Sunday, January 31, 2021

Zendaya and other Emmy winners of color in drama series for Black History Month

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the next installment about Emmy winners of color that I promised in 'Watchmen' leads diversity in 2019-2020 Emmy winners for MLK Day" at the end of CNBC, The Economist, CBS This Morning, and Retail Archaeology explain GameStop, a serious tale of the stock market and Retail Apocalypse. For the last day and final Sunday of January 2021 (Yay, we've made it through the first month!), I'm following through with winners from drama series, including short form, beginning with Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Time to revisit my predictions.
The nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series are Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Jodie Comer, Laura Linney, Sandra Oh, and Zendaya.
For the last time this post, I recycle to begin my analysis.
"Euphoria" is the least overtly political of the nominees, but the setting is East Highland High School, a public institution, so a government facility is the setting. Remember, public education, like law enforcement and the military, is part of government.
Jodie Comer won this award last year, much to my surprise, so she's the nominal favorite. Her strongest competition appears to be Laura Linney from "Ozark," who won the equivalent category at the Gold Derby Awards, and Oscar winner Olivia Colman. Of the three of them, I'm hoping for Linney.
I thoroughly discounted Zendaya and I was wrong to do so. Watch 72nd Emmy Awards: Zendaya Wins for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series from the Television Academy.

Zendaya wins the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
I think she was as surprised as I was. Just the same, I enjoyed her acceptance speech and the other nominated actresses appeared to be equal parts good sports and genuinely happy for her. Congratulations!

By the way, this isn't the first time Zendaya surprised me at an awards show. The first was the 2019 Saturn Awards when she won Best Supporting Actress in a Film for her role in "Spider-Man: Far from Home." I came close, as I wrote "If someone can persuade me of the merits of Zendaya, I might change my vote, but they only have a week." No one did and I wish they had.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the drama winners.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

CNBC, The Economist, CBS This Morning, and Retail Archaeology explain GameStop, a serious tale of the stock market and Retail Apocalypse

I concluded Noah, Colbert, Kimmel, and Corden explain GameStop, a funny tale of the stock market and Retail Apocalypse with "That's it for today's funny takes on GameStop. I plan on posting serious ones tomorrow. Stay tuned." I begin with CBNC's GameStop Mania: How Reddit Traders Took On Wall Street, which the financial channel just uploaded to YouTube this morning — perfect timing!

GameStop has captivated Wall Street’s attention. The stock’s rise has been otherworldly. But the obsession isn’t just with the rally, it’s with who’s making money off of it. Legions of individual investors -- regular, everyday people -- gathered on social platforms like Reddit and decided to send GameStop stock, as they would say, to the moon. This week, GameStop shares soared 400%, a hedge fund had to get bailed out, and online trading platforms had to restricting trading on GameStop and other hot stocks. Here’s how the GameStop saga played out, and what’s next as lawmakers turn their sights on the story that took over Wall Street this week.
That's a good explanation, although favors the long-time and institutional investors over the Redditors, who may not have been regular investors and watchers of CNBC before the COVID-19 pandemic; as New York Magazine points out, they were probably sports bettors who had to find a new way to satisfy their gambling fix while sports were on hold. Still, it's up to the high journalistic standards and production values I expect out of CNBC. The network may have a perma-bull attitude and prioritize entertainment as much as information, but they do have to give their viewers good advice or they'll leave for Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal. Also, I'm glad they interviewed Senator Elizabeth Warren, who, along with Kourtney Gibson, warned that this may not be the "David versus Goliath" story most people are making it out to be. In the later stages, big investors may have joined the Redditors in the short squeeze.

The Economist also uploaded GameStop: what it reveals about the US stockmarket this morning — again, perfect timing!

The frenzied rise of GameStop’s share price baffled Wall Street and panicked the US Treasury. What does the GameStop story reveal about American stockmarkets? Our experts answer your questions.

Chapter titles:

00:00 - GameStop surge explained
00:55 - Was Robinhood right to restrict trade?
01:56 - Short selling and short squeezes
03:05 - Is the stockmarket fair?
06:03 - Will it lead to more regulation?
06:51 - Is the US stockmarket overheated?
10:09 - Is this a trend?
Instead of letting the experts guide the discussion, The Economists let their readers ask the questions and had their experts respond. I find that democratic approach fitting given the populist nature of the interest in GameStop, AMC, Nokia, Blackberry, and, as Trevor Noah mentioned in yesterday's entry, Tootsie Rolls. About the only gatekeeping was by the editors in selecting the questions and editing the video. I don't begrudge them that; they were only doing their jobs to maintain quality and pacing.

CBS This Morning got into the act Thursday by following the prevailing narrative, Small investors turn GameStop into a Wall Street "David and Goliath" story.

Small investors using a Reddit forum appear to have driven the stock of the struggling retail chain GameStop up nearly 800% and it's causing some major financial losses for seasoned Wall Street investors. Vladimir Duthiers has the details. CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger also joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss.
I found this valuable because, in addition to providing a third perspective to the story, I learned something new about CBS News anchor Vladimir Duthiers; he used to be a Wall Street executive. That means that I will pay more attention to his takes on investing and the economy from nowon, just as I do to Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC and NBC News.

Follow over the jump for more from CNBC and Retail Archaeology about GameStop.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Noah, Colbert, Kimmel, and Corden explain GameStop, a funny tale of the stock market and Retail Apocalypse

I haven't written a story about the Retail Apocalypse since Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day and the stock market since September, so I was due. Well, do I have a story about both with a comedic twist, GameStop, which was the subject of four monologues last night, beginning with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah's Reddit’s GameStop Stock Boost & MLB’s Hall of Fame Drought.

Redditors boost the stock price of GameStop to insane numbers, the pandemic possibly creates a baby bust, and the Baseball Hall of Fame inducts no new players this year.
Good use of "The Big Short" to explain the situation. Other comedians will reference that scene later.

Before I move on the rest of the monologues last night, I'm thanking Trevor and his writers for including a perfect callback to yesterday's CNBC asks 'Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?' I like good transitions and I couldn't have imagined a better one between yesterday's post about population and today's about stocks.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had a less on-topic preview image but a better monologue in How Reddit Traders Used GameStop To Totally Spank The Wall Street Big Boys.

Stephen has the perfect explainer video for anyone trying to figure out what the heck is happening on Wall Street, as giant hedge funds get brutally punished by swarms of Reddit users harnessing their collective power to boost GameStop's stock price.
The opening of this monologue harks back to the failed self-coup and the kind of people who supported it. Consider that a preview of coming attractions on this blog as I make fun of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and other members of the "QAnon Caucus" in the coming months.

