A blog about societal, cultural, and civilizational collapse, and how to stave it off or survive it. Named after the legendary character "Crazy Eddie" in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's "The Mote in God's Eye." Expect news and views about culture, politics, economics, technology, and science fiction.
Colin Rogero and Emily Jashinsky react to Axios' reporting that The National Republican Congressional Committee will be the first national party committee to solicit crypto donations.
That's a good brief exploration of the issues from a pair who knows politics better than they know cryptocurrency. One of the possibilities is a crypto-related campaign finance scandal. I'd be more worried about other kinds of cybercrime, but I'm not Rogero and Jashinsky, who are trying to play to their strengths instead of working on their weaknesses.
Interest in cryptocurrency is growing exponentially—and the 2022 midterms could be when Congressional campaigners jump on the bandwagon.
Since the 2020 presidential election, there’s been a notable uptick in U.S. political campaigns accepting donations via cryptocurrency. Younger, more dynamic candidates started the trend—Andrew Yang was an early enthusiast—but in mid-2021, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said it would start accepting donations in crypto, marking a major watershed for cryptocurrency in U.S. politics.
The rules for political campaigns accepting crypto donations are murky and may vary from state to state. But with players like the NRCC getting into the game, perceptions are definitely changing.
Before you jump at the opportunity to hand some Dogecoin over to your preferred Congressional candidate, you need to know the rules and limits—such as they are—that apply to crypto donations and political campaigns.
The article answers some of the questions raised by Colin Rogero and Emily Jashinsky in their video from ten months ago, including campaigns having to convert crypto into cash before spending it, which Rogero thought would be the case. It also reports that the crypto advocates are making their donations in cash, not crypto. Hmm. Just the same, this is another example of our living in science-fiction times or, as my friend Nebris says, "SciFi is now."
As COVID cases begin to pick up across the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday said that three out of every four children have been infected by COVID. This comes as the White House moved to make Paxlovid pills, which can reduce serious illness, more widely available. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.
PBS NewsHour excerpted the last minute of this interview with the following video description: "The U.S. is 'out of the pandemic phase,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top public health official who has helped lead the national response to COVID-19 for more than two years." That's the part of the interview that people from CNN to Trevor Noah picked up on, but Dr. Fauci also said that, while the U.S. is not currently in a pandemic phase, the planet is still in a pandemic. Stopping the disease in the rest of the world requires more widespread vaccination on a global scale. PBS NewsHour covered part of that effort when it asked Can the 'vaccine for the world' help end the global pandemic?
It’s a tiny vial with big ambitions to help bring an end to the pandemic everywhere on earth. The developers of the so-called “vaccine for the world” hope what’s inside can ease the equity issues surrounding global covid vaccine distribution. John Yang has the story.
In our news wrap Thursday, Moderna filed for FDA authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine for children under the age of 6, Oklahoma lawmakers gave final approval to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, new research warns thousands of new viruses could spread in the next 50 years due to climate change, and President Biden is considering canceling additional federal student loan debt.
Sand is everywhere and in everything. Of course, that means there’s a pretty nasty underground sand business run by some pretty nasty sand people, proving once again that there’s no resource too tiny for humans to kill each other and the planet over.
Unfortunately, YouTube would not let me embed it, as this is an age restricted video that you have to watch on YouTube. You have been warned, but I didn't find it offensive, just a little risque, so I still recommend my readers click on the link to watch it. Enjoy the deep dive into one particular earth material and the Star Wars references that go with it.
I posted CNBC and SciShow explain why the world is running out of sand and what can be done about it on May 29, 2021, but did not share the link at Coffee Party USA's Facebook page until June 6, 2021, hence the spike in the middle of the graph above. That helped the entry earn 702 default and 896 raw entries during June 2021, ranking it third overall for the month. Combined with the 132 raw page views it had already accumulated during May 2021 and the trickle of readers after June 2021, it ended the 2021-2022 blogging year on March 20, 2022 with 1,055 raw page views ranking it twenty-eighth among entries posted last year and thirty-second overall during the eleventh year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
I promise to write a retrospective of the top posts about the pandemic tomorrow for Flashback Friday. In the meantime, follow over the jump for the linkspam of previous entries in the relevant retrospective series.
