Sunday, February 28, 2021

Politics, government, and diversity in movie nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards

As I promised yesterday, this is "the final post of February, a Sunday entertainment feature about the movie nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards." Not only is this a follow-up to the television nominations and Critics Choice Super Awards, it's a companion of sorts to tonight's Golden Globes, to which I'll compare and contrast. Remember, electorates matter.

I'll begin with the relevant paragraphs from the press release.
This year’s film nominees are led by Netflix’s “Mank,” which earned an impressive 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Gary Oldman, Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Original Screenplay for Jack Fincher, Best Cinematography for Erik Messerschmidt, Best Production Design for Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, Best Editing for Kirk Baxter, Best Costume Design for Trish Summerville, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. “Minari” (A24) followed closely behind with 10 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Steven Yeun, Best Supporting Actress for Yuh-Jung Youn, Best Young Actor/Actress for Alan Kim, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Original Screenplay for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Cinematography for Lachlan Milne, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Score for Emile Mosseri.

With her nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Father,” Olivia Colman becomes the only artist recognized for their work in both film and television this season, having previously been announced as a nominee for her leading role in “The Crown” (Netflix). Chadwick Boseman also received multiple nominations for his outstanding performances in both “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have two chances to win in the Best Score category with their nominations for “Mank” (Netflix) and “Soul” (Disney).

In the studio/network tally, Netflix leads both film and television nominations with a total of 72 possible wins. HBO/HBO Max carries over their 24 series nominations, and Amazon Studios expands its total to 18 with today’s film additions.
Like the Golden Globes, the most nominated movie is "Mank," so it's the default favorite in the first category, even though Critics Choice Awards voting member Grace Randolph ranked "Promising Young Woman" first on her ballot.


Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Mank (Netflix)
Minari (A24)
News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Unlike the Golden Globes, which only allows five nominees, the Critics Choice Awards allow up to ten, which is also the maximum number for the Oscars. As such, I'll have to add to my descriptions for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Super Awards. I begin by recycling from my analysis of the Golden Globes.
"Mank" has more nominations than any other film...It also is a story about Hollywood, which, all other things being equal, makes it the favorite because Hollywood loves good show about itself. It will probably be enough for "Mank" to win this category at the Golden Globes and earn lots of nominations at the Oscars, making it the favorite there, too. However, when Grace mentions that it includes politics, it's mostly the politics of Hollywood and the movie industry, not the politics that influences government. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" covers that..."Nomadland," which IMDB describes as "After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad"...looks more like a documentary than a scripted drama.
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" also explores social and political issues within entertainment, as IMDB summarizes the film as "During a recording session, tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable 'Mother of the Blues'." Both feature diverse nominees as well as depicting African-American perspectives on their respective eras.
While I mentioned "One Night in Miami," I didn't say much other than it tied for political content with "Judas and the Black Messiah" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" among movies with supporting actor nominations at this year's Golden Globes, so I'm quoting the movie's IMDB description: "A fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s." I also skimmed over "Minari" and "The Sound of Metal," but that's because neither is really political, although both feature the stories of people of color, provide interesting social commentary, and have nominated performances by their lead actors. Speaking of nominated performances, "News of the World" and "Promising Young Woman" both showcase the talents of their lead actresses and examine social issues, although "News of the World" has elements of a war movie with the military involved. Speaking of the military, "Da Five Bloods" did not earn a nomination at the Golden Globes, but it won two Critics Choice Super Awards, Best Action Movie and Best Actor in an Action Movie. I pointed out that it's a war movie and told my readers to remember that "the military is a branch of government and war is a kind of international politics."

Follow over the jump for the rest of the movie nominations and my opinions, including how well the nominated movies fit the themes of politics and government and how well they showcase diversity.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fry's Electronics closes all its stores, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic

The Retail Apocalypse claimed another victim this week, as Fry's Electronics announced they would be closing all its stores and going out of business. NBC Bay Area reported the news on Wednesday.

Fry’s Electronics, the go-to chain for tech tinkerers looking for an obscure part, is closing for good. Bob Redell reports.
Fry's Electronics was a regional chain, but it was a big player in its service area. I first became aware of it reading anime magazines during the early 2000s, as a lot of anime distributors advertised that the store sold their DVDs. That didn't show up in any of the videos about the chain's history. I suppose that's because the people commenting are watching anime and other shows on streaming services even though one of the videos below the fold shows that Fry's was still selling DVDs and Blu-ray discs as recently as 2019.

Company Man Mike wasted no time in examining the causes of the failure, as he asked yesterday The Decline of Fry's Electronics...What Happened?

To the disappointment of many, Fry's Electronics has announced that they will be permanently shutting down all their stores. This video talks about the decline of the chain of electronics stores and theorizes where things went wrong.
A lot of Company Man Mike's facts come from corporate filings of publicly traded companies, so he had to speculate about the reasons for Fry's Electronics' demise because the company is privately owned by the Fry family.* He still produced a good history and analysis.

As Company Man Mike described, the problems with Fry's Electronics had been building for years, well before the pandemic. Follow over the jump for two videos from Erik of Retail Archaeology documenting the state of the stores in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Inside Edition explains Purim

Happy Purim! As I did for Hanukkah, the other Jewish holiday I celebrate on this blog, I'm turning to Inside Edition to explain the holiday. Watch as the syndicated infotainment newsmagazine asks and answers What Is Purim?

