Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CDC switches from nuclear war to flu as epidemic declared just before false alarm in Hawaii


When I wrote "I'll return to reality tomorrow with some real-life DOOM," I had in mind the CDC special session about nuclear detonation that had been scheduled for today.  Over the weekend, that changed, as Wochit News reported in CDC Shifts From Nuclear Strike To Influenza

The Center for Disease Control’s January 16th special session advising Americans on what to do in the event of a nuclear war has shifted topic. It will now be about what to do in the event of flu season. As reported by the New York Times, the CDC announced the shift because the flu was particularly bad this year. The announcement read, "To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time, which can stress health systems."
To get an idea how severe this year's outbreak is, ABC News reported Flu epidemic strikes US: CDC on Friday the 12th.

With 13 weeks of flu season left, some hospitals face an IV fluid shortage as they treat the sick.
I'll get back to the IV shortage after I share How to protect yourself when someone in your family has the flu from ABC News, posted yesterday.  It probably won't be much different from what the CDC says along with the admonition to get vaccinated (I got my shot in October during my first doctor visit after being diagnosed as a Type I diabetic; there are advantages to being under close medical supervision).

Dr. Jennifer Ashton shares tips on how to keep the rest of the household healthy when one family member at home comes down with the flu.
All of that looks like good advice to follow in the worst flu epidemic since 2014, when I wrote Flu claiming lives in Michigan and California.

I did mention I'd get back to the IV shortage.  That's because of the impact of Hurricane Maria.  As WXYZ reported last week, Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico is impacting hospitals in metro Detroit.

It was September when Hurricane Maria, the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, slammed into Puerto Rico.  It claimed lives, destroyed buildings and knocked out power to the entire island.   Now the U.S. territory, which happens to be home to dozens of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, is still struggling to recover. More than 600,000 customers remain without power.  It is impacting hospitals across the country and right here in metro-Detroit.
Welcome to an example of "everything is connected to everything else."  Who'd have thought a hurricane in Puerto Rico would affect flu treatment in the rest of the U.S. months later?  Well, it is.  Maybe power should be restored more quickly in Puerto Rico in order to improve health care on the mainland.

One of the ironies in changing the subject of the CDC briefing and the map associated with the declaration of the the flu epidemic is that the state least affected by flu right now is Hawaii and the 50th state was the one most affected by the threat of nuclear war.  Follow over the jump for that news.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebrating diversity in awards shows nominees and winners for MLK Day 2018


A happy and contemplative Martin Luther King Day to my readers!  To celebrate, I'm continuing the tradition I began with 'Glory' from 'Selma' for MLK Day and continued with Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day and 'Hidden Figures' tops the box office for MLK Day plus diversity among Golden Globes winners, examining diversity and representation in entertainment, which I wrote I would do yesterday.  I already looked at diversity among winners at the Golden Globes winners, so I today I'll feature diversity among music nominees at the Golden Globe Awards and winners of the Critics' Choice Awards.

Two nominees for Best Song, one at both the Grammy Awards and Critics' Choice Awards and another at the Golden Globes, begin today's celebration.  The one in the preview image is "Stand Up For Something" by Andra Day feat. Common. Written by Diane Warren and Lonnie Lynn, from the original soundtrack to the motion picture "Marshall", in theaters Oct. 13, 2017.


While I'm still confident this song will be nominated for an Oscar and is still my favorite to win the Grammy, I am less confident it will win an Academy Award.  I expect "Remember Me" from "Coco" will instead.

The next song for today is Mary J Blige - "Mighty River" (Mudbound OST).


Blige not only wrote and performed the song, but also starred in the film.  I would be pleasantly surprised if it were nominated for an Oscar, although doing so would likely push out either or both of "Truth to Power" from "An Inconvenient Sequel" and "Tell Me How Long" from "Chasing Coral."  Well, I can't have everything.  On the other hand, this song is eligible for a Creative Arts Emmy Award and should be nominated this summer.