Nearly 70% of Americans surveyed by the American Psychological Association said they worry the invasion of Ukraine could potentially lead to nuclear war and they fear that we could be at the beginning stages of World War III.
Researchers estimate there are about 12,700 nuclear weapons spread between nine countries, with the United States and Russia holding the majority, but experts consider an attack to be unlikely. Watch the video above to learn how a nuclear attack could play out.
All of this is horrifying, but it's not news to me. My interest in events that could cause the end of civilization began when I was eleven or so years old when I started reading about nuclear war and nuclear weapons. Macabre, but learning about it made me less anxious, as I could use my knowledge as a source of power over my fears. That's still true, as it's one of the reasons I blog about possible causes of collapse and decline as well as ways to forestall them. They are still frightening and fascinating and knowing about them gives me a sense of control, however illusory.
Defense companies secure billions of dollars every year from government contracts to maintain and construct nuclear weapons. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. government could spend $634 billion between 2021–2030 on nuclear forces. Many of these companies like Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have seen a rise in stock prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Watch the video above to learn about the companies profiting off of nuclear weapons and how the investor community feels about it.
This video reminded me that my father worked for aerospace and defense companies during most of my youth, so I benefited for spending for weapons growing up. The company that he worked for the longest, Litton Industries, no longer exists as an independent company but is now split between Northrop Grumman and Huntington Ingalls, both of which CNBC mentioned in their video, particularly Northrop Grumman. My father actually started off working in the Ingalls Shipbuilding division before moving to Litton Guidance and Control, now part of Northrop Grumman, so his legacy lives on in two companies.
Enough nostalgia. I have work to do, as final exams began yesterday. Stay tuned for a retrospective tomorrow on Throwback Thursday.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the final part of its sixth assessment report. In it, they steer away from the gloom and doom and remind us of a future that's still remarkably possible.
While it's theoretically possible that we can follow this plan and Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. federal government are at least shooting to be carbon neutral by 2050, I think it's more likely that the world as a whole will follow China's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That involves greenhouse gas emissions peaking by 2030 and net zero by 2060. That won't keep us below 1.5oC above the pre-industrial average, but it might just be enough to keep us below 2oC of warming above that same benchmark. I hope that's good enough. At least it won't be Eocene levels of warming — I hope.
Climate havens or climate destinations are cities that are situated in places that avoid the worst effects of natural disasters and have the infrastructure to support a larger population. Many of these legacy cities are in the U.S. Northeast. Watch the video to see where Americans can move to avoid the risk of wildfires and flooding from rising [sea] levels, and learn how these destination cities can translate climate migration into an economic triumph.
Millions of Americans are living in communities with precarious climate conditions, in houses that feel overpriced.
There is a solution for many of these people, though: Move to one of the so-called climate havens.
Climate havens or climate destinations are situated in places that avoid the worst effects of natural disasters and have the infrastructure to support a larger population. Many of these legacy cities are located in the Northeast.
Jesse Keenan, associate professor of real estate at Tulane University, named the following cities as possible climate havens:
Asheville, North Carolina
Buffalo, New York
Rochester, New York
Anna Marandi, who served as the program manager of climate resilience and sustainability at the National League of Cities, added four other places to the safe haven list: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Charleston, South Carolina; Chico, California; and perhaps surprisingly, Orlando, Florida.
Orlando makes the cut, Marandi said, because the city has introduced measures to decarbonize. While the natural environment, such as being a noncoastal city, is an advantage, cities can “earn” the designation by working to provide benefits like affordable housing and being committed to economic sustainability.
“I see climate migration as an opportunity for these cities to avoid the mistakes of urban sprawl,” Marandi said. “They often have a vibrant, walkable downtown that might just need a little bit of revitalization.”
Keenan also stressed that climate haven cities need to help their own residents, which in turn will attract more climate migrants.
“This isn’t we’re going to build a community for tomorrow,” he said. “We’re going to build a community for today. And that’s going to be the foundation for the building of a community for tomorrow.”
