Thursday, June 30, 2022

NASA's asteroid missions for Asteroid Day 2022

Happy International Asteroid Day, the younger but paradoxically more established version of Apophis Day! I begin this year's celebration by sharing Asteroid Day 2022 from Science Museum of Virginia on YouTube.

Another trip around the Sun means another opportunity to celebrate Asteroid Day! On this June 30, let's look at the space rock discoveries made within the last year. Here's a quick recap of the asteroids added to our tracking catalogue in the last 12 months.
That's exactly the kind of summary of asteroid discoveries along with exactly the preview image I want for this entry. Thank you, Science Museum of Virginia! For that, I've now subscribed to your YouTube channel.

Next, I'm sharing videos about three missions NASA is taking or will take to asteroids this year, beginning with Explained: NASA's asteroid-deflecting DART mission from Reuters.

NASA’s DART spacecraft began a 10-month journey into space on a mission to demonstrate the world's first planetary defense system. It is designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth[.]
This is the mission that I featured the past two Asteroid Days and the past two Apophis Days. It's also the mission I'm featuring today that will return its results first. Watch for my post on them, as early as this September or as late as the year in space in December.

Follow over the jump for two more asteroid missions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

CNBC examines 'How The Supreme Court May Threaten Democracy'

It's time for a serious look at the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade as well as other decisions about guns and the establishment clause pluse an upcoming decision in West Virgina vs. EPA, so I'm sharing CNBC explaining How The Supreme Court May Threaten Democracy.

The U.S. Supreme Court is under the spotlight following the controversy around the right to abortion. The Supreme Court is the most powerful court of law in the U.S. Their rulings are often rarely overturned, profoundly shaping the course of public policy in America for years to come. But some experts find such immense judicial power deeply problematic. Is the Supreme Court truly in need of reform and what solutions can the U.S. consider? Watch the video to find out.
The answer to the first part of the final question is definitely yes, the Supreme Court needs more accountability and transparency. I'm less clear about which reforms Congress can and should implement. The bills for a greater transparency and compliance with ethics rules would certainly be a good start. I also support increasing the size of the Supreme Court so that there is a Justice for every federal appellate circuit, but President Biden is not in favor of this idea and Republicans would filibuster it. Limited, staggered terms resembles a lot of state supreme courts, like Michigan's, but that would definitely require a constitutional amendment. I think that might eventually be more likely than reforming the Senate or the Electoral College, which John Oliver mentioned in his examination of the Supreme Court. I think those are good ideas that are, unfortunately, non-starters.

For a more scathing critique of the Supreme Court, I suggest reading The case against the Supreme Court of the United States at Vox. That looks at deeper causes for the anti-democratic and illiberal outcomes that have come from the nation's highest court over its more than two centuries of existence.

Stay tuned for International Asteroid Day, the younger but more established version of Apophis Day, tomorrow to close out June's blogging.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mythology Unleashed for Paul Bunyan Day

Happy Paul Bunyan Day! To celebrate the occasion, I'm sharing Mythology Unleashed's Paul Bunyan | America's Legendary Giant.

Among the most hazardous professions in the world is being a lumberjack. During the 19th century, American lumberjacks told campfire stories about a lumberjack who towered over the dangers of logging: Paul Bunyan! At 63 axe handles high with immense strength, wits and work ethic, Paul and his best friend, Babe the Blue Ox, go down in legend for their incredible feats of logging and shaping the land of America!
That was fun. I hope my readers enjoyed it as much as I did. Now back to reality tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2022

CNBC explains 'Why Recessions May Be Inevitable'

The yield curve has inverted twice so far this year, which is a sign of a coming recession.
At 1.75 percent, the three-month yield is still well below the 10-year yield of 3.48 percent, so no inversion there.

But on Tuesday, the two-year Treasury yield briefly crossed above the 10-year yield, before pulling back underneath at 3.42 percent. The two yields inverted previously in early April. Other, less-followed parts of the yield curve are also already inverted. Though they’re less consistent in predicting recessions as the three-month yield versus the 10-year, they show the trend is swinging toward pessimism.

Following an inversion in 2019, the global economy plunged into recession in less than a year. At that time, though, the bond market did not see the pandemic coming. It was focused on global trade tensions and slowing growth.
I followed the yield curve closely in 2018 and 2019, but haven't mentioned it since. It's time I did, as I would be derelict in my duty as a doomer blogger if I didn't discern a coming recession. For that reason, I'm sharing CNBC explaining Why Recessions May Be Inevitable.

America has experienced at least 30 recessions throughout history, dating back as early as 1857. Some experts believe that they have become an inevitable part of the economic cycle that fluctuates between periods of expansion and contraction. Nonetheless, certain measures can still be taken to make recessions less likely. As the nation’s authority on monetary policies, the Federal Reserve plays a critical role in managing recessions. So why do recessions happen and what can the Fed do about it? Watch the video to find out.
While this video reminds me of my complaints about CNBC viewing the economy through the lens of investing, I still think it's generally a good explanation of the causes and effects of recessions and it includes the yield curve as one of the signals that a recession is coming.

CNN lists other signs in All the recession warning signs this week.
It's the question everyone is asking: Are we about to enter a recession?

A tepid stock market, soaring inflation, and rising interest rates have left Americans less than optimistic about the state of the economy. Consumer sentiment has plunged to a record low, according to a University of Michigan survey released last week, fueled by frustration over high prices.

Earlier in June, the consumer price index jumped to its highest level in 40 years. The government's primary inflation gauge saw prices surging 8.6% for the past 12 months. And now the Fed is raising interest rates at an aggressive pace as it looks to slow down economic activity.

