Wednesday, June 30, 2021

PBS NOVA asks 'Can Humans Deflect an Asteroid?' for Asteroid Day 2021

Happy International Asteroid Day! I'm observing the younger but more established version of Apophis Day by updating NASA's plans to deflect an asteroid plus what happens if one hits NYC, beginning with PBS NOVA asking Can Humans Deflect an Asteroid? New NASA Mission Aims to Find Out.

NASA’s new spacecraft mission DART will test scientists’ ability to deflect asteroids at risk of colliding with Earth and is scheduled to launch later this year, NASA wrote in an April press release.

“An impact on Earth doesn’t happen very often—that doesn’t mean they don’t happen,” University of Colorado aerospace engineer Paul Sanchez told NOVA. “This isn't the sort of thing that we want to address at the last minute,” NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office scientist Kelly Fast added.

Sixty-six million years ago, a miles-wide asteroid crashed into Earth, wiping out three-quarters of the world’s plant and animal species, including all non-avian dinosaurs. (The occurrence is now known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, event.) And on Jun. 30, 1908, an asteroid streaked over the Siberian sky and exploded, flattening about 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles of forest and, according to eyewitnesses, killing at least three people. Called the Tunguska event, it’s the most harmful known asteroid-related incident on Earth in recent history.

Today, Space agencies including NASA are confident they’re tracking asteroids big enough to cause a major extinction event. Fortunately, none are headed our way in the foreseeable future. But following asteroids—and learning how to redirect them away from Earth—is important, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which was founded in 2016, believes.

Watch to discover how the Planetary Defense team is taking on this challenge.
That's the latest update on a plan I've been following for years as it comes closer to fruition. NASA scheduled a livestream on YouTube at 1:00 P.M. EDT. I am posting this entry before it starts, but the video of the livestream should still be available to watch after it's over.

Next, SciShow Space reported on the 2019 conference I included in the May 2019 post as The Imaginary Future Asteroid That Hit NYC.

Last week, an asteroid impact drill was conducted, which demonstrated what might happen if an asteroid hit us within the decade. It didn't go quite as well as we would like.
Since USA Today took down the video I embedded two years ago, it's a good thing I found this video and shared it here.

I conclude today's entry with this meme I got from my friend Nebris to remind my readers of the importance of a space program to protect against threats coming from outside the planet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Business Insider explains 'why the world's most popular banana may go extinct'

It's been eight years since I first wrote "the dessert bananas people eat are threatened by fungus because of the unintended effects of growing monocultures of clones," so when I saw Why The World’s Most Popular Banana May Go Extinct | Big Business, I was saddened and alarmed, but not particularly surprised. Watch to see how the banana crisis has progressed since I last blogged about it in 2014, before Tropical Race 4 of Panama Disease had reached South America in 2019.

Bananas are facing a pandemic, too. Almost all of the bananas exported globally are just one variety called the Cavendish. And the Cavendish is vulnerable to a fungus called Panama Disease, which is ravaging banana farms across the globe. If it's not stopped, the Cavendish may go extinct. We visited a farm in Colombia infected with Panama Disease and a lab in the Netherlands studying the fungus to see if biosecurity and breeding can save the $25 billion banana industry.
I make the point that growing monocultures of clones is a bad idea every semester and this video shows why. Worse yet, the video and I both describe that it happened before and all growers did was replace the variety grown, which illustrates another point I make, that people don't learn and repeat their mistakes. At least this time, growers in Columbia are implementing measures that will slow the spread of the disease, which might give them more time to find a solution other than the genetically modified Cavendish that I think works well from a scientific and technological perspective, but is unpalatable socially and politically. Sigh. People have to accept the solution for it to really work.

Watching this reminds me that I promised to share a Business Insider video about the rise, fall, and return of Twinkies three months ago but haven't done so yet. I'll get to that after observing Asteroid Day tomorrow, Canada Day Thursday, and World UFO Day on Friday. Saturday looks open before I celebrate July 4th on Sunday. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Fantasy and reality about Paul Bunyan and his connections to Michigan on Paul Bunyan Day

Happy Paul Bunyan Day!
On June 28th, we remember fondly the tales of the big blue ox and a mighty lumberjack. It is National Paul Bunyan Day!

Described as a giant and a lumberjack of unusual skill, Paul Bunyan is one of the most famous North American folklore heroes. In the tales, Paul Bunyan was almost always accompanied by his companion, Babe the Blue Ox.
That's the version of the folk hero of tall tales depicted in American Legends Volume 2: Paul Bunyan from Disney Educational Productions.

Who was Paul Bunyan? Why did he hang out with a blue ox named Babe? Watch the original animated video from 1958 to find out more about this giant lumberjack and his loyal companion.
This is from the middle of the animated short, cutting off Paul's childhood before and his adventures afterwards, including losing to a chainsaw. That parallels the end of the story of John Henry. At least Paul Bunyan didn't die at the end like John Henry did (this is a Disney film for kids, after all) but moved to Alaska.*

It turns out that the legend of Paul Bunyan may have begun in Michigan. Take it away, National Day Calendar!
First appearing in print in 1906, in a story published by Northern Michigan journalist James MacGillivray, Bunyan’s character originated in folktales circulated among lumberjacks in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. One account states that the tales began during the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. In 1914, William Laughhead reworked the stories for a logging company’s advertising campaign. The campaign breathed new life into the growing legendary character of Paul Bunyan. It was the 1922 edition of Laughead’s tales that inspired many others and soon the character’s plaid shirt and far-fetched characteristics spread across all of the United States and Canada.
Continuing with the Michigan connection, I'm sharing a video Andy Grant made for an educational techniques class when he was a student at Michigan State University about The Real-Life Paul Bunyan.

Story about Joe Fournier and Michigan lumbering for TE 408.

Good work, Andy! No wonder you were MSU History's outstanding senior in 2020.

MSU and Michigan both have a connection to the folk hero, as Stadium describes in Michigan-Michigan State Rivalry: History of the Paul Bunyan Trophy Game | Stadium Rivals.

