figures' tops the box office for MLK Day plus diversity among Golden Globes winners, examining diversity and representation in entertainment....
After last year's 'Green Book,' 'If Beale Street Could Talk,' and more celebration of diversity in awards show winners for MLK Day 2019 to say nothing of the wins for diversity among documentaries, superhero movies, and mainstream dramas and comedies, this year's crop of Oscar nominees looks disappointing in comparison for diversity and representation.  Still, it isn't a complete bust for actors and directors of color, as Cynthia Erivo has two nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song), both for "Harriet," and Bong Joon Ho is nominated for Best Director for "Parasite," which has five more nominations, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design, and Best International Feature Film.  Other than Best International Feature Film, all of those awards go to individuals; Best International Feature Film goes to the country, in this case South Korea.  Unfortunately, I think Renne Zellwinger will win Best Actress, either Elton John and Bernie Taupin or Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez will win Best Original Song, and "Parasite" will win only Best International Feature Film.  Oh, well, at least the Lopezes winning for "Frozen II" would still be a victory for diversity in individual winners, even if they already have an Oscar for the original "Frozen."

That written, if the Acting Branch of the Motion Picture Academy has its way, "Parasite" would have a good shot at winning Best Picture, as it won the equivalent at last night's SAG Awards, Best Cast.  Watch Bong Joon Ho & the 'Parasite' Cast Make History at the SAG Awards from Variety.

Neon’s “Parasite” won best motion picture cast at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, becoming the first foreign language film to pick up the top prize. Director Bong Joon Ho and the cast answer questions backstage after their historic win.
Note that the first question was about diversity and another was about opening the U.S. to Asian films and actors.  Also, this victory sets up a different contest than the one I was anticipating in '1917' among movie and TV winners about politics and government from Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards.  I was expecting a fight between "1917" and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”  Now "Parasite" is among the front-runners as well.  Maybe Hollywood won't vote for "a good film or show about itself."  That would be as welcome a surprise as "Moonlight" beating "La La Land."

Farther down the nomination list, the documentary and short subject nominees are a treasure trove of diversity.  Follow over the jump for their stories.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

'1917' among movie and TV winners about politics and government from Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards


I listed "1917" as the one major movie about politics and government nominated at both the 2020 WGA Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards.  In addition, the movie won two Golden Globes and three one Critics' Choice Awards, a tie with "Parasite" for Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing.  Last night, it added another honor on the way to the Oscars, The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards, the equivalent of Best Picture elsewhere.  While congratulations are in order, Gold Derby notes that this does not mean that "1917" is a shoe-in for the Best Picture Oscar, even if it seems so at first.
We know that the Producers Guild of America has previewed a whopping 21 of the last 30 Best Picture Oscar winners including eight of the 10 since the academy expanded the category in 2010. So, that must mean “1917” is the new Academy Awards frontrunner, right? Not so fast.

Remember, the guild had gotten it wrong twice in a row before it went with “Green Book” last year and “The Shape of Water” in 2018. In 2016 “The Big Short” took the PGA award while “Spotlight” went home with the top Oscar. And in 2017 “La La Land” won over the members of the producers guild while “Moonlight” was the academy favorite.
What about the biggest voting block in the Motion Picture Academy, the actors?  Gold Derby is even less sure about their predictive power.
Turns out the SAG Awards aren’t so great at predicting the Best Picture winner at the Oscars. Only 11 of the first 25 winners went on to repeat at the Academy Awards.
It doesn't help that "1917" isn't even nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the SAG Award comparable to Best Picture.  Instead,  “Bombshell,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and “Parasite” share that honor.  So it's possible that, say, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” could win the SAG Award tonight to join its Critics' Choice Award, setting up a contest with "1917" that I think “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” could win.  As I've written before, most recently in 'RBG' vs. 'Free Solo' and other Oscar nominees at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, "Never underestimate the power of Hollywood voting for a good film or show about itself."