Falling one month before Passover, the Jewish holiday of Purim is little-understood. “Purim is the strangest and most upside down day on the Jewish calendar,” Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Scholar in Residence at the UJA-Federation of New York, told Inside Edition Digital. “It's a day that we dress up in costumes, we read a scroll called the Scroll of Esther about a story that supposedly happened in Persia with heroes and villains, and we eat strange food. It's a really fun day."
I'll repeat what I wrote about Inside Edition's treatment of Hanukkah as my first comment.
After summarizing the history, Rabbi Creditor did a good job of explaining modern practices, especially in America. I'm glad Inside Edition, which is not the hardest news source, interviewed him for this video. He made it not only more credible, but informative and entertaining.
Yes, Inside Edition returned to the same expert for Purim that they interviewed for Hanukkah. I'm not the only person who believes in recycling and reusing.

Second, I'm going to follow up on what I wrote last year: "Maybe I'll redo My three favorite Israeli actresses for Purim and write another post for my favorite Indian or Indian-American actresses as well on Holi. I have a year to think about it." I thought about it, but then saw the Inside Edition video and decided building the entry around the Inside Edition video would be easier. After all, this blog is a hobby and I have work to do.*

I close this post by recycling what I wrote in 2015, six years ago: "I don't celebrate Purim anywhere else but on this blog, but I'm all in favor of fun holidays and this one certainly qualifies. Happy Purim!"

*That doesn't mean I have given up on the idea for Holi, which falls on March 29 this year. I might still do it if Inside Edition doesn't make a video for the Hindu holiday this year. Who knows? It could happen.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Tyler Perry accepts the Governors Award at the 2020 Emmy Awards for Black History Month

I finished Celebrate Dave Chappelle's 3 Emmy Awards for 'Sticks & Stones' by telling my readers to "stay tuned for at least one more entry in this series." For the final installment recognizing Emmy winners of color for Black History Month, I'm sharing 72nd Emmy Awards: Governors Award from the Television Academy.

Tyler Perry wins the 2020 Governors Award.

Congratulations to Tyler Perry for all his accomplishments. I found both his introductions and his acceptance speech inspiring and the perfect video to close out this series. That written, I recognized Emmy winners of color last year, beginning with 'The Last Dance' and 'The Apollo' showcase diversity in documentaries at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Follow over the jump to read my being a good environmentalist and recycling my comments about "The Apollo."

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Celebrate Dave Chappelle's 3 Emmy Awards for 'Sticks & Stones'

I'm continuing my series of Emmy winners of color for Black History Month by being a good environmentalist and recycling an aside from 'SNL' gives its satirical take on the election results.
Since I have a video of Chappelle in which he mentions his Netflix specials, I'm going to congratulate him on the Emmy wins for for "Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones": Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded), Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. As I wrote in For National Presidential Joke Day, I present the variety talk show nominees at the Emmy Awards, "Wow! No matter who wins, Netflix does as well. As for who I'd bet on, it would be between Dave Chappelle and Patton Oswalt." It was Chappelle. Congratulations!
I think Chappelle deserves a post of his own this month, so here it is. The Television Academy did not upload a clip of any of the acceptance speeches, but Daily Dose Comedy did. Watch Dave Chappelle Badass Emmys Acceptance Speech 2020.*

Dave Chappelle gave a fiery Emmy acceptance speech. He blasts the critics who criticized his Stick & Stones special and gave a special shoutout to his wife. He also said it's a great night for comedy because "comedy gets to be itself again".
That was a great speech, but I can see why the Television Academy didn't upload any clips of him. Too bad.

Chappelle made a point of crediting Stan Lathan as his director. Netflix recognized the award, but still showed Chappelle. Lathan is also African-American, so he deserves to be recognized in this series as well. Congratulations!

Comedy is nothing without good material, and the Television Academy recognized Chappelle for his writing. Here's to his being an insightful and funny critic of society for years to come, just as he has been for years already.

*I anticipate the comedians will have a hard time winning Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) this season, as I think this is the category "Hamilton," the winner of two People's Choice Awards for drama movies, will end up competing in unless the Television Academy rules it to be a Television Movie. My readers and I will find out in July. Right now, stay tuned for at least one more entry in this series.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

'RuPaul's Drag Race' and other diversity in reality TV winners at the Emmy Awards

I wrote that I might continue with the Emmy Awards next at the end of Politics, government, and diversity among movie nominees at the 2021 Golden Globes, but U.S. passes 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, a pandemic update intervened. Hey, priorities. That written, it's time to pick up where I left off in Emmy-winning comedy series feature diversity in front of and especially behind the camera for Black History Month. Without any further ado, here is the Television Academy's 72nd Emmy Awards: RuPaul's Drag Race Wins for Outstanding Competition Program.

RuPaul's Drag Race wins the Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program.
I concluded 'Queer Eye' leads structured reality program nominees at the Emmy Awards while 'preaching love, acceptance, pride, and compassion' by writing "'RuPaul's Drag Race' is competing at the Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Competition Program. That can wait, so I'm skipping to television movies for the next installment of this series." I never wrote that entry, but if I had, I would have observed that the show won this category in 2019, so I expected it would win again. I was not not disappointed.

On the other hand, I did predict that "RuPaul won this category last year and the year before and I expect he'll win again." Watch 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Host for a Reality or Competition Program from the Television Academy to see that prediction come true.

RuPaul from RuPaul's Drag Race wins the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program.
In addition to the two awards above, which I expected, IMDB listed the other four Emmy Awards the show won, including two that I thought would go to "Queer Eye," Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program, although I did write that "RuPaul's Drag Race" could upset "Queer Eye" for casting. On the other hand, I expected it would repeat in Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program and I'm not all that surprised that it won Outstanding Contemporary Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program (Non-Prosthetic). Congratulations to RuPaul and the entire Drag Race crew!