I close by repeating what I wrote last month about places to relocate in response to climate change: "I'll take it. It reinforces my feeling that leaving California for Michigan has turned out to be a smart move, literally, the longer I live here."
Since 1967, the Florida land housing Disney’s theme parks has been governed by the company, allowing it to manage Walt Disney World with little red tape. WSJ’s Robbie Whelan explains the special tax district that a Florida bill would eliminate.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that strips Disney of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks in retaliation for its opposition to a new law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.
Not only did Reuters explain what led up to the revocation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but it also showed the spectacle of the right-wing protests of Disney at one of the entrances to the complex. That was one of the things I found surreal.
Orange County, Florida, tax collector Scott Randolph goes through the fallout of Gov. Ron DeSantis' move to dissolve Disney's special self-governing status.
What a mess! Not only did CNN report on the effects of the repeal on services and taxes, it also mentioned the other actions DeSantis wanted passed during the special session, a congressional district map that disenfranchised African-American voters and a repeal of a provision of an anti-censorship bill that exempted Disney — two legislative acts of revenge on the Mouse, not just one! In the bigger picture, the apparent violations of state and federal law in passing the maps that DeSantis wanted over those passed by the Florida Legislature, which he vetoed, are the most important of all of them, but I'm not surprised that attacking Disney got more attention. As I first wrote in 2011, "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." Retaliating against Disney in ways that might affect its ability to provide services for its guests has at least the appearance and maybe even the reality of messing with Americans' entertainment. This might not end well for DeSantis.
That's the second portrayal of "Romeo and Juliet" by a drum corps on a football field I've featured on this blog, but it won't be the last. I was planning on featuring two corps that played Radiohead's "Exit Music (for a Film)," which debuted in the 1996 "Romeo + Juliet" (even though it was not listed in the soundtrack) and was re-used in "Westworld," two years ago, but the pandemic intervened and Shakespeare's Birthday fell on Thursday and Friday, so I used those days for retrospectives instead. Don't worry. I'm still thinking about doing that in the future, but next year I might examine Shakespeare in Star Trek. "The Klingon Hamlet," anyone?
Ever since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, China has played an increasingly large role in the international fight against climate change. The country is now the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, lithium ion batteries, and electric vehicles. But while China has stepped up in these regards, it is still the global leader in carbon emissions, and burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. As President-elect Joe Biden looks to reassert American leadership in green energy and climate initiatives, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. and China can work collaboratively to address the climate crisis.
CORRECTION (November 16, 2020): Barbara Finamore and Alvin Lin both work at the “Natural Resources Defense Council” not the “National Resources Defense Council”
Alvin Lin shows up in Treasures of the Earth: Power where he gives the answer to one of the questions on the worksheet: "21. How many deaths are caused by China’s air pollution every year?" The answer he gives is 1.6 million in 2016, more than one out of every thousand Chinese. I also show a slide in my class about air pollution deaths in 2013, the year of the Chinese "airpocalypse" in the CNBC video. That year, about 1.7 million Chinese died from air pollution. Here's the image.
While 1.6 million is terrible, I won't minimize the 100,000 fewer deaths over three years from 2013. It's a sign of progress.
Speaking of "Treasures of the Earth: Power," here are some other questions addressed by this video, along with their answers.
9. What are the effects of burning coal and oil on the Earth’s atmosphere?
Both release carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that traps heat and warms up the atmosphere and oceans. Not mentioned in the video is that it also acidifies surface waters, particularly the oceans.
19. Solar panels are increasing by what percentage every year?
In 2016, solar panel installations were increasing 25% per year. Wow!
20.How are the Chinese attempting to solve a fundamental problem with solar energy?
They are storing electricity from solar energy in enormous banks of batteries to be released when the sun is not shining. This is a solution to the intermittency problem.
China, the world’s biggest polluter, has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2060, an ambitious goal matched by enormous investments that are reshaping the nation’s energy system.
Not only are China, Japan, and South Korea announcing net zero goals, so is the United States, which is shooting for net zero by 2050 at least for the federal government. I sincerely wish all four countries good luck in achieving their net zero goals. They need it and so does the planet.
