Thursday, July 29, 2021

Earth Overshoot Day 2021 falls on International Tiger Day, the third earliest ever



I made a prediction about this year's Earth Overshoot Day last year.
While the video pointed out that earlier recessions had reduced humanity's ecological footprint before, the results has usually delayed Earth Overshoot Day by days, not weeks, if at all, and can be short-lived. The record of past Earth Overshoot Days shows that the Great Recession of 2007-2009 merely stalled the date at August 14th in 2008 and pushed it back 4 days to August 18th in 2009. In 2010, it advanced 11 days to August 7th. The 2001 recession merely slowed down the trend, with the date moving back 1 day from September 22nd to September 23rd. Before that, the Gulf War recession of 1991-1992 held the date at October 12th during 1992-1993. The longest lasting effect was from the double-dip recession (Reagan Recession) of 1980-1982, when it took 5 years for the date to return to November 4th. As for this year, it's the latest date for Earth Overshoot Day since 2005, when it fell on August 25th. I don't expect it will be this late next year.
It wasn't. Global Footprint Network announced this year's date in Earth Overshoot Day 2021 lands on...

Earth Overshoot Day 2021 lands on July 29, Councillor Susan Aitken, the Leader of Glasgow City Council, announced today on behalf of Global Footprint Network and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Based on previous announcements, today would have tied with 2019 for the earliest Earth Overshoot Day. However, the Global Footprint Network recalculated when previous Earth Overshoot Days actually occurred, so 2017's date was moved up from August 2 to July 30, 2018's shifted from August 1 to July 25, and 2019's advanced from July 29 to July 26, so today is only the third earliest. That's not how I want to "move the date." This year's date moving up more than three weeks also fits the pattern I described last year of relatively rapid recovery of resource use and waste production after recessions. This is one of those times I wish I weren't right.

Now This Earth explains how the Global Footprint Network determined this year's date in Researchers Mark This Year’s ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ as July 29.

We’ll have already used up all the resources Earth can naturally reproduce for this year by July 29, researchers say.
...
Every year, researchers calculate the date by which we will use up all the resources the planet is capable of naturally renewing over the entire year. This year's Earth Overshoot Day falls on July 29. That means that 210 days into 2021, we’ll be living on credit or digging into our savings to live and survive on Earth.

Earth Overshoot Day was created by the Global Footprint Network, and it’s determined by measuring biocapacity, the biological capacity of the planet to regenerate natural resources and absorb waste materials.
That's a great explanation with a lot of information that I could react to, but I'm confining myself to just three points. First, I'm with Laurel Hanscom that humanity should strive to move the date through choice and design, not by disaster and tragedy. That's part of what makes me a Crazy Eddie. Second, as host Alejandro Alba pointed out, every country has its own overshoot day. He mentioned that the U.S. already passed its overshoot day on March 14, while Indonesia won't reach its overshoot day until December 18. Here's a graphic showing the overshoot days for the rest of the world's countries.


According to this chart, the U.S. isn't the least sustainable. Qatar is with an overshoot day of February 9 this year. Still, that's nothing to celebrate.

Finally, people have to work to move the date by reducing their resource use and waste production. I check my progress by calculating my footprint on this date. Three years ago, it was 3.8. Two years ago, it was 3.5. Last year, it was 2.8. This year, my footprint followed the global trend and returned to 3.5 and a personal overshoot day of April 14. Well, at least I'm still a month later than the average American, but I no longer have the same or smaller footprint as the average German, which fell from 3.2 to 2.9. I'm keeping that goal for next year.

Today is another environmental day that doesn't move around the calendar, so follow over the jump to celebrate it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

'Allen v. Farrow' leads documentary and nonfiction series at the Emmy Awards with seven nominations


I told my readers to "Stay tuned for more coverage of the Emmy nominees tomorrow, this time for documentary and nonfiction series" at the end of 'The Social Dilemma' leads documentaries at the Emmy Awards with seven nominations, so I'm following through today by examining the documentary and nonfiction series nominees at the 73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

Allen v. Farrow (HBO)
American Masters (PBS)
City So Real (Nat Geo)
Pretend It's a City (Netflix)
Secrets of the Whales (Disney+)
"Allen v. Farrow" leads this field with seven total nominations, followed by "Secrets of the Whales" with three, "City So Real" and "American Masters" with two each, and "Pretend It's a City" with just this one. While I'm rooting for "Secrets of the Whales" because it's a nature series, I would bet against it winning not only because "Allen v. Farrow" has more than twice as many nominations, but because it's a well-made story about Hollywood, even if it's unflattering. All things being equal, the members of the Television Academy would vote for it, and things are not equal based on the nominations; they favor "Allen v. Farrow."

Watch Allen v. Farrow: Official Trailer | HBO for a preview of the series.



A Hollywood scandal. A family tragedy.

Not only is this an entertainment story, it's a legal story, so it aligns with my interest in shows that have a political or government component. That means I feel like I have a legitimate interest in covering it beyond just examining entertainment in general.  That doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

Now watch the trailer for the nominee that I'm rooting for, even though I think it's futile, Secrets of the Whales from National Geographic, which is now part of Disney+.

This Earth Day, take a deep dive with #SecretsOfTheWhales, an Original Series from #NatGeo, executive producer James Cameron, and narrated by Sigourney Weaver.
I love whales and watching this trailer made me happy. In contrast, watching the trailer for "Allen v. Farrow" shocked, saddened, and disgusted me. I felt dirtier after watching it, not smarter and happier. That makes me root for "Secrets of the Whales" in addition to the environmental and scientific subject matter despite my knowing better about its chances.

Next, I present the nominees in a category that used to deserve a post of its own but since the loss of Anthony Bourdain I have included it in posts about other nonfiction categories.

Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (Netflix)
Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special (CBS)
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (CNN)
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (CNN)
Vice (Showtime)
It should come as no surprise to my readers that I'm rooting for "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell," which examines race relations in America with a light touch. I'm not surprised his show ended up in this category after it missed the eligibility window last year. As I wrote three years ago, "I also saw little distinction between 'United Shades of America' and 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' even though they are in different categories; the line between an informational nonfiction show and a reality show must be very fine. I'm sure it also helps that they are promoted in different categories so that they don't step on each other at awards time." CNN submitted "United Shades of America" in this category for the 2020-2021 season. Unfortunately, doing so probably hurt the show for nominations, as it is now competing against documentaries instead of reality shows for the directing, writing, and craft awards. I suspect the documentarians are working at a higher level than the reality show people. Second, CNN also submitted "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" in this category, which has two nominations to just one each for all the rest of the nominees in this category, including "United Shades of America." They will step on each other now.

"Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" would be the favorite based on total nominations, but it has no track record (the show's IMDB page lists no nominations, not even for the Emmys), so I'm not confident that's a good handicapping criterion. In contrast, "United Shades of America" has multiple Emmy Awards, albeit as a reality show, not a nonfiction series, "Vice" shared the 2014 Emmy in this category with "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" and earned nominations from 2015-2018 and again last year, and "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman" earned nominations in 2018-2019, so the competition is stiff. Watch, none of them will win. Instead, I wouldn't be surprised if "Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special" walks away with the Emmy instead. Hollywood, royalty, and controversy — I suspect the Television Academy voters won't be able to resist voting for it.

Outstanding Narrator

David Attenborough on A Perfect Planet (Episode: "Volcano") (Discovery+) David Attenborough on The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+) Sterling K. Brown on Lincoln: Divided We Stand (Episode: "The Dogs of War") (CNN) Anthony Hopkins on Mythic Quest (Episode: "Everlight") (Apple TV+) Sigourney Weaver on Secrets of the Whales (Episode: "Ocean Giants") (Disney+)
As I wrote yesterday, "I expected 'David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet' would be eligible for Emmy Awards and it earned five nominations, just not the one for Outstanding Narrator I thought it would. I'm not sad, as Sir David earned two nominations in that category for other shows, which is a story for another entry." This is the other entry.

Based on his two consecutive wins and three total in this category with three other nominations, I think Sir David would be a prohibitive favorite except that he runs the risk of splitting the ballot between his two nominations. That gives the other three nominees the opportunity to win, including Sigourney Weaver for "Secrets of the Whales." While I think this is the nature show's best chance of winning, I think I would bet on Anthony Hopkins for "Mythic Quest" instead.
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music

Michael Abels for Allen v. Farrow (HBO)
Kris Bowers and Michael Dean Parsons for Bridgerton (Netflix)
Blake Neely for The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe for Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for WandaVision (Disney+)
The nomination for "Allen v. Farrow" is the only one for a nonfiction series, so it stands out. That is not enough for me to say that it means anything in this category. I will have to listen to all the nominees to make that judgment. It does make me think it will affect the odds of the show's composer winning in a different category, which I'll get to over the jump along with the video of the theme itself. Follow over the jump for both of those plus the rest of the nominations for documentaries and nonfiction series with commentary from 'The Social Dilemma' leads documentaries at the Emmy Awards with seven nominations along with my observations about the nominees for documentary and nonfiction series.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

'The Social Dilemma' leads documentaries at the Emmy Awards with seven nominations


I concluded Diversity one of the themes of the Outstanding Commercial nominees at the 2021 Emmy Awards by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for more Emmy coverage, most likely continuing with the documentary and nonfiction nominees." I'm following through today by examining the documentary and nonfiction special nominees at the 73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which feature a strong mix of politics, entertainment, technology, nature, and health.
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (HBO)
Boys State (Apple TV+)
Framing Britney Spears (The New York Times Presents) (FX)
The Social Dilemma (Netflix)
Tina (HBO)
'The Social Dilemma' earned the most nominations of any documentary or nonfiction special at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards with seven. Watch The Social Dilemma | Official Trailer | Netflix to learn what it's about.

We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.

The world has long recognized the positive applications of social media, from its role in empowering protesters to speak out against oppression during the Arab Spring uprisings almost a decade ago, to serving an instrumental role in fighting for equity and justice today. And in 2020, during an astonishing global pandemic, social media has become our lifeline to stay in touch with loved ones, as well as proving to be an asset for mobilizing civil rights protests. However, the system that connects us also invisibly controls us. The collective lack of understanding about how these platforms actually operate has led to hidden and often harmful consequences to society—consequences that are becoming more and more evident over time, and consequences that, the subjects in The Social Dilemma suggest, are an existential threat to humanity.

The Social Dilemma is a powerful exploration of the disproportionate impact that a relatively small number of engineers in Silicon Valley have over the way we think, act, and live our lives. The film deftly tackles an underlying cause of our viral conspiracy theories, teenage mental health issues, rampant misinformation and political polarization, and makes these issues visceral, understandable, and urgent. Through a unique combination of documentary investigation and entertaining narrative drama, award-winning filmmakers Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral) and Larissa Rhodes (Chasing Coral) have once again exposed the invisible in a manner that is both enlightening and harrowing as they disrupt the disrupters by unveiling the hidden machinations behind everyone’s favorite social media and search platforms.

The film features compelling interviews with high-profile tech whistleblowers and innovation leaders including Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology; the co-inventor of the Facebook “Like” button, Justin Rosenstein; Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook; Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction; Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy at the AI Now Institute, and many others. Demonstrating how social media affects consumers on a personal level, these fascinating insider insights are seamlessly woven into a captivating narrative, including Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), that illuminates the very real consequences these seemingly innocent technologies can have on our everyday lives.
I've examined documentaries about social media being a vehicle for social control and manipulation before on this blog, so this is not a new theme for me. Neither is my explanation for why it's called "The Social Dilemma."
On the one hand, it connects people and has become an efficient way to communicate. On the other, those connections can be used for ill just as easily, if not more so, than for good.
What is new is that I'm finally featuring "The Social Dilemma" in a post, as I hinted I might in 'MLK/FBI,' 'St. Louis Superman,' and 'Mr. SOUL!' all winners at the 2020 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards and stated outright in I recommended 'Spaceship Earth,' a documentary about Biosphere 2, to my students. It took being nominated at the Emmy Awards for me to do so. Better late than never.

The other political documentary nominated in this category is "Boys State" with two nominations compared to seven for "The Social Dilemma." On the basis of total nominations, "The Social Dilemma" would have the advantage, but I'm not sure about that. When the two were both nominated for Best Political Documentary at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, "Boys State" won. In addition, "Boys State" beat "The Social Dilemma" for Audience Choice Prize at the Cinema Eye Honors Awards. That's not guaranteed to happen here. As I keep repeating when I blog about awards shows, electorates matter. The Hollywood entertainment professionals of the Television Academy might disagree with the Critics Choice Association and vote for a different winner than the movie and TV critics.