By the way, not only is this an example of electorates mattering, it's an example of voting systems mattering, as Gold Derby also noted.
SAG voters pick just one picture and the winner is the film that has garnered the most votes.  Conversely, the producers guild adopted the same way of voting by preferential ballot as the academy did when it upped the category to 10 nominees in 2010.
While the actors outnumber the producers, it may not matter as much.  If enough of them split their ballots for first, while a significant number of them pick "1917" as their second choice, it could easily win.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the PGA Award winners about politics and government.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Company Man recounts the rise and fall of Pier 1 Imports, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


I'm sure my frequent readers were wondering how long I would get into 2020 without posting a tale, of the Retail Apocalypse.  The answer is eighteen days, twenty since the last installment.  What finally prompted me to pay return to this story after three weeks of Iran, impeachment, Democratic primary, and awards shows was Company Man posting The Decline of Pier 1 Imports...What Happened?, which updates Pier 1 Imports closing stores, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse from last October.

Things aren't looking good for Pier 1 Imports. This video talks about the past, present, and future of the company.
The company's situation looks much worse than it appeared in September, when International Business Times reported Pier 1 would close more than 140 locations.  As the video above recounts, the number is now 450, nearly half of the chain's 936 stores as of the beginning of this year.  That doesn't even include the store nearest me, which had already closed in May.  Fortunately, it didn't leave too long a gap in the space having as tenant, as I mentioned in a comment to the video that told me the news.
I drove past the store this week and found that the Pier 1 has been replaced by an Ulta while a Spirit Halloween is occupying the Office Depot space.  The Ulta facade has a new paint job and possibly other updates behind the new sign, while one can see the label scar behind the Spirit Halloween banner.
I haven't seen what, if anything, has replaced the Spirit Halloween store, but at least Ulta is still there.

As a final comment on the video, I'm glad Company Man mentioned both Home Goods and Ikea as competitors as well as Pier 1's short-sighted decision to close its online store and its strategic blunder not marketing to younger buyers.  As I pointed out about Forever 21, "the chain's own errors contributed to their misfortune; that's the case with most of the casualties of the Retail Apocalypse."

That's it for today's installment of tales of the Retail Apocalypse.  Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature followed by MLK Day.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Meyers, Colbert, and Noah take closer looks at impeachment moving to the Senate and Parnas evidence to begin season 4, episode 2 of 'The Worst Wing'


After two days covering the January Democratic debate, it's time to check in on episode 2 of season 4 of "The Worst Wing."  Season 2 featured both an expected return to the story line of the second half of season 3, impeachment, along with a plot twist, Lev Parnas being interviewed on both "Anderson Cooper 360" and "The Rachel Maddow Show."  The Late Show with Stephen Colbert opened last night's show with a musical number to make light of the situation, Lev Parnas Sings!

Indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is no longer working for the President, and he's singing like a bird to the press.
Ha, ha, ha!  That makes for a good introduction to all three talk show hosts examining the past two days' events.

I'll get back to Colbert after I share Bombshell Evidence Emerges as House Sends Impeachment Articles to Senate: A Closer Look from Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Seth takes a closer look at the House voting to send the articles of impeachment against President Trump as damning new evidence against Trump’s henchmen emerges.
Trump has been airing his grievances about light bulbs and toilets since before Festivus, so he's been at it for two months now.  I guess it distracts him and his supporters from impeachment.

Trevor Noah examined most of the same themes the next night in The Senate Impeachment Trial & Lev Parnas’s Maddow Chat | The Daily Show along with his own personal perspective.

Senators get sworn in as President Trump’s impeachment trial begins, and Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas gives a bombshell interview that implicates Trump’s entire team in the Ukraine scandal.
Trevor couldn't resist the toilet and dishwasher jokes, either.  I don't blame him; they're ridiculous.  They also expose Trump's contempt for environmental regulation that inconveniences him.

By the way, my friend Nonnie drew the connection among Parnas, impeachment, and toilets in The First Strike.