Experience the wondrous story of life on Earth… 66 million years ago. Prehistoric Planet arrives May 23 on Apple TV+...Experience the world of dinosaurs like never before in this epic docuseries from Executive Producer Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. With David Attenborough and accompanied by a breathtaking score by Hans Zimmer, Prehistoric Planet is a five-night documentary event coming to Apple TV+ May 23rd.
The only quibble is that Tyrannosaurus rex is a North American dinosaur and North America did not border the Tethys Sea. Instead, T. rex lived along the western shores of the Cannonball Sea, which split North America in half. Its Asian relatives like Tarbosaurus may have ranged to the Tethys, but not T. rex proper. I'mapaleontologist, so I know these things. Otherwise, this looks great. I fully expect multiple Emmy nominations. It, along with "Ted Lasso," might just be enough to get me to subscribe to Apple TV+, especially if I can do so without buying an Apple product.
This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar®-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe.
From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
Jurassic World Dominion, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, propels the more than $5 billion franchise into daring, uncharted territory, featuring never-seen dinosaurs, breakneck action and astonishing new visual effects.
The film features new cast members DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It), Emmy nominee Mamoudou Athie (Archive 81), Dichen Lachman (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Scott Haze (Minari) and Campbell Scott (The Amazing Spider-Man 2). The film’s returning cast includes BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez and Omar Sy as Barry Sembenè.
Jurassic World Dominion is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who steered 2015’s Jurassic World to a record-shattering $1.7 billion global box office. The screenplay is by Emily Carmichael (Battle at Big Rock) & Colin Trevorrow from a story by Derek Connolly (Jurassic World) & Trevorrow, based on characters created by Michael Crichton. Jurassic World Dominion is produced by acclaimed franchise producers Frank Marshall p.g.a. and Patrick Crowley p.g.a. and is executive produced by legendary, Oscar®-winning franchise creator Steven Spielberg, Alexandra Derbyshire and Colin Trevorrow.
I'm not expecting to learn anything from this movie, as it's first and foremost a piece of entertainment, but I expect to be watching it when it becomes available on Peacock, Amazon, or another streaming service.
That's it for today's entertainment special. Follow over the jump for the most read entries from the back catalog about entertainment during the blogging year that ended on March 20, 2022.
As Congress considers legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and end the sentencing disparity for crack and cocaine offenses, Galen Druke speaks with FiveThirtyEight contributor Lester Black on this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast about what Americans think should be done about drugs and how politicians are responding.
So why exactly, then, aren’t more congressional Republicans representing their own voters’ views on this issue? One possibility is that many of these lawmakers simply don’t know how much Republicans’ opinions have changed. Political science research shows that politicians tend to overestimate their constituents’ support for conservative policies, with Republican lawmakers driving much of this phenomenon. Some congressional Republicans may therefore oppose federal legalization because they mistakenly believe they’re representing their own voters’ views.
Other members, however, are likely voting based on their own personal opposition to marijuana legalization. Compared with most Americans, congressional Republicans tend to be older and more religious, two demographic groups that are far more averse to legalization than younger and religiously unaffiliated Americans. Indeed, GOP politicians often oppose drug legalization on behalf of conservative principles like morality, order and family values.
This presents an opening for Democrats.
Regardless of the reasons, though, Democrats would be wise to make congressional Republicans’ opposition to marijuana legalization an issue in the upcoming midterm elections. As I noted two years ago, not only is legalization popular across the political spectrum, but political science research shows that it’s also one of the more important issues to Democrats, Republicans and independents. Every 4/20, in fact, it becomes more and more apparent that marijuana legalization is a winning political issue.
Here's to the Democrats taking advantage of this issue.
Sea level rise is a problem that is garnishing increasing attention among both scientists and the media. And as climate change continues to warm the earth, the current rate of 1.4 inches per decade is projected to increase, with NOAA predicting another foot of sea-level rise along US coastlines by 2050.
The most consequential tipping point, when it comes to sea-level rise, is Thwaites Glacier, also known as the Doomsday glacier, located in West Antarctica. When this massive ice sheet melts, the earth’s seas are predicted to rise by at least two feet. But perhaps the greater concern is what will happen to the surrounding ice once Thwaites is no longer there to stabilize the region around it. Many scientists predict that, were this system to completely collapse, we would actually see around 6 feet of sea-level rise – a truly catastrophic scenario.