Speaking of electorates mattering, even though I'm rooting for "The Social Dilemma" and "Boys State," the two political nominees that are also shortlisted for the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie awards, I'm not sure that either will win in a field with three nominees about entertainment, "The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" with six nominations, "Tina" with three, and "Framing Britney Spears (The New York Times Presents)" with two. All three are about musicians and their struggles, but they are still about Hollywood, so I think that, all things being equal, one of them would be favored. Based on nominations, the favorite would be "The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." Based on current events, I think "Framing Britney Spears (The New York Times Presents)" has a strong chance of being a spoiler. The bonus is that it's about guardianship and the legal system in addition to entertainment, so it has a government angle, if not an explicitly political one.

Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking

Dick Johnson Is Dead (Netflix)
76 Days (Pluto)
Welcome to Chechnya (HBO)
None of the nominees in this category have entertainment figures as their subjects, so the bias of Hollywood to vote for a good show about itself, or at least entertainment, won't play into it. While I shortlisted both "76 Days" about the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, and "Welcome to Chechnya" about the struggle for LGBTQ rights in the rebel Russian republic for the Best Political Documentary of 2020 at the Golden Coffee Cups based on their nominations in this category, I think neither is likely to win. Instead, I expect "Dick Johnson Is Dead" will bring home the Emmy based on its three nominations while the other two documentaries only have one each and on its winning Best Documentary and Best Director at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards and Outstanding Achievement in Direction at the Cinema Eye Honors Awards.

Since I think it will win, I'm embedding Dick Johnson Is Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix in addition to trailers for the two political nominees. Watch.

A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book - staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly funny and wildly imaginative DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life’s profundity. DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD was filmed, produced and directed by Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), produced by Katy Chevigny and Marilyn Ness, co-produced by Maureen A. Ryan and executive produced by Megan Ellison.
The Sundance Film Festival award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling, which the trailer advertised up front, helps this film's chances, too.

Next, 76 DAYS | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies.

On January 23, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis in four hospitals, 76 Days tells indelible human stories of healthcare workers and patients who struggle to survive the pandemic with resiliency and dignity.
After watching that, I can tell anyone who thinks MTV is incapable of producing serious content that they don't know what they are talking about.

Now, Welcome To Chechnya (2020): Official Trailer | HBO.

From Academy Award-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson) comes Welcome to Chechnya, a powerful and eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya.

With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, this documentary exposes Chehnya’s underreported atrocities while highlighting a group of people who are confronting brutality head-on. The film follows these LGBTQ activists as they work undercover to rescue victims and provide them with safe houses and visa assistance to escape persecution. Welcome to Chechnya is a Public Square Films production, directed by David France and produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov and David France.
All I have to say after watching that is "yikes!"

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominations for documentaries and nonfiction specials.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Diversity one of the themes of the Outstanding Commercial nominees at the 2021 Emmy Awards

It's time to begin my Emmy coverage with the nominees for Outstanding Commercial. I felt a bit disappointed when I first looked at the nominations in this category because I didn't see any obvious public service announcements (PSAs) on the list. Then I watched 73rd Emmy Awards | Outstanding Commercial 2021 from ADdictive and realized at least one was hiding in plain sight.

00:00 - Apple AirPods Pro 'Jump' 01:01 - Apple Watch Series 6 'It Already Does That' 03:01 - Amazon 'Alexa's Body' 04:02 - Beats by Dre 'You Love Me' 06:03 - Nike 'Better: Mamba Forever' 07:35 - Nike 'You Can't Stop Us'
I expected "Beats by Dre 'You Love Me'" to be a music commercial based on the creator. Instead, it's a PSA about diversity, acceptance, and anti-racism, which puts it in the same category as "The Talk," which won this category in 2018. and last year's nominee "The Look." Never have I been so pleasantly surprised to relearn "Don't judge a book by its cover."

Nike's two nominees continue the athletic footwear and apparel maker's brand campaign of using sports to inspire its customers while featuring a diverse array of athletes to bolster its appeal. That yielded a win two years ago for "Dream Crazy." I think it might do so again, most likely for "You Can't Stop Us." I expect the message of sports being a metaphor for victory over the pandemic will garner a lot of votes, especially when voting is happening during the Summer Olympics.

The three technology company ads concentrated more on selling products than making social statements, although all three had diverse casts. I found Apple's AirPod Pro commercial to be the most abstract of the three, using whimsy and fantasy to sell its product, which still featured prominently. In contrast, I thought the Apple Watch Series 6 ad to be the funniest and most concrete of the field. I laughed harder and harder each time one of the actors said "It already does that." I also thought it was the best example of living in science fiction times. As for Amazon's Alexa ad, I thought it was the second funniest and also the best example of "sex sells" among the nominees, although it subverted it using the female gaze instead of the usual male perspective.

That's it for this year's Outstanding Commercial nominees. Stay tuned for more Emmy coverage, most likely continuing with the documentary and nonfiction nominees.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Part 2 of the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie shortlists: actors



In part 1, I announced the shortlisted films for the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie awards, which recognize the best depictions and representations of politics and government on the big screen during the past year's movie season as defined by the Motion Picture Academy. For part 2, I am announcing the shortlists for actors in a scripted political film during the 2020 movie awards season.

I compiled the shortlists for the Best Actor in a Political Film during 2020, Best Portrayal of a Government Official in a Film during 2020, and Best Portrayal of an Activist or Concerned Citizen in a Film during 2020 using nominations from the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards (including the Critics Choice Super Awards), Screen Actors Guild Awards, Emmy Awards (for Hamilton), and People's Choice Awards. All actors on the shortlists performed in movies that examine a political theme or take place in a government setting, including public safety, public education, and the military.