I hope Parnas testifies and knocks down the pins, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

To conclude tonight's entry, I'm returning to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  Watch Parnas Implicates Trump & Co. In Ukraine Crimes, And He Has Receipts.

According to former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, President Trump "knew exactly what was going on" as Parnas pressured Ukraine officials to take actions that would bolster Trump's chances at being reelected in 2020.
Colbert did a better job of riffing off Parnas's response that every time that Trump denies knowing him, Parnas will release another photo of the two of them together.  The list of Republicans Parnas has met looks very impressive, if not good for them.

That's it for Episode 2 of "The Worst Wing."  Episode 3 should begin next week when the impeachment trial in the Senate really gets going.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Samantha Bee takes her turn laughing at the January Democratic debate

While I was writing Colbert, Noah, and FiveThirtyEight react live to last night's Democratic debate, I wondered what Samantha Bee would say about it.  As I observed in Colbert, Noah, Meyers, and Bee take on the State of the Union Address, she "had an extra day to prepare and [would] made fun of different things."  I got my wish.  Watch Democratic Debate: Drama In Iowa | Full Frontal on TBS.

Debate season is in full swing. Last night, the CNN panel grilled the candidates about their positions on Medicare, climate change, and for some reason, nothing about women’s reproductive rights-- but the biggest question of the night was: Why won’t Tom Steyer stop looking at us?
Bee did make fun of different things, including a snipe at Michael Bloomberg and pointing out how Tom Steyer could use his money more effectively to fight the effects of climate change.*  Of course, she couldn't resist the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren conflict, but she made more fun of the media than she did of the candidates, unlike Colbert and Noah.  That's why I value her comedic perspective.

I'm sure Saturday Night Live will mock the debate as well, just as they did in November and December.  If they do, I will share those clips as well.  Stay tuned.

*I watched a Vox video about how the Australian fires are decimating koalas.  I plan on sharing that later this week.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Colbert, Noah, and FiveThirtyEight react live to last night's Democratic debate

Last night was the last Democratic debate before the Iowa Caucuses and both Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah went live afterwards, just as they did for the November debate.  This time, I'm featuring Colbert first, whose show opened with Survivor Iowa: Outwit, Outplay, Outspend.

Six candidates, all looking to replace Donald Trump, marooned on a debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa.
As a former big "Survivor" fan, I appreciate that opening.*  It's enough to make me not miss Colbert's bit from four years ago, "The Hungry for Power Games."

Next, Stephen himself gave his and his writers' hot takes on the debate in Sanders, Warren Clash Over "Woman President" Question At Iowa Debate: Colbert's LIVE Monologue.

Stephen Colbert delivers his opening Late Show monologue LIVE following the Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa.
Yes, this debate needed Andrew Yang on stage to do the math.  He ended up doing it on Twitter this morning, where he tweeted "For the record, if Bernie won his 1990 election in November, then it was 29 years and 2 months ago."  Math!

The Daily Show did a live stream to open its show last night.  Since the debate ran a little late, so did January 2020 Democratic Debate in Iowa | The Daily Show.  Skip ahead to 4:35.

Trevor went LIVE after the Iowa 2020 Democratic primary debate between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer.
The live stream also cut off mid-joke.  That's why I gave Noah second billing.

I close with the mock headlines from FiveThirtyEight's live blog.
Clare: A Largely Dull Debate To Kick Off 2020
Geoffrey: Few Debates Have Really Moved The Polls And It’s Hard To Know If This One Did Either
Nathaniel: Candidates Give More Of The Same In 7th Debate — But How Will Those Just Tuning In Now React?
Amelia: Candidates Tangle Briefly Over Sexism In An Otherwise Snoozy Debate
Perry: Warren Defends Her Electability And That Of Female Candidates — Signaling Real Tension With Sanders
Meena: It’s Going To Be A Long Year
Yes, it will be a long year.  Just the same, keep reading.

