Tuesday, August 31, 2021

First 'murder hornet' nest of 2021 eliminated in Washington state

I reported that "murder hornets" returned to Washington state on World Honey Bee Day and that help was on its way. Inside Edition showed that help arriving last Friday in ‘Murder Hornets’ Attack Officials Trying to Remove Nest.

Another Asian Giant Hornet’s nest was found and eradicated in Washington State. It’s the first one to be found this year and officials say the hornets were not happy to see them. Last year the first nest of this invasive species, nicknamed the Murder Hornet, was found in October. Officials with the WSDA say the second nest was three times bigger and these bugs were ready to defend their home. Inside Edition Digital’s Mara Montalbano has more.
Watching this clip reminds that I've been worried about Asian Giant Hornets becoming established in the U.S. for eight years. Back then, I called them "another invasive species I can frighten my students with." Now that they're here, I will follow through in both of the classes where I teach about invasive species, but the idea is a lot less funny now.

Good Morning America added more detail in 1st ‘murder hornet’ nest of the year has been destroyed.

Officials in Washington state say they have successfully destroyed this year’s first detected nest of Asian giant hornets.
Here's to eliminating any other Asian Giant Hornet nests in the U.S. and Canada. As I first wrote last year, "For the sake of the bees, I hope Chris Looney and the people who work with him at the Washington state Department of Agriculture [like Sven-Erik Spichiger] succeed in preventing 'murder hornets' from becoming established. Bees have enough problems."

That's it for August. Stay tuned for the first entry of September 2021, which might be a driving update.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Masks on the agenda as students return to school in Michigan, a pandemic update

Today is the first day of school in Michigan; this includes me, as I'm returning to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year-and-a-half. I'm anxious about this, so I couldn't resist watching WXYZ report Parents prepare for first day of school Monday as delta variant spreads in Michigan.

The first day of school for students across southeast Michigan is on Monday, and tens of thousands of kids are returning to the classroom for in-person learning.
I'm glad to see that the parents in Southfield are both eager to have their children return to the classroom and willing to comply with a mask mandate. I hope my students feel this way about both returning to in-person learning and wearing masks.

Not all schools in southeast Michigan have mandated masks, as WXYZ reports in Washtenaw County now considering mask mandate for schools.

I'm not surprised by the mixed reaction to masks in Manchester. It's the nearest town in Washtenaw County to the Irish Hills, where I lived for seven years, so I'm quite familiar with the area. While Washtenaw County had the highest percentage vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris of any county in Michigan, Manchester Township is quite conservative and voted for Trump. A lot of people there would not support a mask mandate.

The situation is even worse in the rest of the state, as ABC 13 in Grand Rapids reports 'It’s a constant threat of violence': Health officials say they feel unsafe amid intimidation, threats.

With public hearings in Kent and Ottawa counties lasting for hours over the use of masks in schools, public health officials say the debate has gotten out of hand.
I wish I could say I was surprised by the mask opponents' vehemence, but I'm not. Just the same, yikes!

I close with WXYZ's Dr. Partha Nandi answers your Facebook questions as kids go back to school for some good advice.

Our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi took your heatlh questions as kids go back to school on Monday.
I'm glad Dr. Nandi explained that the expert advice on masks, vaccines, and other public health measures changes as we learn more about the disease. Here's to hoping people get on board with it so we can end the pandemic.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The legacy of Hurricane Katrina on the storm's 16th anniversary from 'Closed for Storm'

When I told my readers "Stay tuned for the last Sunday entertainment feature of August," I was already planning on revisiting The history of Six Flags New Orleans on the 14th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and 'Closed for Storm' — the story of Six Flags New Orleans on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina for the 16th anniversary of the storm's landfall in Louisiana. With Hurricane Ida bearing down on Louisiana as I type, this subject has even more salience. Watch The Legacy of Hurricane Katrina an excerpt from the Factual America Podcast about the documentary "Closed for Storm."

"Closed For Storm" is a documentary about a theme park left for ruin in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago.
"Closed For Storm" shows Six Flags New Orleans in its glory days and current state of abject dereliction.

Along the way, the film also captures the broken dreams and fleeting aspirations of a community still looking for hope.
That clip describes how Six Flags New Orleans serves as a monument of sorts to the storm and places its demise in perspective, both at the time and today. To see the park then and now, watch Closed For Storm - Behind The Scenes | NOW AVAILABLE from Bright Sun Films.

Closed For Storm is now available on all major video on demand platforms!
From Jake ~
Well, it's been 2 and a half years since I started this project and we're finally at the finish line. I just want to say thank you to all who have patiently been waiting for Closed For Storm to come out. I absolutely understand that the process of getting this movie out has been long and well beyond my expectations. But regardless, we are here and after a lot of very hard work from everyone who has been involved with it, here it is. Thank you so much for watching.

Synopsis ~
15 years after Hurricane Katrina sits a lasting monument of the devastation. Six Flags New Orleans is currently sitting abandoned, rotting away in the Louisiana swamp. Closed for Storm explores the past, present, and future, to find out how this incredible theme park became frozen in time and left in an endless void of uncertainty. This is the first feature length documentary from Bright Sun Films and the directorial debut for Jake Williams.
On the one hand, seeing the flooded park 16 years ago and how it looked nearly 14 years later in 2019 makes the verbal descriptions pale in comparison. On the other, that's such an effective testimonial and promotion about the movie that I'm looking forward to watching it, most likely on Amazon, as I don't use Google Play and don't have Apple iTunes.

I close by being a good environmentalist and recycling what I wrote last year: "[I]t's worth looking back at the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, some of which is still visible 15 years later, and contemplate how business and government made things worse." I hope Ida isn't about to leave such a long-lasting legacy of loss.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Seeker asks 'Why Isn’t U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure Good Enough?'

I took a comedic look at ransomware in John Oliver explains ransomware, so it's time for a more serious treatment of the subject. Watch as Seeker asks Why Isn’t U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure Good Enough?

Cyberattacks around the world, and especially in the U.S., have been on the rise. What can we do to combat it?
Cyberattacks seem to be really having a moment. Take the US, for example: the FBI has reported 4,000 attacks a DAY since the COVID pandemic began, and there’s no sign of things slowing down. But how exactly did we get to this point, and how can cybersecurity help us get out of this mess?

The infrastructure that we use every single day, in our houses, in our cars, in our workplaces, and generally in the country as a whole, is full of computing systems. Anything that prevents us from getting things done, or in some way makes that computing infrastructure create a negative event, we could consider that to be a threat.

