Weird but awesome news! I am totally onboard with this idea! The petition, which was started by the nonprofit Halloween & Costume Association, has received more than ninety five thousand signatures as of Sunday afternoon (the 28th.) Technically, the petition is addressed to President Trump but since it’s not a federal holiday, the President can’t officially change the date. We the people of the United States could simply decide to change the date and celebrate on the last Saturday of October, but that would require Herculean amounts of communication to retail stores, schools and people all over the country. Which means, while I am one hundred percent onboard with changing the date - it might be easier said then done.
Regardless, it kind of seems like common sense to me. Permanently moving Halloween to a Saturday would mean that it would be easier and probably safer for kids to celebrate. It would certainly be much easier for parents to organize a weekend Halloween celebration instead of taking them out on a school night on Tuesday evening or whenever the 31st happens to fall on that particular year.
The fine folks over at Autoinsurance.org analyzed 24 years of fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians and children occurring after 4pm when Halloween falls on a weekend vs a weeknight. Their recent study, which can be found here, clearly finds that weekdays are more dangers for trick or treaters than weekends. Their study supports moving Halloween to the last Saturday in October, too!
But maybe that’s just us! The petition in full reads:
“It's time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration! Let's move Halloween to the last Saturday of October!
On Wednesday, July 24th, former special prosecutor Robert Mueller testified before two Congressional committees - the Judiciary in the morning, and the House Intelligence later in the afternoon. Democrats were salivating that Mueller was going to unload a heap of Trump’s impeachable crimes that had somehow been omitted from his special investigation. But basically Mueller just stuck to the script and repeated things that were already detailed in his 448 page report. So, it was really nothing new to anyone who, you know - actually read the report. (I should note that I’ve read half of it and skimmed half of it.) And Mueller pretty much testified exactly what he wrote:
Which is not even close to what the actual report said. Anyway, you know all this if you read the report. You do not know any of this if you watch Fox News. And remember as soon as the report came out and Barr delivered his four page memo to congress with the “No collusion. Total exoneration” tone a lot of Democrats were skeptical. And then Trump and Fox News said, “Mueller’s a stand up guy! He knows what he’s doing! He did his job! No collusion. Total exoneration.”
It sounds to me that the “No collusion, total exoneration” kind of stuck in Mueller’s craw and so he felt the need to clear up the general tone of his report for anyone who still thinks that it said any thing like, “No collusion. Total exoneration.”
And so Mueller said he would testify before congress. And suddenly Fox News and President Trump were like, “Mueller’s an incompetent hack! Don’t trust anything he says! He should have been fired!”
Funny how quickly folks change their mind, eh?
Anyway, Mueller went to Congress and testified. For several hours. But the additional smoking gun that Democrats were hoping for - never arrived. As mentioned he really just said the same exact things that were in his report. And Mueller refused to answer something like 200 questions - mainly about sitting A.G. Barr and the Steele dossier.
Okay. I’m not exactly sure why Mueller didn’t answer any of those questions but I guess he had his legal reasons. To be honest, the entire thing played out like Mueller was there to polish his reputation which he felt had been tarnished by Barr “mischaracterizing” his report. Mueller didn’t really give the committees anything new they couldn’t have just gotten from reading the report.
Honestly, I don’t really see what the point was. But hey, I guess it made for entertaining television for a few hours as Republicans tried to paint Mueller as a hack and Democrats fell all over themselves thanking him for being a veteran and we audience members kept hoping a smoking gun was just around the corner. Which - it wasn’t.
But still, the actual report is kind of interesting. You should read it. The only time it mentions “no collusion” is in the intro when Mueller discusses how collusion has no real legal meaning so he won’t be trying to prove “collusion.” Instead he was trying to prove coordination and conspiracy.
And it one hundred percent does not say “total exoneration.” It says the exact opposite, in fact. But I’m no longer sure that facts matter. And that’s a crying shame.