I wrote "'Queer Eye" won this [Outstanding Structured Reality Program] last year and I expect it will win again." Watch it do as predicted in 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Structured Reality Program.

The team from Queer Eye wins the Emmy for Outstanding Structured Reality Program.
Congratulations on the win and on being a good show for inclusion and mutual respect, to say nothing of great fashion and grooming tips!

I have a couple more Emmy posts to write between now and the end of the month, so stay tuned.

Monday, February 22, 2021

U.S. passes 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, a pandemic update

I closed Life expectancy fell 1 year for all Americans, 3 years for African-Americans, during 2020 because of the pandemic by telling my readers "The next milestone for the pandemic will be 500,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19, which is likely to happen by the end of this month. When that happens, and it will, I will have an update." It took only four days to reach that grim milestone. Reuters reported U.S. coronavirus deaths top 500,000 this afternoon.

The U.S. crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, nearly a year since the pandemic upended the nation.
That's the news. Good Morning America had the commentary in advance of the official announcement of the event in Dr. Fauci remarks on grim milestone of 500,000 dead from COVID-19.

Biden’s chief medical adviser discusses the staggering number of lives lost due to the pandemic and how the country will get its vaccine distribution back on track after weather delays.
I agree with Dr. Fauci. I would be very pleasantly surprised if the U.S. achieves herd immunity by April. I think we'll need to keep the rate of vaccinations up until everyone who wants the vaccine gets both doses. As I wrote last week, I expect that will take until the end of July.

USA Today has one more reaction, Pres. Joe Biden delivers remarks in memory of 500k lost to COVID-19.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hold a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony for the 500,000 Americans dead from COVID-19.
The U.S. once again crossed a somber COVID threshold much faster than any country in the world.

Less than a year after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, the U.S. recorded its 500,000th death Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. That’s more than twice the COVID-19 fatalities registered in Brazil, which ranks second on the list.

President Joe Biden will hold a moment of silence and a candle-lighting service Monday evening at the White House to mark the enormous loss of life.

The endless hours of toiling amid death and suffering have taken a heavy toll on health care workers, who are exhausted and frustrated with those who won’t follow public health guidelines aimed at curbing transmission of the virus.
I conclude with the moment of silence itself.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Politics, government, and diversity among movie nominees at the 2021 Golden Globes

When I told my readers "I plan on writing about the movie nominees, although I haven't decided whether that's tomorrow or later next week" at the conclusion of Television nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Golden Globes, I was pondering whether to do that or write about another awards show, such as the Critics Choice, WGA Awards, or finish my Emmy series for Black History Month. I then remembered that the Golden Globes will be the first awards given out on February 28th, so I'm prioritizing writing about them today for the Sunday entertainment feature. Watch as Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer shares her opinions in Golden Globes 2021 Nominations & Predictions. Take it away, Grace!

Golden Globes 2021 today! Beyond The Trailer's reaction to nominations! Snubs! Female aka Women Directors! Mank! Borat! James Corden The Prom!
Golden Globes 2021 today! Beyond The Trailer host Grace Randolph's reaction & predictions of the nominations and winners! Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Mank, Promising Young Woman, One Night in Miami, Nomadland and more! Snubs! Share your own reaction to the nominations for the Golden Globes 2021, and your own predictions, before you watch the full show with hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!
Those are the nominees that Grace thinks should and will win. Follow over the jump for my opinions, including how well the nominated movies fit the themes of politics and government, how diverse the acting nominees are, and whether I agree with Grace about the likely winners.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Television nominees about politics and government at the 2021 Golden Globes

It's been two weeks since I wrote "stay tuned for my reaction to the Golden Globe nominations." While I did use the Golden Globes to compile the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups TV shortlists, I don't feel that counted, so I'm sharing Golden Globes 2021 Nominations & Predictions - Television from Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer followed by my opinion of the political and government shows among the nominees. Take it away, Grace!

Golden Globes 2021 today! Beyond The Trailer's reaction to nominations for Television!...The Queen's Gambit, The Crown, Schitt's Creek, The Mandalorian, Lovecraft Country, Ozark and more! Snubs! Share your own reaction to the nominations for the Golden Globes 2021, and your own predictions, before you watch the full show with hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!
Those are the nominees that Grace thinks should and will win. Follow over the jump for my opinions, including how well each series fits the themes of politics and government and a comparison to the Critics Choice Awards. After all, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Coffee Party USA invites you to stream the political TV series on the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups shortlists while staying safe at home

Hey, all of you binge-watching your guilty pleasure shows while staying safe at home, relaxing after working from home, returning for work after wearing a mask all day, or just stressed out from the real world! I have another suggestion to make your time in front of the big-screen TV in the living room, the slightly smaller screen in the bedroom, or even holding your tablet or smartphone work to help your appreciation of politics and government on television and then apply your understanding to help Coffee Party USA in one of our projects.
With the 2018-2019 television season out of the way, the members and volunteers of Coffee Party USA will move on to the 2019-2020 television season. Watch for the posting of the shortlists for the show categories along with an invitation to stream them while staying safe at home. If you want to become one of the voters for this or future Golden Coffee Cups, such as for the best political movies of 2020, become a member. Voting will happen on a members-only Facebook group.

Before I present the shortlists, I'm sharing a two-part activity Coffee Party USA and I are proposing our readers and supporters do.

The first part of the activity is to stream as many of the shows on the shortlists between now and March 13, 2021 to see which have the best portrayals of politics and government on television. The second is to become a member of Coffee Party USA by March 13, 2021, which you can do for as little as $30.00 per year. That's because the members will also vote on the nominees and winners this year. That means you!