The need for protection against cyber attacks really came into focus with STUXNET, the world’s first digital weapon. In 2010, it was found targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities, and in the process, proving that cyberattacks could have devastating consequences beyond the digital realm.

Computers today are more complex than ever, as are the types of threats they face. The more we ask our computers to do—open an email, visit a webpage, join a network—the more potential points of attack emerge.
While John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and the news outlets concentrated on the social and economic components of the issue, Seeker looks more at the technology and expands the focus from just ransomware to all kinds of cyberattacks, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, viruses, phishing, and general hacking to steal data and money. Still, the basic concepts and countermeasures are the same. One countermeasure Seeker mentions involves updating government hardware and software. That will cost money, but I think it will be worth it. Now to convince government and taxpayers it is, too.

That's it for the short posts I promised in 'The Crown' leads Gold Derby TV Awards with six wins. Stay tuned for the last Sunday entertainment feature of August.

Friday, August 27, 2021

SciShow describes what a 2°C warmer world would look like

While I have been writing about the IPCC report that warned 'code red for humanity' and reacting first optimistically in SciShow says 'There’s Hope in the Latest Climate Report' and more pessimistically in Greta Thunberg reflects on three years of climate activism, I haven't gone in depth recently about what we might avoid if we succeed or expect if we fail. SciShow described that future last year when it asked What Will the World Look Like, 2°C Warmer?

A world only 2°C warmer, or 3.6°F, would be one that is much different than the world we live in today, but what does that actually look like?
Like other videos I've embedded this month, this one connects to Commoner's Laws. Because everything must go somewhere, including greenhouse gas emissions, we are finding out that there is no free lunch when it comes to fossil fuel combustion, as illustrated by the economic effects of a warmer climate on British Columbia's ski industry, and that everything connects to everything else, as heating the atmosphere causes all kinds of other effects on the hydrosphere and biosphere. That makes it a good lesson to teach my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Federal judge in Michigan sanctions Trump lawyers for abusing the legal process to undermine democracy

I closed last month's Trump's lawyers face sanctions in Michigan over conduct during election lawsuits with a "stay tuned" message for my readers.
As for Trump's lawyers in Michigan, I watched the hearing and heard the judge gave the attorneys two weeks to prepare briefs. I expect her ruling shortly afterwards. I hope to report on it here when that happens. Stay tuned.
A little more than a month later, the judge ruled. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC reported Federal Judge Excoriates Trump Lawyers, Refers Them For Disbarment.

Rachel Maddow reads from a ruling by Judge Linda V. Parker of the Federal District Court in Detroit in which she agrees with the case brought by Detroit that the lawsuits filed to overturn Donald Trump's election loss in Michigan were not actually about any legal issues but were political stunts to undermine the integrity of the election.
Maddow continued the story in the next clip, Trump Lawyers Face Accountability: 'They Used The Federal Courts To Broadcast Lies.'

David Fink, attorney for Detroit in the Michigan elections sanctions case against Donald Trump lawyers, talks with Rachel Maddow about why it was important for the judge to go beyond throwing Trump election challenges out of court, and the consequences those lawyers may now face from a judge outraged at their abuse of the court system.
This is exactly the outcome I was hoping for and that I thought the Kraken-shot lawyers deserved. May the ruling for sanctions deter other lawyers from doing what Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and others did in this case. It also satisfied the sentiment I repeated in Seth Meyers updates late-night talk show hosts on the 2020 election and its aftermath for Throwback Thursday on April Fools Day.
As I have written repeatedly about the criminal prosecutions of public officials for their roles in the Flint Water Crisis, "The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in this case, but I expect they will indeed grind exceedingly fine." May they also grind exceedingly fine for Trump and his seditious supporters, if not as slowly.
I think the sanctions and referrals for discipline look like being ground exceedingly fine, don't you?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Greta Thunberg reflects on three years of climate activism

I shared an optimistic take on the IPCC report that warned 'code red for humanity' in SciShow says 'There’s Hope in the Latest Climate Report'. For a more pessimistic perspective, I turn to Greta Thunberg, who Now This News profiled in 3 Years After Greta Thunberg's First 'School Strike for Climate'.

Three years ago today, a 15-year-old girl named Greta Thunberg skipped school as part of a climate strike outside the Swedish parliament. Since then, Thunberg has become one of the most recognizable climate activists in the world, and her 'School Strike for Climate' has grown into a global movement. Listen to Thunberg reflect on her legacy thus far.
Medhi Hasan also interviewed Thunberg Greta Thunberg On Three Years Of Climate Protests on MSNBC.

It's been three years since Greta Thunberg first sat alone outside the Swedish Parliament to call for action on climate change. Now the young activist has become a global voice, continuing to hold world leaders to account on global warming. Six months after President Biden took office, is he doing enough? “This administration is not ready to act as seriously as we need, unfortunately,” Greta Thunberg tells NBC’s Mehdi Hasan.
She's probably right. The Biden Administration may not be doing enough to stop climate change. However, Biden's plan for half of vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2030 strikes me as a big step in the right direction, along with all the rest of the administration's proposals for energy, infrastructure, and transportation. Politics is the art of the possible, and right now, that's what's possible. It may not be enough, but it's better than nothing and a lot better than the active sabotaging of environmental protection that took place under The Former Guy's Administration.

That written, I encourage Thunberg and her youthful followers to continue to raise people's awareness and prompt action on the climate. Doing so will change what is possible.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Seeker explains the environmental issues and solutions involving rare earth elements

Yesterday, Seeker uploaded a video that asked These Rare Elements Are Key to Renewable Energy, But What If They Run Out?

Turns out, green technologies might not be so green. Rare earth elements used in these technologies have a big environmental impact, but there are some solutions.
Renewable technologies like solar panels, electric cars, and wind farms may move us toward a more sustainable future. But the problems caused by one of their key ingredients could jeopardize it all. Luckily, nature has provided us some pretty cool solutions that, if we can take advantage of them, just might save the day.

I’m talking about rare earth elements, or REEs, a group of 17 metallic elements on the periodic table. And not only do green technologies depend on them, but they’re key parts of most electronics: smart phones, computer hard drives, digital cameras, and more—plus things like medical imaging machines, lasers, and aerospace components.

Many of these elements are so useful because they’re easy to magnetise and they hold on to that magnetic-ness even in solid form. Elements like neodymium, terbium, indium, and others are essential to solar panels and wind turbines, and a recent study showed that in order to keep up with demand for these technologies, we’ll need to produce 12 times as much of these REEs by 2050.
This video touches on three lessons I teach my students, all of which connect to Commoner's Laws. First, there is no free lunch when it comes to resources that have to be mined. Mining causes a lot of environmental damage, as the video shows. The pollution itself is an example of everything must go somewhere; there is no "away."