*I was such a big "Survivor" fan during the early 2000s that I became a moderator of a reality TV fan forum.  I was in charge of the Outlandish Theories and Inside Information subforums.  The former I understood, as I came up with four outlandish ways to understand "Survivor" that actually worked.  The latter — well, I guess the admins decided they needed someone who could evaluate information.  As a scientist, I qualified.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bye-bye Booker as Cory climbs down from his campaign


I expressed my hopes and fears about who would drop out of the Democratic presidential primary campaign next to open Wave good-bye to Williamson as she drops out.
When Julian Castro dropped out last week, I summarized the status of the remaining candidates picked in FiveThirtyEight's second drop out draft in November.
Four down, five to go.  In order of likelihood of suspending their campaigns, FiveThirtyEight listed the remaining five as Cory Booker, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar.  I'd prefer Bennet get out next, but I'm afraid it will be Booker.
Last week, it "ended up being neither my hope nor my fear" as Williamson suspended her campaign, but that was not the case yesterday.  CBS News reported Cory Booker drops out of presidential race.

Senator Cory Booker is the latest Democratic candidate to suspend his bid for the White House. He was one of only two African American candidates still in the race. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman joined CBSN to discuss the breaking news.
Booker's departure was noteworthy enough that Seth Meyers opened his monologue with the news: Senator Cory Booker Drops Out of 2020 Race.



Seth Meyers' monologue from Monday, January 13.

One of the commenters had a really good take on Booker.
This decathlon of democrats is feeling more like a bachelor-style reality TV  show with each week that passes. "Cory, you're an attractive, charming bachelor. And I bet you're going to make a different caucus very happy one day. But America has no rose for you tonight..."
LOL, cold, just like Seth's joke, but I think the punchline for Williamson was colder.

As I noted, Booker was the highest choice from FiveThirtyEight's November drop out draft and the second highest choice overall after Castro.  Here is what the panel had to say about him two months ago.
sarahf: Oof, I guess that means I’m up.

I’m going with the other low hanging fruit out here … Sen. Cory Booker.

geoffrey.skelley: Oh! My pick. Dang.

nrakich: Whoa!

Interesting — I had him ranked seventh on my board.
Booker ended up being the sixth candidate dropping out after November behind Sestak, Bullock, Harris, Castro, and Williamson, so Nathaniel Rakich was more right than the rest of the panel.
This is a Gillibrand-esque pick, Sarah. Which probably means you’ll be right.

sarahf: Ha, I don’t know about that. But no matter how you slice it, this primary has not had a lot of breaks for Booker. Despite being a talented politician, he’s continually languished at what — 2 or 3 percent in the polls? Granted, he has made the November debate. But I do think making the December debate — while not impossible — will be a stretch for him with the higher thresholds (4 percent support in four national or early-state polls or 6 percent in two early-state polls). After all, he doesn’t have a single qualifying poll yet.

And similar to Kirsten Gillibrand, he still has a career in the Senate, so if it looks like he won’t make December (hitting that 4 percent threshold is going to be hard), I think he bows out. I mean, when was the last time Booker even hit 4 percent in a poll?

geoffrey.skelley: Booker last hit 4 percent in a debate-qualifying poll from Monmouth University in late August. He hasn’t managed to pull that off in a November or December debate poll yet.

sarahf: So tell us, Nathaniel, why did you have him so low on your draft list?

nrakich: I guess I didn’t realize how long Booker’s odds were to make the December debate.

I do think he’ll last another month, though, since as you said he’s qualified for November already.

And I think there are other candidates who will drop out first.

It’s worth noting, though, that Booker’s net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating) among registered voters in his home state of New Jersey is down to +5, per Monmouth. That’s a decrease from +23 last year!

Mind you, I don’t think he’s in serious danger of losing reelection (he’s up in 2020), but he might not want to keep letting that discontent fester.
So far, the panel's picks have done well by doing poorly, as the top five have dropped out along with the seventh pick, Sestak.  All that remain are Bennet, who I hope drops out next, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar.  Six down, three to go.