Stephen mentioned the Margot Robbie scene from "The Big Short," but created his own version. I like the visual explanation in it better. Beanie Babies, which we'll see again as well, make for a good concrete example. Robbie was too distracting in the original and seeing Trevor's head on her was even more distracting.

Follow over the jump for two more monologues that featured GameStop and its stock.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

CNBC asks 'Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?'

At the end of A pandemic update from Michigan as vaccinations ramp up while U.S. death toll passes 400,000, I quoted USA Today reporting "more than 3 million people died in 2020 — the deadliest year in US history" and "life expectancy for 2020 could end up dropping as much as three full years, said Robert Anderson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Those are scary statistics, but they tell only half the story about U.S. population. Birth rates tell the other half, as I last wrote about on World Population Day 2020. For that tale, watch and listen as CNBC asks Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?

The US is facing an aging population, falling birth rate and economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These issues will have huge implications on the size of the workforce and the consumer base. Watch the video to find out why America could be confronting an underpopulation problem and what business leaders and policymakers can do about it.
This video does a stellar job of describing and explaining most of the issues I cover when I lecture about population in my environmental science course, which is why I plan on showing it to my students. The first CNBC mentions is a trend I've covered on this blog for years: U.S. birth rates have been dropping for more than a decade and fertility rates have been dropping for even longer than that. In fact, U.S. fertility rates have been at or below replacement rate since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion. Economic uncertainty and other factors have contributed to the trend.

Second, increased population is bad for the environment, as expressed by the variable P in I=P*A*T "where I is impact, P is population, A is affluence, and T is technology." Impact increases as both population and affluence increases; both drive up demand for resources and create more waste and pollution. Therefore, keeping population down will help the environment. By keeping human population below the carrying capacity for our species, it helps people as well.

Third, increasing educational and economic opportunities for women is the number one way to decrease birth rates and keep them down, although increasing economic security might put a floor under the declining birth rates. Women's education and a stronger economy will also increase affluence, which will increase impact if more efficient technologies don't counteract both affluence and population.

Fourth, I use the example of Japan's use of robots as a strategy to counteract a declining population. As the video points out, robots are not consumers, so they don't contribute to the economy through consumption, only through investment.

Fifth, while more males are born than women, women outlive men. I show that to my students when I lecture about age structure. That means the U.S. economy will increasingly rely on the consumption of older women.

Sixth, if not enough babies are born in the U.S. to meet our job demand, the country can allow more immigration. I'm O.K. with that, but Donald Trump became president in large part because many Americans weren't and still aren't. That's why, when one of my students asked in 2015 if the U.S. would ever adopt Chinese population policies, I responded no, that's not the American way. If the U.S. thinks it has an overpopulation issue, it would restrict immigration. The next week, Trump rode down the escalator and denounced immigrants. This is one of those cases where I hate being proved right.

The seventh and final point returns to the idea of carrying capacity and environmental footprint, a concept I cover on Earth Overshoot Day. The bad news is that if all 7.8 billion of us consumed like Americans currently do, humans would need five Earths to support the species sustainably. As much as I like science fiction ideas, there aren't four other planets and large moons to terraform, not that we have the technology to do so and not that it would solve our immediate consumption issues. The good news is that the experts interviewed think that population will peak in 40-50 years and start declining. If the planet and the societies and economies that depend on it can support the peak population then, it should be able to support the declining human population on the way down. This depends on more efficient technologies, the T in I=P*A*T, extracting resources and reducing waste more sustainably. The Crazy Eddie in me approves, although I'm worried it may not happen.

On the other hand, watching this video has made me only a little less worried about something I've repeated before.
I have been in favor of zero population growth for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the U.S. economy is set up for a stable or slowly declining population, a point I made in the Hipcrime Vocab: Why Slowing Population Growth is a Problem. We are going to have to figure how to do so. Otherwise, I might live long enough to experience the wisdom of the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."

Maybe we'll be able to thread that needle after all. Here's to us helping to make that happen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

'Mrs. America' and 'The Plot Against America' lead limited series nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards

"Stay tuned for the limited series and television movies nominees." That's what I told my readers at the end of 'Schitt's Creek' and 'What We Do in the Shadows' — funny and fantastic local politics in most nominated comedy series at the Critics Choice Awards, so I'm following through. It's time to recycle the relevant paragraph from the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards press release, which I first posted in 'Ozark' and 'The Crown' lead drama series nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards.
Several other series had especially strong showings with “Lovecraft Country” (HBO), “Mrs. America” (FX), “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop), and “What We Do In The Shadows” (FX) each earning five nominations, and “Better Call Saul” (AMC) and “The Plot Against America” (HBO) both up for four awards. Netflix earned the most nominations overall, with a total of 26, followed closely by HBO/HBO Max with 24.
“Mrs. America” and “The Plot Against America” earned more nominations than other any limited series or television movie at these awards, so I'm focusing on them along with the show most likely to upset them, "Queen's Gambit."


I May Destroy You (HBO)
Mrs. America (FX)
Normal People (Hulu)
The Plot Against America (HBO)
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Small Axe (Amazon Studios)
The Undoing (HBO)
Unorthodox (Netflix)
Since I am focusing on shows that have politics and government as a theme, I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling my observation that "'Mrs. America' explicitly portrays actual politicians and activists, so it is expressly about politics and government." On the other hand, “The Plot Against America” serializes an alternative history novel about a fascist takeover of America from the inside during World War II. Like "Mrs. America," it's very political. Both "I May Destroy You" and "Small Axe" are British, but examine political issues that affect Americans, the immigrant experience and what constitutes sexual consent. I'll let IMDB describe "The Undoing": "A modern twist to a classical 'whodunnit' tale, when the life of a wealthy New York therapist turns upside down after she and her family get involved with a murder case." Government intervenes in the form of the police. Both "Unorthodox" and "Normal People" feature relationship drama, but the former also shows the experiences of an immigrant — from U.S. to Germany — that's a twist!

Without Emmy winner "Watchmen" in the field, “Mrs. America” and "Unorthodox" the other nominated limited series with Emmy wins, have a chance at winning. However, their main competition are two shows that aired after the eligibility period for last year's Emmy awards, “The Plot Against America” and “The Queen's Gambit.” The latter appeared consistently in The top TV shows of 2020 according to IGN, WatchMojo, and IMDB, so I think it's actually the favorite, not “Mrs. America,” “The Plot Against America,” or "Unorthodox." If I'm right, sports, in as much as chess is a sport as well as a game, will beat politics.