To be clear: we are not in a recession, at least not yet. But signs of an economic downturn are cropping up all over, in sectors from commodities to housing.
One of the signs CNBC mentioned was falling consumer sentiment, which was also a cause. CNN reported that's happening.
A closely followed University of Michigan survey released Friday found that US consumer sentiment hit a new record low in June -— the lowest recorded level since the university started collecting the data 70 years ago.

The June index saw a 14.4% drop since May as consumers became increasingly alarmed about inflation. About 79% of those consumers said they expected bad times for business conditions in the upcoming year, the highest level for that metric since 2009.
Yikes! Maybe I was too sanguine about the likelihood of high gas prices causing a recession when I wrote "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." That may be happening now.

On a less serious note, tomorrow is Paul Bunyan Day. Stay tuned to see if I blog about the figure from folklore or something more realistic.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

'Westworld' returns for season 4

"Westworld" returns for its fourth season tonight, so it's the subject of the Sunday entertainment feature this week. I begin with Looper telling its viewers Watch This Before You See Westworld Season 4.

HBO's "Westworld" captivated viewers when it debuted back in 2016, offering a deft mix of science-fiction and Western genre tropes all bound together with some big, heady ideas about artificial intelligence, morality, violence, and destiny. With excellent performances from the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and more, the show was a big hit for HBO, and two more seasons followed, each trippier and more world-expanding than the last. Wondering where the show is headed after that mind-bending Season 3 finale? Who is joining the cast? Watch this before you see "Westworld" Season 4.
I'm being a good environmentalist by recycling two of my observations. I made the first in a comment to Thanks to Infidel 753, I describe how 'Westworld' is like 'Jurassic Park', which I recycled already in 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13.
My wife and I are quite impressed at the depth of the ideas explored in the show. The creators have also done their research. Every time they mention something about evolution in Ford's dialog, they're right. This is especially true about the more disturbing concepts mentioned, like sexual selection contributing to the development of the human mind and what humans did to our nearest relatives. As someone who knows the field, that's both gratifying and unsettling.
"Do you know what happened to the Neanderthals, Bernard? We ate them." If Anthony Hopkins' most infamous character had been alive at the time, he'd have consumed their livers with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Now for the setting and plot of Season 3, which I described in Outstanding Drama Series nominees at the Emmys once again examine politics and government.
"Westworld" turned political this season, as the hosts left the [park] to spread their robot revolution worldwide. In the process, they discovered that an AI has been influencing, even coercing, politicians and directing human affairs for decades and have decided to free humanity from it.
I'm sure that will continue in Season 4.

"Westworld" has always had interesting music selections, even if they're arrangements of pop songs instead of original compositions. These show up in the trailers as well, winning Golden Trailer awards for best music in 2017 and 2018. I'm sharing both of this season's trailers to highlight the music, beginning with Westworld | Season 4 Official Teaser | HBO.

A perfect day is here. #Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 on @HBO and @HBOMax.
Now for Westworld Season 4 | Official Trailer | HBO.

Maybe it’s time you questioned the nature of your own reality.
That's not a bad suggestion.

Enough fantasy (actually science fiction). I'll return to reality tommorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Decreased air pollution from pandemic response reduced lightning strikes

I noted that Coronavirus response was reducing air pollution in April 2020 and reiterated that observation in The effect of the pandemic on the environment for World Environment Day and Stephen Colbert interviews Greta Thunberg about climate change and coronavirus in June and July two years ago. SciShow examined one of the unexpected results of that in How Covid is Helping Us Study Lightning.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just affected us. It’s also affected the weather. And this turns out to be a lucky natural experiment to help us understand how much we influence the world around us.
In addition to being a good explanation of how one weather phenomenon works, it's an even better example of two of Commoner's Laws: There is no away and especially everything is connected to everything else. I also can use it as an example of a natural experiment for my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Samantha Bee was prepared for the overturning of Roe v. Wade

So much for my plans to write either something evergreen or cover the January 6th Committee hearings today. Instead, I'm blogging about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the decision I was dreading when my pre-planned title for Samantha Bee asks 'What’s Next For America’s Embarrassingly Weak Gun Laws?' was "Monday the 13th is an unlucky day for reproductive rights."* That turned out to be today, which Sam was prepared for last night, beginning with Sam On Roe…with Covid.

Sam may have COVID, but the upcoming Roe v. Wade decision is too important not to discuss.
For my reaction, For my reaction, I'm saying "get well soon, Sam," then recycling what I wrote in May.
She...remind[s] me of what I wrote in John Oliver examines the Supreme Court after 'Last Week Tonight' wins four Emmy Awards, mentioning "all the bad things that can happen to health care, reproductive rights, civil rights, and voting rights as a result of this nomination..." If Alito's draft becomes the majority opinion, then bad things will have happened to health care, reproductive rights, and civil rights all at once. This will become one of those times when I wish the comedians and I weren't right.
Unfortunately, we were and I still wish we weren't.

Sam wasn't all outrage, doom, and gloom last night. She proposed a solution in Abortions on Federal Lands.

Sam heads to Yellowstone to talk with a legal expert who may have found a loophole, a literal plan B, that would allow doctors to distribute abortion medication on federal enclaves.

This piece was directed by Razan Ghalayini and produced with Annie Kopp. Editing by Andrew Mendelson.
I think this is generally a good idea, although as a former National Park Ranger, I can tell you that the National Park Service would want nothing to do with this idea, despite Sam using Yellowstone as a remote location for this segment. On the other hand, I think the Department of Veterans Affairs would be more appropriate and VA hospitals could at least provide this care to female veterans. The rest of us would be probably be out of luck.