The Paul Bunyan Trophy is on the line in the annual showdown between Michigan and Michigan State. Take a look back at the rivalry from Bo Schembechler to "clockgate" on this edition of Stadium Rivals.
As a Michigan alum, I appreciate this history of a rivalry that's almost as legendary as Paul Bunyan himself.

*That didn't stop people from designating various features as his final resting place. For example, I used to live across the highway from a state park that had a small hill that locals called Paul Bunyan's grave. My response to that is that he's buried in Alaska.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Wombats and ice cream for Souther on National Ice Cream Cake Day 2021

Happy Souther!
Today is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Summer Solstice, so it's Souther, a holiday created by John Michael Greer and entrusted to me. He also designated the wombat as the animal mascot for the holiday. Since the first celebration fell on National Ice Cream Day and the holiday usually happens during July, which is National Ice Cream Month, the activity to celebrate the day is eating ice cream.
Yes, wombats and ice cream! Once again, here are The Wombats singing "Ice Cream."

Love this song from the album "Beautiful people will ruin your life"
I almost couldn't believe the song being released after I paired the wombat with the activity, as I told Greer two years ago.
A belated Happy Souther to you! When you first suggested the day and its wombat mascot, I wondered what the wombat would do on its day. Well, the first Souther fell on National Ice Cream Day, so the mascot would eat ice cream. This year's fell on National Ice Cream Day as well and I found a song for it. Last year, a band called The Wombats recorded a song with the title of "Ice Cream," which is now the theme song for the holiday. I couldn't have asked for a more fortuitous piece of music.
I'd have used it last year, but the cable carrying broadband to my house came loose, so I had to post using my smartphone with text only, no links, images, or videos. Sigh.

Moving from the band to its namesake animal, Bizarre Beasts uploaded How The Wombat Poops Cubes earlier this month, which I saved for today.

Wombats are chubby, adorable Australian marsupials with a lot of great adaptations for their specific environment and lifestyle, and that includes pooping little cubes.
I couldn't resist the science lesson, even if today is about what goes into wombats, not what comes out.

Follow over the jump for a younger, if more widely known national day.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Detroit floods while the Pacific Northwest bakes in record temperatures

I tweeted "A sick planet is running chills and fever" earlier this week. Today's weather in the U.S. supported my statement, beginning with WDIV/Click on Detroit's Homes flooded, cars stranded across Metro Detroit.

Communities across Metro Detroit deal with flood damage

I agree with the comparison to the flooding during August 2014, which I chronicled in This was my drive home tonight, Detroit's flooding made national headlines, and A billion dollar trash day, then revisited in Detroit flooding one year later. This is the first time I've seen so many flooded streets and freeways with submerged and stranded cars since then. I also don't recall seeing so many 24-hour rain totals this large since then as well.
Wow! This fits with climate change resulting in more precipitation, a trend I mentioned most recently in Climate change has made Michigan warmer and wetter last year, although most of Michigan is technically in drought. That might last much longer, as WDIV/Click on Detroit reported Metro Detroit weather: Flood watch in effect until 4 a.m. Sunday.

Wow! I expect more reports of flooding through the weekend. The silver lining is that the heavy and repeared rains should end the mild to moderate drought in SE Michigan.

It's not just metro Detroit experiencing lots of rain and flooding. WOOD-TV reported Weekend rain prompts flood concerns in West Michigan.

Authorities in Kalamazoo want residents to pay attention to the water levels around area rivers and creeks as rain, heavy at times, will continue this weekend.
Be careful what you wish for; you might get it, even if it's rain to break a drought.

That's what passes for chills (along with a very runny nose). Good Morning America reports on the fever in Unprecedented extreme heat in Pacific Northwest causes dangerous conditions.

Seattle and Portland could see temperatures never before recorded.
When I wrote Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification', I wasn't thinking of the Pacific Northwest, but I probably should have. I never thought I'd see Medford, Oregon, report a higher summer temperature than Bakersfield, where I lived 39 years ago.

I might have more on the weather Monday. In the meantime, stay tuned for Souther, a fake holiday created by John Michael Greer the Archdruid that I maintain. Wombats and ice cream!

Friday, June 25, 2021

The history of the Times Square Toys R Us and evolution of Geoffrey the Giraffe, tales of the Retail Apocalypse

I told my readers to "Stay tuned tomorrow for another light-hearted look at the Retail Apocalypse" at the end of The rise, fall, rise, and fall again of Chuck E. Cheese, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse. I begin with a video I have been sitting on for six months, Defunctland's Defunctland: The History of Toys "R" Us Times Square.

In this one-off episode, Kevin dives into the flagship location of the iconic toy retailer Toys "R" Us in the heart of Times Square in New York City.
My reaction was "Defunctland does the Retail Apocalypse — now, that's an event!" Yes, it is. I also couldn't resist pointing out the YouTuber I most associate with the intersection between theme parks and the Retail Apocalypse: "*Looks at the video description and sees Jake Williams' name.* I knew Bright Sun Films had to be involved in this somehow."

Kevin Purjurer of Defunctland focused on the last two decades of the Toys R Us's history, including the leveraged buyout, which I see as the first domino to fall in the sequence of events that led to the death and rebirth of Toys R Us, and the closings of FAO Schwarz's Fifth Avenue store and Toys R Us's Times Square store. Somehow, I never mentioned FAO Schwarz in connection with Toys R Us, but that's because ThreeSixty Group bought the chain in 2016, before the Toys R Us bankruptcy. Consequently, FAO Schwarz still exists, opening a new flagship store at Rockefeller Center on November 18, 2018. I'm glad to report some good retail news for once.

For a longer range tale told through a different narrow lens, I turn to Disney Dan's Evolution of Toys R Us Geoffrey Giraffe - DIStory Dan Ep. 44, which covers the entire history of the chain through its mascot.

Geoffrey The Giraffe was a classic part of any visit to #ToysRUs for over 40 years!
Feel the nostalgia!