Bad Education (HBO)
Between the World and Me (HBO)
The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)
Hamilton (Disney+)
Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)
What the Constitution Means to Me (Amazon Studios)
Once again, I begin my analysis by recycling.
The two movies most likely to claim the award also happen to be about crime and punishment, "Bad Education" and "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie." Of the two, "Bad Education" sticks closer to one of the main themes I'm examining in this series, depictions of government and politics in entertainment, as it's a dramatization of a real-life scandal. From IMDB: "The beloved superintendent of New York's Roslyn school district and his staff, friends and relatives become the prime suspects in the unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history." Remember, public schools are government institutions. On the other hand, "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" is purely fictional and focuses less on government and more on the criminals. That written, it has four nominations to two for "Bad Education," so I think it's more likely to win.
I was wrong. Watch 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Television Movie.

The team from Bad Education wins the Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.
Good speech about depicting a true story of corruption. I hope the CCA agrees with him about it. That reminds me; electorates matter, as the other nominee about politics and government is "Hamilton," which won two People's Choice Awards, The Drama Movie of 2020 and Lin-Manuel Miranda as The Drama Movie Star of 2020. Hey, the critics agree with the fans, at least in terms of nominating "Hamilton." While this nomination makes my prediction that "the show will be nominated for many guild awards, possibly a Golden Globe or two, and multiple Emmy Awards" look good, I would be surprised if it wins. Still, the critics have surprised me before.

Follow over the jump for the acting nominations.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

'Schitt's Creek' and 'What We Do in the Shadows' — funny and fantastic local politics in most nominated comedy series at the Critics Choice Awards

In the footnote to Talk show nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards, I told my readers "Don't worry, I plan on blogging about comedy series nominees tomorrow. Stay tuned." With that, it's time to recycle the relevant paragraph from the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards press release, which I first posted in 'Ozark' and 'The Crown' lead drama series nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards.
Several other series had especially strong showings with “Lovecraft Country” (HBO), “Mrs. America” (FX), “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop), and “What We Do In The Shadows” (FX) each earning five nominations, and “Better Call Saul” (AMC) and “The Plot Against America” (HBO) both up for four awards. Netflix earned the most nominations overall, with a total of 26, followed closely by HBO/HBO Max with 24.
With five nominations each, “Schitt’s Creek” and “What We Do In The Shadows” lead all other comedy series in nominations at this year's Critics Choice Awards, so they're the featured shows today.


Better Things (FX)
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
Mom (CBS)
PEN15 (Hulu)
Ramy (Hulu)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
Both “Schitt’s Creek” and “What We Do in the Shadows” also earned nominations in the equivalent categories at the Television Critics Association Awards and the Emmy Awards, so I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote for both of those.
"Schitt's Creek" concentrate[s] on family comedy...but politics and government contribute important, if secondary, plot elements. The Mayor of "Schitt's Creek" is an important supporting character and the female lead, Catherine O'Hara as Moira Rose, runs for town council and wins the seat.
So far, so good. Unfortunately, I was wrong in thinking "'What We Do in the Shadows' is not political...with its comedy vampires." It turns out that the series started out with the vampires trying to take over Staten Island by influencing the borough council, but that backfired. There is also a lot of political intrigue and comedic conflict among different factions of vampires with other fantastic creatures, particularly werewolves, so the show has a lot of fantastic politics.

Now for one last recycled item about the nominees for this category.
As for "Better Things," it's a show about show business. If the actors and other Hollywood professionals were voting for these awards, it would stand a better chance. Instead, the critics are, so it doesn't have that built-in advantage.
Remember, electorates matter.

The remaining nominees with political or government themes are "PEN15," which takes place in a public school, a function of local government, and "Ramy," which examines the experiences of an immigrant community composed of Muslims, a religious minority in the U.S. That can't help but be political. In addition, law enforcement plays an important role as secondary antagonists in "The Flight Attendant," which succeeds as both a thriller and a comedy without being a parody of the thriller genre. Meanwhile, neither "Mom" nor "Ted Lasso" are particularly political in any conventional manner, although both feature a lot of family and workplace dynamics.

As for which show I expect will win, the easy choices are the two most nominated, “Schitt’s Creek” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” Of the two, I think the advantage goes to "Schitt's Creek," which won Outstanding Achievement in Comedy at the TCA Awards and Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards. "What We Do in the Shadows" is the obvious second choice, but "Ted Lasso," which was a consistent pick in The top TV shows of 2020 according to IGN, WatchMojo, and IMDB could upset both.

Speaking of winning the Emmy Award, I'm going to share 72nd Emmy Awards: Schitt's Creek Wins for Outstanding Comedy Series because I won't cover "Schitt's Creek" in the Black History Month series I promised at the end of 'Watchmen' leads diversity in 2019-2020 Emmy winners for MLK Day.

The team from Schitt's Creek wins the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.
That was sweet. Also, I'm embedding all of the Emmy acceptance speeches by its actors, one of whom is also a writer/director, so this is now an Emmy entry. Deal with it.

Follow over the jump for the comedy series acting nominations.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Talk show nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards

I closed 'Ozark' and 'The Crown' lead drama series nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards by telling my readers "Stay tuned for the comedy, limited series, and talk show nominees throughout the week." Instead of writing about comedy today, I'm skipping ahead to the talk show nominees.* Here are the nominees from the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards press release.


Desus & Mero (Showtime)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC/Syndicated)
Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)

Not seeing Emmy winner "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" among the nominees surprised me. I guess the Critics Choice Association (CCA) didn't think his most recent season was worthy. As I keep saying when I analyze awards shows, electorates matter. I'm even more surprised that the CCA didn't renominate one of last year's co-winners, "The Late Late Show with James Corden." After watching his his monologues during lockdown, I can see why. He, his announcer, and his band are a bit too relaxed and start the show too slowly for my taste. On the other hand, I think last year's returning co-winner "Late Night with Seth Meyers" got sharper when produced from Seth's home, becoming even more of a favorite to repeat.

While I like Seth, his show is my third choice; my top two are "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," which I used for the preview image because the other talk shows haven't posted a promotional tweet about their nominations, and "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee." Speaking of which, here is the image "Late Night with Seth Meyers" tweeted out when the show won last year.

Good luck to all the nominees and may the most entertaining and insightful show win!