Second, everything is connected to everything else, in this case through the global supply chain. In particular, that the U.S. is 100% dependent on imported rare earths, particularly from China, leaves us vulnerable to China threatening to restrict exports of rare earths, which could seriously impede our high-technology and green economies. I tell both my geology and environmental science students about that every semester.

The last lesson is a hopeful one based on nature knows best. As I noted in Seeker and CNBC examine the hidden environmental costs of electric cars and how to reduce them by recycling, recycling mimics natural chemical cycling in the environment. In that entry, technology used chemical and physical processes to extract lithium and other batter components. Seeker's video comes even closer to nature by showing how bacteria can help recycle rare earth elements. That's an even better example of both nature knows best and part of another of Commoner's Laws, there is no waste in nature.

I found this such an informative video, I think I'll show this to my students next semester. Once again, welcome to blogging as professional development.

Monday, August 23, 2021

SciShow says 'There’s Hope in the Latest Climate Report'

Last Friday, SciShow uploaded its take on the IPCC report that warned 'code red for humanity', There’s Hope in the Latest Climate Report.

We recently got an important update from the IPCC, the definitive source on the climate crisis. And while there's not a ton of good news, there are some bits of hope if we can ramp up our actions now.
As a Crazy Eddie, that there's hope appeals to me. After all, if we're all doomed, why do anything? If we can still do something to at least prevent the worst, then we should do it. It helps that the Montreal Protocol not only serves as a good example of international action to halt and reverse ozone depletion, but also as an action that had an unexpected effect by counteracting the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations. That looks like a positive instance of one of Commoner's Laws, "everything is connected to every thing else," making this a story I can tell my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

'The Crown' leads Gold Derby TV Awards with six wins

I'm taking a break from the Emmy Awards nominees to blog about the winning shows and performers in shows about politics and government at the Gold Derby Awards. Watch 18th Annual Gold Derby TV Awards Winners Ceremony; Over 20 of 30 winners will join to give speeches.

Watch the 18th annual Gold Derby TV Awards winners ceremony honoring the best achievements in television. This year's special event will offer a first-ever: more than 20 of our 30 winners for the 2021 awards will be joining us to accept their prizes. As always, nominees and winners will have their accomplishments featured on their IMDb awards pages. Each winner receives a lovely certificate suitable for framing.

Over 2,000 television fans worldwide have been voting for their top choices over the past few weeks.Nominees for Best Drama Series are "The Alienist: Angel of Darkness," "Bridgerton," "The Boys," "The Crown," "The Handmaid's Tale," "Lovecraft Country," "The Mandalorian" and "Pose." Nominees for Best Comedy Series are "Cobra Kai," "The Flight Attendant," "Girls5eva," "Hacks," "Love, Victor," "PEN15," "Ted Lasso" and "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist." Limited Series nominees are "The Haunting of Bly Manor," "I May Destroy You," "It's a Sin," "Mare of Easttown," "The Queen's Gambit" and "WandaVision."
As Gold Derby itself noted, the show that took home the most awards was "The Crown" with six trophies, Drama Series, Drama Actor for Josh O'Connor, Drama Actress for Emma Corrin, Drama Supporting Actress for Gillian Anderson, Drama Guest Actor for Charles Dance, and Ensemble of the Year. Add Breakthrough Performer of the Year for Corrin, and the show could claim it actually won seven. I'm not going to dispute that. Netflix's dramatization of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II can add these awards to its Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards and the Emmy Awards it will win.*

"Saturday Night Live" won four awards, Variety Sketch Series, Comedy Supporting Actor for Bowen Yang, Comedy Guest Actor for Dan Levy, and Comedy Guest Actress for Maya Rudolph, to rank second. Considering that my pick for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy, Dave Chappelle, didn't even earn a nomination here, these would have been my choices should I have voted. Next year. Congratulations and good luck at the Emmy Awards to all the winners from "SNL," who are also nominated at the Emmys.

Two series tied with three awards, "Ted Lasso" and "WandaVision." "Ted Lasso" won Comedy Series, Comedy Actor, and Supporting Comedy Actress. "WandaVision" earned wins for Limited Series, Limited Series/Movie Actor for Paul Bettany, and Limited Series/Movie Supporting Actress for Kathryn Hahn. Neither have politics as a focus, but "WandaVision" does have a fictional governmental agency, S.W.O.R.D., the successor to S.H.I.E.L.D., playing an secondary role, so it qualifies as a show about fantastic and futuristic politics and government. All three winners for both shows have nominations at the Emmy Awards, so congratulations and good luck to them, too.

Speaking of fantastic and futuristic politics and government, "The Mandalorian," one of the co-winners of that category at the 2019-2020 Golden Coffee Cups for Television, earned two awards for Drama Episode and Best Drama Guest Actress for Rosario Dawson. On the one hand, congratulations! On the other, it certainly won't win the equivalent awards at the Emmy Awards for no other reason than, as the panel at the end of the video noted, Dawson wasn't even nominated for her performance at the Emmys. This is her big award for the role. The next might just be next year's Saturn Awards. As for "The Jedi" winning, a different episode of "The Mandalorian" is nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, while it is one of two episodes nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. I'm not sure The Force is with "The Mandalorian" in these categories, even though the fans were at the Gold Derby Awards. As I point out when I write about awards shows, electorates matter.

"Mare of Easttown" also won two awards, Limited Series/Movie Actress for Kate Winslet and Limited Series/Movie Supporting Actress for Evan Peters, playing two police detectives. Like "The Crown," it could claim a third award for "Performer of the Year" except that Jean Smart herself recognized that was more for her performance in "Hacks" than for "Mare of Easttown." I plan on writing more about this limited series, which explores family dynamics inside a crime drama, next month. Remember, law enforcement is a function of government. In the meantime, congratulations and good luck at the Emmy Awards!

"RuPaul's Drag Race" won two awards as well, but I'm planning on getting to it very soon in my Emmy nominations series, so I'm skipping ahead to two shows with political themes that won one award each, "Lovecraft Country" and "Conan." I'll recycle what I wrote about the first show from the Critics Choice Awards.
"Lovecraft Country"...is very political, being the second speculative fiction program about America's history of racism to use the Tulsa Massacre as a pivotal event after "Watchmen," and encompasses not only horror but science fiction and fantasy as well. "Lovecraft Country" certainly is ambitious!
Michael K. Williams gave an excellent performance in "Lovecraft Country," so I don't begrudge him his win even though I think he has an uphill path to an Emmy Award. On the other hand, I think "Conan" got a boost from the fans for his show ending. I still think "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is a better show and will win at the Emmy Awards. Again, electorates matter.