After a 67 year run, Mad magazine will cease publication and join its one time (and only real) rival publication Cracked magazine in going “the way of the dodo.” Cracked closed shop in 2007 and Mad magazine will no longer publish new content as of next month.
Of course, “no longer publish NEW content” is far from “closing permanently.” Cracked ceased publication but evolved into a highly successful website: Cracked.com. Mad magazine will cease publishing “original content” and instead will revert to publishing “new” monthly issues that contain recycled material from its previous 67 year run. Of course, the “new” issues will still have original cover artwork and it sounds as if the planned end of the year “holiday” issue will actually have new art and new content. The other kicker is that Mad magazine will no longer be widely available in, say - supermarkets or bookstores. In order to receive a copy you will have to either subscribe or visit a specialty comic book shop (Mad magazine is now owned by DC comics). So, Mad magazine is not exactly ceasing all publication as reported at the beginning of the week. I mean, at least for now.
A subscription based model that reprints recycled bits from Mad’s long history, um … miiiiiight work. But, probably not. Which is too bad because, like many, I grew up reading Mad (and Cracked) thinking that Mad host character Alfred E. Neuman and his moniker, “What, me worry” was pretty damn cool. Spy vs. Spy was my jam and Mad introduced me to artist Don Martin and all his various characters up to and especially including, The Mad Adventures of Captain Klutz (which was published in the Mad magazine paperback line of books, not the actual magazine itself).
So, it appears as if Mad is not exactly going out of print; however, it is changing to subscription only that reprints previously written material which means that it’s not exactly dead but it might as well be. I mean, if you want to publish collections of old material in a Volume 1, Volume 2 compilation, well - that’s a totally legitimate thing to do. Lot’s of comic runs do that. But, that’s not exactly what is happening here. In fact, I would say just dump the “new” monthly recycled material magazine and only publish a holiday “year in review” with all new content and all new art. Just make it a once a year magazine. Make it an event. Make it something special.
The recycled once a month model really seems to be a - we’re going out of business but, um not really. But, kind of. But we’re shutting down, but not really. But … you know … we kind of are. But we also - kind of aren’t.
Which, to be honest - is driving me a bit …. Mad. =)
A couple of shocking Wimbledon twists for tennis fans. The very well liked and number two ranked Naomi Osaka lost today 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Yolia Putintseva (currently ranked 39). This was Putintseva’s first time at Wimbledon. (Editor’s note: Osaka has been in a recent slump and during the Wimbledon match committed 38 unforced errors, to Putintseva's seven.) But the real stunner is that young tennis prodigy Cori Gauff (ranked 313) beat five time Wimbledon champion super star Venus Williams (ranked 10) in round one of the tournament.
Gauff is fifteen years old playing in her debut tournament where she handedly defeated her tennis idol Williams 6-4 6-4. “It’s the first time I have every cried after winning a match,” Gauff told reporters after.
Wimbledon is a little different than the other three Grand Slam tennis tournaments as it is the only one played on grass, the others play on hardcourt.
The Australian Open plays on an acrylic topped hardcourt, the French Open and the US Open play on clay courts.
Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce in comparison to grass or hard which means it takes away any advantage of big serves. Acrylic hard courts can vary is speed but generally faster than clay courts but not as fast as grass courts.
Grass courts, according to Wikipedia:
“Grass courts are the fastest type of courts in common use. They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, which adds additional variables: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mowed, and the wear and tear of recent play. Points are usually very quick where fast, low bounces keep rallies short, and the serve plays a more important role than on other surfaces. Grass courts tend to favour serve-and-volley tennis players.
Grass courts were once among the most common tennis surfaces, but are now rare due to high maintenance costs as they must be watered and mown often, and take a longer time to dry after rain than hard courts. The grass surface, however, is the most physically forgiving to the human body because of its softness.”