*That's because today is Irish Coffee Day, when I celebrate Coffee Party USA's birthday a day early, so I'm writing a birthday post for them today, too. Writing a short entry is my way of making time for this. Don't worry, I plan on blogging about comedy series nominees tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

'Ozark' and 'The Crown' lead drama series nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards

I concluded Bright Sun Films and Business Insider on the General Motors bankruptcy, a story I tell my students by telling my readers "Stay tuned for the series nominees for the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards in tomorrow's Sunday entertainment feature as I promised in the footnote to 'Watchmen' leads diversity in 2019-2020 Emmy winners for MLK Day." I begin with the most nominated series from the Critics Choice Association (CCA) press release.
This year, two Netflix series lead the pack, with “Ozark” and “The Crown” each up for six awards including Best Drama Series. “Ozark” stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney will vie for Best Actor in a Drama Series and Best Actress in a Drama Series respectively, while Tom Pelphrey, Julia Garner, and Janet McTeer are all nominated for their supporting roles. “The Crown” also saw many of its royal players recognized. Josh O’Connor is nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Series, while Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin find themselves together in the Best Actress in a Drama Series category. Tobias Menzies and Gillian Anderson received recognition for their supporting roles.

Several other series had especially strong showings with “Lovecraft Country” (HBO), “Mrs. America” (FX), “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop), and “What We Do In The Shadows” (FX) each earning five nominations, and “Better Call Saul” (AMC) and “The Plot Against America” (HBO) both up for four awards. Netflix earned the most nominations overall, with a total of 26, followed closely by HBO/HBO Max with 24.
As I did for the Critics Choice Super Awards, I'm examining the nominees that have politics and government as their themes and settings. It turns out all but one category has nominees that touch on one or both.

I begin with the categories that recognize the two most nominated series, "Ozark" and "The Crown."


Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Ozark (Netflix)
Perry Mason (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Every nominated drama series other than "This Is Us" either examines some aspect of government or explores political themes, if not both. Time to recycle from 'Watchmen' and 'Unbelievable' lead nominees about politics and government at the 2020 Television Critics Association Awards.
The protagonists of "Better Call Saul" are lawyers, not government employees, but they work in courtrooms and deal with law enforcement, so a government function plays an important part in the show...Both the Galactic Republic and the remnants of the Galactic Empire, which will eventually become the First Order, appear in "The Mandalorian"..."The Crown" continues its dramatization of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II with a new cast. "The Good Fight" resumed this season with less of a focus on resisting Trump and more on other political issues. While it made for a refreshing change of subject, I thought the season was the weakest so far. It didn't help that the final episode ended on a dick joke about Jeffrey Epstein. Yes, really.
I'm recycling next from Outstanding Drama Series nominees at the Emmys once again examine politics and government, where I observed that "'Ozark' plays lots of local politics." Fantastic and futuristic politics and government nominees at the Critics Choice Super Awards for National Science Fiction Day provides the last comment I'm reusing.
"Lovecraft Country" very political, being the second speculative fiction program about America's history of racism to use the Tulsa Massacre as a pivotal event after "Watchmen," and encompasses not only horror but science fiction and fantasy as well. "Lovecraft Country" certainly is ambitious!
I was surprised that the CCA classified "Lovecraft Country" as a drama series instead of a limited series, as the protagonist died and the story ended, but it turns out that the producers are negotiating with HBO for a second season, so the CCA will have made the right decision should HBO greenlight a second season. We will most likely know when the Television Academy announces the nominations for the 2020-2021 Emmy Awards.

Finally, "Perry Mason," like "Better Call Saul" and "the Good Fight," is a legal drama, so government and law create the courtroom setting.

The winner will likely be one of the two most nominated series, "Ozark" or "The Crown." I'm personally rooting for "Ozark," but I think the prior nomination history favors "The Crown," as it, "The Good Fight," and "This Is Us" earned nominations last year and twice won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Drama. Then again, electorates matter as I keep writing about awards shows and the CCA could surprise me. For example, I suspect there is significant overlap between the the CCA and the TCA, at least for the television voters, and they awarded Outstanding Achievement in Drama to "Better Call Saul" two years ago, so I would not be surprised if that happens here. Also, "Lovecraft Country" and "The Mandalorian" won their categories at the Critics Choice Super Awards, so I wouldn't count them out, especially "Lovecraft Country." As I wrote above, the show is ambitious and the critics might reward that ambition.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the categories with nominees that have themes of politics or government.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Bright Sun Films and Business Insider on the General Motors bankruptcy, a story I tell my students

I wrote about one of the examples I use to illustrate a point to my students yesterday in I recommended 'Spaceship Earth,' a documentary about Biosphere 2, to my students. Today, I'm writing about another, General Motors. Watch Bankrupt - General Motors, which includes the points I make about what was once the largest company and the largest private employer in the U.S. as well as the largest auto company on the planet.

After over a hundred years in business, General Motors was the worlds largest corporation producing some of the most iconic cars in history. However in the early 2000's, the company made some bad decisions and quickly brought the worlds most powerful company into turmoil, on the brink of shutting down, and eventually.. bankruptcy.
As my readers might gather, I use pre-bankruptcy GM as an example of how not to conduct business sustainably. First, I tell students about how I figured out that GM was headed for bankruptcy in 2006 based on its pension obligations and the business model it used to sustain them, selling trucks, SUVs, and luxury cars, which were profitable but very fuel-inefficient. The price of oil was already rising then and when it got high enough, it would make sales of those product lines collapse, tanking GM's revenue and sending it into bankruptcy. As the video shows, that happened, although Jake Williams concentrated on the effects of the Great Recession more than the energy costs that, along with the collapse of housing and finance, helped cause it. Jake at least pointed out that abandoning the EV-1 turned out to be a mistake, with GM losing its lead in a technology that other auto makers made profitable.

Second, even during good times, GM was not caring about how its business decisions affected its employees and the communities in which they lived. That's ignoring the people part of the triple bottom line, people, planet, profit, and creating inequitable outcomes, the opposite of what the image below shows as the result of balancing people and profit. That led to all the problems the city of Flint had even before the Flint Water Crisis.

As the diagram also shows, the anticipated results of balancing planet and profit are viable outcomes. GM did not do that with its product line, concentrating on profit to serve its retirees, sacrificing planet for people. That led to a nonviable outcome, the company going bankrupt.

Jake did not include the environmental and energy cost of my lectures in his history, but Business Insider did in its history of one of the brands that supported GM before the bankruptcy but which the company discontinued afterwards, The Rise And Fall Of Hummer.

In the 1990s, the militaristic off-road machine known as the Hummer was a major part of American pop culture. But in fewer than 20 years, Hummer went from being one of General Motors' most recognizable brands to a relic of the past. We explored what led to its rise and fall.
The Hummer was a poster child of gas guzzling SUVs and was the one I would call a "suburban assault vehicle" because of its military origins. However, as Business Insider suggested, it could stage a comeback, particularly if GM revives it as an electric vehicle.

Finally, one of the reasons why I was able to predict the crash in GM's sales more than a decade ago was because I'd seen it before during the 1970s and 1980s, when gas prices rose and American auto sales, particularly of larger vehicles, collapsed. Business Insider told that story as part of The Rise And Fall Of Cadillac.