I conclude by being a good environmentalist and recycling what I wrote in my second post on Alito's draft opinion, itself mostly a recycled reaction.
As for Oliver mocking Chuck Schumer saying "this is not your grandfather's Republican Party," yes and no. In terms of style, it certainly isn't, but on reproductive rights, it's been heading this way for decades. While I didn't mention reproductive rights in If I were still a conservative, disagreement with the anti-abortion movement inside the Republican Party, which had nearly completed its takeover of the party by 2000, certainly contributed. My environmentalism, which I did mention in that post from eleven years ago as a reason I left the GOP, leads me to favor birth control, including abortion as a last resort, in order to reach zero population growth. My feminism adds to my support for reproductive rights. I explained both in CNBC asks 'Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?'
U.S. birth rates have been dropping for more than a decade and fertility rates have been dropping for even longer than that. In fact, U.S. fertility rates have been at or below replacement rate since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion. Economic uncertainty and other factors have contributed to the trend.

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

Third, increasing educational and economic opportunities for women is the number one way to decrease birth rates and keep them down, although increasing economic security might put a floor under the declining birth rates. Women's education and a stronger economy will also increase affluence, which will increase impact if more efficient technologies don't counteract both affluence and population.
Notice that I started this section by crediting Roe v. Wade for beginning the current period of low birth rates. That Oliver cites an estimate of 75,000 more children being born if (when) it's overturned demonstrates its effectiveness at lowering U.S. population growth. Therefore, overturning it strikes me as generally bad for sustainability.

What I see as an unfortunate outcome is one that opponents of abortion regard as a good one, including for its economic effects as an alternative solution to the one I proposed last year.
[I]f not enough babies are born in the U.S. to meet our job demand, the country can allow more immigration. I'm O.K. with that, but Donald Trump became president in large part because many Americans weren't and still aren't. That's why, when one of my students asked in 2015 if the U.S. would ever adopt Chinese population policies, I responded no, that's not the American way. If the U.S. thinks it has an overpopulation issue, it would restrict immigration. The next week, Trump rode down the escalator and denounced immigrants. This is one of those cases where I hate being proved right.
If increasing immigration is not an acceptable solution, then increasing the U.S. birth rate would be. It's a way of avoiding what I worried about four years ago and have repeated several times since.
I have been in favor of zero population growth for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the U.S. economy is set up for a stable or slowly declining population, a point I made in the Hipcrime Vocab: Why Slowing Population Growth is a Problem. We are going to have to figure how to do so. Otherwise, I might live long enough to experience the wisdom of the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."
I can say the same thing for the opponents of Roe v. Wade, who now seem to be moving on to restricting contraception. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

*The Supreme Court released its decision in that case about guns yesterday and is expected to release its decision in West Virgina vs. EPA today as well. Stay tuned for my reactions to those as well as continuing coverage of the January 6th Committee hearings along with posts on evergreen topics through the end of the month.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The second Detroit-style Pizza Day

Happy National Detroit-Style Pizza Day! National Day Calendar uploaded a video to celebrate today: National Detroit Style Pizza Day | June 23.

Do you know the special recipe for making Detroit Style pizza?

Come along and find out. It starts with the crust – deep and thick in composition and yet light and airy in taste. From there it just gets better and better...
Detroit's pizza is catching on nationally, as Fox 2 Detroit reported Where is the best pizza in America? One study says Detroit exactly three months ago.

Detroit's known for many things, including its pizza, according to one study.
That was a fun survey of the Detroit pizza scene.

WLNS in Lansing, Michigan, has been uploading location shots all morning as part of the station's "Its Detroit Style Pizza Day and Buddy's is giving back" series. I'm sharing this one.

Looks like the location reporter's having as much fun as the Fox 2 reporter did.

Enough of the string of holiday entries that began with Top U.S. baby names of 2021 for the Father's Day Weekend. I might post something evergreen tomorrow or I might write something about the January 6th Committee hearings. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Colbert covers the fourth televised January 6th Committee hearing

I concluded World Giraffe Day and National Seashell Day on the Summer Solstice by wondering what I would write about today.
Stay tuned to see whether I follow through on posting about World Rainforest Day or if I decide the January 6th Committee hearings deserve my attention instead.
No surprise, yesterday's hearing wins, so I begin with Stephen Colbert's monologue, T****'s Relentless, Illegal Scheme To Overturn The Election | GOP Candidate Goes RINO Hunting.*

Today the Jan. 6th Committee laid out in shocking detail how the former president's scheme to overturn the 2020 election brought harrowing consequences for the public servants who resisted the pressure to support his lies. Elsewhere, GOP primary voters in Missouri are seeing yet another violent campaign ad from a gun-toting candidate.
I've been the subject of a doxxing campaign before, so I know what one feels like. However, the ones I experienced were not as extensive as the one The Former Guy and his supporters did to the witnesses and their families. Those sounded scary and both Lady Ruby and her daughter sound traumatized by the one directed against them.

As for the scheme itself, Colbert's writers mocked it in last night's cold open Need Fake Electors Fast? Try Fast Earl's Fake Elector Depot.

Fast Earl's Fake Elector Depot does not issue refunds under ANY circumstances.
While played for laughs, this sketch shows how sketchy the fake elector scheme was and what might just happen to at least one of the people behind it. Let's hope.

*Just so I don't completely skip World Rainforest Day, here's National Day Calendar's image for it.