Wimbledon continues and wraps up mid July with the Women's final on Saturday the 13th and the Men’s final on Sunday the 14th.
Update 7/8/19: Alas, Gauff's magical journey came to an end as she just lost 6-3 6-3 in the fourth round to former world number 1 and Grand Slam winner Simona Halep.
Well, this is going to be easy to write. Wednesday night’s Democratic debate (that wasn’t a debate) was pretty tame and stuffed to the brim with a whole lot of “meh.” Last night’s Democratic debate (that was slightly more of a debate) had more fire. Not, much - but a bit.
And here’s the thing. It was so painfully, clearly obvious that Senator Kamala Harris came out on top that I don’t actually have anything quippy to say. I mean, when the issue of race came up, Harris beat Joe Biden down like he was an amateur. (Editor’s note: This is the same link as the one on the front page).
Just like Warren on the previous evening’s debates, Harris was razor sharp across the board and was, again (as we always say) … presidential. I think Biden, Warren and Sanders have been the obvious front runners but that’s simply because they’ve raised a lot of money and get a lot of press. Which is important.
And, while it’s true that I don’t think you can have much of a “debate” when you only allow each candidate 60 seconds to answer questions (because you’re not really going to get to the meat of the deal.) That being said, when you put ten people up on the stage, sometimes it does become clear - “who is out of their league?”
And, there was a whole lot of “this candidate is out of their league.” Andrew Yang, who is mainly an “automation is a huge problem” candidate (he’s right); self-help author Marianne Williamson, former Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Eric Swalwell (who had a nice “pass the torch” exchange with Biden); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand; and finally Sen. Michael Bennet - all of which, performed well (except, perhaps for Williamson) but are clearly just “out of their league.”
Which brings it down to Harris, Biden, Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Frankly, Biden kind of bungled it. Harris clearly got under his skin and it showed. After her beat down exchange, Biden awkwardly tried to explain his positions but it didn’t matter. From that point on he was stony faced and submissive. He, quite literally, lost - and he knew it.
Sanders was … well, he was Sanders. He didn’t offer anything that he hasn’t been consistently saying his entire career in politics - free health care, go after wall street and big Pharma, end student loan debt. His usual playbook. BUT THEN, he said something that I thought took guts. When asked if he would “raise taxes on the middle class,” he told the truth. He said, “Yes.” Because - that’s how government pays for things.
I mean, politicians usually say “no” to that question (and then raise taxes on the middle class anyway). So, at least Sanders is consistent and truthful. And I do like Sanders but, compared to the youth on stage he really did stand out as … old.
So, I wouldn’t say Sanders lost the debate in the same way that Biden did; however, Sanders, I feel, probably didn’t win over new voters.
Which brings us to Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as his constituents know him. He’s still not mainstream well known but is considered a rising star on the left. And he is. He’s incredibly smart. He’s extremely well spoken. He’s a veteran having served in Afghanistan. He has governing experience (several years Mayor). And, to be honest - he’s just flat out likable. I don’t see him as a front runner though. He’s just too unknown. But, perhaps a VP pick or a cabinet position?
Anyway, it all comes down to this. Biden has the money. He has the reputation. But he got his butt handed to him by the fiery Senator Harris. Who also has money. Primary’s are still a long way away and anything could happen, but after two nights of hearing twenty candidates, it really does look like these folks are at the head of the pack:
Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and VP Joe Biden (even though he lost big time last night, I wouldn’t count him out just yet). Then I would add both Julian Castro and Mayor Pete near the top of the race as they appear to be exceptionally good candidates … that probably don’t have a chance to make the top of the ticket.
I probably know what you’re thinking. Either - “I hate all the libtard Democrats and don’t care what they have to say” or, “There are too bloody many Democratic Presidential nominees for me to care what any of the non-front runners have to say (because we all know the three obvious front runners are Biden, Warren and Sanders.)”