Best Actor in a Political Film during 2020

Ben Affleck as Jack (The Way Back)
Maria Bakalova as Tutar Sagdiyev (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Abbie Hoffman (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Chadwick Boseman as Stormin' Norman (Da 5 Bloods)
James Corden as Barry Glickman (The Prom)
Andra Day as Billie Holiday (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)
Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson (Hamilton)
Jodie Foster as Nancy Hollander (The Mauritanian)
Sidney Flanigan as Skylar (Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler (Hamilton)
Betty Gilpin as Crystal (The Hunt)
Jonathan Groff as King George (Hamilton)
Tom Hanks as Commander Ernest Krause (Greyhound)
Caleb Landry Jones as SPC Ty Carter (The Outpost)
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton)
Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Delroy Lindo as Paul (Da 5 Bloods)
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr (Hamilton) and as Sam Cooke (One Night in Miami...)
Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian)
Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton (Hamilton)
Talia Ryder as Skylar (Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton (Hamilton)
LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O'Neal (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Hilary Swank as Athena (The Hunt)
John David Washington as Protagonist (Tenet)
Liu Yifei as Mulan (Mulan)

Best Portrayal of a Government Official in a Film during 2020

Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson (Hamilton)
Jonathan Groff as King George (Hamilton)
Tom Hanks as Commander Ernest Krause (Greyhound)
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton)
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr (Hamilton)

Best Portrayal of an Activist or Concerned Citizen in a Film during 2020

Ben Affleck as Jack (The Way Back)
Maria Bakalova as Tutar Sagdiyev (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Abbie Hoffman (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Chadwick Boseman as Stormin' Norman (Da 5 Bloods)
James Corden as Barry Glickman (The Prom)
Andra Day as Billie Holiday (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)
Sidney Flanigan as Skylar (Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
Jodie Foster as Nancy Hollander (The Mauritanian)
Betty Gilpin as Crystal (The Hunt)
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler (Hamilton)
Caleb Landry Jones as SPC Ty Carter (The Outpost)
Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Delroy Lindo as Paul (Da 5 Bloods)
Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke (One Night in Miami...)
Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian)
Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton (Hamilton)
Talia Ryder as Skylar (Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton (Hamilton)
LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O'Neal (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Hilary Swank as Athena (The Hunt)
John David Washington as Protagonist (Tenet)
Liu Yifei as Mulan (Mulan)

The Coffee Party invites its volunteers and followers to stream the movies in which these actors performed to encourage their appreciation of politics and government in film. It also invites its volunteers and readers to watch for the third installment of the movie shortlists, which will recognize the appearances by public officials in shortlisted documentaries.

Coffee Party USA is powered by the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the public education arm of Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 organizations working together for a thriving, just, and healthy democracy based on a culture of inclusivity and equity. Readers can support the Coffee Party's and Bridge Alliance's work by becoming a Friend of Bridge, contributions to which are tax deductible. Follow the Coffee Party at our website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Modified from Coffee Party USA announces the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie shortlists, part 2: actors at Coffee Party USA's blog.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

California's drought causing a crisis in agriculture and rural communities

So far, Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification' is the most read entry of the current blogging year with ~1,660 default and 2,192 raw page views. I updated the story in Drought, fire, and mudslides in California, a story I tell my students earlier this month, but CNBC uploaded How The West Coast Drought Could Cause More ‘Water Wars’ yesterday. It adds an economic and government perspective to the scientific one in the two earlier posts, so I'm sharing it.



How The West Coast Drought Could Cause More ‘Water Wars’

While the previous two posts looked at climate change and its effect on water supply, I haven't focused on that pathway's effect on agriculture and food production for seven years, with Climate change reducing food supply examining the subject in general and CNN on the San Joaquin, America's most endangered river looking at California in particular. It's about time I returned to the subject.

I have my reservations about the solutions proposed, particularly water indexes, a financial instrument that may be better for investors than for consumers, and desalination. As I tell my students, that's a technology that works only where there is a lot of demand, money and available energy, but few alternatives for increasing water supply. All those perfectly describe Israel but hasn't described California until very recently. As I wrote in Drought and polar vortex from KPBS seven years ago: "In Tunnel in the Sky, published early 60 years ago, Robert Heinlein expected that southern California would become dependent on desalination plants to supply freshwater. I thought that future was a long way off, but it may happen sooner than I expected.

PBS NewsHour uploaded their own report on the effects of the drought four days ago, Californians scramble for fresh water as taps, wells run dry.

The severe drought across the Western U.S. is already causing long term problems, exacerbated by the warming atmosphere driven by climate change. As William Brangham reports from California’s San Joaquin Valley, the demand for water has threatened the drinking supply for hundreds of thousands of rural residents — including the farmers who grow a significant part of the country’s food supply.
While PBS also reported on the impacts on and of agriculture, it focused more on the individual farmer and consumer. It certainly doesn't have the question "how can I make money off of this" lurking in the background like CNBC. The Wall Street Journal could have done that in Why the Western Drought Will Have Major Ripple Effects, but it focused more on the science and effects on individuals.

Watering the Country's Food Basket Is Becoming a Challenge

Droughts are part of a natural cycle of water. But the drought currently gripping the Western U.S. has climate scientists concerned that the cycle may be shifting. This has major implications for those who rely on the water the most: farmers and the communities they surround.
The "ripple effects" the Wall Street Journal describes are examples of two of Commoner's Laws, "everything is connected to every thing else" and "there is no free lunch," both of which make this a story I can tell my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

I'm sure I'll return to the drought and its effects later. Right now, stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature, which I'm planning on being part two of Coffee Party USA announces the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie shortlists, part 1: films.

Friday, July 23, 2021

CDC confirms largest drop in life expectancy since World War II during 2020, a pandemic update

I reported that life expectancy fell 1 year for all Americans, 3 years for African-Americans, during 2020 because of the pandemic. While I updated this grim news in U.S. birth and fertility rates and life expectancy all fell in 2020 for a late World Population Day, I didn't base it on the latest CDC data. That came out this week, which NJ Spotlight News featured in US life expectancy sees biggest drop in generations.

People of color are seeing the biggest drop, with Black Americans and Hispanics now having a life expectancy roughly three years lower than in 2019. Hispanic males saw the biggest drop, at 3.7 years.
For more details, watch CBS New York's report U.S. Life Expectancy Sees Staggering Drop Due To Pandemic.

New government data shows life expectancy in the U.S. has reached the lowest level since 2003, with people living on average just over 77 years. The biggest culprit? COVID deaths. CBS2's Jessica Layton reports.
For even more detail, I turn to the Associated Press in the Detroit News.
The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.
When I quoted USA Today reporting "more than 3 million people died in 2020 - the deadliest year in US history" in A pandemic update from Michigan as vaccinations ramp up while U.S. death toll passes 400,000, neither my source nor I were being pessimistic enough.