For half a century, Cadillac was America's top-selling luxury car brand. However, recent decades have seen it struggle to stay afloat in the US.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That's it for today's edition of stories I tell my students. Stay tuned for the series nominees for the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards in tomorrow's Sunday entertainment feature as I promised in the footnote to 'Watchmen' leads diversity in 2019-2020 Emmy winners for MLK Day.

Friday, January 22, 2021

I recommended 'Spaceship Earth,' a documentary about Biosphere 2, to my students

I changed my mind since I told my readers "I may return to examine "The Social Dilemma" as I promised in 'Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution' at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards" at the end of Samantha Bee, CNBC, and Vox examine tech companies suspending Trump from social media. I'm still planning on doing that but I decided to write about another movie nominated at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards that I recommended to my students this week, "Spaceship Earth," which IMDB describes as "a look at the group of people who built the Biosphere 2, a giant replica of the earth's ecosystem, in 1991." Watch SPACESHIP EARTH Trailer (2021) Biosphere 2 Documentary.

Spaceship Earth is the true, stranger-than-fiction, adventure of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside of a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem called BIOSPHERE 2. The experiment was a worldwide phenomenon, chronicling daily existence in the face of life threatening ecological disaster and a growing criticism that it was nothing more than a cult. The bizarre story is both a cautionary tale and a hopeful lesson of how a small group of dreamers can potentially reimagine a new world.
I use the story of Biosphere 2 as an example of a failure to exercise humility. I mentioned that in a comment to A Faint Whiff of Lemonade at Ecosophia.
"Cataloging a documentary about the Biosphere 2 project at work today" — Is it Spaceship Earth? I ran across it while blogging about the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards. It was nominated for Best Archival Documentary and Best Science/Nature Documentary, but didn't win either, losing to MLK/FBI for the first and My Octopus Teacher for the second. That documentary caught my attention because I use Biosphere 2 in my lectures as an example of failing to follow the environmental principle of humility, knowing the limits of one's knowledge. When I return to in-person classes, I plan on referring my students to that movie for more.
If people don't know the limits of their knowledge, they make mistakes. In the case of Biosphere 2, the mistake was thinking that humans knew enough about how ecosystems operated in 1991 to make the experiment work. The answer turned out to be no. As the trailer shows, that failure manifested as a spike in carbon dioxide levels, which endangered the crew. Biosphere 2: A Faulty Mars Survival Test Gets a Second Act | Retro Report explored that part of the failure and more.

With dreams of one day colonizing space, eight people sealed themselves inside a giant glass biosphere in the Arizona desert in 1991. By the time they emerged two years later, they had suffocated, starved and went mad.
Retro Report mentioned another failure of human knowledge at the time, which was the inability of Biosphere 2 to produce enough food to maintain the weights of the crew, although they all survived. Both the "Spaceship Earth" trailer and Retro Report also included reports of conflict within the crew. That's a scientific failure of a different kind than either maintaining an atmosphere humans can breathe or producting enough food, but it's one that space exploration and colonization will have to solve as well.

For what it's worth, the addition of Steve Bannon, who supervised a second mission not expressly mentioned in the "Spaceship Earth" trailer, although the police raid shown briefly was likely from that time, had mixed effects. According to Wikipedia, "extensive research and system improvements were undertaken, including sealing concrete to prevent the uptake of carbon dioxide," which paradoxically contributed to the carbon dioxide spike because the concrete also absorbed oxygen and "The second crew achieved complete sufficiency in food production." Both of those showed that the people running Biosphere 2 had learned valuable lessons from the first crew. On the other hand, Bannon's takeover led members of the first crew to allegedly vandalize the project from outside, breaking windows and opening airlocks They filed "an 'abuse of process' civil lawsuit...against Space Biosphere Ventures," the company that ran Biosphere 2 at the time, that they ended up winning, although they had to pay back some of their award to compensate for the damage they caused. Those were failures beyond the science involved in making Biosphere 2 work.

Even if I thought Biosphere 2 was a complete failure, which I don't, it would still be a valuable lesson for my students. As I wrote here 10 years ago and occasionally tell my students, no one is completely useless; they can always be used as a bad example.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Samantha Bee, CNBC, and Vox examine tech companies suspending Trump from social media

While I didn't want to spoil my good mood yesterday by blogging about you know who on his way out the door, I'm ready to take a more serious look at Trump being banned from social media. I'm going to ease into it with Samantha Bee saying It Shouldn't Have Taken An Insurrection For Social Media To Block Trump.

After allowing the president four years to post hateful, inflammatory, and downright false information across the internet, social media companies are finally taking action! Thank God they were able to step in before he caused any real damage....
Heh. It shouldn't have taken an insurrection, but it did.

Bee's video came out the day before CNBC uploaded Experts On How Facebook And Twitter May Change After Trump Bans, which had to do more research to examine the issue through journalism, not comedy.

On January 6th, Rioters stormed the U.S. capitol building to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. These events were inspired by President Trump and organized and promoted on the platforms of publicly traded companies, most notably Facebook and Twitter. To avoid further violence, those companies, and then many more thereafter including YouTube, banned or blocked President Trump's access to the megaphone they provide. This exposed a major flaw in the business model of many social media platforms: share first, think later. Tech experts Chamath Palihapitiya, Roger McNamee, Chris Kelly and Dick Costolo all predict major changes coming in the social media landscape and Section 230. Watch the video to find out how big tech may be forced to change.
Yes, Section 230 will likely change as a result of the failed self-coup and more in the way Democrats want than what Trump and other conservatives say they want, although they would likely have been hurt worse than they expected if they had gotten their way.

The experts CNBC interviewed also pointed out issues with the business models of Twitter and Facebook and how they work to spread disinformation and misinformation. That's an issue Vox examined today when it asked Tech platforms banned Trump. Now what?

Deplatforming Trump won't stop the big lie.
Former US president Donald Trump has now been kicked off of social media platforms from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest. His suspension followed a violent insurrection on the Capitol in his name, and came months after Twitter had begun flagging hundreds of his posts for false statements about the election that he lost. But, as Platformer's Casey Newton explains, banning Trump was actually the easy part. Now tech platforms have a new problem: How do you combat misinformation when it's become bigger than any single user?
People don't know the answer, which is why the big documentary about the issue is 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. I may return to examine "The Social Dilemma" as I promised in 'Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution' at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A preview of the virtual parade for Inauguration Day 2021

I'm in a good mood today, so I don't want to spoil it by blogging about you know who on his way out the door. Instead, I'm going to celebrate the occasion in one of the ways I'd like to think I'm known for with marching music.