That's your two-part activity. Now, have fun watching television while supporting the work of Coffee Party USA, whose core values include continuous learning on behalf of an informed citizenry, joining Coffee Party USA, and voting on the nominees!

Without any further ado, I present the shortlists for the Golden Coffee Cups for Television, beginning with the shortlist for Best Drama Series about Politics and Government.*

Better Call Saul
Big Little Lies
Black Mirror
Carnival Row
David Makes Man
Designated Survivor
Doctor Who
For All Mankind
Godfather of Harlem
His Dark Materials
How to Get Away with Murder
Killing Eve
Madam Secretary
Mr. Robot
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
Star Trek: Picard
Star Trek: Short Treks
Star Wars Resistance
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Stranger Things
The Blacklist
The Boys
The Crown
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The Good Fight
The Handmaid's Tale
The Mandalorian
The Man in the High Castle
The Morning Show
The Outsider
The Rookie
The Witcher
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan

Succession won last year and Mindhunter the year before. In addition, the first winner of Best Miniseries or Movie for Television about Politics and Government, Black Mirror, has been moved here based on the reclassification of the series by the Television Academy. The shortlist sets up a situation where they could go up against each other for the trophy. Of course, they have to be nominated first. Will you be one of the people to join so you nominate them and the rest of the field?

Follow over the jump to read the shortlists for television shows in the other four categories along with a two-part activity involving them.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Life expectancy fell 1 year for all Americans, 3 years for African-Americans, during 2020 because of the pandemic

I opened CNBC asks 'Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?' with grim statistics and projections.
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."
The CDC released their preliminary figures today showing that it was that bad for African-Americans, whose life expectancy dropped nearly 3 years last year. For Hispanics, it fell almost 2 years, for whites, just under 1 year, and for all Americans combined, it declined 1 full year, as the graph below from Voice of America shows.

That's the worst single-year decline in U.S. life expectancy since I started tracking it in 2016.

Good Morning America has some of the details in US life expectancy declined sharply due to COVID-19.

Life expectancy dropped a full year as the coronavirus spread during the first half of 2020 with Black Americans suffering the most, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.
"The greatest drop in life expectancy since World War II" — wow! That definitely places the impact of the pandemic in perspective. As for the experts being surprised, well, not all of them. The estimated drop was actually less than what Robert Anderson predicted, so I bet he wasn't. Because I paid attention to him, neither was I. I'm also not surprised that it will take until the end of July for everyone who wants a vaccination to get one — disappointed, maybe, but not surprised.

ABC News included more precise statistics in US life expectancy suffers historic drop due to COVID-19; audiences matter, since it's the same news organization as Good Morning America.

Experts are sounding the alarm about a new “hybrid” variant of the coronavirus. ABC’s Alex Presha reports.
This report tied the vaccination effort into both new varieties of the coronavirus and into how the severe cold weather is delaying distribution. The former is a longer-term threat, while the latter is a disaster in its own right.

The next milestone for the pandemic will be 500,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19, which is likely to happen by the end of this month. When that happens, and it will, I will have an update. Until then, stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The connections among climate change, the wobbling jet stream, and the polar vortex explained by PBS Terra and CBS News

I concluded Paczki Day during a pandemic by telling my readers "Speaking of the weather, I plan on writing about the winter storm and its connection to the changing climate tomorrow. Stay tuned." I begin with a general explanation of the phenomenon in PBS Terra asking Why on Earth are Winters Getting Worse if the Planet is Getting Warmer?

In 2015, Boston was brought to its knees by the worst winter on record, receiving an unprecedented 110 inches of snow. And over the last decade, the American Northeast has seen more than a 200% increase in the frequency of large, disruptive snowstorms. This trend surprised nearly everybody, including many of the top experts, as they had been expecting a warming planet to translate into milder winters. But in many locations, we have seen just the opposite. So what’s going on here?

We traveled to Boston to search for answers about these surprising effects of climate change and their connection to the jet stream, the polar vortex, and a phenomenon known as “arctic amplification.” We also discuss some of the most common risks like hypothermia, frostbite, heart attacks, and traffic accidents that make winter weather, far and away, the deadliest natural hazard of them all.

Weathered is a show hosted by meteorologist Maiya May and produced by Balance Media that helps explain the most common natural disasters, what causes them, how they’re changing, and what we can do to prepare.
The story Maiya May told "about these surprising effects of climate change and their connection to the jet stream, the polar vortex, and a phenomenon known as 'arctic amplification'" is one I've told before in Polar vortex and difference between climate and weather explained, Vox explains how a warming Arctic can cause extreme weather, and The polar vortex returns, bringing near-record cold temperatures, so it's not news to me. Still, this blog has gained a lot of new readers in the last two years, so I think it's worth repeating, especially with the new examples and footage in the PBS Terra video.

Speaking of new examples, Dr. Stuart Harris saying "What you thought was normal in Atlanta or Texas or Virginia is not gonna be" turned out to be prophetic. Watch Polar vortex triggering dangerous winter weather across U.S. for both the effects of the record cold weather in Texas and elsewhere and the connection between that weather and climate change, the wobbling jet stream, and the polar vortex.

Millions are without power as temperatures dive to record lows across a huge portion of the United States. CBS News correspondents Omar Villafranca and Jessi Mitchell have the latest on the impact and CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli joins CBSN with the forecast.
I think Jeff Berardelli explained the interconnected weather phenomena and their effects clearly and compellingly, showing how they contributed to the current record cold weather.

CBS This Morning updated the situation in Winter storm kills at least 17 people, millions still without power in frigid Texas.