After a week of being in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, I might be able to approach a serious subject more seriously tomorrow, although it's close enough to World Population Day that I might hold off on writing about falling birth rates until then. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The rise, fall, rise, and fall again of Chuck E. Cheese, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

When I told my readers "Stay tuned to see if I actually observe World UFO Day tomorrow," that's because I still had some doubts about it. Then I read that the official report would likely come out later this week, so I decided to postpone that post until the second World UFO Day on July 2nd. Instead, I'm following up on the bankruptcy of Chuck E. Cheese's with Yesterworld's The Rise & Fall of Showbiz Pizza Place & Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theatre.

Explore the history, origins and ultimate downfall of Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theatre & Showbiz Pizza Place: The Animatronic Pizza Parlor Icons of the 80's & 90's.
First, I think the preview image of the video was a bit too graphic for me to use it as the preview of this post on social media, which is why I replaced it with the screengrab at the top. Second, I like the story and presentation, but as someone whose family roots for the University of Utah, I have to take issue with the Utah State University sign; it doesn't belong in Nolan Bushnell's story. Otherwise, I appreciate this video's entertainment perspective to complement the business-oriented videos I've used to tell this story before. I've also never used a Yesterworld video for one of this blog's entries until now. Welcome to Crazy Eddie's Motie News, Mark!

Speaking of which, Disney Dan, whose videos I have used here before, also uploaded his own take on the topic, Chuck E. Cheese Costume Evolution. Fashion, sort of.

Time to dive into my second favorite mouse entertainer #ChuckECheese! His looks have gone all over the map from coyote to CGI. Let’s dive into the original 1977 Chuck E Cheese and explore all the costume variants!
I learned a lot in between laughing with Dan and I hope my readers did, too, including the blink and you'll miss it news that Chuck E. Cheese's parent company emerged from bankruptcy last December. Dan did the same thing with Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R Us mascot. Stay tuned tomorrow for another light-hearted look at the Retail Apocalypse.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The first National Detroit-Style Pizza Day

Happy inaugural National Detroit-Style Pizza Day!
On June 23rd, join the celebration born in the birthplace of the American Automobile and Motown. National Detroit-Style Pizza Day recognizes the square-cut pizza style first served at Buddy’s Pizza in 1946 in the city that also gave us Madonna, the Mustang, and the first paved road. And Detroit-Style Pizza is arguably Detroit’s greatest contribution!

What makes it Detroit-Style? It starts with the crust – deep and thick in composition and yet light and airy in taste. The steel square pans (borrowed from the auto industry) give it a unique shape and one-of-a-kind flavor. Authentic Detroit-Style Pizzas layer the toppings backward, meaning they lay the gourmet pepperoni directly on the hand-stretched dough. Next comes a generous layer of Wisconsin Brick Cheese, spread all the way to the edges of the pan. The resulting caramelized cheese creates an incredibly crisp crust. Finally, racing stripes of tomato sauce finish the top.

Detroit-Style Pizza has grown beyond Buddy’s into a nationwide phenomenon that you can find from Brooklyn to Denver to Los Angeles.
Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit, Michigan, founded National Detroit-Style Pizza Day to celebrate the pizza category’s 75th anniversary in 2021. In 1946, at a restaurant called Buddy’s Rendezvous, a delicious deep-dish Sicilian-style pizza baked in blue steel automotive drip pans was born. Today, Buddy’s Pizza keeps the flavor and tradition alive by making the same one-of-a-kind square pizza. For generations, they’ve been building their square pizzas from the bottom up. Discover what makes them so special in the Motor City.

In 2021, the Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed National Detroit-Style Pizza Day to be observed annually on June 23rd.
I couldn't resist celebrating a fake food holiday about Detroit. Neither could WDIV, which uploaded Buddy's Pizza celebrating 75 years with first-ever National Detroit-Style Pizza Day this morning.

Follow over the jump for the complete segment from Live in the D and more about Buddy's Pizza and the Detroit Zoo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Celebrating and conserving California's coast redwoods on World Rainforest Day

Happy World Rainforest Day! WKBT TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin made today the station's Daily Holiday - World rainforest day.

While tropical rainforests, particularly the Amazon rainforest attract most of the attention, there are also temperate rainforests, such as the coast redwood-Douglas fir-Sitka spruce forests of the Pacific coast of North America. Since I am originally from California, I'm going to feature ABC10's Redwood National Park: Explore one of California's only rainforests | Bartell's Backroads.

In Humboldt County, you can visit this California rainforest located at the Redwood National and State park. In the corner of the park, make sure to visit Fern Canyon, a natural wonder that you won't find anywhere else, and the perfect place for a dreamy hike.
In addition to seeing the natural beauty and hearing the natural history, I enjoyed learning about the movie trivia. I had no idea that scene from the "Jurassic Park" movies was filmed in Redwood National Park.

Of course, this biome and community are still threatened, so what is being done to save it? Watch One Man’s Mission to Revive the Last Redwood Forests | Short Film Showcase from National Geographic and The Story Group to see.

David Milarch's near-death experience inspired a personal quest: to archive the genetics of the world's largest trees before they're gone. This short film from The Story Group documents his effort to save the redwood champions of Northern California from the effects of climate change.
Not only do I approve of David Milarch and his family's efforts to save the coast redwoods and establish them where their habitat will be because of climate change, I'm thrilled that they also live in Michigan. Hi, neighbors and fellow Crazy Eddies!

Monday, June 21, 2021

World Giraffe Day at the Detroit Zoo and on 'The Ellen Show'

Happy World Giraffe Day! I begin today's celebration with Detroit Zoo | Educational Lesson: World Giraffe Day!

Celebrate World Giraffe Day live from the giraffe habitat in the Detroit Zoo as animal care staff share a healthy snack with the giraffes and Education Specialist, Akilah and special guest Elizabeth, Curator of Mammals broadcasting live from the Zoo.
Since this is a Metro-Detroit-based blog, it's about time I featured a video from the Detroit Zoo in a post about World Giraffe Day.

The Ellen Show included a plug for World Giraffe Day in Dr. Julian Fennessy on How You Can Help Save the Endangered Giraffes.