Follow over the jump as I retire Booker's drink suggestions and graphs.

Monday, January 13, 2020

2019 was the second warmest year and the 2010s was the warmest decade on record


Back in February of last year, I wrote "2019 could be the hottest year ever because of El Nino."  Halfway through the year, that was still a possibility when July 2019 became the hottest month on record.  However, 2019 ended up bearing out another prediction of mine from Carbon dioxide hits another record at 415 ppm that I repeated in Record heat wave in Europe begins summer 2019.
My prediction that 2019 would be a warmer year than 2018, which was the fourth warmest on record, looks like it will come true, although the planet is not on track for it to beat 2016 or 2017.  Instead, 2019 appears to be on track to become the third warmest year ever.  Welcome to the 400 ppm world.
Based on research by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), 2019 beat not only 2018, but also 2017, as 2019 was the second warmest year and the last five years were the warmest on record.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) announces today that 2019 was the fifth in a series of exceptionally warm years and the second warmest year globally ever recorded. Meanwhile, Europe saw its warmest year on record by a small margin. Together with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), C3S also reports that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to rise. Their data provide the first complete, global picture of 2019 temperatures and CO2 levels. The results are in line with previous projections from WMO and the Global Carbon Project (GCP) for 2019. The WMO estimated that 2019 was likely to be the 2nd or 3rd warmest year on record, while both WMO and the GCP indicated that atmospheric CO2 concentrations had continued to increase.
...
The temperature dataset provided by C3S shows that the global average surface air temperature was 0.04 °C lower than in 2016, the warmest year on record.
In Celsius, the difference between 2016 and 2019 doesn't even round up to one-tenth of a degree.  In Fahrenheit, it converts to 0.72 degrees, which barely rounds up to one-tenth.  So not even one-tenth of a degree separated 2019 from 2016, the warmest year on record.

Back to the press release.
The data also show that:
  • The five warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 5 years, with 2019 coming in as the second warmest and 2010-2019 being the warmest decade on record
  • 2019 was almost 0.6 °C warmer than the 1981-2010 average
  • The average temperature of the last 5 years was between 1.1 and 1.2 °C higher than the pre-industrial level defined by the IPCC
  • Europe saw its warmest calendar year on record, marginally ahead of 2014, 2015 and 2018
Furthermore, according to satellite measurements of global atmospheric CO2 concentrations:
  • CO2 continued to rise in 2019, increasing by 2.3 ± 0.8 ppm
The most pronounced warming compared to the 1981-2010 average occurred in Alaska and over other large parts of the Arctic. Most land areas were warmer than average, especially eastern and southern Europe, southern Africa and Australia. In contrast, central and south-eastern Canada experienced below average annual temperatures.

In Europe all seasons were warmer than usual, with the summer and autumn being the fourth warmest on record. None of the seasons was record-breaking in terms of average temperature, but Europe nevertheless saw its warmest calendar year on record, marginally ahead of 2014, 2015 and 2018. A more detailed analysis of the climate in Europe will be presented by Copernicus in its European State of the Climate 2019, which is set to be released in April.
Here's a graph showing the average temperature for the past 150+ years.

Running 60-month averages of global air temperature at a height of two metres (left-hand axis) and estimated change since the pre-industrial period (right-hand axis) according to different datasets: ERA5 (ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service, C3S); GISTEMPv4 (NASA); HadCRUT4 (Met Office Hadley Centre); NOAAGlobalTempv5 (NOAA), JRA-55 (JMA); and Berkeley Earth.
I close out my quoting of the press release with a pair of perceptive quotes.
“2019 has been another exceptionally warm year, in fact the second warmest globally in our dataset, with many of the individual months breaking records”, says Carlo Buontempo, Head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). “The C3S temperature dataset for 2019 is the first complete set to be published including annual anomalies and globally averaged fields. This is possible because we are an operational programme, processing millions of land, marine, airborne and satellite observations daily. A state-of-the-art computer model is used to bring all these observations together, in a similar way to how weather forecasting is carried out.”