Just because the pandemic is responsible for most of the drop, other causes, like the opioid epidemic and systemic racism making the pandemic worse for minorities, played roles in lowering life expectancy.
Killers other than COVID-19 played a role. Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly for whites. And rising homicides were a small but significant reason for the decline for Black Americans, said Elizabeth Arias, the report's lead author.

Other problems affected Black and Hispanic people, including lack of access to quality health care, more crowded living conditions, and a greater share of the population in lower-paying jobs that required them to keep working when the pandemic was at its worst, experts said.
Last year's excess mortality will have long-lasting effects on the survivors, as CBS Evening News reported in Study finds over 100,000 U.S. children lost a parent during pandemic.

More than 100,000 children in the U.S. have lost at least one parent from the COVID-19 pandemic. The news comes as the U.S. saw its largest drop in life expectancy since World War II. Mireya Villarreal shares more.
Loss of parents from the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on minorities as well. That's another reason why returning to the pre-pandemic normal isn't good enough.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the 'Billionaire Space Race'

I can't resist returning to Branson's and Bezos's billionaire blastoffs, especially because YouTube recommended Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains The Billionaire Space Race. Take it away Dr. Tyson!

Bezos? Branson? Elon Musk? On this explainer, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice break down why all these billionaires are going to space. What does “first commercial space flight” even mean?

We get into all the hoopla about the billionaire space race. Is pooling resources to try to send their private businesses into space really worth it? Didn’t we already send people into orbit already? We break down these landmark space flights, why they matter, and what they mean. How far into space did they go? Discover the sensation of weightlessness and how many Gs the human body can really withstand.
I was glad to hear Dr. Tyson made the same point I did yesterday about whether Richard Branson and the rest of his crew actually made it to space. His answer was "not really," the same as mine, even though Branson and his crew earned astronaut wings. He also made another point that occurred to me but I didn't write about yesterday, that Branson and Jeff Bezos riding in their craft is a sign of confidence in their own creations. I agree, and that's a good thing for the future of space tourism.

Dr. Tyson mentioned that he was on CNN, so I'm following up with Neil deGrasse Tyson explains significance of Richard Branson's space flight.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains what Richard Branson's space flight could mean for the future of space tourism.
Dr. Tyson made a point I've made before, space exploration is political and the Apollo program was part of the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. That's why I expected a space race between the U.S. and China over the U.S. returning to the Moon before the Chinese get there. Instead, we're seeing a space race among the ultra-rich and their companies. That bothers me less, because Branson, Bezos, and Elon Musk aren't engaged in the same kind of contest for global power that nation-states engage in. Besides, I'm enough of a believer in capitalism that I think making space profitable is a good thing for space exploration and exploitation and also for forestalling withdrawal from space, one of the classic tragic technological decline scenarios from science fiction.

Dr. Tyson addressed a criticism of Bezos and Amazon in particular on MSNBC, when Ari Melber interviewed him for See Neil deGrasse Tyson Break Down The Bezos-Branson Billionaire space Race.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is set to be the next billionaire who paid his way into space on his own rocket, drawing intense backlash. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks with MSNBC’s Ari Melber about the current billionaire “space race,” and pushes back on critics who argue inequality and other problems on earth should limit private space travel.
I couldn't have said it better, so I'm glad that Dr. Tyson said it first.

That should do it for the "Billionaire Space Race" for now. Stay tuned for something else tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Branson's and Bezos's billionaire blastoffs


I told my readers to "stay tuned for a post about Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos going into space" in the conclusion to Apollo 14 50 years later for Moon Day 2021, so I'm following through today with the older story, Richard Branson makes historic spaceflight reported by ABC News.

The billionaire is now the first person to reach the edge of space in his own personal spacecraft.
This story wouldn't be complete without Elon Musk making a cameo.

ABC News' segment was more commentary about the event than reporting of the flight itself. NBC News showed more of the excursion in Highlights From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Flight Into Space.

Watch highlights of Richard Branson's successful flight into space aboard the Virgin Galactic spacecraft, and receiving his astronaut wings after the launch.
The video began with Chris Hadfield awarding Branson and his crew and passengers their astronaut wings. They qualified, as Branson's vehicle Unity reached a maximum altitude of 282,773 feet or 53.56 miles (86.19 kilometers) and the Wikipedia entry for the Kármán line states "The U.S. Armed Forces definition of an astronaut is a person who has flown higher than 50 miles (80 km) above mean sea level, approximately the line between the mesosphere and the thermosphere." But did they really go to space? That depends.

Theodore von Kármán, after whom the Kármán line was named, originally calculated the lower boundary of space as 275,000 feet, 52.08 statute miles, or 83.81 kilometers (km) above mean sea level. By that criterion, Branson and his associates certainly reached space. However, that's not how either the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI) see it. Both of those bodies consider the Kármán line to be 100 km (54 nautical miles, 62 statute miles, or 330,000 feet) above mean sea level. Aeronautics/aviation occurs below that altitude, while astronautics/space travel occurs above it. That's why the FAA had to approve Virgin Galactic flying passengers to "the edge of space," not space itself.

Bezos's trip yesterday was much less ambiguous about going to space. Follow over the jump for two videos about it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Apollo 14 50 years later for Moon Day 2021

Happy National Moon Day! For today's anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, I'm looking back at Apollo 14, the only mission whose 50th anniversary occurred since the last Moon Day. I begin with NASA's Apollo 14: ‘A Wild Place Up Here’.

Apollo 14 was the eighth crewed Apollo mission and the third to land on the Moon. On January 31, 1971, Apollo 14 launched from Kennedy Space Center with a crew of commander Alan B. Shepard, command module pilot Stuart A. Roosa, and lunar module pilot Edgar D. Mitchell.

The crew experienced challenges in docking with the lunar module Antares and six attempts were required before a "hard dock" was achieved.

On February 5, 1971, Antares made the most precise landing to date in the hilly uplands of the Fra Mauro crater.

Shepard and Mitchell spent a total of 33.5 hours on the Moon and performed two extra-vehicular activities (EVAs, or “moonwalks”), totaling 9 hours and 23 minutes. During the first EVA, they deployed several science experiments. Among these was a reflector that continues to be used to measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon. They also deployed a seismometer, which detected thousands of moonquakes and helped to determine the structure of the Moon’s interior. Other instruments measured the composition of the solar wind and the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere and plasma environment. Shepard and Mitchell collected 95 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples.