That's it for this week's Sunday entertainment feature. Stay tuned for short posts through at least Thursday, as I'm in the middle of grading final exams. After that, I'll resume the series for the Emmy nominees and the Golden Coffee Cups shortlists.

*I just noticed that IMDB has demoted the Golden Globes from being the first awards listed for television shows to being listed in alphabetical order below Gold Derby, while the Emmy Awards are now first. Considering the controversy over the Golden Globes' lack of diversity and suspect practices, I shouldn't be surprised.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

'Murder hornets' return for World Honey Bee Day

Happy World Honey Bee Day! As i did last year, I'm observing today by sharing the latest news about a potential major thread to honeybees, "murder hornets" or as the are more properly called, Asian Giant Hornets. I begin with Washington state reports first murder hornet sighting of 2021 from Good Morning America.

State officials released a photo of the dangerous insect attacking a wasp nest, asking residents to keep an eye out and report any sightings to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
As noted in the comments, it's oddly appropriate that Good Morning America reported this story on Friday the 13th. It certainly was an unlucky day for honeybees in the Pacific Northwest.

Help is on its way, as Reuters reported yesterday Washington researchers hunt down 'murder hornets'.

The first Asian giant hornet nest of the year has been found in Washington state, and plans are being developed to eradicate it, likely next week, the state's agriculture department said.
The report shows the team from the Washington state Department of Agriculture eradicating a nest of Giant Asian Hornets on Food Day last year, so they have experience. That's a good thing. As I wrote on World Honey Bee Day last year, "For the sake of the bees, I hope Chris Looney and the people who work with him at the Washington state Department of Agriculture succeed in preventing 'murder hornets' from becoming established. Bees have enough problems."

Before I leave, I'm sharing this comment exchange I had in IF THE COVID DOOMSAYERS ARE RIGHT, EXPECT A LOT MORE INFECTIONS -- AND MAYBE A GOP WAVE ELECTIONat No More Mister Nice Blog.

Regular commenter Cleto Safari di Moderna posted a link to The Daily Beast's story about the return of "murder hornets" and asked "I wonder if the 'Killer Bees' would resist the 'Murder Hornets' more effectively than other honeybees?" I couldn't resist answering his question.
Take it from this zoologist, the answer is no. Africanized bees might put up a more aggressive defense of their colony than non-Africanized bees, but it won't be enough as their stings won't be any better at penetrating the Asian Giant Hornet's exoskeleton than any other honeybee. Japanese honeybees know better; they cook the hornets instead.
Watch Hornets from Hell by National Geographic to see that in action.

Japanese giant hornets pack a venomous sting so strong it can dissolve human tissue. But when a hornet scout enters a beehive, watch as the bees turn the tables on their enemy — and literally bake the predator to death!
As Cleto Safari di Moderna responded to my answer, "Mmm...hornet teriyaki..."

Friday, August 20, 2021

How Disney World controls mosquitoes for World Mosquito Day

Today is World Mosquito Day, which I will explain over the jump. Before I do, I'm letting Rob Plays of Midway to Main Street ask and answer Why Are There No Mosquitoes at Disney World?

Walt Disney World is smack dab in the middle of a swamp in a state that is, more or less, a big swamp itself. So with that in mind, why isn’t Walt Disney World swarming with mosquitoes?
How? Well they don’t have any particularly special weapon that isn’t used elsewhere in the world. Disney’s arsenal includes insecticides which kill mosquitoes fairly quickly, growth regulators which reduce their lifespan, and maintaining natural predators in the area that eat the bugs as part of their diet. On their own, they’re all methods that many other places employ to deal with the annoying bugs. However the impressive part is the vigilance and precision in which Disney carries out these methods.

It all begins with the Mosquito Surveillance Program which is an element of the Department of Planning and Engineering for the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Improvement District itself is the governing jurisdiction that covers Walt Disney World and is controlled by Disney.
Disney's own government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has two videos that explain the history and functioning of the governmental body responsible for controlling mosquitoes, among many other things.*

Follow over the jump for the description and history of World Mosquito Day.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

John Oliver explains ransomware

I closed Trevor Noah explains ransomware by extolling the virtues of comedy over straight news reporting for conveying information.
That was a better summary of the issues involved, energy, oil, infrastructure, technology, cybersecurity, and crime, than I put together yesterday from serious news sources. To paraphrase what I wrote two years ago and repeated the last time I embedded an If You Don't Know, Now You Know segment, I learned more from ten minutes of reporting laced with comedy than I would have from ten minutes of straight reporting.
This Sunday, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured Ransomware as its top story. It's twice as long as the clip from The Daily Show, so let's see if it conveys twice the information with twice the laughs.

John Oliver discusses ransomware attacks, why they’re on the rise, and what can be done about them.
Yes, twice the time did provide twice the information and laughs, as it included the oldest example of ransomware I've ever heard of, the 1989 extortion of AIDS researchers. That was before I was even on the Internet! Also, Oliver did a good job of listing the reasons why ransomware has become a problem: ransomware as a service, hard-to-trace means of payment in the form of cryptocurrency, and countries providing safe havens. I expounded on the last in JBS paid $11 million while the FBI recovered much of the Colonial Pipeline ransom.
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.
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...
It pays to be an environmentalist and recycle. Speaking of which, I wrote "follow the advice given by Dan Patterson to keep your data secure." In this case, follow the advice in the commercial parody narrated by J.K. Simmons at the end.

I conclude by recycling the footnote to John Oliver and Washington Post examine coronavirus misinformation in response to Oliver razzing AT&T and HBO.
Oliver's public feud with AT&T reminds me of David Letterman's feud with General Electric when he was on NBC. Letterman later left for CBS. I'll let my readers decide if that was bad or good for Letterman.
Letterman did not outlast General Electric's ownership of NBC. On the other hand, Oliver will almost certainly outlast AT&T's ownership of Warner Media, the parent company of HBO, as AT&T sold off WarnerMedia to Discovery earlier this year after acquiring it in 2018. That won't have lasted even as long as the AOL-Time Warner merger! Oliver was right to snipe at AT&T.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

SciShow asks 'Will climate change coffee?'

One year ago, I posted Vox describes how climate change is brewing a crisis for coffee growing. I'm revisiting the topic of climate change affecting food production with SciShow asking Is Coffee Disappearing... or Will It Just Taste Different?