Ellen chatted with Dr. Julian Fennessy, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). He’s also featured in the new discovery+ documentary “Endangered,” which Ellen narrated and executive produced! He talked about what led to his work with giraffes in Namibia, what we can do to help these endangered animals, and what gives him hope that the incredible giraffes will be saved from extinction.
I'm glad to hear some good news about vulnerable animals like giraffes, which reminds me of what I wrote on Juneteenth: "doom can wait, even when I'm writing about threatened species and biomes." Let's see if I can maintain that positive tone tomorrow for World Rainforest Day. Stay tuned

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Father's Day, American Eagle Day, and National Seashell Day on the Summer Solstice — history and science of four holidays

Happy Father's Day, Summer Solstice, American Eagle Day, and National Seashell Day! Since today is a crowded day for holidays, I am diving right in with The history of Father’s Day from Good Morning America.

As we celebrate a day for dads, we take a look back at the history of the holiday.
I couldn't resist drawing from the same well I did for Drink a martini to Juneteenth becoming a national holiday to pull up a history lesson.

Speaking of lessons, AccuWeather gives a science lesson when it asks It's summer, but we're farther away from the sun? The science behind the summer solstice.

It may not make sense, but the Earth is actually at its farther point away from the sun, when the Northern Hemisphere experiences summer. So why isn't the summer the colder time of the year? Let's find out from AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Krissy Pydynowski.
This is a counterintuitive fact, like today isn't the longest day of the year — that happens either June 30 or December 31, when leap seconds are added, although that won't happen this year — or that the latest sunrises and earliest sunsets don't happen on the Winter Solstice. It does stress the importance of axial tilt for determining the seasons, something I teach my students. For what it's worth, my readers in the Southern Hemisphere don't have that problem; the Earth is closest to the Sun when it's their summer.

Now for the two wildlife days I celebrate today, beginning with American Eagle Day - from WBIR Knoxville - June 20, 2018.

American Eagle Foundation (AEF) Director of Operations Laura Sterbens, along with Spencer Williams, Curator of Birds, talk about American Eagle Day and the work done by the AEF in an interview on WBIR Channel 10, Knoxville. Appearing with Laura and Spencer is Bald Eagle Challenger.
What a magnificent bird! I'm glad the Bald Eagle came back from being endangered.

I close with another science lesson for National Seashell Day, How Seashells Are Made from PBS Digital's Reactions.

If you know that seashells are made of basically the same stuff as chalk, you might have wondered why chalk is crumbly but seashells are super tough. This week on Reactions, we explain: The secret’s in the biochemistry.
I might show this video to my students this summer and fall. Welcome to blogging as professional development!

I have more holidays to celebrate, World Giraffe Day tomorrow, World Rainforest Day on Tuesday, and maybe National Detroit-Style Pizza Day on Wednesday followed by World UFO Day on Thursday. Doom can wait.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Drink a martini to Juneteenth becoming a national holiday

Happy Juneteenth! To celebrate, I'm sharing Good Morning America's video clips about the holiday, beginning with Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

The new national holiday marks the day the last enslaved African-Americans were freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
On the one hand, yay, a new national holiday. On the other, I can see why this might end up being a victory for symbolism over substance. Just the same, symbols matter and can inspire people to work on the substantive issues. Watch and listen to NAACP president discusses historic Juneteenth holiday to hear about those issues.

Derrick Johnson explains the importance of the day for communities of color across the U.S becoming a federal holiday.
The segment ends with a promotion of a special. Former President Barack Obama talks race, resilience and hope for Juneteenth is a clip from that special.

In a new “Soul of a Nation” special on ABC News, Obama sat down with “GMA’s” Michael Strahan ahead of Juneteenth to talk about its significance while looking toward the future.
I agree with both Obama and Derrick Johnson that lots of work needs to be done about racism, voting rights, and policing. May the activism for those be as successful as the activism to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Meet the ‘grandmother of Juneteenth’ to see the face of that activism.

Civil rights activist Opal Lee started a petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday and “walked thousands of miles” around Texas to promote her cause.
Congratulations to Opal Lee on her success and being an inspiration!

Enough seriousness. How to celebrate Juneteenth shows what to serve for today's celebrations.

Event planner and founder of “While Entertaining,” a magazine that highlights Black culinary creatives, Amber Mayfield gives us her insight on a Juneteenth-inspired meal.
Amber Mayfield ending her presentation with red velvet cake leads directly to the drink to celebrate today's other day, World Martini Day, Tipsy Bartender's Red Velvet Cake Martini.

For red velvet cake lovers everywhere!

That looks fun and delicious, even if I can't indulge because of my diabetes.

I'm just beginning to celebrate an extra-long holiday weekend. Stay tuned for Father's Day, the Summer Solstice, American Eagle Day, and National Seashell Day tomorrow, World Giraffe Day on Monday, World Rainforest Day on Tuesday, and the inaugural National Detroit-Style Pizza Day on Wednesday. With all the talk about UFOs, I might even observe World UFO Day on Thursday. As I wrote yesterday, doom can wait, even when I'm writing about threatened species and biomes.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Kylo passes Anakin while Arya and Khaleesi fall in popularity, baby names from entertainment for the Father's Day weekend

I'm still in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, so instead of covering falling birth rates, I'm delivering the second half of the "double edition of baby names from entertainment" I said I was writing at the beginning of Top baby names of 2019 and 2020 for Father's Day weekend. That's because I started looking at "Star Wars" and "Game of Thrones" names beginning with Kylo at the Social Security Administration website after I posted yesterday's entry and couldn't resist indulging my curiosity.
Not only was last year the best year for Kylo as a baby name, Kylo had the fourth largest increase in popularity by rank, jumping 483 places from 932 in 2019 to 449 in 2020. That made Kylo more popular than the character's given name Ben, which fell 50 places from 770 to 720 between 2019 and 2020. Adam, the name of Kylo's actor, also lost popularity, declining from 96 to 90.