At least 17 deaths have been attributed to the winter blast blanketing much of the country - and more freezing temperatures are on the way. Meanwhile, Texas continues to experience deep freeze conditions as residents are questioning why the state failed to prepare for such an unprecedented storm. Omar Villafranca reports.
In contrast to Texas, Oklahoma has power. CBS This Morning reported and explained why in Oklahoma conserves energy as another round of snow, cold blanket the state.

Another winter storm in Oklahoma is bringing more snow and keeping temperatures below freezing. But less than 1% of Oklahoma electricity customers are without power compared to Texas, which has 25% of residents without power. Mireya Villarreal is in Oklahoma City with the interruptions the weather is causing.
I could go on about why Texas has its own electric grid and how that's contributed to the situation, but that's a post for another day. In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, and stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Paczki Day during a pandemic

Happy Paczki Day AKA Fat Tuesday! I begin today's celebration with MLive's One minute history of the Paczki.

Learn the history of the once-a-year pastry treat synonymous with Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Paczki day in Michigan. Just don't call this calorie juggernaut a doughnut.
1000 calories — wow! As I first wrote in 2014, "After discovering paczki when I moved to Michigan 25 (now 32) years ago, I finally knew why today is called Fat Tuesday."

That's the history. What about today as the holiday is being celebrated during the pandemic? WXYZ has that story in Paczki Day during the pandemic: Local bakeries make big adjustments.

It's a time-honored tradition for metro Detroit bakeries, and a day that usually draws in big crowds for small businesses. We're of course talking about Paczki Day.
Those paczki look delicious, but I'm going to abstain again, not only because of the pandemic and my diabetes, but also the snow Jenn Schanz mentioned. I couldn't get out of the house even if I wanted to!

Metro Detroit isn't the only place taking precautions during the pandemic and adapting their celebrations. CBS This Morning reported on how New Orleans is trying to celebrate safely in Mardi Gras celebrations restricted following last year's super-spreader event.

Citing concerns following last year's super-spreader event, New Orleans officials have restricted Mardi Gras celebrations and banned alcohol sales in the French Quarter through next Tuesday. David Begnaud reports.
Hamtramck looks less disrupted than New Orleans, something I never thought I'd write here. We here in Michigan seem to be dealing with social distancing measures better and we're used to the snow and cold, which New Orleans isn't. Speaking of the weather, I plan on writing about the winter storm and its connection to the changing climate tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 15, 2021

PIX11 on movie and TV presidents for Presidents Day 2021

Happy Presidents Day! For today's celebration, I'm returning to the theme of last year's The best movie and TV presidents, real and fictional, for Presidents Day weekend with Watchu Talkin’ About: Presidents from TV and film, which PIX11 News just uploaded this morning.

In honor of President’s Day, PIX11 News’ Ojinika Obiekwe is joined by founder of the new entertainment app PopViewers Chris Witherspoon to celebrate some fictional presidents on the big and small screen.
Two of the fictional presidents on the list at 4:30 are former winners of Best Television President, Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman on "Designated Survivor" for 2019 and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on "Veep" for 2020. Louis-Dreyfus as Meyer is not eligible for this year's Golden Coffee Cups for Television, but Sutherland as Kirkman is. I started working on the shortlists for this year's awards yesterday, so watch for the post announcing them later this week. Stay tuned, everyone!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

'SNL' covers impeachment and celebrates Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day! I will celebrate over the jump with the relevant clips from last night's Saturday Night Live after I share what the show had to say about Trump's impeachment verdict. I begin with the Second Impeachment Trial Cold Open.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Alex Moffat) interviews senators Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon), Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant) and Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett) on former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Thank you, cast and crew of SNL, for imagining what the reaction would be on Fox News so the rest of us wouldn't have to, or, worse yet, actually watch it.

Weekend Update: Trump Acquitted in Second Impeachment covered yesterday's news as well.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like House impeachment managers showing Capitol riots footage during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Michael Che was right when he said "just because there is video evidence doesn't mean you are going to get a conviction." Sigh.

That's it for impeachment, which is a little easier to swallow the day after with laughter. Follow over the jump for SNL's skits celebrating Valentines Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

I saw the impeachment verdict coming, but I still don't like it, so here's a cover of 'Everybody Knows'

I can't say I'm either surprised or disappointed in today's outcome, because I foresaw the outcome of the impeachment trial on Tuesday, when I wrote "I think it's important to at least try to keep Trump and hopefully his supporters accountable, although I expect the prospects of convicting him and disqualifying him from office are slim to none. Politics will almost certainly trump the merits, pun intended."

The next day, I continued to explain my support for the proceeding even as I thought it wouldn't succeed: "Trevor is right about why the trial should take place; we need to see the evidence and the refusal of the Senate to convict despite it." That written, I also pointed out that "the vote on January 26 to proceed was 55-45, while the vote yesterday was 56-44. The prosecutors made progress while the defense lost ground."

I expressed my exasperation Friday, when I observed "Republican Senators aren't just not listening to the House impeachment managers. They're not even listening to themselves. They were right about Trump then, but don't care now. Sigh." I followed that with skepticism farther down the same entry, writing in response to Jimmy Kimmel's path to conviction "That's not a promising group of Senators, but at least there are 20 of them, so 17 voting to convict is at least theoretically possible, if extremely improbable. I wish the House impeachment managers luck. They'll need it."

While the House impeachment managers continued to make progress while the former President's lawyers lost ground, it wasn't enough. Watch Senate Acquits Trump On Article of Impeachment For 'Incitement Of Insurrection' from MSNBC.