Here's to hoping I write its own post next year, an odd-numbered year, which have been the years I actually give the day my undivided attention.  I also hope National Day Calendar fixes their image by then.  It's World Rainforest Day, not Word Rainforest Day.  Oops.  In the meantime, stay tuned to see if I follow through on National Detroit-Style Pizza Day tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

World Giraffe Day and National Seashell Day on the Summer Solstice

Happy World Giraffe Day and National Seashell Day on the Summer Solstice! I begin with World Giraffe Day (Virtual Habitat Chat) from the Detroit Zoo.

Celebrate World Giraffe Day with a Virtual Habitat Chat! Learn about Zara, Mpenzi, Kivuli, and Jabari and how their habitat at the Detroit Zoo helps them not just survive, but thrive.
Not only is that a solid dose of "Vitamin Z," the Detroit Zoo's marketing term for the zoo experience, but a worthy educational exercise about the lives of giraffes in a zoo. To read more about these magnificent mammals, I recommend perusing Synapsida's blog posts about giraffes. Happy reading!

Next, National Seashell Day (June 21) - Activities and How to Celebrate National Seashell Day by 8SA - Books, Biographies and Literature Summary on YouTube.

National Seashell Day is observed next on Tuesday, June 21st. It has been observed the first day of Summer since 2016.
This is a surprisingly accurate and even-handed description of the day, given that this is an account I'd never never encountered before. The information is good enough and the holiday content strong enough that I decided to subscribe. May I not regret that decision.

Finally, I'm sharing some science content from KERO, 23 ABC News in Bakersfield, California, Science Sundays: Science of the Solstice.

[I]t's the first day of astronomical summer, or the day of the summer solstice. It has felt like summer out there all month. So let's talk about the science of the solstice, and why this is different than meteorological summer.
I'm glad to see one of the stations I watched when I lived in Bakersfield 40 years ago sharing such a clear explanation of the seasons.

Stay tuned to see whether I follow through on posting about World Rainforest Day or if I decide the January 6th Committee hearings deserve my attention instead.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Bald Eagle recovers but not without risk for American Eagle Day 2022

Happy American Eagle Day! I bear good and ill tidings about Bald Eagles today. I begin with the good news from Newsy: After Near Extinction, Bald Eagles Are Flying High!

“It use to be when we started birding you’d see an eagle every 10 years,” said Jan Snyder, Volunteer, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.
That's the situation for the species in the lower 48 states. Now for a local perspective in Once nearly extinct, New Jersey’s bald eagle population sees resurgence from News 12 New York.

There was once just one bald eagle’s nest in New Jersey. But that number rose to 220 last year.
That's all great news that makes me happy. However, the national bird is still facing a significant risk, which FOX 13 Tampa Bay explains in Study: Nearly 50% of bald eagles have chronic lead poisoning.

While the bald eagle population has rebounded from the brink of extinction since the U.S. banned the pesticide DDT in 1972, harmful levels of toxic lead were found in the bones of 46% of bald eagles sampled in 38 states from California to Florida, researchers say.

Similar rates of lead exposure were found in golden eagles, which scientists say means the raptors likely consumed carrion or prey contaminated by lead from ammunition or fishing tackle.
Lead poisoning is not just for Flint's water. Also, continuing to use lead bullets is another example of "hunting, you're doing it wrong." Maybe I should become an advocate for hunting with copper bullets, although that's not good for fish and other aquatic life. Or maybe I should just add it to the stories I tell my students about two of Commoner's Laws: There is no away and everything is connected to everything else.

I have more wildlife holidays with National Seashell Day, World Giraffe Day, and World Rainforest Day coming up. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Celebrate Father's Day on Juneteenth with the Colberts reading cards, parades, and martinis

Happy Father's Day on Juneteenth! Since this is Sunday, when I usually post an entertainment feature, I'm starting with Stephen Colbert reading First Drafts: Father's Day 2022 feat. Evie Colbert.

The fabulous Evie Colbe[r]t returns for a very special Father's Day edition of everyone's favorite late night greeting card segment, First Drafts.
That was cute and enough for me to wish to see more of Evie, who was a big part of Colbert's shows from home during the first year of the pandemic.

Now for three Juneteenth parades and marches, beginning with Good Morning America reporting on The celebration of the first federally observed Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, last year.

ABC News’ Marcus Moore is in Galveston, Texas, this morning where Union troops traveled on June 19, 1865, to inform slaves of their freedom granted by the Emancipation Proclamation.
That looked like a joyous set of celebrations. Sunday Today showed one with a more somber tinge this morning in Celebrating The History Of Juneteenth, Lessons In Modern America.

This year, the first in-person Juneteenth celebration is marching back to life in Buffalo, New York since the start of the pandemic. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports in this week’s Sunday Spotlight on the first year Juneteenth will be widely celebrated across the country and the history of the Buffalo festival.
Samantha Bee mentioned the Buffalo mass shooting when she reminded us that "Congress Has the Power to Stop Mass Shootings," but this is the first time I've posted anything specifically about the massacre, making this a post about guns as about holidays.

Now for an event that combines both holidays, Brooklyn march celebrates Black dads on Juneteenth from PIX11 News (WPIX).

The march will be a celebration of Black fatherhood., and the goal is to salute and empower Black and Brown fathers everywhere, organizers said.
That's the kind of story I was looking for today, and I'm glad it exists and I found it.

Today is also National (now World) Martini Day, so I close with National Day Calendar's MARTINI DAY – June 19.

This adult beverage has grown to become one of the best-known mixed drinks. A traditional or perfect Martini is made with equal parts gin and vermouth. For anyone who has never had a Martini, we have a list of terms to help get you started.