Anakin also increased in popularity last year, jumping 255 places from 959 to 704 for the seventeenth largest rise in rank. 2020 was also the best year for the name in its history. Despite that good news, the trend I noticed two years ago culminated in Kylo handily passing Anakin in popularity. Kylo can tell his grandfather that now, he is the master, just as Darth Vader told Obi-Wan in "A New Hope."

Not all "Star Wars" names from the new trilogy fared as well. Rey as a boys name continued sinking, falling 86 places to 888 in 2020 from 802 in 2019. Rey still hasn't cracked the top 1000 girls names, although the actress's name Daisy ticked up 21 places from 164 to 143, the highest position it has held since 2003. Finn had already been popular before "The Force Awakens," but the movie made it more popular, reaching a peak in 2018 at 166. Since then, its popularity slowly sunk to 173 in 2019 and 178 in 2020.

Names from the original trilogy have been doing well, especially Leia, which the following chart shows having its second best year ever in 2020.

While Leia jumped 38 places from 333 to 295 between 2019 and 2020, last year wasn't the peak of its popularity so far. That title belongs to 2017, when the name held rank 282. Luke, a name popular long before Star Wars existed, has held fairly steady after a long slow rise, ranking 32 in 2019 and 31 in 2020. The Force is with both siblings, or at least their names.

Follow over the jump to see how names from "Game of Thrones" and other entertainment franchises have fared the past two years.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Top baby names of 2019 and 2020 for Father's Day weekend

Father's Day is this coming Sunday, along with the Summer Solstice, American Eagle Day, and National Seashell Day, so I won't write a conventional Sunday entertainment feature then — too crowded a day. Instead, I'm posting a double edition of baby names from entertainment to make up for the Social Security Administration delaying its release of 2019's baby names until after last year's Father's Day. This year, it released 2020's baby names before this year's Mother's Day, but I went in another direction.

I begin with a graphic of the top ten baby names of 2020 for boys and girls in the U.S. from the Social Security Administration.

For a more complete list, here are the top 20 names for girls and boys in the U.S. last year.

Now, the top twenty baby names of 2019, which the Social Security Administration released last September when I wasn't paying attention.

Emma as in Stone and Watson, the top girls name from 2017 and 2018, switched places with Olivia as in Pope from "Scandal," while Liam, as in Hemsworth and Neeson, held on to the top spot for boys. Ava, as in DuVernay, remained in third. Logan, Wolverine's legal name, fell out of the top ten entirely to sixteenth. Mateo, the name of Jane's son in "Jane the Virgin," rose to twentieth in 2020 from 26th in 2019 and 37th in 2018. By the way, both Jane and Xiomara, the character's grandmother's name, continued gaining in popularity. Both had their best years this century, with Jane climbing to 277 in 2019 and 265 in 2020, while Xiomara rose to 652 in 2019 and 606 in 2020. Considering the show ended its run on the CW in 2019, these names serve as testament to its continued popularity.

I could go on with Game of Thrones and Star Wars names, but this blog is a hobby and I have work to do. Some other time. In the meantime, I might do something more serious tomorrow, like falling birth rates. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Stephen Colbert and Dr. Sanjay Gupta discuss reopening the country, a pandemic update

While I posted More good news than bad as NBC reports 600,000 dead in U.S. from COVID-19, a pandemic update last week in response to a count of reports by NBC News, it took until yesterday for Johns Hopkins University's site to record that grim milestone. That's nothing to celebrate. However, good news about continues to outweigh bad news about the pandemic as I return to Stephen Colbert before a live, fully vaccinated audience, who uploaded last night's monologue as States Lift Restrictions And Drop Hygiene Theater As Vaccination Milestones Are Reached.

New York and California announced the end of virtually all pandemic restrictions after both states achieved 70% vaccination, while businesses nationwide continue to drop performative sanitation measures like excessive disinfecting of surfaces.
New York and California achieving 70% vaccination rates and ending or easing most restrictions is good news and Vermont reaching an 80% vaccination rate is great news. Not only will high vaccination rates keep hospitalization and death rates low, they are on the threshold of reaching herd immunity, which will greatly impede transmission. Speaking of easing and ending pandemic restrictions, California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing the "reopening of California" at Universal Studios Hollywood is on par with Disneyland reopening as more than 100 million Americans are fully vaccinated as an acknowledgement that "America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent" and "Americans want their entertainment, and will do just about anything to keep it going." He couldn't fight those sentiments, so he joined them.

I'll show a more complete video of Newsom at Universal Studios farther down the post, but first I'm embedding "The Patient Is Still Recovering" - Sanjay Gupta On America Getting Healthy After The Pandemic, who mentioned that 600,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 right up front.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was one of the last guests we had in the Ed Sullivan theater before the pandemic and tonight he makes a triumphant return to sit down in front of a fully-vaccinated audience! Watch as Dr. Gupta reflects on the last 15 months of the pandemic and what we have to look forward to in the future.
Dr. Gupta shifted from bad news to good news as the interview progressed, as he moved from the number of deaths to the delta variant that originated in India then spread to the United Kingdom then to the United States and then to the vaccines still being effective against it and how the vaccines are a major advancement in medical science.

He and Colbert then discussed "the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis," which I characterized as one of "two narratives that I want to give as little attention to as possible," which is why I didn't embed Jon Stewart ranting about it in yesterday's post. I still do, but I found Dr. Gupta's listing of the possibilities credible. In particular, his pointing out that the virus came out at 90 miles per hour and his explanation of how that could have happened makes sense. It's not well-supported or widely accepted, but if it turns out to be true, then we have all been living in a real-life ripoff of "The Stand" with the novel coronavirus as Private Trips instead of Captain Trips. That's not how I want life to imitate art.

Speaking of life imitating art, or at least entertainment, Attractions Magazine uploaded a more complete video of California Re-Opening Ceremony with Governor Gavin [Newsom] at Universal Studios Hollywood.