I begin with HBCU Marching Band Coverage of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, shared on YouTube by Killa Kev Productions.

Order of Bands:
1. Louisiana Leadership Institute
2. Grambling State University
3. Florida A&M University
4. South Carolina State University
5. Tennessee State University
6. Southern University
7. Jackson State University
I included Southern University in Marching music and a drink for the Louisiana Primary on Mojito Day 2020 while South Carolina State University, got their own news feature. Watch South Carolina State University's Marching Band to perform in Biden's Inaugural 'We Are One' virtual from News 19 WLTX.

South Carolina State University's Marching 101 Band will be among the featured performers during virtual inaugural event.
After watching the full clip from Killa Kev, I can say it lived up to the hype.

The HBCU bands weren't alone. ABC 7 Chicago reported South Shore Drill Team performs for virtual Biden inauguration.

The South Shore Drill Team is performing in a virtual Parade Across America for Joe Biden's presidential inauguration Wednesday.
For the last unit I'm featuring today, watch CBS Denver report Colorado Marching Band To Play During Virtual Inauguration Parade.

The marching band at D'Evelyn Junior-Senior High School will be featured in Wednesday's inauguration festivities. They'll be the only performers representing our state during the virtual "Parade Across America."
Congratulations to all the performers and good luck to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the American people!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A pandemic update from Michigan as vaccinations ramp up while U.S. death toll passes 400,000

It's been only two weeks since I posted More than 20 million COVID-19 cases and 350,000 deaths in U.S., the first pandemic update of 2021, but both the efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the deaths from it are accelerating. CBS This Morning reported on both in U.S. works to speed up vaccinations as coronavirus deaths near 400,000, focusing on how health services in Michigan are working to speed up vaccinations.*

New vaccination centers are popping up as states try to get the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved communities. One Michigan doctor is doing what he can to help. Lead national correspondent David Begnaud is driving hundreds of miles twice a week to personally deliver COVID-19 vaccines to clinics.
Using a Sears automotive department to administer vaccines is not the intersection between the pandemic and the Retail Apocalypse, I was expecting, but I'm glad to see the space being used, especially for a good purpose like this. Speaking of good purposes, watching Dr. Richard Bates deliver vaccine to Alpena warmed my heart even has he was keeping the vaccine cold.

What's also warming my heart is how Wayne County is responding to adversity, such as a shortage of the Pfizer vaccine, which is produced in Michigan. WDIV reported Wayne County transitioning to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last night.

Wayne County is transitioning to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Those who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will still receive the second dose.
WXYZ also reported Wayne County switching to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine after rescheduling appointments this morning.

Wayne County is expected to receive 5,500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday as the county will no longer receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Both stations reported from Schoolcraft College, where I used to teach. I'm glad to see my former employer pitching in with the vaccination effort.

Finally, CBS Detroit excerpted a segment from Dr. Oz in Why Getting Vaccinated Isn’t Just About Covid-19 – The Other Pandemic Left By Unemployment, Addiction.

Dr. Oz and Surgeon General Jerome Adams discuss how this pandemic is impacting people who aren’t even at the risk of dying or ending up in the hospital from the virus.
Between the coronavirus pandemic and other causes of excess death, More than 3 million people died in 2020 – the deadliest year in US history as USA Today reported last month.
This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time – due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.

U.S. deaths increase most years, so some annual rise in fatalities is expected. But the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15%, and could go higher once all the deaths from this month are counted.

That would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918, when tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died in World War I and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a flu pandemic. Deaths rose 46% that year, compared with 1917.
The result is that the pandemic has reversed the good news about life expectancy I discussed on World Population Day last year, when I reported that U.S. life expectancy increased for 1st time since 2014. For 2020, USA Today predicted that "life expectancy for 2020 could end up dropping as much as three full years, said Robert Anderson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yikes! When the CDC releases the final numbers, I'll be sure to cover them. Stay tuned.

*Just a few hours ago after CBS News broadcast that segment, NBC News reported U.S. surpasses 400,000 Covid deaths nearly one year after nation's first confirmed case, adding "24 million people have been infected in the U.S., the highest number of confirmed cases in the world. California on Monday became the first state to reach 3 million cases, and Los Angeles county crossed the 1 million case mark over the weekend, according to the NBC News tally." Yowza, that's grim news!  Stay safe, everyone!

Monday, January 18, 2021

'Watchmen' leads diversity in 2019-2020 Emmy winners for MLK Day

I finished 'The Boys' leads all winners at the Critics Choice Super Awards with four awards, an examination of politics with superheroes by telegraphing my plans for celebrating today's federal holiday.
I'm not done with entertainment. Stay tuned for MLK Day tomorrow, when I usually examine diversity in visual media.
This is a tradition I have observed on this blog for the past six years, as I noted last year.
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....
Since most of the awards shows have not announced their nominations yet, I'm going to use today as an opportunity to resume writing about the rest of this year's Emmy winners by looking at diversity among the winners for limited series, where "Watchmen" and "Mrs. America" had the most diverse award recipients, at least six people of color winning for "Watchmen" and one for "Mrs. America." That's as many winners of color as the Comedy Series and Drama Series combined!

The nominees for Outstanding Limited Series are Little Fires Everywhere, Mrs. America, Unbelievable, Unorthodox, and Watchmen.
...This field is very similar to the one at the 2020 Television Critics Association Awards, so I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
Both "Watchmen" and "Unbelievable" examine politics and government through the lens of law enforcement. "Watchmen" views crime and punishment using a fantastic and futuristic perspective (even though it takes place in 2019, it's not our 2019), while "Unbelievable" based its story on real events..."Mrs. America" explicitly portrays actual politicians and activists, so it is expressly about politics and government..."Little Fires Everywhere" explores social issues and includes a trial at the climax of the series, so a government function becomes a critical plot point...As for the winner, I'll repeat what I wrote for Program of the Year, "I'm hoping it's 'Watchmen'...but it could just as easily be 'Unbelievable.'" It could even be "Mrs. America" as a spoiler.
Since I wrote that, "Watchmen" won four awards from the Television Critics Association, Program of the Year, Outstanding New Program, Outstanding Achievement In Movie, Miniseries, Or Special, and Individual Achievement In Drama for Regina King. "Watchmen" also won Limited Series and King won Movie/Limited Series Actress at the Gold Derby Awards. Because of those awards, as well as the five Emmy Awards the superhero show has already won, I'm even more confident that "Watchmen" will win this category.
It did. Watch 72nd Emmy Awards: Watchmen Wins for Outstanding Limited Series.