Fair enough. But last night’s debate (that wasn’t actually a debate) held a few surprising moments. But, only a few. I mean, Warren basically - crushed everyone. And, I say, “wasn’t actually a debate” because, rarely did the candidates - debate one another and when you only get 60 seconds to answer complex policy questions then, well - it’s not a debate.
Anyway. A few takeaways:
In his after the “debate that wasn’t actually a debate” coverage Trevor Noah was spot on when he said, “This was a chance for many of the unknown candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience. They could go from “who is that?” - all the way too … “ooooooh, yeaaah - that guy! (pause). No, I’m not going to vote for him. No.” (It’s probably a bit funnier when Noah says it).
And it was one hundred percent true! There were at least three people on stage where I had that exact moment of “who” to “oh, him” to “nope.” Let’s call them “the debate that wasn’t actually a debate losers” - Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Jay Inslee. I’m not even going to rank them on their policy choices because, most of the Democrats have similar ideas (in the same way the most Republican’s have similar ideas). These three public figures just, well, quite figuratively - didn’t even need to be at the “debate.” It’s not like any of them were bad, per say. They, along with Klobuchar, were all fine (even though she kept getting cut off). But all of them were just kind of. “meh.”
And “meh” will NEVER beat Donald Trump.
Then, we come to the nights actual loser. And there really is only one actual loser and that’s Beto O'Rourke. He’s been polling fairly high. People seem to like him. I was expecting him to, at the very least - beat out Bill de Blasio in the debate but - nope. De Blasio beat down O'Rourke on multiple occasions and Beto came off as kind of a stammering dolt. De Blasio did what New Yorkers do (I lived there for many years), they shout over you to get their point across, and they expect you to do the same to them to get your point across too!
I swear, walking the streets of NYC, I’ve seen that exact scenario dozens and dozens of times. Two New Yorker’s, usually men - have a minor dispute over something, then yell at each other to get their point across. And then they’re both like, “Oh, cool, that’s your point. I understand it now.”
And then they literally shake hands and are like, “We should grab a beer some time,” and walk away from each other.
Lots of folks outside of NY are appalled by this kind of behavior. Especially if you’re from the passive aggressive Midwest. I think it’s kind of great, TBH. Get it out in the open and then move on.
Anyway. That’s my take on De Blasio. He’s a typical New Yorker. He might actually do well against Trump. Can you imagine the debates between those two. Because I’m thinking - Shouting. Match.
Alas, it’s really not going to be De Blasio. He might stick around for a bit but … nope. Not him.
Moving on. Tulsi Gabbard and Cory Booker both came out fine, Booker probably more so. In fact, along with De Blasio, I expect both of them to be in the race for a while - until they all drop out and offer their full support for the obvious front runners - Warren, Sanders, Biden.
Which brings me to the remaining two stand out stars of last nights “way too many candidates on stage” debate (that wasn’t a debate.)
The first, truly great stand out star: Julian Castro. As the kids these days say, Julian Castro - “killed it.” He was razor sharp on policy, he was razor sharp on social reform, he was a charismatic speaker, he was comfortable on stage and he was, as we all like to say - “presidential.” My opinion on this seems to be par for the course because Castro shot up on Google about 4000% and trended himself right to the top of the candidates list.
But … honestly … it probably won’t matter. Because, the second stand out from last night was Elizabeth Warren. Warren just crushed everyone the first half of the “debate.” The second half she had much less speaking time and so other folks were able to step up more and “meh” the heck out over everyone watching.
As sharp as Castro was on policy, social reform and being “presidential,” Warren has pretty much been doing exactly that for the last few months. And she continued to do it at last night’s debate.
I would love to see Castro right at the top with the three front runners and the other two popular candidates (Harris & Buttigieg) but I honestly don’t see any of them taking down Warren, Sanders or Biden.
And, if that’s not enough Democratic candidate talk for you. Well, don’t worry! There are another ten candidates speaking tonight! And only two of them are named Sanders and Biden. You know, the obvious front runners.