In this episode, we explore just how likely this dire outcome is, take a look at how America’s most at-risk city, Miami, is already experiencing the effects today, and what all of this has to do with gentrification.
Some climate refugees will only have to move a few miles, but in the process, they will raise prices for the people who already live there and in turn make them into internal economic migrants and indirect climate refugees as well. Not only does everything must go somewhere, but so does everyone. Without development that accomodates both the original and new residents, the lower income members of the community will have to move. That will just result in them being someone else's problem.
America's suburbs are sprawling again. Over the 20th century, real estate developers built large tracts of single-family homes outside of major cities. The builders were following mortgage underwriting standards first introduced by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. Over the century, those guidelines created housing market conditions that explicitly shut out many minorities. Experts say it is possible to update these old building codes to create equity while fixing some, but not all of the problems of American suburbia.
Last year, single family housing starts rose to 1.123 million, the highest since 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders, however, options for prospective homebuyers remain lean.
Experts say the problems of America’s housing market relate to past policy decisions. In particular, they say restrictive zoning codes are limiting housing supply. These codes are based on 1930s-era Federal Housing Administration guidelines for mortgage underwriting. That includes “no sidewalks and curvy dead-end streets,” according to Ben Ross, author of “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism.“
Ross and others believe that more must be done to manage residential real estate development. Ross lives in Montgomery County, Maryland, which recently revised its zoning code to bring more population density to the area. The county didn’t have many alternative options — 85% of build-worthy land is already developed.
Strict zoning laws favoring single-family homes have limited the supply of land available for multifamily construction and hampered production of more affordable housing. With land limited for multifamily projects, the price of that land has jumped and made those projects unaffordable for builders.
Today’s homebuyers are paying for past sprawl by drawing on credit to finance their lifestyles. Meanwhile, the cost of public infrastructure maintenance is weighing on depopulating towns across the country.
This video has its own answers to four questions from the semi-retired worksheet for "The End of Suburbia":
1. What advantages did suburban life promise, especially compared to the industrial city?
The narrator of "The End of Suburbia" those were "space, convenience, affordability, family life, and upward mobility". He and James Howard Kunstler then went on about how it promised the best of both country and city living conveniently close to the central city, including getting away from the pollution and masses in the city proper.
4. How did suburbia change the American Dream?
Living in a detached home in the suburbs replaced "anyone can make it" as part of the American Dream.
5. What effect did the rise of suburbia have on cities?
As Kunstler said in the documentary, suburbia decanted (poured out) all the functions of cities into the countryside, emptying out the "core urban areas" (central cities).
7. What is the relationship among cheap energy (including oil), automobiles, and suburbia?
Suburbia became possible when car ownership became cheaper.
About 46% of renters in the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet, according to Harvard University researchers. Builders say conditions for renters will get worse before they get better. A snarled supply chain, a labor shortage, and rising interest rates are worsening what some call a "throwaway" development pattern. Several real estate industry experts have ideas about how to make housing more attainable. Some of the most popular ideas include mixed-use districts and master-planned communities.
Americans who are short on cash to make rent may need to face an uncomfortable reality: Conditions will likely get worse before they get better.
U.S. housing supply fell to the lowest levels observed in over 20 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s dramatically pushing up prices for consumers, and catching the attention of leaders.
“The most immediate challenge is a lack of lumber and other kinds of building materials,” says Rob Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “The other challenge, and it’s one that’s going to be with us for some time, is a lack of skilled labor.“
Architects say better planning could ease cost burdens while shoring up public health.
“Suburban retrofitting has the potential to transform people’s lives,” said June Williamson, dean of architecture at City College of New York.
The Mosaic District of Fairfax, Virginia, is among the many “retrofitted” mixed-use districts and master-planned communities that have attracted major developers to the concept.
This video bears on three more questions from the worksheet.