Martini Lingo
Dirty – This Martini includes olive brine or juice from the olive jar.
Dry – The vermouth is decreased significantly in the Martini, and gin becomes the primary spirit. Extra dry tips the ratio even further.
Gibson – Instead of an olive, bartenders garnish the Martini with a pickled onion.
Shaken vs. Stirred – Most bartenders will tell you that the better Martini is stirred. Shaken Martinis tend to be inferior due to a couple of reasons – ice chips water down the drink, and shaking the Martini adds air to the cocktail. A stirred Martini results in a smoother, fuller experience.
Straight Up – This Martini may be either shaken or stirred, but it is strained and served without ice – the opposite of a Martini on the rocks.
Smoky or Burnt – Scotch whisky replaces the vermouth in this Martini. A twist of lemon garnishes the glass. Wet – Where the dry Martini has less vermouth, this one has more.
With a Twist – The bartender adds a thin strip of citrus peel to the Martini as a garnish or in the drink.
I might just feature a Vesper martini recipe on October 5, James Bond Day. In the meantime, stay tuned for more holidays, with American Eagle Day, National Seashell Day, the Summer Solstice, World Giraffe Day, World Rainforest Day, and National Detroit-Style Pizza Day all on the agenda.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Top U.S. baby names of 2021 for the Father's Day Weekend

An early happy Father's Day! As I did last year, I'm celebrating the holiday weekend by blogging about baby names. I begin with Action News Jax (CBS47 & FOX30) reporting the Top baby names of 2021.

Liam and Olivia repeated as the most common baby names in the U.S., and Theodore joined the top 10 for the first time. But apparently, parents of newborns don’t talk about Bruno...
The story continues on the stations' website.
Liam was the top name among newborn boys for the fifth straight year, while Olivia has been No. 1 among girls for three consecutive years.

Liam has been in the top 10 annually since 2012, while Olivia has been in the top 10 every year since 2001.

The only new entry in the top 10 was Theodore, which came in at No. 10. James and William switched places, with James taking over the No. 5 position while William dropped one spot to No. 5.

For boys, Noah remained at No. 2 for the fifth consecutive year. It topped the list for four straight years before being supplanted by Liam in 2017. Before becoming the top name for girls in 2019, Olivia was No. 2 behind Emma for five consecutive years.

And Bruno? The name did improve somewhat, rising from No. 710 in 2020 to No. 664 in 2021.
Here are the rest of the top 20 baby names in the U.S. during 2021 according to the Social Security Administration.

I'll add that Mateo, the name of Jane's son in "Jane the Virgin," continued its rise to fifteenth in 2021 from twentieth in 2020, 26th in 2019, and 37th in 2018. Meanwhile, Jane slipped a bit, falling to 265 after peaking at 261 last year, while Xiomara, the character's grandmother's name, continued gaining in popularity, rising to 551 from 652 in 2019 and 606 in 2020. Considering the show ended its run on the CW in 2019, these names serve as testament to its continued popularity.

Entertainment played a role in the top five fastest rising boys and girls names in 2021.

The most obvious example of entertainment influencing rising names is Raya, the title character of "Raya and the Last Dragon." "Encanto" won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, but Raya won the hearts and minds of parents last year.

I'll return with a celebration of Juneteenth tomorrow. In the meantime, read The Boom-Bust Cycle of Baby Names and Dog Breeds from Vice to understand more about how, why, and when baby names become popular and then fade away.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Colbert, Meyers, and Kimmel on the third day of the January 6th Committee hearings

I told my readers "The third day of the January 6th Committee hearings are on as I write this. Stay tuned for reactions to that tomorrow" at the end of PBS Terra's 'Weathered' asks 'Do You Need a Gun to Survive the Next Disaster?' I begin with Stephen Colbert's monologue Mike Pence Was 40 Feet From The Jan. 6 Mob | T****'s Lawyers Knew Overturning Election Was A Crime.

John Eastman and the rest of the lawyers advising the former president knew that his plan to overturn the election was a crime, and today's Jan. 6th Committee hearing revealed that the insurrectionist mob got alarmingly close to getting their hands on VP Mike Pence that day.
Hearing and seeing all this actually makes me feel sorry for former Vice President Mike Pence and not feel sorry about feeling sorry. That's quite an achievement on the part of the committee.

Seth Meyers took a deeper dive into the hearing in Jan. 6 Hearing Reveals Trump and John Eastman Knew Their Plan Was Illegal: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the January 6 committee releasing new evidence that Trump and his lawyer John Eastman knew their plan to overturn the 2020 election would violate the law.
In addition to Seth and his writers, including his poor video editor Emily, finding a different selection of clips to feature than Colbert, that a surprising amount of material in yesterday's hearing already came out in "Peril" by Woodward and Costa. The same is true of Ginni Thomas's' texts. A lot of what the committee is presenting is not new, but organizing the facts into a coherent story is.

I close with Jimmy Kimmel's monologue Jan 6th Hearings Get Crazier, Trump Screams About Equal Time & Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Dumb Take.

We had another unbelievable day in Washington as the January 6th hearings are getting so crazy it’s hard to believe they aren’t scripted, we’ve been hearing a lot about the lawyer who was pushing Trump and Pence to short-circuit the certification of the votes, we are learning more about the heated phone call between Trump and Pence on the morning of the 6th, Donny was on Truth Social screaming about “equal time,” Georgia Representative Barry Loudermilk is under scrutiny for giving Trump Supporters a tour of the Capitol right before the insurrection, Garbagy Taylor Greene was outside during the hearings complaining that the criminals who broke into the Capitol are being treated like criminals, Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker is having a difficult week after being caught in a number of lies, Beyoncé is releasing a new album, and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is lending his voice to a new project with the folks at Disney+.
I thought using the Emmy-winning music from "Succession" for the "previously on 'Insurrection'" montage was inspired. I hope Jimmy Kimmel's writers do that again.