Many of us rely on a morning cup of coffee, or several morning cups of coffee, to get us going. But climate change has the potential to shift not only where and how we grow coffee, but whether it can be grown at all.
For my reaction, I'm recycling what I wrote last year.
As a coffee lover and [former] officer of Coffee Party USA, I'm concerned that it will be harder to drink my favorite hot beverage. As an educator, it works as another example for two of Commoner's Laws: Everything is connected to everything else and there is no free lunch. In this case, I mean the latter literally.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Colbert and Meyers take closer looks at the Taliban taking over Afghanistan

Today is National Nonprofit Day, but beyond asking my readers to donate to their favorite nonprofit, I'm just not feeling it.* Instead, I'm examining a news event directly related to the description of the blog, the collapse of the Afghan government and its precipitous takeover by the Taliban. While I expected the eventual outcome, its swiftness shocked me so much that I have to process it through comedy. I begin with Stephen Colbert's monologue last night, Biden Faces Mounting Criticism As The Taliban Takes Control Of Afghanistan.

President Biden addressed the nation Monday afternoon to outline new goals for America's military mission in Afghanistan, as dramatic scenes of the Taliban's takeover of Kabul prompted harsh criticism of the president's withdrawal plan.
It only took a minute for Colbert to begin the comparisons to the fall of Saigon. At least that happened two years after the U.S. withdrew its troops and the South Vietnamese government and army put up a stiff fight the whole time. This time, the Afghan government and army gave up while the U.S. was still there, as President Biden pointed out. Frankly, I feel insulted, both by the Afghan government's (in)actions and the U.S. intelligence failure. I expressed what a waste of time, money, and lives the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was ten years ago in We could have had the Moon, instead we get Afghanistan. Seeing this collapse a decade later demonstrates that I wasn't disgusted enough at the squandering of blood and treasure in "the Graveyard of Empires" at the time.

Colbert made two points as he closed out his monologue. First, our intervention in Afghanistan was a bipartisan failure of four administrations over 20 years. Second, there is nothing we can do about it in Afghanistan. Seth Meyers agreed with the first point but offered an alternative to the second in As US Withdraws from Afghanistan, Refugees Must Be Evacuated Immediately: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan as a 20 year foreign policy disaster that American officials from both parties bear responsibility for comes to a tragic end.
It took ten years for the U.S. to take out Osama bin Ladin and we stuck around for another decade. As for taking in Afghan refugees, that is another parallel to the fall of Saigon. The U.S. should at least accept the Afghans who worked for us and their families as refugees.

Seth closed by asking his viewers to donate to God's Love We Deliver. Just click the donate button at his video. That's one way of celebrating National Nonprofit Day.

*That's because I'm no longer a director of a nonprofit and that nonprofit is no longer an independent organization with its own fundraising. If my readers want to support the Coffee Party and its parent organization Bridge Alliance, they can become a Friend of Bridge, contributions to which are tax deductible. They can also donate to whichever member of Bridge Alliance strikes their fancy. There, that's the pitch.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Science and thrills for Roller Coaster Day and Rum Day

Happy National Roller Coaster Day! As I promised yesterday, I'm celebrating today by combining some science with thrills for an educational entertainment post. Watch PBS Terra ask and answer Are Roller Coasters Good For Your Brain?

Roller coasters have the power to heal. Host Joe Hanson explores the world of coasters, exploring the safety protocols ride engineers consider in designing them and the impact they have on the human body. We learn about how the experience of riding coasters can have positive impacts on our lives.
Actually, it's the physiology of fear, not the physics of fear. There are several videos on that subject that I'm thinking of sharing for future celebrations. That won't stop me from showing this video to my biology students next year as a fun way to examine how the nervous system handles fear. I think they'll enjoy it and learn something, too.

Today is also National Rum Day. While I feature rum drinks for National Piña Colada Day, National Mojito Day, and National Daiquiri Day, there are all kinds of rum drinks other than those three. Since I began today's entry by celebrating an amusement park thrill ride, I'm going to continue with the theme park theme with How To Drink's Need your Disney Fix? Make the Dole Whip at Home! Also rum!

I'm a giant Disney's Parks fan, today I'm talking about my favorite attraction, the Enchanted Tiki Room, and making a Dole Whip.


I'm kind of a giant Walt Disney World Fan and I love me some Dole Whip. The Dole Whip, if you're not familiar, is a soft serve ice cream confection, usually pineapple flavored, that is served just outside of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. It has a rabid fanbase just desperate to get more of that magic dole whip awesomeness all year long- and now you can! I've got a perfect dole whip recipe you can mix up at home all on your own. I add rum to mine, but that's totally not necessary. In fact, the rum changes the consistency to more of a shake and less of an ice cream. It turns out, this is pretty darn simple to make. The Enchanted Tiki Room is probably my favorite attraction, so I talk about it quite a bit here, and also Walt Disney's history with the attraction and a bit about its strange history in the park too.

Dole Whip
16 oz. -or- 450 g. Frozen Pineapple
2.6 oz. -or- 77 ml. coconut milk
3 tbs -or- 36 g. sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp -or- 5 ml. lemon juice
1 tsp. -or- 5 ml. lime juice
2 oz. -or- 60 ml. rum (OPTIONAL)
Garnish with pineapple
and an umbrella!
That was much more Disney than rum, but it was fun, too, even if it wasn't as educational as the PBS Terra video about roller coasters. I'm not showing this to my students!

Once again, happy National Roller Coaster Day and Rum Day!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

SciShow and Seeker on the Delta variant, a pandemic update

Today is Sunday, when I normally write about entertainment, but after posting Dave Chappelle's four Emmy nominations for 'SNL' and '8:46' yesterday, I am just not feeling it.* Instead, I'm sharing a pandemic update with two science videos. First, SciShow explains What You Need to Know About the Delta Variant.

Several COVID-19 variants are acting uniquely enough to qualify as a distinct strain. And you might have heard about one on the news: the Delta variant. Today we’re going to talk about what it is, why it’s here, and what you need to know about it.
SciShow uploaded this video last Friday, while Seeker uploaded Delta Variant: What You Need To Know on July 21, 2021, three-and-one-half weeks ago.

In recent months, the Delta variant has been linked to a resurgence of COVID infections and is on track to become the dominant variant worldwide. But what exactly sets this so-called super spreader variant apart from all the rest?
There's been a lot of potential variants of concern that have sprouted up around the world. And a lot of this is due to the fact that viruses mutate, that's what they do. But the big question is:

Are these mutations resulting in the virus being more problematic? So far, four of these have been identified as “variants of concern” by the World Health Organization: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, which is the most recent addition to the list.