2. How does James Howard Kunstler characterize suburbia as an allocation of resources?
Kunstler called suburbia "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world" and "a living arrangement that has no future." Chuck Marohn said that suburbia was a great one life-cycle product but didn't have a future beyond that, which I found similar enough to Kunstler that I wondered if they knew each other. They do, as they have been guests on each others podcasts since 2014.
25. What are the contributions of New Urbanism to the possible challenges of Peak Oil?
CNBC reframed the challenges as climate change and the short life cycle of suburban development, but the solutions are the same — planned, multi-use communities that consciously duplicate the kinds of urban communities that developed before single-use zoning arose, which the first CNBC video noted was a source of suburbia's problems. Those will encourage walking, public transportation, and the kind of dense convenient city life that promotes community, uses fewer resources, and produces less waste. By the way, I'm glad to see Celebration, which I mentioned in Disney's own government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as well as the planned communities Disney is proposing to build, listed as examples. It's enough to inspire me to blog about them, albeit four years later.
26. What are the prospects for suburbia after Peak Oil?
Not good. In fact, the situation got worse within a decade after the release of "The End of Suburbia," as I wrote about Suburban poverty north and south of the border eight years ago. This is on top of the infrastructure and life cycle issues both CNBC videos describe.
The irony of the pandemic, as the first video points out, is that "it looks like more affluent people are taking the opportunity to move into better housing in the suburbs. If one has to shelter in place, then one might find a better place to find shelter." Let's see how long that lasts as gas pricesrise while workers return to the office.
The Easter Bunny (Bowen Yang) invites Dr. Fauci (Kate McKinnon), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Cecily Strong), Mayor Eric Adams (Chris Redd), Elon Musk (Mikey Day), Britney Spears (Chloe Fineman), Jared Leto (Kyle Mooney), and Donald Trump (James Austin Johnson) to share their Easter wishes.
I'm glad to see Kate McKinnon return as Dr. Fauci for a holiday greeting. I'm not so glad to hear her say that she's not giving any advice because we wouldn't listen to it anyway. She's not wrong, but I wish it wasn't so. On the other hand, I am pleased that my snarky prediction "It will be a great four years — for Chris Redd and his fans" is so far coming true. I'm still not so sure if it will be a good four years for NYC Mayor Eric Adams.
Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, like JetBlue offering to buy Spirit Airlines.
Comparing Biden's approval rating to "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is funny, but the approval rating itself is not. The good news is that particular poll is a negative outlier. The bad news is that FiveThirtyEight calculates Biden's approval rating at 41.6% approve and 52.2% disapprove. Yikes!
Wylene and Vaneta Starkie (Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon) of Smokery Farms meat gift delivery service stop by Weekend Update to show off their Easter meat selections.
I'm not sure the subject is all that funny, but Bryant and McKinnon sure are.
That's it for this year's Easter celebration on this blog. Enjoy your Easter, wherever you are!
*If I had followed my usual pattern, I'd have posted a drum corps video featuring Easter music, but I just wasn't feeling it today. Maybe next year or the year after, depending on whether my other usual source of Easter content, Tipsy Bartender, produces anything for the holiday. This year, they didn't.
WISH-TV didn't provide a video description, so I'm quoting The Hill.
A study by researchers at the Urban Institute, the University of Colorado and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) estimated that the U.S. life expectancy dropped last year to 76.6 years, down more than two years from the rate in 2019. At the same time, life expectancy rates in other wealthy countries increased between 2020 and 2021, after registering a smaller decrease the year before.
“While other high-income countries saw their life expectancy increase in 2021, recovering about half their losses, U.S. life expectancy continued to fall,” VCU sociologist Steven Woolf, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “This speaks volumes about the life consequences of how the U.S. handled the pandemic, and in a country where the U.S. Constitution and the 10th Amendment grant public health authority to the states, I believe the U.S. catastrophe speaks volumes about the policies and behaviors of U.S. governors — at least some of them.”
Life expectancy has dropped the most in recent years among Hispanic and Black populations, which researchers attributed to “the legacy of systemic racism and inadequacies in the U.S. handling of the pandemic.”
Ryan Masters, a sociologist at the University of Colorado and the study’s lead author, said high rates of obesity and heart disease made the U.S. population more vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic than populations in other wealthy countries.