Finally, "Dikembe Mutombo is lending his voice to a new project with the folks at Disney+" reminds me of what I repeated in The history of 'May the Fourth be with you' for Star Wars Day.
As I wrote about CNN defending Big Bird after Ted Cruz called one of the character's tweets "Propaganda," "my readers should keep that relationship in mind when watching the clip above. It's not just news value that's driving it."
I'll have more about the hearings next week. In the meantime, stay tuned for a string of holiday posts, with Father's Day, Juneteenth, American Eagle Day, National Seashell Day, the Summer Solstice, World Giraffe Day, World Rainforest Day, and National Detroit-Style Pizza Day all on the agenda. As I've told my readers many times over the years, "I can't be all DOOM all the time!"

Thursday, June 16, 2022

PBS Terra's 'Weathered' asks 'Do You Need a Gun to Survive the Next Disaster?'

I'm returning to the subject of guns today with PBS Terra's "Weathered" asking Do You Need a Gun to Survive the Next Disaster?

Life on the ground following natural disasters is often chaotic and scary. And with global warming gradually adding energy to our atmosphere, driving more extreme weather and worse disasters, it’s logical that people would be concerned. We’ve all seen the images of chaos and heard the reports of looting and violence in the aftermath of major disasters like hurricanes like Katrina and Maria. And a common way that people address their fear is by owning or buying guns. In the United States, self-defense is actually the most common reason people buy guns. And a lot of conversations in the prepper community are about what guns are best to have for personal protection in case things fall apart and the typical emergency response systems aren’t available.

This got us thinking: does owning firearms actually make you safer following a disaster?
So we thought we’d dig into the numbers and talk to the experts about how people respond following disasters and what the greatest risks are. And what we discovered truly surprised us.
Welcome to the intersection of gun ownership, climate change, and natural disasters. For what it's worth, I've seen similar, if not the same, findings about lower crime rates and increased cooperation after natural disasters and wrote about them five years ago in Seeker/DNews is optimistic about how people would behave during the apocalypse. As I wrote then, "that's good news, even if it might not be good entertainment." The bad news is that domestic violence is one of the few types of crime that goes up and that guns make it more deadly. It's one of the reasons I support federal funding of studies of gun violence; it can answer questions like this.

The third day of the January 6th Committee hearings are on as I write this. Stay tuned for reactions to that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Closer looks at the January 6th Committee hearings from Meyers, Colbert, Kimmel, and Noah

I told my readers to "stay tuned for reactions to the ongoing January 6th Committee hearings" on Flag Day. I begin with Seth Meyers' Blockbuster Jan. 6 Hearing Focuses on Drunk Rudy, Debunks Trump’s Big Lie: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer [look] at multiple Trump aides and advisers confirming on tape there was no evidence of Trump’s stolen election lies and Rudy Giuliani getting wasted on election night.
I've been writing about The Former Guy's fondness for conspiracy theories in 2017, so I'm not surprised that he has continued believing them instead of the facts. I am a little surprised that the January 6th Committee connected that to "The Big Lie," itself a conspiracy theory. I guess I shouldn't have been.

Stephen Colbert made Monday's hearings the subject of two monologues. In the first, he told his audience the "Jan 6th Hearings Are Can't-Miss TV" and then asked "How Drunk Was Rudy Giuliani On Election Night?"

The televised hearings of the Jan 6th Committee are proving to be must-see events, in particular the moments when witnesses have been asked to comment on the drinking habits of a certain former mayor of New York City.
Hahaha! Giuliani's double Razzie-winning performance made a cameo!

Stephen and his writers couldn't resist returning to make fun of Giuliani's alleged drinking in last night's monologue, How T**** Duped $250M From His Most Passionate Fans | Somebody's Going To Jail For This Right?

The former president scammed $250 million dollars in low-dollar donations from his most passionate followers for his bogus Election Defense Fund, and only time will tell if the DOJ prosecutes anybody after the Jan. 6th Committee investigation concludes.
Not only did The Former Guy try to steal the election, he apparently defrauded his own supporters. That's crookedness on a scale that would make Richard Nixon blush. Speaking of Nixon, the segments about Watergate deserve their own post. I might get to that tomorrow since today's hearing has been postponed.

Jimmy Kimmel couldn't resist the easy targets either in his monologue, Trump and Drunk Giuliani Cause an Insurrection & Putin’s Got a Poop Suitcase!

On Friday night we conducted a very dumb experiment and asked people to tweet at Steph Curry before halftime saying that he had eaten a bug and a lot of people did, episode two of “CSI Can’t Believe Donald Trump’s Not in Jail Yet” took place in Washington, every reasonable person in Trump’s orbit told him he lost the election, an “apparently inebriated” Rudy Giuliani gave Donny the bone-headed idea to declare victory on election night, we help make the hearings a little more interesting with some filters, former Attorney General Bill Barr said Trump had become “detached from reality,” Andy Biggs of Arizona believes we have bigger chips to fry, Vladimir Putin reportedly travels with a suitcase to poop in, the Tony Awards took place in New York last night, and country music Superstar Luke Combs has managed to turn one of his hobbies into a lucrative endorsement deal.
*Snork* That's a hilarious montage of Giuliani spouting off.

I close with The Daily Show's Jan. 6 Hearings: Trump Cons His Supporters & Gets Advice from Drunk Giuliani, which summed up both of the first two televised hearings.