But, then again - you never know who will stand out and who will tank but I guess we’ll find out tonight.
The first time I heard that banana was “going extinct,” I kind of ignored it. I mean, one paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet does not a fact make - you know what I mean? But after reading about it another dozen times over the next several years, it’s clearly NOT a paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet. It appears as if banana extinction is legit.
Anyway, going back to 2015 is when I came across this Huffpost article called: “Your Favorite Banana Is Facing Extinction As Deadly Fungus Spreads.” From the article:
“Before 1960, your grandparents and great-grandparents were eating better bananas. Called Gros Michel, they were tastier, bigger and more resilient than the bananas found in supermarkets worldwide today ... So why can’t we too enjoy the robust creaminess of the Gros Michel, once the world’s export banana? Turns out, the species went virtually extinct in the 1960s thanks to an invasive and incurable fungus that wiped out most Gros Michel plantations around the world. That explains how the Cavendish — the blander banana we now eat — grew in prominence. It tasted worse and was less hardy than the Gros Michel, but the species seemed able to resist the fungal invasion, known as “Panama disease.”
That is, it was able to.”
So, back in 1960’s they knew all about this banana killing disease but thought that they had figured it out by creating a “blander” banana that was more resilient to this Panama disease.
Okay. Sounds good. Bananas saved. But now it looks like a new disease called Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is killing the Cavendish. According to wikipedia:
“This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries and has recently spread to Australia, India and Mozambique. It has yet to reach the Americas; however, the soil-based fungi can easily be carried on boots, clothing, or tools. This is how TR4 travels and will be its most likely route into Latin America. Cavendish is highly susceptible to TR4, and over time Cavendish will almost certainly be eliminated from commercial production by this disease.”
Okay. Sounds bad. Bananas endangered (again). The banana industry is huge. And, I mean - colossal. There are entire Latin American regions where the banana industry is so important they are literally called “banana republics,” because they are that dependant on the corporations that maintain and export from said plantations.
The three big boys on the block are, Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte - all of which primarily have plantations in South America. So, again, while the TR4 hasn’t yet reached Latin America, if it does - that will literally mean the end of bananas as we know it.
Not necessarily 100% extinction but, obviously, no longer a fruit you would be able to find all year round. I mean, consider the fact that Gros Michel bananas are not 100% extinct, they are still grown in areas where Panama disease is not found, BUT, they export less than 1% of what they used to in the 1960’s before Panama disease devastated the crops. So, there’s that to think about.
Obviously, there are a lot of smart folks trying to solve this problem, but, as of yet nothing is working. It’s just one of those things were we can hope TR4 doesn’t reach Latin America.
But if it does, that’s pretty much banana game over.
If you want to read a more detailed version of the history of, and the potential banana apocalypse, I recommend: The Quest to Save the Banana.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave her position at the end of the month. Apparently, she plans to run for office somewhere with some speculating a gubernatorial run in her home state of Arkansas. Which, to be honest, is a little odd, as Hutchinson just won a reelection for Governor in 2018, so the next election won’t happen until 2022. It seems a little strange to me that Sanders would leave the press secretary job at the end of the month so she can - run for office years from now?
But, maybe. I guess campaigns do take a long time to build.
Regardless, Sanders has been something of a controversial figure. Her literal job description is to “act as spokesperson for the executive branch of the US government administration, especially with regard to the president, senior executives and policies.” Okay, fair enough. But, she hasn’t held a press conference in something like four months, and has only held eight press conferences in the last year. So, I don’t really know what she does at work all day long.
How long would you keep your job if you only did your actual job description like, once every four months? Because I know I wouldn’t have my job long if I did that.