The Senate found Trump not guilty of inciting insurrection after a majority of Republicans voted against convicting the former president.
The bad news is that Trump was not convicted and disqualified from holding office again. The good news is that 57 Senators voted yes, including seven Republicans, so the prosecution made more progress. Unfortunately, I don't think another ten days of the trial would have gained 10 more votes for conviction. Here's the the court of public opinion making that judgment instead.

In the meantime, I have to temper my guarded optimism with cynicism and dedicate the same song to today's outcome that I used in response to previous legal decisions that actually did disappoint me, Everybody Knows, which I first embedded in The law is an ass with music by Leonard Cohen. Listen to Justice League Official Soundtrack | Everybody Knows - Sigrid.

May the Snyder cut of "Justice League" turn out better than the impeachment trial.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Happy Year of the Metal Ox!

Happy Lunar New Year! So long, Year of the Metal Rat. Welcome, Year of the Metal Ox!
Though parties and travel may be discouraged in much of the world right now as Covid-19 casts a shadow over Lunar New Year for the second year in a row, that doesn't mean there aren't ways we can still mark the occasion.

Lunar New Year falls on February 12 this year as we bid farewell to the Year of the Rat and say hello to the Year of the Ox.
While you may have heard of the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar, represented by 12 different animals, it's actually far more complicated.

A year isn't just categorized by its zodiac animal. There's also a complex sexagenary cycle -- a combination of one of 10 heavenly stems and one of 12 earthly branches.

For example, February 12 marks the beginning of the xin chou year, according to the sexagenary cycle. "Xin" represents the heavenly stem for the element metal, while "chou" is the earthly branch symbol for ox, making it the Year of the Metal Ox. We asked Thierry Chow, a Hong Kong-based feng shui master, to share her thoughts on what this means for the year ahead.
"The year of xin chou will have a strong emphasis on the yin metal element," she says. "The metal element represents anything sparkly from jewelry to the needle of a syringe. So we can see a bigger emphasis on industries related to metal in 2021.

"The ox, in Chinese culture, is a hardworking zodiac sign. It usually signifies movements so, hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year."
I don't think one needs to be an astrologer to make that prediction.

For more about the holiday, watch Good Morning America's Celebrating the year of the ox for Lunar New Year.

“GMA” takes a look at the holiday full of joy, gifts and food that is celebrated by various cultures and people around the world.
Sounds like the Year of the Metal Rat already has the same reputation as the Gregorian Calendar's 2020, which John Oliver blew up in November. Since there was nearly 11 months overlap between the two and more of the pandemic happened in the U.S. during the Year of the Metal Rat, I think that reputation is well-deserved.

Now for two images that represent the year.

Last year, I wrote "I'm wondering which character they will have as the guest star next year, Ferdinand the Bull or Clarabelle Cow. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Clarabelle." I would have won that bet, as AllEars.Net shared the following image from Disney today.

For a literal metal ox (actually a metal bull, but that's still closer than a cartoon cow), one only has to go to Wall Street, where the Charging Bull statue resides.

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

Mandarin: Gong Xi Fa Cai/Xin Nian Kuai Le

Cantonese: Kung Hei Fat Choi

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


Simplified Chinese: 恭喜发财 新年快乐

Traditional Chinese: 恭喜發財 新年快樂


Colbert, Meyers, Noah, and Kimmel recount compelling evidence at Trump's second impeachment trial that some Senators are ignoring

I promised I would write an entry about impeachment today twice, so I'm fulfilling that promise beginning with Stephen Colbert's Republicans Tune Out Damning Evidence As House Managers Warn That Acquittal Would Have Consequences.

House impeachment managers closed their case on Thursday with more incredibly damning evidence tying the former president directly to the deadly attack on the Capitol, and warned Senators of dire consequences should they vote to acquit.
I missed blogging about the armed occupation of Michigan's Capitol on April 30th, instead writing about its prequel in Trump tweets 'Liberate Michigan' after Operation Gridlock protest in Lansing and sequel, The plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It's about time I mentioned it here, especially since it turned out to be practice for the failed coup attempt. When I wrote The solutions devised here will be exported, including the bad ones 10 years ago, I wasn't kidding, although I didn't envision one of them would be the armed takeover of government! As I wrote then, "any bad idea that takes root here could be very dangerous." I hate to say this, but I told you so.

Speaking of "I told you so," Representative Adam Schiff's closing argument from last year turned out to be very prescient.
"We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again," Schiff, D-Calif., told the Senate. "He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What's right matters even less, and decency matters not at all."
"Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in [this] very election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide, and that the president will shun any further foreign interference in our Democratic affairs?" Schiff asked. "The short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can't. You can't trust this president to do the right thing. Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can't. He will not change and you know it."
"What are the odds if left in office that he will continue trying to cheat? I will tell you: 100 percent," he said. "A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way."
Schiff was right about nearly everything he warned the Senate and Americans watching at home, and all of it will be true if there was foreign, probably Russian, support of the people involved in and behind the insurrection. He told us so.

Follow over the jump for more comedic commentary on yesterday's proceedings from Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, and Jimmy Kimmel.

The evolution of crabs from PBS Eons and SciShow for Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day! To celebrate, I'm continuing the tradition of sharing videos about evolution from PBS I started in 2016. Like the past three years, this one is from PBS Eons, Why Do Things Keep Evolving Into Crabs?

For some reason, animals keep evolving into things that look like crabs, independently, over and over again. What is it about the crab’s form that makes it so evolutionarily successful that non-crabs are apparently jealous of it?
Not only do crustaceans keep evolving into crab-like forms, but crabs keep invading the land. A bonus video from SciShow examines that, Crabs Keep Turning Into Land Animals!