This video didn't even need Stephen mocking it to be simultaneously epic and ridiculous. Silly as it is, it's still good news.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Stephen Colbert returns to the Ed Sullivan Theater before a live, fully vaccinated audience, a pandemic update

I made the following observation in Colbert and Meyers lampoon 'Italygate' and debunk Trump's backwards pants.
While going back to the studio is more good news about the pandemic, I can tell Stephen is getting punchy from cabin fever after fifteen months of recording his show from home, but I think that made his monologues even more hilarious. Still, I will miss hearing his wife and crew laughing in the background when he returns to the studio next week. Stephen might also miss being able to do his show from home while wearing shirtsleeves and slippers.
Not only was Stephen getting punchy from cabin fever, so were his fans. Watch 460 Days Later, Stephen Colbert Returns To THE Late Show Stage With A Full Audience.

Bask in the moment as Stephen Colbert, after 15 long months spent broadcasting from places like his bathtub, his spare bedroom, and a storage closet, kicks off a new era of The Late Show by bringing it back where it belongs: on stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in front of a loud, rowdy and fully-vaccinated studio audience.
I stopped worrying that so many people without masks that close together would run the risk of turning this into a super-spreader event once Stephen announced that they were all fully vaccinated. Good. The audience certainly seemed unworried enough that they gave a great big cheer and chanted "Stephen, Stephen" when he walked onstage. As much as "I will miss hearing his wife and crew laughing in the background," I was happy to see Stephen acknowledge his crew and to watch Evie Colbert come onstage with her husband to tell the audience that Stephen was now all theirs.

As for Stephen missing "being able to do his show from home while wearing shirtsleeves and slippers," he addressed that in last night's cold open, Stephen Colbert Puts His Pants Back On For THE Late Show.

After seeing this, you might want to break those pants out of your closet again.
Song and dance with a pair of pants — welcome to the magic of television! Even that magic couldn't make those pants fit after such a long break. I have a feeling a lot of us will experience our work clothes not fitting as we go back into the office.

Monday, June 14, 2021

A 51-star flag for D.C. statehood on Flag Day 2021

Flag Day Susan Rice calls for D.C. statehood on MSNBC and N.Y. Times, a late Flag Day post! As I have the past two years, I'm observing the holiday by blogging about D.C. statehood.

Corky Siemaszko of NBC News reminded me about this cause, which has become a recurring theme for my celebrations of the day, by publishing Flag makers in the spotlight as Congress gets ready to discuss Washington, D.C., statehood.
Statehood, which has long been the dream of many residents in Washington, is once again being debated for the nation’s capital, and another Flag Day is upon us.

If it turns out statehood is in the cards, the new U.S. flag could look like the banner Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled two years ago, when she planted 140 of them on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the U.S. Capitol ahead of a congressional hearing on statehood.

It has three horizontal rows with nine stars, three horizontal rows with eight stars and the blessing of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who has — as she has done every year since she took office in 1991 — introduced a D.C. statehood measure.

“I defy you to find a flag that looks all that different from the flag we had when there were 48 states,” Norton said. “Simply adding a star will not have a cosmic change on the flag.”

What did she think of Bowser’s flag?

“I loved it,” Norton said, laughing. “But it was not because the flag stood out in any way.”
NBC News showed Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton posing with a 51-star flag yesterday, but it wasn't new. It's the preview image from ‘I look forward to having that extra star’ — D.C. delegate shows off American flag with 51 stars, which Roll Call uploaded in advance of last year's vote for D.C. statehood.

“People are going to have to buy new flags,” said D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, describing an alternate version of the American flag that has 51 stars.

The extra star, symbolizing her decades-long quest to make the District of Columbia a U.S. state, is hard to notice.

“If you look at it you won’t see much difference,” the Democrat told CQ Roll Call during an interview back in February. “I think I like that, even as I extol, and look forward to, having that extra star.”
In other words, we'd hardly even notice the new flags.

Follow over the jump for two videos describing the cases for and against D.C. statehood.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Coffee Party USA announces the nominees for the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups for television

This past February, Coffee Party USA invited its supporters to stream the political TV series on the Golden Coffee Cups shortlist while staying safe at home. For the past four months, the members and volunteers of Coffee Party USA did just that. For the past three weeks, they voted on the nominees. Today, Coffee Party USA announces the nominees for the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups for television.

After the preliminary round of voting, Saturday Night Live leads with four nominations, one for Best Political Comedy and three for Best TV President. Madam Secretary, Outlander, The Handmaid's Tale, and Watchmen all earned two nominations each. The remaining 29 shows have one nomination apiece.

Here are the nominees in seven categories showcasing the best in politics and government on the small screen during the 2019-2020 television season.

Best Drama Series about Politics and Government

Madam Secretary
Mr. Robot
The Blacklist
The Crown
The Handmaid's Tale

Madam Secretary and The Handmaid's Tale return from last year's field of nominees. Both earned other nominations, Madam Secretary for Best TV President and The Handmaid's Tale for Best Comedy, Drama, Miniseries, or Movie for Television about Fantastic and Futuristic Politics and Government. The previous two winners, Mindhunter and Succession, did not repeat as nominees. Replacing them are Mr. Robot, Outlander, The Blacklist, and The Crown. While new to this category, Outlander earned a nomination last year for Best Comedy, Drama, Miniseries, or Movie for Television about Fantastic and Futuristic Politics and Government. The Crown returns after having been nominated in this category for the 2017-2018 season. Mr. Robot, and The Blacklist are first-time nominees at these awards.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominees

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification'

I mentioned drought among the top climate and weather stories of 2020. It did not go away, as Western drought "the worst we have ever seen," says CBS News' Jeff Berardelli.

As CBS News' Mola Lenghi reports, drought conditions in the Western U.S. are historic and point to what could be a catastrophic wildfire season. CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli then joins CBSN's Elaine Quijano with more.
While this video started off as a weather story about this week's heat wave, Jeff Berardelli put it in context as a climate story that carries all kinds of risk. In addition to appreciating the connection, I think this video from CBS News has the best preview image for this entry. I am not above arranging the videos for my posts on that criterion.  (ETA: That didn't work, so I added the image from NOAA.)

The drought in the Western U.S. has been building for years, if not decades. Follow over the jump for that story as well as an update on the situation.