As I wrote last year, "the pandemic is responsible for most of the drop, [but] other causes, like the opioid epidemic and systemic racism making the pandemic worse for minorities, played roles in lowering life expectancy." All of this is still true, which is why I also wrote "returning to the pre-pandemic normal isn't good enough."
Follow over the jump for total U.S. deaths last year and the effect on the populations of states.
At least 55 of the largest corporations in America paid no federal corporate income taxes on their 2020 profits, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Some of these companies include big names FedEx, Nike, HP and Salesforce, and it's costing the U.S. government billions of dollars. Those 55 corporations would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion. Instead, they received $3.5 billion in tax rebates, collectively draining $12 billion from the U.S. government. These estimates don't include corporations that paid only some but not all of these taxes, like Netflix and Amazon.
Watch the video above to learn about how the most profitable companies in the country maneuver the complicated tax system to avoid federal corporate income taxes, different forms of tax expenditures and what policy solutions may bridge the gap.
If you think the Left has gone looney in recent years, wait'll you see the current crop of kooky Republican candidates.
I think Bill still regrets his part in making Christine O'Donnell ever more of a laughing stock than she already was. He genuinely likes her. That's more than can be said about the rest of the subjects of last Friday's New Rule.
By the way, Manchin and Sinema are the two most moderate/conservative Democratic U.S. Senators as the above chart from Voteview shows. The blue dots to the left of their names shows their ideological positions according to DW-Nominate, the same source I used to rank Democratic presidential candidates from left to center. Just to emphasize the point, Manchin's page calls him "the most conservative Democrat of the 117th Senate" and Sinema's page describes her as "more conservative than 97% of Democrats in the 117th Senate." Sinema was also the most conservative Democrat in the 115th Congress when she left the House of Representatives in 2018. Neither were ever true liberals, despite Sinema being a member of the Green Party.
Follow over the jump for the top posts last year about Congress and its members, including an event that happened before Congress.
The International Space Station has been orbiting above us for the last 20 years. It’s been home to astronauts from more than a dozen different countries — but mostly Americans and Russians. The two former “Space Race” countries control the main parts of the station. The science done there has required close collaboration and so it’s been largely insulated from politics on Earth.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may change that. The two countries have agreed to cooperate through 2024… but after that, the future of the space station is uncertain.
So far, Putin's war on Ukraine has not had major effects in space, but that could change if the Russians don't extend their involvement in the ISS beyond 2024. It could speed up the decommissioning of the space station, which is currently expected to happen by 2030. At least there are plans for commercial space stations associated with NASA beyond 2030 along with other projects like Artemis.
Grammy-award winning artist Eddie Vedder's "Invincible" video collaboration with NASA is inspired by our Artemis I Moon mission.
The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft – the only human-rated spacecraft in the world capable of deep-space travel – are planned to lift off from Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the Moon. Through the Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence, and serving as a steppingstone on the way to Mars. This video includes footage of various prelaunch tests, along with animations of launch, the orbit around the Moon, and the return to Earth.
Last year, I featured Lindsey Stirling. This year, Eddie Vedder. Stirling didn't surprise me; she's something of a geek goddess. I had no idea Vedder was this into space!
Arizona’s Republican governor signed a bill last month requiring proof of citizenship to vote in presidential elections. Voting rights advocates say it could impact some 200,000 Arizonans. It’s the latest in a move by Republican lawmakers nationwide to tighten voting rules ahead of the 2022 midterms elections. Jessica Huseman, the editorial director of Votebeat, joins Geoff Bennett to discuss.
I am a scientist, not a lawyer, but I think what Arizona did with separating federal from state election registration is dodgy, in more ways than one. Also, if private donors can't contribute to election administration, a restriction Jessica Huseman points out is not necessarily a bad idea, then the money has to come from somewhere. At least the Biden Administration is proposing the additional funds to run elections, but if Congress and the states don't come through, then it will starve election administrators of the money they need. I don't like the idea of that happening. What about you, my readers?
After watching her confirmation vote with President Biden (James Austin Johnson), Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (Ego Nwodim) receives advice from Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Kate McKinnon), Thurgood Marshall (Kenan Thompson), Harriet Tubman (Punkie Johnson) and Jackie Robinson (Chris Redd).