Together, these variants are shown to be either more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to current treatments. But of the four, Delta is especially concerning. According to the WHO, it’s the “fastest and fittest” variant yet.
I don't think the three-week difference between the videos means the Seeker video is out of date. In fact, I'm planning on sharing both videos with one of my classes next month. Yes, the next semester is coming that soon. That's yet another reason I'm not feeling like researching and composing another long entertainment post. I have work to do.

*I plan on combining some science with thrills for an educational entertainment post tomorrow for National Roller Coaster Day. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Dave Chappelle's four Emmy nominations for 'SNL' and '8:46'

I think "8:46 – Dave Chappelle" will be the favorite for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special as well as Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special, as Chappelle and his director won both awards last year. I'll get to those in a future installment of this series.
That was my footnote to 'Hamilton' at the Emmy Awards and this is that "future installment" now that I'm done with Friday the 13th. I begin with the nominees in the two categories I mentioned at the 73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special

Bo Burnham: Inside, directed by Bo Burnham (Netflix)
David Byrne's American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee (HBO)
8:46 - Dave Chappelle, directed by Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar and Dave Chappelle (Netflix)
Friends: The Reunion, directed by Ben Winston (HBO Max)
A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, directed by Thomas Schlamme (HBO Max)
After looking over that field, I'm less confident that Chappelle can win this award than I was before I started writing. First, Stan Lathan, who won this award last year, didn't direct this special and isn't returning as a nominee. Second, Chappelle and his co-directors are competing against Oscar and Emmy winner Spike Lee for "David Byrne's American Utopia" as well as the self-directed "Bo Burnham: Inside." Right now, I think Lee is the favorite, Chappelle and co-director are in second, and Bo Burnham is the spoiler. That should make HBO happy, especially since I think its sister service's nominees, "Friends: The Reunion" and "A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote" on HBO Max, should just be pleased to be nominated. Too bad, as "A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote" is the most political of the nominees and one of my motivations for this series is to cover how entertainment depicts politics and government.

Follow over the jump as I demonstrate my environmentalism by recycling along with a new video from Gold Derby, which thinks Bo Burnham might beat Spike Lee in this category.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Psychologists explain Friday the 13th superstitions and what to do about them

Friday the 13th! For today's observance, I'm sharing two videos featuring psychologists who explain how and why people develop superstitions and what to do about them. I begin with Durango (Colorado) Daily News on Why Friday the 13th Is(n’t) Bad Luck, which also describes the history behind today's date.

Do you think bad things happen on Friday the 13th? We talk to Fort Lewis College Psychology Professor Brian Burke about the origins of superstition in society and why they have a hold on us.
While Professor Burke explains how and why superstitions begin and continue, he doesn't say anything about them other than they are coincidences and implies that we shouldn't believe them. Studio 10 in Australia's guest in Friday the 13th Superstitions makes that more explicit. It helps that the panel spices up the lesson by adding humor.

We speak with psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack about SUPERSTITIONS on this freaky date.
It's amazing how much breaking a mirror bothered the panel, although they did cite non-superstitious reasons for their feelings; it's destructive and poses a risk of injury. On the other hand, they were divided about opening an umbrella indoors. Personally, I found it a bit silly and inconsiderate of other people's space but still funny.

I close by noting that today is the only Friday the 13th this year, as the following calendar shows.

It could be worse. The years 2023, 2024, and 2029 will have two, just as 2020 did, and 2026 will have three, the most possible. That last occurred in 2015. Gee, did anything bad happen that year? Coincidence, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

'Hamilton' at the Emmy Awards

I concluded 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' leads Outstanding Variety Talk Series nominees at the Emmy Awards for the fifth consecutive year by telling my readers "Since I've said I would cover 'Hamilton' twice in this entry, watch for that to be the subject of the next installment of the series." Without any further ado, here are the nominations for the filmed stage play at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

8:46 – Dave Chappelle (Netflix)
Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)
David Byrne's American Utopia (HBO)
Friends: The Reunion (HBO Max)
Hamilton (Disney+)
A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote (HBO Max)
When I covered Dave Chappelle winning this category, I foresaw this match-up.
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.
We found out; "Hamilton" is a prerecorded variety special, not a movie, at leas for this category, even though it was originally meant to be shown in theaters. Welcome to one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on entertainment. Speaking of which, "Bo Burnham: Inside," recorded in Burnham's guest house during the pandemic, has five nominations to three for "8:46 – Dave Chappelle," the second fewest of any nominee in this category, ahead of only "A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote" with two. Chappelle's special is behind "Friends: The Reunion" with four nominations, "David Byrne's American Utopia" with six, and "Hamilton" leads with twelve. Based on the number of nominations, especially since seven of them are for performers, the second largest peer group in the Television Academy after executives, I'd say "Hamilton" is the favorite. As I keep saying when I write entries about entertainment awards, electorates matter.

Since I haven't shared it before, here's Hamilton | Official Trailer | Disney+.

“Hamilton” is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, “Hamilton” has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, the film transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way.
"'Hamilton'..."created a revolutionary moment in theatre — a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education." That's another reason I blog about entertainment, to analyze what it has to say about government, politics, and society and determine if society is paying attention. In the case of "Hamilton," it did.

Now for four categories where "Hamilton" is competing as a movie instead of a variety special, three because there is no other place for the nominations.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Paul Bettany as Vision on WandaVision (Disney+)
Hugh Grant as Jonathan Fraser on The Undoing (HBO)
Ewan McGregor as Halston on Halston (Netflix)
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton on Hamilton (Disney+)
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr on Hamilton (Disney+)
While Lin-Manuel Miranda won the People's Choice Award for The Drama Movie Star of 2020, Leslie Odom Jr. won the Tony Award for this role and earned two Oscar nominations this year for "One Night in Miami." The audience might like Miranda better, but the professionals like Odum more, and the professionals are voting for these awards. Again, electorates matter.