Anyway, it also does appear, to even the most casual observer that, even when she does speak to the press (which is, again - literally her job), she seems to have a hard time speaking truthfully, on behalf of said administration. From June 13th, Vanity Fair piece, “As Sarah Sanders Signs Off, A Look Back At Some Of Her Biggest Lies:
“In fact, it appears that the only known instance of Sanders telling the truth involved a nine-year-old nicknamed “Pickle” writing a letter to the White House about how much he likes Donald Trump. But her track record was so bad that initially, no one believed her.”
Okay, that’s a little snarky - but kind of funny. I mean, I doubt it’s the “only known instance of Sanders telling the truth” but it does illustrate the amount of times Sanders created “alternative facts.” And, here’s a pro tip for life - there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.” The phrase, “alternative fact” just a funny way of saying, “I’m lying my @$$ off” and/or “I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
But, whatever. It’s not like the new White House press secretary will be more truthful. Hopefully, though, whomever it is - he or she will actually, you know - hold press conferences and “act as spokesperson for the Executive Branch.”
Basically, their job.
That’s probably wishful thinking on my part but a man can dream, can’t he?
General Motors (GM) and French tire manufacturer Michelin announced a partnership for a new airless wheel called the Tweel. Actually, tire manufacturers have been working on airless wheels for decades but apparently, no one has really knocked it out of the park yet. And to be clear, the Tweel already exists but it’s mainly in use for forklifts and lawn mowers and low speed engines. But first of all, what exactly is a Tweel? According to wikipedia:
“The Tweel … an airless tire … Its significant advantage over pneumatic tires is that the Tweel does not use a bladder full of compressed air, and therefore cannot burst, leak pressure, or become flat. Instead, the Tweels hub is connected to the rim via flexible polyurethane spokes which fulfil the shock-absorbing role provided by the compressed air in a traditional tire.”
Enter the new partnership between GM and Michelin who have partnered under the brand name Uptis. From the join GM/Michelin press release in Montreal:
“Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream. Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today. General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology. Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”
Okay. Sounds great. Also, the Tweel tread lasts longer and is replaceable which means much less waste. And I’ve had a tire blow up from hitting a pothole, and, probably just like you - had some tires punctured by nails and whatnot. Buying new tires sucks. So, when can I have one of these new fancy airless tires?
Alas … not until, maybe, 2024. Which sucks because I hate waiting. The other problem is that no one seems to know exactly how much they’ll … well … you know - cost. I mean, I’m one hundred percent on board for the airless tire revolution! But if the Tweels are, say - one thousand dollars each, then I might just have to stick with my trusty old air filled tires. Even if that makes me one of the uncool kids.
But whatever, I’m used to that by now.
Just bring me my airless tire at an affordable cost. That’s not so much to ask. Is it?
Last year the Obamas penned a huge deal over at Netflix to produce “...a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features." We’ve just recently found out the six programs they’re producing:
American Factory, a documentary about life in Ohio after a Chinese billionaire opened a factory and hired 2000 local workers.
Bloom, a post WWII drama.
Crip Camp, documentary about disability rights.
Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, a kids show about food and stories from all over the world.
And three untitled projects: one about Frederick Douglass based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by David W. Blight, An adaptation of a NYT series, called “Overlooked” and a series based on the book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy - a look at the transition to Donald Trump’s presidency through the lens of federal bureaucrats.
All set to be released on Netflix soon.
And now, the Obamas enter the podcasting business with the multiyear deal between their Higher Ground Productions and Spotify. Of course, you’ll have to be a premium (paid) member of Spotify in order to listen to any of the Obama produced material but, that’s probably to be expected. With something like 100 million paid subscribers, Spotify is certainly the place to go when producing high end podcasts.
From statements by the Obamas about the Spotify deal:
President Obama, “We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation. It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”
Michelle Obama, “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world. Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds — and their hearts.”
As of today, Spotify has not yet released details on specific projects the Obamas will produce, but did state the programming will be “a diverse slate of original podcasts."
Which, to be honest - could mean, literally - anything. =)