Once again, I feel better about the week's news when I laugh about it, especially when it turns out well.
Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banning Will Smith from the Oscars.
The bits about Will Smith, Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Grammys, and meet and greets returning to Disney World all qualify this entry as the Sunday entertainment feature. They also justify my decision to use today's post as a retrospective about last year's top entries about entertainment in general and awards shows in particular. Follow over the jump, please.
Gasoline prices rose to record highs in the United States after Russia invaded Ukraine. But the U.S. is the largest oil producer in the world and imports very little petroleum from Russia. So why did prices jump?
Because oil is a global commodity and supply or demand shocks can reverberate around the world. There are also other factors that have made it challenging for oil producers to respond - foreign and domestic U.S. producers have been pulling back production in recent years. A series of boom and bust cycles and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have drained the industry of qualified personnel and made companies wary of big investments.
That's such a good explanation of oil production, refining, distribution, and markets that I'm tempted to show it to my students, especially since I'm lecturing on energy and mineral resources in my environmental science classes right now and will soon be doing the same in my geology classes. I don't know if I'll have the time. Instead, I'm sharing it with my readers, who I hope learn something from it. I know I did, which was about the mismatch between the oil the U.S. produces and what our refineries require. I did not know that until recently.
For the past two to three years, petroleum has contributed little or none to the trade deficit and actually produced a small surplus during 2020, in contrast to the twenty years before that, where it made up a significant portion of the trade deficit. That's why I'm not as concerned about oil prices causing a recession now as I was in 2001 or 2008 (or will be again by the end of this decade). Then, a lot of the money being spent on petroleum was leaving the country, which will reduce GDP even without decreased economic activity. Enough of that will technically tip the country in to recession. Most of the money being spent on petroleum now stays in the U.S., which won't reduce GDP directly, although it will cause other economic hardships and move enough money around in ways that could cause a recession indirectly. PBS NewsHour updates the effects in U.S. lawmakers grill oil executives about sharp rise in gas prices.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fuel prices have shot up and stayed high. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday were laying blame for rising gas prices on executives from BP, Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil and others. Meanwhile, everyday Americans are feeling the pressure. Amna Nawaz reports.
PBS is showing both sides trying to score political points, Democrats against big corporations and Republicans against environmental regulation. It's no surprise that I'm on the Democrats' side on this. However, if CNBC is correct about gasoline and diesel retailers being reluctant about lowering prices at the pump so that they can recoup losses incurred on the way up, then gas station owners are to blame for the continued high cost of fuel. That would mean beating up on local small businesses. I don't think that would play well for either party's politicians, who would rather be seen as defending the public against big business or "big government." That doesn't mean it can't be done. Bill Schuette did exactly that in Michigan ten, nine, and seven years ago. It didn't help him much, as he lost to Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan Governor. That might serve as a bad example that Congress doesn't want to follow, even when both parties are upset about gas prices as they continue to drop.
The U.S. added new sanctions to punish Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, and renowned Tolkein expert Stephen Colbert reacts to news that Facebook employees use a "Lord of the Rings" reference when poking fun at their boss Mark Zuckerberg.
Colbert spent even more time on Elon Musk and Twitter than he did on what Facebook/Meta employees call Zuckerberg. Still, it made for an appropriate video to share today, as the top post about Facebook last year also featured a Colbert clip.
With climate change making temperatures more extreme each year, like we recently saw in the great Texas freeze and the Northwest heatwave, large-scale power outages become a matter of life and death. In 2003, a few transmission lines went down in Ohio leading to cascading failures across the Northeast and over 50 million people losing power. This event points toward critical vulnerabilities in our aging power grid.
Could a power grid failure during an extreme weather event be the most deadly weather disaster in US history? And what can we do to prevent this kind of catastrophic blackout? Watch to find out.
PBS Terra's Maiya May asked her viewers for their own power outage stories. It so happens that the most read entry of mine about weather-related and other natural disasters last year was about a power outage. Follow over the jump for links to it and the rest of the popular posts on the topic along with explanations of how they earned their readers.