That doesn't guarantee that either Miranda or Odum will win. The nominated limited series actors are stiff competition and I will evaluate their chances when I examine Outstanding Limited Series in a few weeks.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny Watts on The Queen's Gambit (Episode: "Adjournment") (Netflix)
Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson on Hamilton (Disney+)
Paapa Essiedu as Kwame on I May Destroy You (Episode: "That Was Fun") (HBO)
Jonathan Groff as King George on Hamilton (Disney+)
Evan Peters as Det. Colin Zabel on Mare of Easttown (Episode: "Enter Number Two") (HBO)
Anthony Ramos as John Laurens / Philip Hamilton on Hamilton (Disney+)
"Hamilton" provides half of the nominees in this category, Daveed Diggs in a double role as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Groff as King George III, and Anthony Ramos in another double role as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. Diggs and Groff both earned Tony nominations and Diggs took home the award, so I would give him the advantage out of the actors from the musical. Again, that doesn't mean Diggs will win, as the nominated limited series actors are stiff competition and I will evaluate their chances when I examine Outstanding Limited Series in a few weeks.

Watch 'Hamilton' star and first-time Emmy nominee Daveed Diggs on the legacy of the acclaimed show from Gold Derby.

'Hamilton' star and first-time Emmy nominee Daveed Diggs on the legacy of the acclaimed show. The Tony Award winner chats with Gold Derby editor Christopher Rosen about the program now streaming on Disney+.
I appreciate Diggs pointing out how the significance of the show changed when Trump took over from Obama. That's an interesting and important insight.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler on Hamilton (Disney+)
Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness / Agnes The Nosy Neighbor on WandaVision (Episode: "Breaking the Fourth Wall") (Disney+)
Moses Ingram as Jolene on The Queen's Gambit (Episode: "End Game") (Netflix)
Julianne Nicholson as Lori Ross on Mare of Easttown (Episode: "Sacrament") (HBO)
Jean Smart as Helen Fahey on Mare of Easttown (Episode: "Sacrament") (HBO)
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton on Hamilton (Disney+)
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton didn't compete against each other at the Tony Awards as Soo was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical while Goldsberry won for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Here, they are competing against other. I'm not sure it matters, as I think this contest is between Kathryn Hahn and Jean Smart.

Follow over the jump for the nominees behind the camera.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Dana Carvey's impressions of Joe Biden for Presidential Joke Day

Happy Presidential Joke Day! For this year's celebration, I'm roasting President Joe Biden and outsourcing the jokes to Dana Carvey. I begin with President Biden Previews His Summit With Vladimir Putin from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

President Joe Biden, who bears an uncanny resemblance to our good friend Dana Carvey, joins Stephen via satellite from Europe where he is deep in preparation for this week's face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader.
In case this looks and sounds familiar, it's the segment after the monologue I featured in Stephen Colbert returns to the Ed Sullivan Theater before a live, fully vaccinated audience, a pandemic update. Also, I like Carvey's impression of Biden better than Jim Carrey's. Carrey is hysterically funny, but I think he's a little too high energy for Biden unless he's driving an electric Jeep. Carvey captures more of Biden than Carrey, who relies too much on his own characters like Ace Ventura.

While explaining a joke usually drains the humor out of it, Carvey describing how he captured the essence of Biden made his impression even funnier in Dana Carvey Impersonates Joe Biden & Barack Obama - CONAN on TBS.

Plus, a little bit of Arnold Schwarzenegger for good measure.

Ha, ha, ha, ha! After yesterday's scary climate news, I needed a good laugh or two. Also, this clip shows that "Conan" may actually deserve its nomination for Outstanding Variety Talk Series at the Emmy Awards, although I'm still not sure "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" deserved its snub. Just the same, happy National Presidential Joke Day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

IPCC report warns 'code red for humanity'

When I wrote "Tuesday I'm planning on covering fire and drought" on Sunday, I hadn't counted on the latest IPCC report being issued the next day. ABC News summarized its findings in UN climate report warns of ‘code red for humanity’.

ABC News’ Maggie Rulli reports on the new U.N. climate report on the dire threat warming temperatures pose to the planet, as fires and extreme weather events spread globally.
ABC News did a very good job of incorporating location coverage of fires in California and Greece, floods in Germany, and heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest to make climate change concrete for its viewers, but this segment skipped over drought and had very little in the way of expert analysis. CBS News covered both in U.N. climate change report warns of disaster if nations don't cut greenhouse gas emissions, although it just mentioned drought a few times.

The world's leading climate scientists have issued a stark new warning about the growing impact of climate change and what needs to be done to stop it. CBS News foreign correspondent Roxana Saberi reports on the key findings, and Bloomberg Sustainability Editor Eric Roston joins CBSN to discuss.
What struck me about Eric Roston's analysis was that, if anything, climate change is not only happening now, but coming faster and have more severe effects than the experts expected, as this past June's heatwave in the Pacific Northwest caught them by surprise.

Those are the facts and consequences. For the urgency of finding solutions, watch the Global News interview, Greta Thunberg says dire UN climate change report can serve as "a wake up call".

Calling for “massive” pressure to fight climate change after a dire report by the UN science panel on Monday, activist Greta Thunberg said she plans to go to this year’s global climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

The deadly heat waves, gargantuan hurricanes and other weather extremes that are already happening will only become more severe, the United Nations panel on climate change told the world on Monday, reporting that global warming was dangerously close to being out of control – and that humans were “unequivocally” to blame.

Referring to a recent spate of extreme weather events, Thunberg said: "These are all just symptoms of the climate crisis. We're not talking about the root cause itself, the things that are actually fuelling these events. And we are not holding people in power accountable."

“I hope that this can be a wake up call,” Thunberg said of the report, in an interview.
I hope this report will serve as a wake up call as well. It's not like the IPCC hasn't warned us before.

I will close out today's entry by being a good environmentalist and recycling what I wrote three years ago this month with an updated link.
First, welcome to the 400 ppm world. Second, are you scared enough by climate change? My readers should be.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Kamala Harris talks voting rights and space exploration during dedication of LBJ Monument for Veep Day

Happy National Veep Day! After three posts about Mike Pence interrupted by an entry about the show Veep, I'm dedicating today's entry to Kamala Harris with a serious message followed by a silly skit.