Follow over the jump for diverse winners from the Critics' Choice Awards.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

'The Handmaid's Tale' leads speculative fiction winners at the Critics' Choice Television Awards


To conclude 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction winners at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, I told my readers "I'm not done with the Critics' Choice Awards.  Stay tuned for the television winners as the Sunday Entertainment feature."  Read along as I follow through by checking the predictions I made in Speculative fiction and science at the 2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards, just as I did yesterday with the movie nominees, comparing them to the winners.

I begin with the three categories in which "The Handmaid's Tale" earned nominations.
Best Drama Series

American Gods (Starz)
The Crown (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
This field looks like the one for the comparable award from this year's Emmys with "Westworld" replaced by "Game of Thrones" and "American Gods" filling in for both "Better Call Saul" and "House of Cards."  I'm particularly glad to see "American Gods" recognized for headline awards instead of just technical ones like Main Title Design and Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role.  That written, I don't think it will win this category.  Nor will the show I'm rooting for, "Stranger Things 2."  Instead, I suspect that a lot of the voters overlap with those for the Television Critics Association Awards, where "The Handmaid's Tale" won the equivalent category plus Program of the Year.  Added to the five awards "The Handmaid's Tale" won on the last night of the Emmys, where it won the equivalent award as well, and I'd say that the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian classic is the favorite to win this category.
I was absolutely right, it did.  Watch The Handmaid's Tale Wins Best Drama Critics Choice Awards 2018.


I called the next one as well.
Best Actress in a Drama Series

Caitriona Balfe – Outlander (Starz)
Christine Baranski – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Claire Foy – The Crown (Netflix)
Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Robin Wright – House of Cards (Netflix)
Half of nominees represent speculative fiction series, Caitriona Balfe for "Outlander," Tatiana Maslany in "Orphan Black," and Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale."  If this were up to a vote of the viewers, Balfe would win.  It's not.  I think it's between the past two Emmy winners for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, Maslany, who won last year and Moss, who won this year.  I might have more to say about Christine Baranski, Claire Foy, and Robin Wright, who are all starring in political dramas, in a future entry about political shows nominated for awards.
If pushed, I'd have said Moss would have been favored over Maslany and I'd have been right.  Here's Norman Reedus (Woo, hoo!  Daryl Dixon!) announcing as  Elisabeth Moss Wins Critics Choice Awards 2018.


I'm glad to see and hear her thanking everyone in the collaborative enterprise that is shooting a television program.  Everyone is needed and they are all important.

I have one last category for "The Handmaid's Tale."
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Gillian Anderson – American Gods (Starz)
Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones (HBO)
Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Cush Jumbo – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Margo Martindale – Sneaky Pete (Amazon)
Chrissy Metz – This Is Us (NBC)
Gillian Anderson is the actress playing one of the "new gods" I mentioned earlier.  She plays Media in "American Gods."  Joining her in representing speculative fiction shows is Emilia Clarke and Ann Dowd.  Dowd won the Emmy, so I would say she is the favorite, although Margo Martindale is a perennial winner of the guest actress Emmy Award, so she might be able to pull off an upset in a supporting role.
As I expected, Dowd won again.  Apparently, she didn't expect it, given the excellence of the actresses against whom she was competing.  Watch her reaction in Ann Dowd Wins Supporting Actress Critics Choice Awards 2018.


With that, "The Handmaid's Tale" swept all of the categories in which it was nominated, reminiscent of the last night of the Emmys.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the winners.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction winners at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards


I wrote "Back to fantasy for the three-day weekend" at the end of Ambassador Pete Hoekstra denies Islamophobic comments, calling them 'fake news', and I meant it.  In fact, I have quite the entertainment agenda for today through Monday, beginning with revisiting my predictions in 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards and comparing them to the winners.  I begin with what I wrote above the jump for "The Shape of Water."
Nominations for the 2018 Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards have been announced. Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi romance The Shape of Water stole the show with a dominating 14 nominations [including] Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.
Deadline lists all of them, which I've re-ordered to suit my priorities: Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Actress for Sally Hawkins, Best Supporting Actor for Richard Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, Best Original Screenplay for Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Best Cinematography for Dan Laustsen, Best Production Design for Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeff Melvin, Best Editing for Sidney Wolinsky, Best Costume Design for Luis Sequeira, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Alexandre Desplat.  Wow!  Not only do these 14 nominations lead speculative fiction films, they lead all films nominated.
As my readers could surmise from the preview image, it won four awards, including two in the categories it won at the Golden Globes: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Production Design, and Best Score.  That made it not only the most nominated film, but the most winning film, beating out "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" with its three trophies.  Congratulations!*

At least one of my predictions didn't come true and another has yet to be tested.
I had thought either "Beauty and the Beast" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" to be the best fantasy film of 2017.  No longer.  I now think "The Shape of Water" will be the favorite in that category at the Saturn Awards and in Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie here in the Critics' Choice Awards.
"The Shape of Water" may have won Best Picture, but it didn't win Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie.  I'll examine that paradox over the jump.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Ambassador Pete Hoekstra denies Islamophobic comments, calling them 'fake news'


Pete Hoekstra, who I first wrote about when he ran a Super Bowl ad using racist stereotypes, made news last month in his capacity as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands.  CNN reported it in US ambassador's 'fake news' claim backfires.

In an interview with a Dutch reporter, US Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra denied a comment he made in 2015 about the "Islamic movement," calling it fake news. Then he denied his denial.
I had the following to say about this news my comment on A Novel Excuse for Lying.
LOL and ick, Pete Hoekstra.  I'm embarrassed to admit that he's from Michigan.  Worse yet, he served in Congress for 18 years including a stint as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007, making him about as Establishment Republican as one gets around here.  He came in second to Rick Snyder in the Republican Primary for Governor, as a lot of independents and Democrats crossed over to keep someone they saw as too conservative from winning the nomination.  He then ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, losing to Debbie Stabenow.  He showed his ass then, as his campaign hired the same ad firm that made the Christine O'Donnell "I am not a witch" spot.  They made a commercial that used Chinese ethnic stereotypes and aired during the Super Bowl.  It pissed off a lot of people, including a Chinese-American Republican County Commissioner who promptly donated to his primary rival.  After that loss, I thought I'd never hear about him again.  Ha!  He's back!

The worst part is that Hoekstra's not a bad pick for Ambassador to Holland on paper.  He was born in Holland, he has governmental experience, he has foreign policy experience, he has Establishment credentials, blah, blah, blah.  Yeah, and all kinds of people who look good on paper are disasters in person, Hoekstra included.
At least six users on Booman Tribune agreed with me, rating this comment as excellent (4 of 4), making it my highest rated comment on the site last month.  As for Hoekstra, I doubt his Islamophobic remarks, his denial, and his denial of his denial are that well regarded.

Enough reality.  Back to fantasy for the three-day weekend.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Vox explains the 'nuclear button' and KFC trolls McDonalds in response to Trump


Last week, President Trump engaged North Korean leader Kim Jun Un in a war of words on Twitter.  Kim gave a speech in which he warned a "nuclear button is always on my desk."  Trump returned fire by tweeting "North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"  That prompted a variety of responses, both serious and silly.

Vox had one of the serious reactions, explaining Here's how Trump's nuclear "button" actually works...

There's no physical button, but there is a "football" and "biscuit".
...
Just a week into 2018, Donald Trump tweeted a provocative message directed at the North Korean regime's leader, Kim Jong Un. His message cited a "nuclear button", and claimed that his was much larger than Kim's. But how does the U.S. protocol for launching nuclear warheads actually work? It's a process that's designed to be fast - there are only a few steps. But it's still more complicated than a simple button.
The article accompanying the video concluded with the same chilling quote that the video did.
It could take as little as five minutes for intercontinental ballistic missiles to launch from the time the president officially orders a strike. Missiles launched from submarines take about 15 minutes.