Watchmen wins the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series.
That was worth including just for Anthony Anderson of "Black-ish" mentioning that last year's Emmys had a record number of African-American nominees opening his introduction. The same is true for Damon Lindelof's speech. While he is not a person of color, he helped created a speculative fiction program about America's history of racism that used the Tulsa Massacre as a pivotal event, to paraphrase what I wrote about "Lovecraft Country" in Fantastic and futuristic politics and government nominees at the Critics Choice Super Awards for National Science Fiction Day, and which Lindelof himself recognized in his shirt saying "Remember Tulsa '21," so the show itself winning an award deserves recognition today.

Follow over the jump to read about the individual winners recognized for their work in limited series and television movies.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

'The Boys' leads all winners at the Critics Choice Super Awards with four awards, an examination of politics with superheroes

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature, when I plan on writing about the winners of the Critics Choice Super Awards" at the end of NRA files for bankruptcy and announces move from New York to Texas. As I did on National Science Fiction Day, I begin with the summary of the winners from the press release.
Hulu and NEON’s “Palm Springs” and Disney+’s “Soul” led the film winners, each earning three trophies. “Palm Springs” was recognized for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie, Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Andy Samberg), and Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Cristin Milioti). “Soul” earned Best Animated Movie, as well as Best Voice Actor in an Animated Movie (Jamie Foxx) and Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie (Tina Fey).

In the series categories, Amazon’s “The Boys” took home the most awards, earning a total of four including Best Superhero Series, Best Actor in a Superhero Series (Antony Starr), Best Actress in a Superhero Series (Aya Cash), and Best Villain in a Series (Antony Starr). Starr was the only actor to take home multiple awards for his work.

With wins in both the film and series categories, Netflix led the studio/network count with a total of five.
That's a good summary of the top winners in both movie and television categories. Now to examine the winners individual categories with nominees that examine politics and government and compare them to my predictions. I begin with the action movie winners.

Bad Boys For Life (Sony)
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Extraction (Netflix)
Greyhound (Apple TV+)
The Hunt (Universal)
Mulan (Disney+)
The Outpost (Screen Media)
Tenet (Warner Bros.)
One of my continuing angles in writing these entries is examining the idea that electorates matter. The Critics Choice Association has educated tastes and will choose different nominees and select different winners than either the fans or the creators. I don't have an idea about how the movie creators will vote, as the Golden Globes, various guild awards for movies, BAFTA Awards, and Oscars have all been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I do know how the fans voted for the People's Choice Awards: "Bad Boys For Life was named the movie of 2020 even though it lost a subordinate award, the action movie of 2020, to Mulan...One probably shouldn’t look to the E! People’s Choice Awards for logic or consistency." As for the other nominees, "Extraction" and "Tenet" both earned People's Choice Awards nominations for The Action Movie of 2020 while "Greyhound" earned a nomination for The Drama Movie of 2020, losing to "Hamilton." With the critics voting, I expect the winner will be "Tenet" with "Da Five Bloods" as my favorite to upset it.

That's just as well, because I consider the premise of the most overtly political movie nominated, "The Hunt," to be an indulgence of a revenge fantasy and expect the film to be a well-executed — pun intended — exercise in bad taste. I'd rather see "Da Five Bloods," "Greyhound," "Mulan," or "The Outpost," all war movies, win instead. Remember, the military is a branch of government and war is a kind of international politics.
My second choice, "Da Five Bloods," won. I'm not surprised. The one member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA) I follow has nothing but good things to say about the movie, while she has complained that the dialog on "Tenet" was so indeciferably soft that she had to turn on subtitles to follow it. Worse yet, the movie only presents critical pieces of information once, so if you miss it, you can get lost, although the final act seems to tie things together. I guess other members of the CCA had similar experiences.

"Da Five Bloods" beat "Tenet" in the next category as well, shutting it out.

Tom Hanks – Greyhound (Apple TV+)
Chris Hemsworth – Extraction (Netflix)
Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost (Screen Media)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Will Smith – Bad Boys For Life (Sony)
John David Washington – Tenet (Warner Bros)
Both Will Smith and Chris Hemsworth won People's Choice Awards for their roles, Smith as The Male Movie Star of 2020 and Hemsworth as The Action Movie Star of 2020. I don't think either will win here. The critics will prefer someone with more craft than star power such as Delroy Lindo, Caleb Landry Jones, or especially John David Washington, who is my choice to win. Of course, if they want both, they can vote for Tom Hanks. Remember, electorates matter.
My second choice, Delroy Lindo of "Da Five Bloods," beat John David Washington. I'm familiar with Lindo from "The Good Fight," where he's done an excellent job for four seasons, so I'm not surprised. Congratulations to Lindo and the rest of the cast and crew of "Da Five Bloods!"

Betty Gilpin – The Hunt (Universal)
Yifei Liu – Mulan (Disney+)
Blake Lively – The Rhythm Section (Paramount)
Iliza Shlesinger – Spenser Confidential (Netflix)
Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)
I can't use the People's Choice Awards as a foil here, as none of these women earned a nomination there. Instead, I'll pick the nominee with the best track record as an award-winning actress, Hilary Swank, who is also nominated in the next category.
I had the right movie but the wrong actress, as Betty Gilpin won for her role in "The Hunt" instead of Swank. Since she's the protagonist, I'm not surprised. She also deserves the break, as Netflix canceled her big show, "G.L.O.W.," because of the pandemic. Congratulations!

Jim Carrey – Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)
Kathryn Newton – Freaky (Universal)
Martin Short and Jane Krakowski – The Willoughbys (Netflix)
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)
Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)
If the fans were voting, I'm sure Jim Carrey would win, but the critics are voting instead, so I think it will come down to Swank and J.K. Simmons for this award.
It looks like the critics had the same opinion the fans would have had, as Jim Carrey won this award. Congratulations, Dr. Robotnik!

Follow over the jump for the television winners.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

NRA files for bankruptcy and announces move from New York to Texas

I found another shiny object related to one of my long-term interests, gun violence and gun control, to distract me from soon to be ex-President Donald Trump's second impeachment.* Watch Reuters report NRA files for bankruptcy, seeks to escape lawsuit.

The National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy, a sudden development that could help the gun rights group escape a lawsuit by New York's attorney general seeking its dissolution.
This is not all good news from the perspective of fighting gun violence and the effects of big money in politics, which I'll get to later, but it is a setback for an organization that epitomizes the influence of both gun culture and big money in U.S. politics. As for the NRA calling New York State "corrupt," I think it's projecting, something that the next two videos will show. Instead, I will say that New York State in the person of Attorney General Letitia James is hostile to the NRA, not that I disapprove.