Friday, June 11, 2021

CNN, NBC News, and CNBC react to ProPublica's report about the ultra-rich avoiding taxes

I expressed an opinion that continued into a footnote to Stories of 'Black Wall Streets' to remember the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre.
I think Americans should celebrate success no matter which of our citizens achieves it.*
*This includes rich people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but that doesn't preclude taxing them more so they pay their fair share back to the country that helped them succeed.
ProPublica released a report Tuesday on how the ultra-rich have legally avoided taxes during the past decade that caught the attention of the news channels. I begin the coverage with CNN's IRS documents show Bezos, Musk and Buffett pay almost no taxes.

Here's a good one. Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk all walk into the IRS. But none of them, in various years, seem to have paid federal income taxes.
Or how about this one: The rich get richer ... because they don't always pay their fair share into the community chest.
This is US tax law. And now we have a map of how the wealthiest people exploit it thanks to a bombshell report from ProPublica, the investigative journalism nonprofit, which claims to have obtained years of tax returns for the wealthiest people in the country from an anonymous source. Read it here.
Its first report (it promises more to come) is on the richest of the rich, who in certain years claim losses that can wipe out their income tax bills. This should sound familiar; former President Donald Trump did the same thing.
But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a scandal that Bezos, the richest person on Earth -- who has used his vast wealth to start a spaceship company that will take him into space, where he will also be the richest person -- has in multiple recent years told the federal government he owed no income taxes, according to ProPublica.
ProPublica also reports that Musk, the second wealthiest human on Earth, whose wealth has grown many billions in recent years and who also has a passion project space company, told the government he owed no income tax in 2018.
That the wealthy avoid taxes is not news. So do millions of other Americans. I've twice mentioned that my father went to what what was then the only Catholic High School in Utah, but never revealed that he was also an accountant who ran his own business preparing taxes and keeping other small business's books in between working for defense contractors, so I know first hand about this legal practice. That means the law needs to be changed, as the ultra-wealthy are not making their money through taxable income. What is new is the level of detail.

Follow over the jump for more news clips about the ProPublica report.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

JBS paid $11 million while the FBI recovered much of the Colonial Pipeline ransom

In a report by the Associated Press reprinted in the Detroit News, cyberattack victim JBS confirms it paid $11M ransom in cyberattack. Yikes! That's the bad news. The good news is that a few days ago, the FBI recovered $2.3 million in bitcoin paid by Colonial Pipeline after being attacked by ransomware. I'll get into the details of the latest in these related stories after I share the latest general overview of the subject from CNBC, Why The U.S. Can't Stop Cyber Attacks.

U.S. recently faced a series of ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure like the Colonial Pipeline, the city of Tulsa, and JBS, the worlds largest meat producer. Ransomware, a program that hackers use to hold digital information hostage, has become the top choice of malware for criminals. In 2020, the total amount of ransom paid by the victims reached nearly $350 million worth of cryptocurrency, most of them in bitcoin. So what led to the rise of ransomware in the U.S. and what makes it so difficult to fight?

The May 7 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline “is probably the most significant ransomware attack on one of our critical infrastructures ever,” said Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. And shortly after the pipeline was hit, the U.S. faced more ransomware attacks — targeting cities, ferries and even a meat plant.

“Although ransomware has really been around since 2013, it has not yet been seriously taken in terms of something that could impact critical infrastructure,” said Vanessa Pegueros, chief trust and security officer at OneLogin.
Like the other CNBC mini-documentaries I share, this one does a good job of explaining the issue with high production values. It also answers its own question.
These groups have become increasingly bold, showing off bundles of cash and fancy sports cars. That’s because tracking, arresting and bringing these hackers to justice is often incredibly difficult.

“A lot of these organizations are allowed to essentially operate freely within Russia or other former Soviet states as long as they don’t hit anybody within that country,” [Marc] Bleicher said. “So unless there’s a cooperation at the political level there, I don’t see this going away anytime soon.”
Putin's hackers and agents have graduated from being trolls who weaponize social media, spread disinformation, and hack into political campaigns. As 21st Century criminal gangs, they are now engaging in industrial sabotage, a threat to the nation's infrastructure and a national security issue.

Bloomberg Markets and Finance covered both the JBS and Colonial Pipeline stories in JBS Paid $11 Million in Bitcoin to Hackers.

Jun.09 -- JBS USA has confirmed it paid the equivalent of $11 million in bitcoin to hackers that targeted and crippled its business last week. Separately, U.S. regulators have slammed Colonial Pipeline Co.’s cybersecurity practices after it paid $4.4 million in bitcoin in its own ransomware attack. Bloomberg’s Kartikay Mehrotra reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.”
Kartikay Mehrotra told pretty much the same story as CNBC, that the FBI followed the money and exploited the hackers sloppy security to retrieve most of the ransom. That's rare, but at least it's possible, which is good news.

I conclude today's entry with another ransomware story, U.S. transit agencies targeted in recent wave of cyberattacks from CBS News.

Two new cyberattacks targeted U.S. transit agencies. New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority and a Massachusetts ferry service both said their systems were recently compromised by hackers following Monday's attacks on the world's largest meat processing company, JBS SA. CBS News chief Justice and Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports on the response from Washington, and CBSN technology reporter Dan Patterson joined Tanya Rivero to discuss.
While I'm calling these criminal gangs an outgrowth of Putin's hackers and agents, they are really independent organized crime groups acting with the Russian government's tacit approval. In addition, Russia isn't the only country hosting these criminal gangs; China is as well, although the group that attacked New York's subway system may be state associated. Those are government and industry issues. For individuals, follow the advice given by Dan Patterson to keep your data secure. Be careful and good luck!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Colbert and Meyers lampoon 'Italygate' and debunk Trump's backwards pants

It's been almost a full month since I featured Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers here, so I can't resist them lampooning yet another conspiracy theory. I begin with Colbert's monologue from last night, Exactly What You Thought, But So Much Worse Than You Imagined.*

In this edition of Stephen's unfortunately ongoing segment, he looks at damning findings of law enforcement failures leading up to the Jan 6th Capitol riot, and an insane election fraud theory known as "Italygate."
After rushing through another report about the January 6 insurrection, Stephen moved on to "Italygate." That's at least as nutty as searching for bamboo fibers as part of the Arizona audit, but less racist.