Jean-Noël Thépaut, Director of ECMWF Copernicus comments: “The past five years have been the five warmest on record; the last decade has been the warmest on record: These are unquestionably alarming signs. Seeing one or more months much warmer than the recent reference period can be disconcerting but does not as such represent a climate trend, as monthly temperature deviations vary, and some regions may show below average conditions for a while. We produce data with full global coverage of temperature every day and publish monthly and annual summaries based on this dataset that currently goes back to 1979. For determining possible long-term trends related to climate change, observations dating long into the past are invaluable. Therefore, we also compare our data with climate data dating back to the pre-industrial era to ascertain these long-term climate trends.”
Even The Daily Mail recognized that the 2010s were the hottest decade on record a month ago, when they created the following preview image for an article on the subject.


I'm going to a good environmentalist and close this entry out by recycling what I wrote in August.
First, welcome to the 400 ppm world.  Second, are you scared enough by climate change?  My readers should be.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

'The Crown,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Good Fight,' and "Watchmen' lead drama series about politics and government at the Critics' Choice Awards


I concluded Drink a London Lemming for Norther by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for an entry analyzing the television nominees about government and politics at tonight's Critics' Choice Awards."  That's because "the television nominees...are very busy tackling politics" just like the television nominees at the 2020 WGA Awards.  Without any further ado, here are the drama series nominees at tonight's Critics' Choice Awards that tackle politics and government.

I begin with drama series, where six of the eight nominees tackle government, politics, and activism.
BEST DRAMA SERIES

The Crown (Netflix)
David Makes Man (OWN)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Watchmen (HBO)
Four of the field earned four nominations each, "The Crown," "Game of Thrones," "The Good Fight," and "Watchmen."  Following them are "Pose" and "Succession," both with three nominations apiece.  While "Game of Thrones" had good nights at the Saturn Awards and Emmy Awards, it had only one nomination at the Golden Globes, but lost it to "Succession," which won two Golden Globes.  Of the field, "Succession" won the equivalent award at the Golden Globes.  Watch NBC's "Succession" Wins Best Television Series, Drama - 2020 Golden Globes.

The producers of "Succession" accept the award for Best Television Series - Drama at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
While I think "Succession" has a good chance, it's hard to use the Golden Globes as a good method to handicap the field, as "David Makes Man," "The Good Fight," "This Is Us" and "Watchmen" were not even nominated at those awards.  Speaking of which, the most nominated entry at the Critics' Choice Awards is "This Is Us" with five nominations and I wouldn't be surprised if it pulled off an upset here.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the categories.

Drink a London Lemming for Norther


Happy Norther!  To explain, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
What is Norther?  It's a fake holiday created by John Michael Greer the Archdruid in response to my telling him about Wester and its animal mascot, the Wester Squirrel.
Druids would likely demand a Souther and a Norther, too, with a Souther Wombat and a Norther Lemming as animal mascots; I'll leave you to decide what if anything they do with goodies.
Ah, but which solstice gets which holiday?  At first, I was not amused by your suggestion, as I thought one parody holiday was enough.  Then I slept on it and not only was I OK with it, I decided that Norther would come after the Winter Solstice and Souther would come after the Summer Solstice.  Why would a lemming visit in the middle of summer?
As a result of that conversation, Norther takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Winter Solstice, which is today.
I added another tradition to the holiday in Feats of animal strength for a Blue Norther on Festivus, when I wrote "Of course, it isn't a complete holiday post of mine without a drink for it...Tipsy Bartender just happened to have created the perfect one for Norther, The London Lemming."

All great spies have their own drink. Of course, so does #JohnnyEnglish! Indulge in Mr. English's signature cocktail "The London Lemming".
I think the drink is better than the movie.

That's it for Norther until January 3, 2021, the next Sunday after the first full moon after the Winter Solstice.  Stay tuned for an entry analyzing the television nominees about government and politics at tonight's Critics' Choice Awards.