The command module Kitty Hawk splashed down safely on February 9, 1971, exactly nine days and two minutes after launch. The mission duration from liftoff to splashdown was 216 hours, two minutes.
As I observed last year, "One thing that struck me watching all of these videos was that Apollo 10-13 all had a mission-threatening, if not life-endangering, mishap of some kind, most of which I didn't know about until I started watching videos about the missions." That streak continued with Apollo 14, which required six attempts for the Command-Service Module (CSM) to dock with the Lunar Module. Seeker included that in its video about the mission, What Science Was Actually Done on the Moon?

Apollo 14 conducted more scientific exploration of the Moon than any mission before it, and discoveries from the trip would eventually shape a new understanding of our celestial neighbor.
...
[NASA:] “When Apollo 14 touched down on the moon on Feb. 5, 1971, it was more than a 240,000-mile trip – it was a hard-fought return to flight for NASA's Apollo Program and America's first person in space.”
...
[Space.com"] “Today, many people best remember this mission as the one where an astronaut hit golf balls on the moon, but the crew also had several other adventures.”
While NASA mentioned Apollo 14 as a return to space after "successful failure" of Apollo 13, concentrating much more on the mission itself, Seeker emphasized the steps required to recover from Apollo 13 and make Apollo 14 happen. Those were important technological achievements of their own, but not as impressive as the science performed during the mission, some which, like the lunar reflectors, are still ongoing experiments.

Speaking of Apollo 13, I didn't embed Seeker's video about the mission last year, so here is A Bomb Exploded on Apollo 13, Here’s What Happened Next for an encore.

When an explosion shutdown the main Apollo 13 spacecraft, NASA was put on the edge of a catastrophic disaster. Mission Control had to figure out how to get the astronauts home or they’d be stranded in space.
That's a gripping story, which is probably why "Apollo 13" was a more successful film than "First Man," both at the box office and at the Oscars.

Since I'm an environmentalist who conserves his resources, I will be able to continue celebrating 50th anniversaries of Apollo missions for two more years with Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 next year and Apollo 17 in 2023. After that, I might be able to blog about Artemis missions on this date. In the meantime, stay tuned for a post about Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos going into space. That fits into the theme of the day, according to National Day Calendar.
The day doesn’t just celebrate the landmark mission. It also celebrates future missions. Private expeditions are taking humans further into space. Armstrong’s “one small step for man” inspired imaginations and sparked innovation, too, for generations to come. Even future moon missions are planned including manned landings.
The adventure continues.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Protests in Cuba and Florida for National Daiquiri Day and Captive Nations Week 2021

Happy National Daiquiri Day! While I was thinking of exploring U.S.-Cuba relations, I have a more pressing story about the island nation's politics to share today. CBS News has the story in Cuban regime's crackdown raises questions over staying power of anti-government protests.

It's unclear how long mass anti-government protests in Cuba can survive now that the communist regime is cracking down on demonstrators. The Economist's Cuba correspondent Roseann Lake joins CBSN's Tanya Rivero with more on what sparked the historic display of civil unrest and where things may go from here.
"Cuba is the only country in the world that fights wealth instead of poverty." That's a take I hadn't heard before, even though it's been around a while; Le Monde diplomatique used "Most countries fight poverty: Cuba fights wealth" as the subtitle of an article four years ago. Still, it exposes the flaw in the Cuban government's approach to the country's economic policy. I lean left, but I think that a well-regulated capitalism is still the best way to fight poverty and allowing some wealth accumulation is an unavoidable part of it. As I wrote last month, "I think Americans should celebrate success no matter which of our citizens achieves it."

Not only are Cubans on the island protesting, Cuban-Americans on the mainland are demonstrating in support. WJXT (News4JAX) reported Families Protesting Communist Cuba in Jacksonville, Florida.

Protests for freedom in Cuba have been going on here locally for nearly a week and the latest was at Riverfront Plaza. The protests are not only because of COVID but also because people are suffering under the communist regime.
As I wrote about retail, the pandemic has been accelerating trends, not causing them. This includes dissatisfaction with the Cuban government and its handling of the economy.

Follow over the jump for a celebration of National Daiquiri Day, which inspired me to cover this story as well as another observance I think is appropriate, Captive Nations Week.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Coffee Party USA announces the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie shortlists, part 1: films


I closed Coffee Party USA announces the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cup Television Winners! by telling followers of the Coffee Party to stay tuned for the first stage of the next awards.
With the 2019-2020 television season out of the way, the members and volunteers of Coffee Party USA will move on to the best political movies of the 2020 awards season. Watch for the posting of the shortlists for the show categories on our blog along with an invitation to stream them while staying safe at home.
It's time to announce the shortlists for scripted movies and documentaries for the Golden Coffee Cups Movie Awards, which recognize the best depictions and representations of politics and government on the big screen during the past year's movie season as defined by the Motion Picture Academy. Because the Motion Picture Academy extended the eligibility period for this year's Oscars as a result of the pandemic, some movies released during January and February of 2021 appear on the shortlists.

I compiled the shortlist for the Best Drama or Comedy about Politics or Government of 2020 (Best Scripted Political Movie) using nominations from the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards (including the Critics Choice Super Awards), Screen Actors Guild Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards, and People's Choice Awards. All movies on the shortlist examine a political theme or take place in a government setting, including public safety, public education, and the military.

Best Drama or Comedy about Politics or Government of 2020 (Best Scripted Political Movie)

Another Round
Bloodshot
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Da 5 Bloods
Greyhound
Hamilton
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mulan
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
One Night in Miami...
Project Power
Quo vadis, Aida?
Tenet
The Hunt
The Letter Room
The Little Things
The Man Who Sold His Skin
The Mauritanian
The Midnight Sky
The Outpost
The Present
The Prom
The Way Back
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Two Distant Strangers


Next, the shortlist for the Best Documentary about Politics or Government of 2020 (Best Political Documentary). In addition to the awards shows I listed for Best Scripted Political Movie, I included nominated documentaries from the Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Cinema Eye Awards, and the Emmy Awards — television documentaries are eligible for the movie awards, as there is no corresponding television category. Like the scripted movies, the shortlisted documentaries examine a political theme or take place in a government setting, including not only public safety, public education, and the military, but also international sports because of its politicized nature.