As part of the January 6th hearings, those close to Donald Trump reveal that the insurrection may have been a coordinated plot by Trump and an inebriated Rudy Giuliani.
Yes, The Former Guy scamming his supporters is predictable. As Trevor Noah said, he's nothing if not consistent.

I'll have more reactions from the next scheduled hearing. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The state of D.C. statehood for Flag Day 2022

Happy Flag Day! As I have the past three years, I'm observing the holiday by blogging about D.C. statehood. I begin with Advocates Continue Pushing for D.C. Statehood from Now This News.

'There’s a 700,000-person hole in our democracy and it needs to be fixed’ — This organization is dedicated to making Washington, D.C., the 51st state.
That was the big picture. CNN uploaded a more personal statement of support in The half-baked arguments against DC statehood.

Elliot Williams, CNN legal commentator and baker extraordinaire, argues that if any ingredient in a cake is underrepresented, the whole thing might literally fall apart. With all of Washington, DC, residents lacking representation, what does that mean for American democracy?
Mmm, cake!

The ACLU of the District of Columbia put together a more serious debunking of arguments against D.C. statehood and a defense of the proposal before Congress in D.C. Statehood IS Constitutional...Here's Why.

Opponents may try to tell you that it is unconstitutional to grant statehood to D.C. This is a myth. This short video walks you through it.
Who am I to argue with the smart lawyers of the ACLU?

I will examine a related topic, Puerto Rican statehood, on Piña Colada Day next month. In the meantime, stay tuned for reactions to the ongoing January 6th Committee hearings tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Samantha Bee asks 'What’s Next For America’s Embarrassingly Weak Gun Laws?'

I'm sitting here waiting for a Supreme Court decision to be announced at 10:00 A.M. EDT and deciding that not writing today's blog post until then is wasting my time. I had a working title of "Monday the 13th is an unlucky day for reproductive rights" based on the expected result of the leaked draft opinion but the wait is getting to me, so instead I'm anticipating a decision on another case involving gun rights by sharing Full Frontal with Samantha Bee asking What’s Next For America’s Embarrassingly Weak Gun Laws?

No one wants to be a cynic about an issue as important as gun violence, but it's hard to be optimistic when half of our elected officials won't even admit there's a gun problem. This is a digital exclusive.
In case that's the decision announced today, I'm ready.

Just the same, there has been some progress on the issue, as BBC News reported in Plan to strengthen gun control measure agreed by US senators.

US campaigners have welcomed a potential cross-party deal on gun safety reforms but stressed the proposals do not go far enough.
I hope these measures pass. I'll take half a loaf over nothing.

At the same time the Supreme Court announces a decision, the January 6th Committee hearings are going on. I'll have reactions to today's installment after an update on D.C. statehood for Flag Day. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The story of Loving vs. Virginia on Loving Day

Happy Loving Day!
Each year, National Loving Day on June 12th commemorates the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia. This decision struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. The ruling cited, “There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.” In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws were U.S. state laws banning interracial marriage.
Childhood friends, Mildred and Richard, met when she was 11, and he was 17. Over the years, they began courting. In 1958, when Mildred turned 18, the couple married in Washington and returned to their hometown north of Richmond. However, two weeks later, authorities arrested the couple. Mildred and Richard did not realize the state of Virginia viewed interracial marriage as illegal. The Lovings pleaded guilty, and to avoid jail time, they agreed to leave Virginia.

While living in Washington D.C., the Lovings started legal action by writing to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Warren Court unanimously ruled in their favor, and the Lovings returned to their Virginia home, where they resided with their three children.
The History Channel tells this story in How Loving v. Virginia Led to Legalized Interracial Marriage.

Learn about the landmark Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage in the United States.
This is the second consecutive day I've featured the 14th Amendment, Section 3 of which I quoted in Noah, Kimmel, and Maher on January 6th hearings yesterday.

The inspiring and aptly named story of the Lovings inspired several films listed on the case's Wikipedia page.
PBS NewsHour interviewed the director and stars of the most recent film In 'Loving,' an American story about a marriage worth fighting for five-and-one-half years ago.

A new movie, "Loving," tells the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia couple who were arrested because interracial marriage was illegal in their home state. They appealed their case and won a landmark civil rights ruling at the Supreme Court. Jeffrey Brown speaks with director Jeff Nichols and others about how they brought the love story to the screen.
As I wrote, inspiring and aptly named, and it happened only 55 years ago. Just the same, the case remains timely, as U.S. Senator from Indiana Mike Braun answered "yes" to being asked “You would be okay with the Supreme Court leaving the issue of interracial marriage to the states?” This was while Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings were going on. At least Senator Braun walked his response back, telling NBC News “There is no question the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind based on race, that is not something that is even up for debate, and I condemn racism in any form...” At least he realized his mistake and tried to correct it. I hope he remembers his second statement for future reference.

That's it for today's Sunday entertainment feature that is also a history lesson. I hope my readers learned something. I know I did.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Noah, Kimmel, and Maher on January 6th hearings

After featuring Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers on the January 6th Committee hearing, it's time for me to share the viewpoints of other late-night talk show hosts beginning with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah's segment Insurrectionists Experience Consequences As Jan. 6th Hearings Begin.

Insurrectionists find out the hard way that the police are not always their friends as the January 6th hearings begin.
Trevor had exactly the same reaction to Marjorie Taylor Greene's remarks as I did. It's not hard to imagine; it happens all the time in the U.S.

Speaking of Greene, she was the focus of the middle of Jimmy Kimmel's Trump’s Manic Response to January 6th Hearings & Fox News Attempts to Distract Viewers from Watching.