Seth Meyers concentrated on that story in The GOP's Insane Election Conspiracy Theories Now Include "Italygate": A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Donald Trump reportedly believing he'll be "reinstated" in the White House as some of his allies and supporters openly call for a coup.
Before I move on to the main conspiracy theories, I have to remark about Seth mentioning Rudy Guiliani's video about UFOs. On the one hand, I feel the same about addressing the official interest in UFOs as I do about "Fauci's emails and...the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis, two narratives that I want to give as little attention to as possible." On the other, I have described this blog as having a "science fiction slant" on its Facebook page, so writing about the topic is on brand. I have two opportunities to do so, as there are two World UFO Days coming up, June 24 and July 2. Maybe by then I'll feel up to it.

As for "Italygate," Seth found it even more ridiculous than Stephen did. He also thought the idea that Trump wore his pants backwards was silly and quoted Snopes debunking it. Progressives have their own conspiracy theories, although they are a lot less convoluted and dangerous than the ones being promoted on the right, like the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

I'm closing the circle today by returning to Colbert, whose Monday night monologue was The Zipper Was In Front - Fact-Checking No. 45's Pants Scandal, in which he also quoted Snopes debunking the idea.

After the internet delighted in the possibility that America's previous president was copying a look from the legendary rap duo Kriss Kross, people may be disappointed to hear that fact checkers have proven the president was not wearing his pants backwards at a speech in North Carolina last weekend.
While going back to the studio is more good news about the pandemic, I can tell Stephen is getting punchy from cabin fever after fifteen months of recording his show from home, but I think that made his monologues even more hilarious. Still, I will miss hearing his wife and crew laughing in the background when he returns to the studio next week. Stephen might also miss being able to do his show from home while wearing shirtsleeves and slippers.

Stephen's line about Trump "spends so much time yanking stuff out of his keister he just likes to have the zipper back there to make it easy" reminds me of one of my favorite insults of BS artists: If so-and-so ever had an intestinal blockage, he'd run out of material. After ten plus years of blogging, I finally got to use it here. Thanks, Stephen, for giving me the opening.

Stephen closed with space news. I really will have to cover both Jeff Bezos going into space and UFOs. Stay tuned for posts about those, eventually.

*I couldn't resist this shiny object. Writing about coral reefs for Coral Triangle Day and a late World Reef Awareness Day, which I wrote I might do yesterday, will just have to wait.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

World Oceans Day 2021 celebrates 'The Ocean: Life & Livelihoods'

Happy World Oceans Day! I begin today's celebration by quoting the description for this day from National Day Calendar, something I have done for other holidays, but not this one.
World Oceans Day takes place every 8 June. It is an annual observation to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. The ocean provides us with many resources and services including oxygen, climate regulation, food sources, medicine, and more

The sea is important because it:
  • Provides food for people
  • Makes oxygen
  • Impacts weather everywhere
  • Purifies water that runs to the ocean, evaporates and falls as rain
  • Provides the basis for a large number of medicines

The concept was initially proposed in 1992 by Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD) and the Ocean Institute of Canada.

At the first World Oceans Day in 1992, the objectives were to move the oceans from the sidelines to the center of the international discussions and to strengthen the voice of marine and coastal constituencies worldwide.

World Oceans Day events are celebrated on 8 June, the closest weekend, the week, and the month of June. The day is marked in a variety of ways, including launching new campaigns and initiatives, special events at aquariums and zoos, outdoor explorations, aquatic and beach cleanups, educational and conservation action programs, art contests, film festivals, and sustainable seafood events.
The United Nations declared this year's theme to be "The Ocean: Life & Livelihoods." Follow over the jump for three videos from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO about World Ocean Day in general and this theme in particular.

Monday, June 7, 2021

More good news than bad as NBC reports 600,000 dead in U.S. from COVID-19, a pandemic update

I foreshadowed today's topic in the conclusion of WOOD-TV provides a Michigan perspective on the JBS cyberattack.
I expect I will have a pandemic update first, as the prediction of 600,000 dead in the U.S. from COVID-19 by June 1, 2021 will likely be only a few days off. I expect the country will pass that grim milestone by the end of today.
That happened as NBC News reported Covid has claimed more than 600,000 lives in United States on the night of June 3.
More than 600,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, a grim reminder that even though cases are down as more people are vaccinated, the pandemic is not over.

As of Thursday evening, the country had seen at least 600,040 Covid-19 deaths, according to a count of reports by NBC News. More than 33.4 million cases have been recorded in the U.S.
That's the bad news. NBC News also reported the good news.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a summary late last week that the numbers of cases and deaths had dropped to their lowest levels in almost a year.

The agency said at the time that the number of tests that came back positive for the disease over the previous seven days was below 3 percent, one of the lowest rates since widespread testing began.
The CDC's latest graph of new cases shows that drop.

The good news continued with vaccinations.
More than 136 million people in the U.S. — around 41 percent of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Just more than 51 percent of the total population has received at least one dose, and around 63 percent of people 18 or older have gotten at least one dose, according to the CDC.
That good news opened MSNBC's Dr. Fauci: The Covid-19 Pandemic ‘Isn’t Over Yet’ the night before.

Dr. Anthony Fauci urges all Americans to get their Covid-19 vaccine to stop the spread of potential variants and to allow the country to fully reopen. He also reacts to the publication of his emails during the early months of the coronavirus crisis.
I second all of Fauci's answers. Working from the end to the beginning, I think he gave the right response to criticism of his emails, that science is a self-correcting process to get to the truth and that as the state of knowledge improves, so will the advice based on it. This includes getting vaccinated as the vaccines are effective against the current variants. Finally, the pandemic may be receding, but it's far from over. CNBC got that answer when it asked Is it too soon to declare the Covid pandemic over? Follow over the jump to watch that video and others where CNBC interviews Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.