“The president can order a nuclear strike in about the time it takes to write a tweet,” [Joe] Cirincione said.
Eep!  That makes it sound easy enough that Trump could actually do it.

At the other extreme, KFC UK and Ireland had one of the better silly responses.
McDonald’s leader Ronald just stated he has a “burger on his desk at all times. Will someone from his big-shoed, red-nosed regime inform him that I too have a burger on my desk, but mine is a box meal which is bigger and more powerful than his, and mine has gravy! #nuclearbutton
That went viral, earning 498,424 likes, 189,332 retweets, and 4,190 replies.  One of those replies was mine, in which I told KFC to pick on someone their own size, at least on Twitter: "Too bad @Wendys doesn't have UK locations. I'd dare you to get into a Twitter fight with them."  That tweet earned 427 likes, 10 retweets, and ten replies.  It was the most popular tweet I've ever posted and got more engagement than any of the tweets The Independent or Atlanta Constitution quoted.  As for McDonald's, the company never responded on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Seth Meyers and John Oliver on coal and hawks for Cut Your Energy Costs Day and Save the Eagles Day


Happy National Cut Your Energy Costs Day and Save the Eagles Day!  These are the two national days I promised to celebrate at the end of both 'Wonder Woman' joins 'The Shape of Water' and 'Get Out' among PGA film and TV nominees and 'The Shape of Water' and 'Coco' -- fantasy and diversity both winners at the Golden Globes.  Instead of celebrating energy conservation, I'm celebrating something that will reduce the cost of energy.  Newsy reports Commission Shuts Down Rick Perry's Proposal To Prop Up Coal, Nuclear.

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission rejected Perry's proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.
Yes, that was a dumb idea that was going to add carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, and radiation to the atmosphere and cost Americans more money, too.  It was such a dumb idea that Seth Meyers made fun of it and Perry in The Check In: Rick Perry and the Department of Energy.

Seth checks in on Rick Perry, the man President Trump chose to lead the Department of Energy, an agency that Perry once wanted to abolish.
The last time I posted Seth Meyers making fun of Perry, I told my readers to expect Aggie jokes whenever I blogged about him again.  I think the clips Meyers used satisfy that promise.

Meyers mentioned Bob Murray and Murray Energy, which reminded me that I mused about "following up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's 'Coal,'" which won Television Episodic Comedy at the 2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television.  Murray and his company play a major role in that segment, so I think now is the opportune time to post it.  Follow over the jump.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

'The Shape of Water' and 'Coco' -- fantasy and diversity both winners at the Golden Globes


I wrote "I'll have more on the speculative fiction winners in movies tomorrow.  Stay tuned" to conclude Oprah, 'Big Little Lies,' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' win and say #TimesUp at the Golden Globes.  It's time to follow up on that promise about the Golden Globes movie nominees.

While "The Shape of Water" was the most nominated film with seven nominations, it won only two awards, Best Director and Best Original Score, falling behind "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which earned four statuettes and tying "Lady Bird."  That written, it was the most recognized speculative fiction film as well as a victory for diversity.  Watch Guillermo del Toro Wins Best Director at the 2018 Golden Globes.

Guillermo del Toro accepts the award for Best Director at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
I called Del Toro one of the big name directors along with Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.  I also wrote "'I'm rooting for Nolan,' but I'm not optimistic."  I was right to not be optimistic.  I should also root for Del Toro.

As for the next category, I wrote "I still think Zimmer will pull this one off for 'Dunkirk,' but I'm beginning to worry about Alexandre Desplat and especially John Williams winning instead."  Again, I was right to worry.  Watch The Shape of Water Wins Best Original Score at the 2018 Golden Globes.

Composer Alexandre Desplat accepts the award for Best Original Score at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Now I'm going to have to listen to the soundtrack.

The one category that was almost guaranteed to produce a speculative fiction winner was Best Motion Picture — Animated, which I thought would go to either "Coco" or "The Breadwinner" with "Coco" having the edge based on what I wrote in 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards.  I was not disappointed, as Coco Wins Best Animated Motion Picture at the 2018 Golden Globes.