When a species evolves from living in water to living on land it’s called terrestrialization, and it’s not an easy task. Yet crabs keep making the jump from sea to shore. Why? And how do they do it?
Behold the power of evolution!

Stay tuned for posts about impeachment and Lunar New Year. As I wrote yesterday, today is a busy day on this blog!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Noah, Meyers, Colbert, and Kimmel mock Trump's lawyers for his second impeachment trial

Yesterday, I observed that the former President's lawyers "provided a lot of unintentional comedy by either bumbling their way through their arguments (Bruce Castor) or making stupid and insulting arguments (David Schoen)." That became the theme of most of the "comedic observations of the trial" last night. I open the reactions with Trevor Noah's comedic criticism in Impeachment Trial Continues: Trump & GOP Slam Trump's Lawyers.

Trump’s second impeachment trial ramps up with the GOP bashing Trump’s lawyers, and Trump reportedly yelling at the television as he watched.
"No one was more upset by Trump's $#!++y lawyers than the man who was never going to pay them anyway, Donald J. Trump." Well, you get what you pay for.

Seth Meyers also focused on Trump's representation in Trump's Impeachment Lawyers Are Very Bad: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Senate Republicans sticking with former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial despite the House impeachment managers' powerful evidence and the fact that Trump's lawyers are very bad.

For years, I've been saying on Facebook that Trump doesn't want to listen to his lawyers. He wants lawyers who listen to him. He should be careful what he wishes for. I think he's getting them, and they're not that good.

Follow over the jump for more dunking on Castor and Schoen, whose name means beautiful, friendly, or nice. The team of Beaver and Beautiful represents Trump?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Colbert, Meyers, Noah, and Kimmel take closer looks at the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial

I closed Seth Meyers and FiveThirtyEight take closer looks at Trump's second impeachment trial by telling my readers "I'll have more about impeachment...with more comedy" today. I begin with Stephen Colbert's monologue Cowardly GOP Senators Look Away As Devastating Footage Shows Exactly Who Incited The Capitol Riot.

Republican Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott couldn't bring themselves to watch as House prosecutors opened their impeachment case with a video demonstrating in no uncertain terms that the former president bears responsibility for the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building.
While the description called out the Republican Senators who very studiously paid no attention to the House's impeachment managers, the heart of the video focused on the impeachment managers and their counterparts, former President Donald Trump's defense lawyers. The former pointed out that impeachment trials of former officials took place while the Founding Fathers were still alive; if it was constitutional then, it's constitutional now. The latter provided a lot of unintentional comedy by either bumbling their way through their arguments (Bruce Castor) or making stupid and insulting arguments (David Schoen).

While the description of Seth Meyers Impeachment Managers Make Powerful Case Against Trump to Open Trial: A Closer Look focused on the prosecutors more than the jury or defense, Seth himself concentrated more on Trump and his supporters.

Seth takes a closer look at former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, where House impeachment managers laid out powerful evidence of his guilt while most Republican senators had no interest in holding him accountable.
My reaction to Senator James Lankford's assertion that the Senators' votes were "locked down" is to note that the vote on January 26 to proceed was 55-45, while the vote yesterday was 56-44. The prosecutors made progress while the defense lost ground.

Speaking of the defense losing ground, Trevor Noah targeted them in Trump Rolls Out Trash Lawyers for His 2nd Impeachment Trial.

As Trump’s second impeachment trial begins, Democrats show a video of Trump’s speech on January 6 interspersed with scenes of violence from his supporters, and his defense team struggles to make its case.
First, Castor sounds even worse when he's not interrupted. Second, Trevor is right about why the trial should take place; we need to see the evidence and the refusal of the Senate to convict despite it.

I conclude with Jimmy Kimmel's Trump Circus Back in Washington for Impeachment Trial #2.

The circus is back in Washington for the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Republicans are too afraid to do the right thing, the two lawyers defending Trump formed a disaster duo and Trump was said to be deeply unhappy, officials in Palm Beach are discussing whether or not he is allowed to live at Mar-a-lago, Trump sycophants always use his middle initial when saying his name, plans are in place to safely re-open Broadway, and while Jimmy is more than happy to wait his turn but with that being said – he gives a list of people he should get the vaccine before, and he chats with a “vaccine hunter” (Andy Daly).
I never tire of writing that Kimmel's videos have the most complete descriptions. I'd write more, but today's proceedings are on, so I'm going to watch that now. See you tomorrow with more comedic observations of the trial!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Seth Meyers and FiveThirtyEight take closer looks at Trump's second impeachment trial

Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial in the Senate begins today, so it's time to begin covering it. I begin with Seth Meyers expressing his comedic outrage in GOP Senators Want to "Move On" from Trump's Second Impeachment Trial: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial being a chance to hold Trump accountable for his crimes and to shine a national spotlight on the decay of the GOP and our democratic institutions.
Seth did a good job of expressing his hopes for the trial while making it funny. I think it's important to at least try to keep Trump and hopefully his supporters accountable, although I expect the prospects of convicting him and disqualifying him from office are slim to none. Politics will almost certainly trump the merits, pun intended.

FiveThirtyEight took a more realistic view of impeachment in What To Expect From The Senate Impeachment Trial.

In this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Tia Mitchell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution joins to discuss what to expect from former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. The crew also looks at Republican proposals to change election laws in Georgia and other states in the wake of their 2020 presidential election loss.
That's a good preview of the arguments both the House managers and Trump's defense team will make along with an eye-witness account by Tia Mitchell, who was covering the certification of the election inside the Capitol. Mitchell and Perry Bacon, Jr. had compelling things to say about both. Nate Silver came off as more cynical. Maybe that's the appropriate attitude about a proceeding that won't result in a conviction by the Senate, but will serve to sway the court of public opinion.