The fans in Boston have a special dislike for Draymond Green, he and his Warrior teammates are upset about the abusive Boston fans, last night was the first night of the January 6th Congressional Hearings, we learned how pre-meditated and coordinated the effort to take control of the White House was, it was revealed that Trump did not call the National Guard to stop the attack, multiple Republican lawmakers asked Trump for pardons, Fox News attempted to bury the hearing by going commercial free for two and half hours during it, Trump responded to the hearing with fourteen manic posts on Truth Social and defended Ivanka for believing Bill Barr when he told her the election wasn’t rigged, Klan Mom Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to kiss Trump’s ass but finished a distant second to a reporter from OAN and we duped a passionate Warriors fan into missing the fourth quarter at an NBA Finals game.
May Kimmel have as much success in his rivalry with Greene as John Oliver did with AT&T.

Now for Bill Maher's Monologue: America's Got Treason.

Bill reacts to the top stories of the week, including the opening night of the January 6th Committee hearings, in his Real Time monologue.
Bill wasn't as sharp as either Noah or Kimmel, as I think he's more incredulous than angry. Fortunately, he and his guests continued examining the subject in "Mike Pence Deserves It".

Kellyanne Conway and Josh Barro join Bill to discuss whether President Trump's words and actions on January 6th should bar him from public office.
I think they should disqualify The Former Guy based on the Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Let's see if the January 6th committee presents evidence for that and proposes any action. The only fly in the ointment is that the amendment does not specifically mention President and Vice President, although I would argue that "any office, civil or military, under the United States" would cover both.

The committee hearings resume on Monday. In the meantime, stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Stephen Colbert's live monologue following the January 6th Committee hearing

I closed Representative Adam Schiff tells Stephen Colbert 'Our Democracy Is Even More Vulnerable Today Than It Was On Jan 6' by telling my readers "I plan on returning tomorrow with clips from Stephen's live show tonight. Stay tuned." Without any further ado, I am sharing Stephen's LIVE MONOLOGUE After The January 6th Committee Primetime Hearing.

Stephen Colbert delivers his LIVE monologue after watching the first night of televised hearings held by the January 6th Committee.
Wow, I suspect that's the foulest-mouthed clip from Colbert I've ever embedded here between Bill Barr calling "The Big Lie" "bullshit," which it is, and Colbert observing it was a bittersweet day for The Former Guy as "Ivanka finally screwed him." I guess Standards and Practices decided both were acceptable and wouldn't get the show in trouble with the FCC. I hope they're right.

Stephen's monologue didn't open the episode. The Muppets Introduce "The Jan. 6th Show" did.

Kermit and the gang open the curtain on the January 6th Committee's first primetime hearing.
Hahahahaha! Perfect!

Follow over the jump for a bonus cold open from "The Late Show" and a Closer Look from Seth Meyers.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Representative Adam Schiff tells Stephen Colbert 'Our Democracy Is Even More Vulnerable Today Than It Was On Jan 6'

Tonight, the investigation into last year's attempted self-coup and the rest of the attempt to overturn the 2020 election goes public in prime time. Stephen Colbert is looking forward to it in T****'s Biggest Jan 6 Lie Revealed | Shrinkflation Isn't Fooling Consumers.*

Stephen is getting hyped for Thursday's televised Jan 6 Committee hearing, and wants manufacturers to know he isn't fooled by the smaller package sizes we're seeing on grocery store shelves these days.
I have to agree with Stephen; the most important question is "who cares?" I'd like to think more Americans care than Stephen fears.

So does Stephen's first guest, who said "Our Democracy Is Even More Vulnerable Today Than It Was On Jan 6" - Rep. Adam Schiff.

Congressman Adam Schiff returns to The Late Show to give a preview of what the American people can expect from Thursday's primetime Jan 6th Committee hearings, and begins his interview with a stark warning about how vulnerable our democracy is. Stick around for two more segments with Rep. Schiff.
I agree with Representative Schiff that American democracy is even more imperiled now that it was immediately after January 6th. The Former Guy and his followers are using Republican control of state and local government to make a second attempt at subverting the 2024 election even more likely to succeed.

Follow over the jump for more of Stephen's interview of Representative Adam Schiff and Seth Meyers taking a closer look at one channel that will not be televising the hearing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

NOAA and Sir David Attenborough on World Oceans Day

Happy World Oceans Day! For this year's celebration, I'm pulling a video out of the archives, World Ocean Day (sic) from 2012 by NOAA's National Ocean Service.*

Celebrate World Ocean[s] Day with this video from NOAA's Ocean Today!
While I mentioned NOAA in my first World Oceans Day post nine years ago, I have not done so since. It's about time I featured a video from one of my former employers to observe today's holiday.

A decade later, most of the facts are the same in Our Blue Planet: We Depend on the Ocean. NOAA Is Working to Protect It. The tone of the video, uploaded on Earth Day 2022, is a lot more urgent.

With more than 70% of the earth’s surface covered by the ocean, one has to wonder who thought it was a good idea to name it Planet Earth! Explore the wonders of our blue planet in this fact packed one-minute watch.
That same urgency comes through in Sir David Attenborough's World Oceans Day Message, uploaded by Ocean Generation in 2020.

"The ocean is our life support system. If that system becomes dysfunctional, all living things on this planet will suffer"

On #WorldOceansDay Sir David Attenborough shares a message of HOPE

Join us in celebrating OUR OCEAN Water wave & how you can SAVE it
For more on this issue, surf over to PBS Digital's 'Be Smart' asks 'Can We Actually Clean Up the Plastic Pollution Problem?'

*NOAA pretty consistently calls today World Ocean Day, something I hadn't noticed until now. Maybe that's why I hadn't featured their videos for today.