Best Documentary about Politics or Government of 2020 (Best Political Documentary)

76 Days
A Concerto Is a Conversation
A Love Song for Latasha
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Assassins
Athlete A
Boys State
City Hall
Coded Bias
Colette
Collective
Crip Camp
Do Not Split
Feels Good Man
Hunger Ward
I Am Greta
John Lewis: Good Trouble
MLK/FBI
Mr. Soul!
Notturno
Rising Phoenix
The Fight
The Last Ice
The Social Dilemma
The Way I See It
Time
Totally Under Control
Welcome to Chechnya


The Coffee Party invites its volunteers and followers to stream these movies to encourage their appreciation of politics and government in film. It also invites its volunteers and readers to watch for the second installment of the movie shortlists, which will recognize the best performers in scripted political movies and appearances by public officials in documentaries.

Coffee Party USA is a project of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the public education arm of Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 organizations working together for a thriving, just, and healthy democracy based on a culture of inclusivity and equity. Readers can support the Coffee Party's and Bridge Alliance's work by becoming a Friend of Bridge, which is tax deductible. Follow the Coffee Party at our website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Modified from the original at Coffee Party USA's blog.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Vox explains 'How the rich avoid paying taxes'

Last month, CNN, NBC News, and CNBC reacted to ProPublica's report about the ultra-rich avoiding taxes. Last week, Vox joined in by explaining How the rich avoid paying taxes.

Capital gains taxes, explained.
...
The richest in America don't make money like most Americans. Most people pay income taxes from a regular job. But many in the top 1% make money off their investments, like stocks, and pay capital gains taxes. While normal income has a maximum tax rate of 37%, long-term capital gains tops out at just 20%. Changing that rate, and some loopholes that benefit the wealthiest, is seen as one way to tax the rich.
So far, Vox has concentrated on income taxes, which I've documented in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vox explain how tax brackets work, Vox explains tax reform for Tax Day plus taxes and economics for the eighth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, and Vox explains who really pays the lowest tax rates for a postponed Tax Day plus Supreme Court rules on Trump's tax returns. A large reason for the richest Americans paying a lower effective tax rate is not income tax, but capital gains tax. It's about time Vox examined that in more detail. I hope Congress and the Biden Administration do, too.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Trump's lawyers face sanctions in Michigan over conduct during election lawsuits

Texas Democrats leaving the state for D.C. wasn't the only serious political event happening while I was busy observing holidays. Trump's attorneys in the hearings and lawsuits that alleged election fraud in Michigan appeared before a federal judge Monday to argue why they shouldn't be sanctioned. I found three videos about that story, beginning with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC reporting Pro-Trump Lawyers Called Out In Court.

Rachel Maddow talks with David Fink, attorney for the city of Detroit in the case in which pro-Trump attorneys are facing possible sanctions from a federal judge over their involvement in a lawsuit attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Michigan.
Maddow and David Fink made clear the connection between the legal attempts to overturn the election results and January 6 coup attempt. Both are expressions of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Fink also made his case that the lawyers advancing Trump's case should not only be sanctioned, but disbarred. So did Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson when Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon interviewed them about the sanctions hearing, which CNN spliced together into Trump election lawyer faces possible sanctions over thin fraud claims.

A judge in Michigan pinned down lawyers in a marathon video court hearing Monday on whether they had done due diligence before filing election fraud claims in federal court in November. The grilling came in a hearing over whether the Trump-supporting lawyers should be penalized -- with the possible consequence of losing their law licenses -- following their lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Much of the six-hour hearing hinged on Judge Linda Parker's line-by-line questioning about broad claims the lawyers had made alleging fraud and about sworn statements they had submitted to court from supposed witnesses speculating about ballot malfeasance, sometimes based on second- and third-hand chatter.
Ultimately the hearing became a painstaking recounting of the thinness of the claims supporting election fraud, and it came as former President Donald Trump has continued to repeat lies about the election's result and, in recent days, has rallied fellow Republicans around his claims.
Several state and national officials have verified the security of the 2020 presidential election and the integrity of its result: that Trump lost multiple swing states, including Michigan.
The judge on Monday repeatedly asked how much work the lawyers had done to verify the fraud claims. In response, several argued that they did not need to do that, if the witnesses believed that what they were saying was true. Fact-finding could be done during the course of the lawsuit, the attorneys who filed it argued.
At one point, Parker, sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan, asked the nine lawyers who took part in bringing the lawsuit if they had ever followed up to learn if any of their so-called witnessed actually saw a vote being changed.
The montage of Sidney Powell reciting conspiracy theories about the election reminds me that I think calling the idea that the election was stolen the Big Lie doesn't go far enough.
Personally, I'd rather call it Trump's dangerous delusion, his fixed belief that the election was stolen from him despite all evidence, which I see as related to his vulnerability to conspiracy theories, but "the Big Lie" is the established phrase used by CNBC and others, so I'm calling it that instead. It's a lie, too.
Powell shows that Trump's delusion is not just dangerous but contagious and when its believers said the suits were "releasing the Kraken," they were really releasing the Krak(pot)en(ing). I liked the Kraken better in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

Rudy Giuliani wasn't involved in the sanctions hearing, but CBS News included his professional troubles in Michigan judge blasts "fantastical" election fraud claims.

In a hearing this week on possible sanctions for Trump-allied lawyers, a federal judge questioned whether the attorneys had done their due diligence before filing a lawsuit in Michigan last November in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Washington Post political investigations and enterprise reporter Rosalind Helderman joined CBSN to discuss the hearing.
This case shows that it's time for Rudy to retire and I think his suspensions will finally make that happen. As for Trump's lawyers in Michigan, I watched the hearing and heard the judge gave the attorneys two weeks to prepare briefs. I expect her ruling shortly afterwards. I hope to report on it here when that happens. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Seth Meyers and Joy Reid take closer looks at Texas Democrats leaving the state for D.C.

While I've been busy observing holidays, political conflict over voting rights has erupted again in Texas. Late Night with Seth Meyers turned the drama into comedy in last night's Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Threatens to Arrest Democrats Who Fled State: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the governor of Texas threatening to arrest lawmakers who fled the state to block a draconian new voter suppression law designed to keep Republicans in power.
That's the humorous take on the situation. For a more serious examination, watch Joy Reid's interview, Texas Rep Responds To Governor Abbott’s Arrest Threats.