Speaking of the next two videos, both show that the problems that led the NRA to declare bankruptcy have been brewing for years, beginning with CNBC's report How The NRA Ended Up On The Verge Of Bankruptcy from August 2019.

The NRA is mired in controversy. With about 5 million members as of July 2019, the NRA is one of the most powerful special interest groups in the U.S. But, claims of financial wrong doing have led to multiple investigations in Congress and in New York State that are threatening the groups survival. And, while the group did have some money problems in the past, 2016 proved to be a devastating blow to its finances. The NRA reported a staggering $46 million loss.
New York State and the federal government have been sniffing around the NRA and its finances for years. CNBC could see that could be a threat to the organization, one that finally resulted in yesterday's strategic bankruptcy. On the other hand, the bigger the threat, the stronger the NRA's revenues become, as gun sales, memberships, and donations all increase after mass shootings and elections of Democratic Presidents. I expect that will happen again with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which is one of the reasons why the NRA's bankruptcy doesn't mean the end of the organization.

As an aside, I left the following in a comment to the video, although I added in the hyperlinks here.
I misread the misspelled sign about defending the Second Amendment at 6:58 as "Second Ammoment." On a whim, I performed a Google search for that phrase and "2nd Ammoment"; Google couldn't find any instances of either. Hey, I came up with something original! From now on, I'm going to say that the NRA is defending American's "Second Ammoment" rights. I hope it catches on."
Also, I'm glad to see that CNBC mentioned the role of Maria Butina, the subject of From Russia to the NRA with love. That was embarrassing and added to the narrative of Russian interference in U.S. politics, but it so far hasn't been nearly as big a problem for the NRA as I was hoping for. Too bad, as a Senate Finance Committee report found that the NRA was a 'Foreign Asset' To Russia ahead of the 2016 election, but nothing much as come of it — yet.

More recently, Bloomberg Quicktake uploaded How the NRA Shot Itself in the Foot just last November, which also exposes corruption in the NRA.

The National Rifle Association had long been known as one of the most powerful lobbying groups in America. But at the peak of its power, this well-funded ally of the Republican Party has found itself besieged by scandal and legal challenges that could permanently change how it operates.
After starting off very similarly to the CNBC report, Bloomberg's video went into more depth about the structure of the NRA and reported on the recent challenges the NRA has been facing since the CNBC mini-documentary. It also took a more hostile tone, but I think that comes from the top, as Michael Bloomberg has made fighting gun violence one of his major issues. All of those are reasons why I decided to include this video, despite the duplication with CNBC's report.

By the way, the protestors at the NRA news conference after Sandy Hook were from Code Pink, which started off as an anti-war movement. I'm glad to see that they are working against all kinds of violence, especially since they are one of Coffee Party USA's partners. Maybe I should see what they have to say about the NRA's bankruptcy.

Finally, I did say that "this is not all good news from the perspective of fighting gun violence and the effects of big money in politics" later, so it's time for a reaction from The Young Turks, NRA Goes Bankrupt But Don't Get Too Excited Yet.

The NRA has filed for bankruptcy, but the news is complicated. John Iadarola, Ken Klippenstein, and Jordan Uhl discuss on The Young Turks.
The NRA may be finished as a non-profit operating in New York, but I think it will survive and even thrive in Texas when all is said and done. Still, I'll take the small victory.

That's it for a week of serious news. Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature, when I plan on writing about the winners of the Critics Choice Super Awards.

*The other shiny objects were Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others likely to be charged for roles in Flint Water Crisis and 2020 tied with 2016 for warmest year on record, NASA reports, although I could make an argument that both of these should be my main focuses, while impeachment is the real shiny object distracting me. What do you think?

Friday, January 15, 2021

2020 tied with 2016 for warmest year on record, NASA reports

Thanks to a tweet by Greta Thunberg, I changed my mind about the subject of today's entry.* Instead of updating the legal developments in the Flint Water Crisis or compiling what Samantha Bee had to say about the perpetrators and enablers of last week's attempted self-coup, I'm updating Hurricanes, fires, floods, and drought, the top climate and weather stories of 2020 through the lens of 2019 was the second warmest year and the 2010s was the warmest decade on record to examine climate change. 2019 is no longer the second warmest year. It has lost that title to 2016, 2020, or both together, the position of NASA Finds 2020 Tied for Hottest Year on Record.

Globally, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. Overall, Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s. Temperatures are increasing due to human activities, specifically emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane.
NASA's press release, 2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record, NASA Analysis Shows, stated the conclusion more explicitly.
Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the year’s globally averaged temperature was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit (1.02 degrees Celsius) warmer than the baseline 1951-1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.

“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important – the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”
The version at NASA's Earth Observatory added in its version of the press release, 2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record.
The bar chart below shows this year in the context of the past 140 years in the modern temperature record. The values represent surface temperatures averaged over the entire globe for the year.
That's a graphic I'm going to have to add to my PowerPoint on climate to show to my students.

The NASA Earth Observatory press release continued.
Tracking global temperature trends provides a critical indicator of the impact of human activities—specifically, greenhouse gas emissions—on our planet. Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 1.2 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century.

A separate, independent analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded that 2020 was the second-warmest year in their record, behind 2016. NOAA scientists use much of the same raw temperature data in their analysis, but have a different baseline period (1901-2000) and methodology. They noted that 2020 was the 44th consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures above the 20th-century average.

Scientists from Europe’s Copernicus program also have 2020 tying 2016 as the warmest year on record, while the UK Met Office ranked 2020 as the second-warmest.
Based on all these analyses, declaring 2020 a statistical tie with 2016 looks like a safe conclusion to me.

NASA Earth Observatory's press release included one more graphic I want to share.
The animation below shows the seasonal cycle in global temperature anomalies for every month since 1880. Each line shows how much the global monthly temperature was above or below the global mean of 1980–2015. These seasonal anomalies are drawn from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), a model run by NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

Talk about a picture being worth 1000 words! That clearly shows how much warming has taken place over the past 140 years!

I have one last excerpt to share.
While the long-term trend of warming continues, a variety of events and factors contribute to any particular year’s average temperature. The largest source of year-to-year variability in global temperatures typically comes from the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a naturally occurring cycle of heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. While the year ended in a La Niña (cool) phase of ENSO, it started in a slightly positive (warm) phase, which marginally increased the average overall temperature. The cooling from the negative phase is expected to have greater influence on 2021.

“The previous record warm year, 2016, received a significant boost from a strong El Niño,” Schmidt said. “The lack of a similar assist from El Niño this year is evidence that the background climate continues to warm due to greenhouse gases.”

Follow over the jump for what 2020's record warmth meant for last year's weather plus the footnote showing Thunberg's tweet.