Writer and director Lee Unkrich accepts the award for Best Motion Picture - Animated at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
I've written about my visit to Oaxaca and its observation of the Day of the Dead, so I would enjoy this movie.  I would also enjoy its songs, including the one I expect to be nominated for an Oscar, "Remember Me."  I'll be listening to them right after I finish the soundtrack to "The Shape of Water."

Follow over the jump for other winners for diversity and speculative fiction at the Golden Globes.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Oprah, 'Big Little Lies,' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' win and say #TimesUp at the Golden Globes


The Golden Globe Awards took place last night and, like last year, Hollywood got political.  Unlike last year, it wasn't about bashing Trump, although Seth Meyers did some of that.  Instead, it was about fighting against sexism and for women's equality.  CBS This Morning summarized the theme of the evening in Oprah and Time's Up put women at center of Golden Globes.

The Golden Globes made history with a message of female empowerment that put women at the center of the glitzy awards show. Women and men attending the ceremony wore black to call attention to gender inequality and sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond. Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier reports.
For all her cultural heft, I've only mentioned Oprah once before when John Oliver made a running joke out of her at this year's Emmys even though she makes an appearance in "Food, Inc."  It's about time I mentioned her again.  The idea of her running for President in 2020 would make for interesting blogging, but I'm not convinced that the Democratic Party is as ready for a celebrity takeover the way the Republican Party was for Trump in 2016.  Keep reading to see if I'm right.

The story extended well beyond Oprah.  Follow over the jump for other clips about the social justice theme of last night's awards.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Facts and fancy about feisty lemmings for the first Norther of 2017!


Happy Norther!  What is Norther?  It's a fake holiday created by John Michael Greer the Archdruid in response to my telling him about Wester and its animal mascot, the Wester Squirrel.
Druids would likely demand a Souther and a Norther, too, with a Souther Wombat and a Norther Lemming as animal mascots; I'll leave you to decide what if anything they do with goodies.
Ah, but which solstice gets which holiday?  At first, I was not amused by your suggestion, as I thought one parody holiday was enough.  Then I slept on it and not only was I OK with it, I decided that Norther would come after the Winter Solstice and Souther would come after the Summer Solstice.  Why would a lemming visit in the middle of summer?
As a result of that conversation, Norther takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Winter Solstice, which is today.

Enough of the salutations -- time for the celebration.  In lieu of the Norther Lemming dropping off presents into the ocean, I'm taking a cue from Silly Squirrels for Happy Wester 2017!  Here are three videos showing lemmings being entertaining, although 3 Facts About Lemmings from SciShow does more telling than showing.

Lemmings are small, thickset vole-like animals that live in the Arctic tundra. They live in a harsh environment, are super-cute, kinda mean, and totally misunderstood. But here at SciShow we're going to set the record straight with 3 Actual Facts About Lemmings.
SciShow didn't explain how lemmings are "kinda mean," but Fearless attack lemming - World's Weirdest Events: Episode 2 - BBC Two does.

The humble lemming isn't exactly known for its ferocity. Yet this particular rodent will try to fend off all predators. Chris Packham takes a closer look at this very unusual creature.
Wow!  That's one fierce little animal!  Perhaps that's why lemmings took on the roles of warriors in Norm of the North.



This is still Sunday, so count this clip as the entertainment feature for today.  Yes, Entertainment Sunday still exists, even though I'm doing much more searching for a good fantasy than dealing with reality these days.

Also, I called today "the first Norther of 2017."  Why?
The next Norther will be January 7, as the full moon falls on New Year's Day, so there will be a Blue Moon on January 31.  Speaking of blue lunar holidays, the first full moon after the 2018 winter solstice will fall on Saturday December 22nd, so there will be a second Norther on December 23.  Blue Norther on Festivus!
That's why.  I get to do this all over again in 11 months.  Maybe I can find a video about a lemming feat of strength or airing of grievances by then.

Once again, Happy Norther!