Voting rights legislation passing on the federal level and what it will take are discussed by Texas St. Rep. Chris Turner and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla. Sen. Padilla tells Joy Reid, ‘Put me in the column of abolishing the filibuster... for the sake of saving our fundamental democracy.’
Sounds like Reid and Alex Padilla are in the mood to play hardball to defend voting rights. I'm with them and the people in this photo from WTOL. I hope my readers are, too.


Activists rally at Sen. Rob Portman's office in favor of voting rights acts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Drink to who played the '1812 Overture' best for a drum corps Bastille Day

A happy drum corps Bastille Day to my readers! I'm choosing an ironic theme for this year's celebration, a piece of music composed to celebrate a French tactical victory yet strategic defeat against the Russians. At least it quotes the French national anthem, La Marseillaise. Watch as Drum Corps International (DCI) asks Who Did It Best? 1812 Overture.

The quintessential piece for powerhouse brass lines, Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," played by four corps over 27 years. Who did it best?
Out of this group, the commenters generally picked 1984 Phantom Regiment, although a few thought 2008 Crown played it better and 2011 Boston Crusaders had a better drill.* Sorry, 1992 Phantom Regiment. A few more noted that another Phantom Regiment year could have been included, so I'm sharing 1983 Phantom Regiment | 1812 Overture as an encore.

Phantom Regiment's 1983 closing tune was a full-blown five-and-a-half minute production of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." A large concert bass drum was employed to deliver the cannon shots in the finale, with the church bell ringing away and the entire color guard spinning rifles up front in a form sort of like a bell clapper. The horns, in the back, formed the dome of a massive bell and then unleashed every ounce of power still remaining on the final chords.
With this video, I've featured five different years of Phantom Regiment in three different posts to celebrate Bastille Day. That makes them by far my favorite for this holiday.

Today is also National Grand Marnier Day, so I'm sharing Cam Mac Adventures' Grand Marnier Slush France Cocktail EPCOT | How To: Disney Drink Recipes | Bibbidi Bobbidi Bartender as the featured beverage.

In this Episode of Bibbidi Bobbidi Bartender, I am going to teach you how to make your very own Grand Marnier Slush from Disney's EPCOT - France pavilion. Watch and learn how to make fantastic Disney cocktails from the comfort of your own home! Ingredients will be listed below along with drink recipes so you can follow along!
...
Grand Marnier Slush:
- 1 oz Grand Marnier
- 1 oz Grey Goose Vodka
- 1 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 oz Sour Mix (Equal Parts Lemon Juice, Lime Juice and Simple Syrup)
- 2 Cups of Ice
Vive la France (Pavilion)! Liberté, Egaliteé, Fraternité!


*Boston Crusaders 2011 should look familiar. I used two other clips of that show from Drum Corps International's and Boston Crusaders' YouTube channels in Drink to a drum corps Bastille Day with the Boston Crusaders playing "Les Miserables". I'm an environmentalist, I recycle, but I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Coffee Party USA announces the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cup Television Winners!



For the past three weeks, the members and volunteers of Coffee Party USA have been voting on the nominees for the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups for television. Voting closed Sunday so it's time to announce the winners in seven categories showcasing the best in politics and government on the small screen during the 2019-2020 television season.

Watchmen earned two awards, Best Miniseries or Movie for Television about Politics and Government and split Best Comedy, Drama, Miniseries, or Movie for Television about Fantastic and Futuristic Politics and Government with The Mandalorian. The Handmaid's Tale won Best Drama Series about Politics and Government. Schitt's Creek defeated last year's winner Saturday Night Live for Best Comedy Series about Politics and Government. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned as Best Talk Show. Frontline won the initial award for Best Documentary, Nonfiction, or Reality Series about Politics and Government. Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman on Designated Survivor and Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live will share the office of Best Television President for 2018-2019 Season, replacing Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on Veep, whose term expired. Sorry, this category does not go to the House of Representatives to break the tie. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all of our members and volunteers who voted for the best shows and performances about politics and government during the 2019-2020 television season!

With the 2019-2020 television season out of the way, the members and volunteers of Coffee Party USA will move on to the best political movies of the 2020 awards season. Watch for the posting of the shortlists for the show categories on our blog along with an invitation to stream them while staying safe at home.

Coffee Party USA is a project of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.  Follow the Coffee Party at our website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Follow over the jump for the nominees in each category.

Monday, July 12, 2021

U.S. birth and fertility rates and life expectancy all fell in 2020 for a late World Population Day

A belated World Population Day to my readers! When I decided "Doom in the form of falling birth rates can wait" on Father's Day weekend, I thought today would be a more appropriate occasion to tackle the subject, as I did last year. On that note, I begin by sharing Bill McBride, who wrote U.S. Births decreased in 2020, "Lowest number of births since 1979" in Calculated Risk two months ago.
From the National Center for Health Statistics: Births: Provisional Data for 2020. The NCHS reports:
The provisional number of births for the United States in 2020 was 3,605,201, down 4% from the number in 2019 (3,747,540). This is the sixth consecutive year that the number of births has declined after an increase in 2014, down an average of 2% per year, and the lowest number of births since 1979.

The provisional general fertility rate (GFR) for the United States in 2020 was 55.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down 4% from the rate in 2019 (58.3), another record low for the nation. From 2014 to 2020, the GFR declined by an average of 2% per year

The provisional birth rate for teenagers in 2020 was 15.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15–19, down 8% from 2019 (16.7), reaching another record low for this age group. The rate has declined by 63% since 2007 (41.5), the most recent period of continued decline, and 75% since 1991, the most recent peak.
Here is a long term graph of annual U.S. births through 2020.
VOA News picked up the story two weeks later when it asked COVID Baby Bust? US Birth Rates See Biggest Drop in Nearly 50 Years.

New data show that the birth rate in the United States dropped significantly for every major race and age group during the past year. Experts not only blame uncertainty over coronavirus for part of the decline but also say the U.S. “COVID baby bust” reflects long-running trends in other developed nations. VOA’s Laurel Bowman has that story.
As I wrote about retail, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in fertility, not caused them.

While McBride and VOA News reported the above in May, the story has continued to make news. Follow over the jump for two more video reports from local TV stations, including Detroit's own WXYZ, plus an update on falling life expectancy.