In addition to impeachment, the panel discussed House Republicans' handling of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Liz Cheney, pandemic relief, and Georgia Republicans' attempt to restrict mail-in voting after Democrats won the Georgia Senate runoff elections, which led to the possibility of eliminating the filibuster to allow the For The People Act to pass in the U.S. Senate. Greene and to a lesser extent Lauren Boebert will continue to be irritants for as long as they are in Congress, but I doubt their fellow Republican representatives will do anything about them. Pandemic relief will pass in one form or other. Georgia will probably restrict voting-by-mail. Finally, I'm for the For The People Act, but I don't know if it will pass the Senate; it already passed the House last year and will do so again this year.

I'm sure I'll have more about impeachment tomorrow with more comedy. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Samantha Bee, Rachel Maddow, and Vox on environmental racism, including the Flint Water Crisis and 'Cancer Alley'

I'm looking at another pair of stories I tell my students today today, environmental racism, thanks to Samantha Bee uploading Environmental Racism: How It Started vs. How It’s Going last week.

Great news! Joe Biden is signing climate change-based executive orders AND appointing people of color to take the lead on environmental justice for the first time ever. And it's not a moment too soon for communities of color who have been disproportionately suffering the ill effects of corporate greed and environmental racism. It's time to get those resources to the people who need them the most. And also, some f*cking clean water, please.
In addition to this being a good survey of the subject, it includes two examples of environmental racism, the Flint Water Crisis, which I've been blogging about for years, and "Cancer Alley," a location I've never written about before. It's about time I did.

I last updated the Flint Water Crisis in Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others likely to be charged for roles in Flint Water Crisis. That happened; the State of Michigan charged Snyder and eight others with crimes related to it. Rachel Maddow reviewed the conditions that helped create the crisis in Years Later, Michigan Officials Are Made To Answer For Flint Water Crisis.

Rachel Maddow looks at how former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's suspension of democracy brought about the mistakes that created the Flint toxic water crisis, and only now is Snyder, along with other officials, being held to account for their role in what happened.
Maddow's history goes back 9 years and not only demonstrates how the Republicans in Michigan's legislature along with former Governor Snyder turned Michigan into Ignoreland, but focused their anti-democratic efforts on majority African-American municipalities, showing that the Emergency Manager law had racist effects, if not an outright racist intent. The resulting disregard of local rule allowed the health and environmental disaster of Flint's contaminated water supply to happen. Maddow may not call the Flint Water Crisis environmental racism, but she doesn't have to; it's clear it is.

Now for "Cancer Alley." Vox examined the locale and how racism contributed to it becoming a "zone of sacrifice" earlier this year in One reason why coronavirus hits Black people the hardest.

Toxic air can weaponize the coronavirus.
Across the US, black people are dying from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates. While there are many different factors at play behind the stark racial disparities — there’s one possible reason that’s been lurking in the air for decades: pollution.

The long history of segregation and housing discrimination has long put black people at greater risk of living near chemical plants, factories and highways, exposing them to higher levels of air pollutants. These pollutants have had a chronically negative impact on health, leading to conditions like hypertension and asthma. Now, those same diseases are associated with severe cases of Covid-19, and showing that where you live can determine whether you survive from Covid-19.
Dr. Robert Bullard, who Vox interviewed for this video, spoke to my environmental science class about his work in fighting environmental racism 13 years ago. I have featured him in my slide show about the politics and economics of the environment ever since. Now I have a video of him to add to that slide show so my current students can see and hear him.

I also tell my students the story of Commoner's Laws. These videos serve as good examples of three of them, "everything must go somewhere," "there is no such thing as a free lunch," and "everything is connected to everything else." The first two laws weave through all three videos, but the last video connecting environmental racism to air pollution to the pandemic serves as a good example of the third law I listed. That's yet another reason to add the Vox video to my presentations. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Inauguration and Super Bowl poet Amanda Gorman interviewed by Trevor Noah and James Corden, plus her Inauguration reading

Happy, Super Bowl Sunday! I'm celebrating this year by concentrating on a featured entertainer probably for the first time since Predictions vs. reality for Katy Perry at the Super Bowl, although calling Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman mere entertainment does her a disservice. I expect her reading will be truly inspirational instead of merely sentimental.

I begin with Trevor Noah's interview of Gorman on "The Daily Show," Amanda Gorman - “The Hill We Climb” & Activism Through Poetry.

Amanda Gorman discusses reading her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, what poetry means to her and her upcoming Super Bowl performance.
This is the one interview I'm embedding today that mentions Gorman speaking at the Super Bowl, so of course I'm placing it first. I don't think she realizes how much larger an audience she will have during the game than for the Inauguration, even though the latter is technically more important. Remember, entertainment gets Americans to act.

A week earlier, James Corden interviewed her in Amanda Gorman Is Giving Americans Hope.

James Corden connects with Amanda Gorman, who captured the collective attention of Americans with her striking poem, "The Hill We Climb," during the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. James asks Amanda about her journey from being selected to standing at the podium delivering her art to the world. And Amanda talks about her coming children's book, "Change Sings," which is already atop the chart.
Welcome to fame, Amanda. May it treat you well and may you continue using your fame for good.

All this attention came from her Inauguration poetry reading, so watch ABC News Poet Amanda Gorman reads 'The Hill We Climb' to hear her speak.

The nation's first Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites "The Hill We Climb."
Wow. May Gorman's reading today be as hopeful and inspirational.