I begin with the most recent video from The White House YouTube account to feature the Vice President, Vice President Harris Delivers Remarks at the Lyndon B. Johnson Monument Dedication.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks for the unveiling of the monument to President Lyndon Baines Johnson at Little Tranquillity Park.
In addition to providing the video description I used above, the press release from the City of Houston quoted Vice President Harris's remarks.
“President Johnson led through extremely difficult times—through national grief, through global threats, through deep-seeded injustice. And I believe that there are lessons we can learn from this monument of a man and apply to the moment we're in,” said Vice President Harris.
The press release also summarized LBJ's accomplishments in civil rights.
President Johnson regularly ranks as one of the greatest presidents based on his extraordinary legislative achievements, including the three seminal civil rights bills that after 100 years achieved full legal rights for all Americans. Also included in President Johnson's extraordinary portfolio is the Immigration Act of 1965, which opened legal immigration from all nations equally, based upon family reunification and needed job skills in the United States.
Houston dedicated another monument in Little Tranquillity Park that day.
Also dedicated Friday at Little Tranquillity Park was a memorial to Apollo I astronauts Command Pilot Gus Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward White and Pilot Roger Chaffee, who perished on January 27, 1967, while testing their capsule prior to launch. Little Tranquillity Park has contained for years two small memorials to the astronauts of the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, who perished in service of their country. The memorials include two semicircles of seven Magnolia trees, with each tree representing one of the astronauts. The new Apollo I memorial includes the planting of three additional Magnolia trees, each representing one of the astronauts.
This reminds me that I've blogged about the Challenger disaster, but not about either the end of space shuttle Columbia or Apollo I. Maybe I should do that. It also explains why Vice President Harris talked about LBJ's actions on behalf of space exploration, including the founding of NASA. I'm glad she included those accomplishments in her remarks.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tied the two monuments together.
"This is a special day for Houston, and I hope people from all walks of life will visit the site honoring President Johnson and the astronauts who gave their lives in service to our country,” Mayor Turner said. “On this date, August 6 in 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. As we reflect on this historic occasion, it is hard to believe that we are still working to uphold the rights of ALL eligible voters. President Johnson was a Southern white man from Texas fighting for civil rights and during his lifetime changed the course of history both politically and socially."
It is not a coincidence that the dedication fell on the 56th anniversary of LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act, so it is not a coincidence that Vice President Harris said what she did about voting rights, especially while Texas Democratic legislators left the state for D.C. and have been arrested for demonstrating for voting rights.

Since I made fun of former Vice President Pence three years ago, I'm going to do that for Vice President Harris this year with an Emmy-nominated performance by Maya Rudolph, Kamala - SNL.

Vice-President Kamala Harris (Maya Rudolph) and her husband Doug Emhoff (Martin Short) host Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant) and Joe Biden (Alex Moffat) for a friendly Passover dinner.
Not only couldn't I resist, but I'm glad I saved this video until now. Not only does it feature Rudolph as V.P. Harris, but also Emmy nominees Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson, and Cecily Strong. Good luck to all of you!

Once again, happy National Veep Day!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' leads Outstanding Variety Talk Series nominees at the Emmy Awards for the fifth consecutive year

For today's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm building on yesterday's It's Saturday night, so here are the 21 Emmy nominations for 'Saturday Night Live' by examining variety talk shows.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series

Conan (TBS)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
Like last year and the three years before that, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" leads variety talk series nominees, this year with seven nominations. "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" follows with five, although Stephen's extended franchise earned four more for a total of nine. "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" earned two, while "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" and "Conan" earned one each. "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" got snubbed in this category in favor of "Conan," which just ended its run on TBS. I'm sure it's all the same to TBS, but I'd rather have seen Bee return. Next year.

Since "Last Week Tonight" is the five-time returning winner, it's the favorite. As good as "Live Show Following Capitol Insurrection; Senator Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Performance by Jamila Woods" was, which I featured in Colbert, Kimmel, Meyers, Corden, and Fallon express outrage and offer comfort in response to yesterday's attempted self-coup, I'm not sure it will propel "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" into an upset.

All of the nominations that named an episode recognized John Oliver blows up 2020 after discussing Trump refusing to concede. Surf over there to watch both clips; it's worth it. Until then, here's a preview.

As my wife said after watching it, "that was epic!" It certainly was.

Samantha Bee did earn one Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Pandemic Video Diaries: Vaxxed and Waxxed (TBS)
Inside Pixar (Disney+)
Pose: Identity, Family, Community (FX)
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen (Bravo)
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (YouTube)
I'd like Bee to win this category, but I just don't know if she will despite being a returning nominee. "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" would be the other political choice, while all the rest are about entertainment. My gut says it will be "Inside Pixar" or "Pose: Identity, Family, Community," the first because of Disney's production values, the second because it's a three-time returning nominee in its final season. That alone might give it the Emmy.

Gold Derby interviewed Samantha Bee ('Full Frontal') on Trump's absence: 'Best possible outcome for America, for our show' before the Emmy nominations.

Samantha Bee ('Full Frontal') on Trump's absence: It's the 'best possible outcome for America' and 'for our show.' The Emmy winner chats about her variety talk series with Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery.
Despite the discussion of her family being eligible for craft awards like technical direction, the main show earned no nominations. Maybe it helps to have members of the Television Academy do that work for it to be nominated.

Speaking of Stephen's extended franchise earning four more Emmy nominations, here are the show categories featuring them, beginning with Outstanding Variety Special (Live).

Celebrating America — An Inauguration Night Special (Multiple Platforms)
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards (CBS)
The Oscars (ABC)
The Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show Starring The Weeknd (CBS)
Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020 (Showtime)
While the two political nominees, "Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020" has three nominations and "Celebrating America — An Inauguration Night Special" has two, neither leads nor is likely to be favored. Both "The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards" and "The Oscars" have four nominations while "The Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show Starring The Weeknd" has three. Based on the history of the award, I think a live event celebrating show business will win, favoring either "The Oscars" which has been nominated every year since the inception of this version of the award, or the Grammy Awards, which has been nominated for three of the four years of the current category. If all things were equal, I'd give the nod to the Oscars, since movies are closer to television than music, but other than the number of nominations, I'm not sure all things are equal. I found the ceremony a bit underwhelming compared to previous years except for the pre-recorded music segments; those were spectacular. If it wins, it will be because it was a minor miracle that it happened at all.

Now for a category I covered in Quibi's last Emmy nominations are also Roku's first as the network was canceled but the shows were renewed.

Outstanding Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series

Carpool Karaoke: The Series (Apple TV)
Late Night with Seth Meyers: CORRECTIONS (YouTube)
The Randy Rainbow Show (YouTube)
Reno 911! (Quibi)
Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News (Paramount+)
This is a very different looking category from last year because the Television Academy merged Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series with Outstanding Short Form Variety Series to recreate Outstanding Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series. Consequently, more of last year's Short Form Variety Series appear here than the sole returning scripted comedy from last year, "Reno 911!" At least the addition of variety nominees didn't dilute the political and government content, with "Late Night with Seth Meyers: CORRECTIONS," "The Randy Rainbow Show,", and "Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News" providing a lot of political content to go along with the funny cops of "Reno 911!" While I'm rooting for "Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News," I expect "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" will win instead. I've learned not to underestimate James Corden.
Follow over the jump for nominations of the people behind the camera.