Current Event Friday #104

3…2…1… Blastoff? Here’s to hoping

Give me some space! Now to many of us that may sound like an encouragement to promote social distancing, but for thousands of science-minded folks, it’s a hopeful statement for today’s #CurrentEventFriday set to happen this weekend.

NASA, SpaceX to Launch First Astronauts to Space Station from ...
Launch America, a joint mission was scheduled for May 27, 2020 from Kennedy Space Center but was rescheduled due to weather

For the first time in over a decade, NASA will be launching a space vehicle to the ISS crewed by astronauts. The journey is a joint effort between the space agency and SpaceX, a company connected to Elon Musk and the Tesla company.

The mission nicknamed Dragon will be led by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Given the hiatus of launching astronauts to the ISS from Florida, many gathered Wednesday for the scheduled launch near Cape Canaveral and online, including Pres. Trump. Anticipating a new era, NASA & SpaceX were excited for the acclaim they were receiving for the launch. Yet, the weather in Florida was less than cooperative and the launch was scrubbed and rescheduled for Saturday at 3:22 P.M. EDT.

The NOAA Hurricane Center shows a tropical system forming SE of Bermuda that may reach Florida later this weekend 

Saturday’s launch is still questionable as there is a tropical depression just off the coast of Florida that will linger for the next few days. If the launch on Saturday is scrubbed, the mission will launch 24 hours later on Sunday.

Most astrophiles are excited and hopeful that this launch will happen and that it may lead to further missions that include manned missions to Mars or a possible return to the Moon. As the Space Age unfolded in the 1960’s, we were already expected to have established several colonies on the Moon, and yet we have only conducted studies and research on the lunar orb as well as Mars. Much of the same anticipation and excitement for the Apollo missions seem to have surrounded the Launch America mission between NASA & SpaceX. Added to this is Pres. Trump’s newly created military branch, Space Force we’re likely to see a new Space Age. I for one, look forward to what this might include. If SpaceX can do better at innovating their space vehicles, affordable public travel to space will be a goal for many. Elon Musk has already shown that through his funding and encouragement, the electric car market has made Tesla vehicles comparable to hybrid and conventional petrochemical cars.

Are you excited for a Second Space Age?

Poetry Wednesday 103

Let’s go “Swimming” with today’s original poem

“Swimming”

Stuck inside these four walls all winter and most of spring

Need to escape, moving with a stroke of a butterfly’s wing

Looking for some freedom and nobody seems to care

Get outdoors, there’s liberty in the water everywhere

 

Pushing yourself to the limit, is all about conquering time

Killing time, just floating along can be done on your own dime

Down in the holler we were laughing like children as we wade in the creek

Things got deep like the water, now as you kissed me on my cheek

 

Moving myself further to the wall, so I kick my feet up and down, back and forth

Reached the wall, kick off and turn myself around

Backstroke or breaststroke both have me parallel to the ground

Not too shabby, but I’m never going to get any gold medals proving my worth

Love spending time with you if it’s on a blanket by the pool or the sea

Swimming is exhilarating, but not more than your love for me

© Ryan Stroud 2020

Current Event Friday #103

If you find fame, be clear with your fans in case that fame disappears

If you haven’t heard, podcasts are a thing and so many have their favorites. For those that are unfamiliar, podcasts are an episodic audio program hosted by pseudo-celebrities, celebrities, and experts in a particular field. One such podcast got more attention than they planned on this week and that’s today’s topic of discussion for #CurrentEventFriday.

Call Her Daddy" Host Sofia Franklyn Is Accusing Alex Cooper Of ...
Call Her Daddy with Hosts Alex Cooper (L) and Sofia Franklyn (R)

Call Her Daddy is a weekly podcast hosted by two young women on the Barstool Sports platform. The Hosts Sofia Franklyn and Alex Cooper discuss their personal lives and how to make it as sexually-liberated millennial women. Their frank discussions endeared them to many people who were already fans of Barstool Sports’ unconventional and irreverent platform geared to Millennial and Generation Z audiences.

Surprisingly for those fans, the hosts had been silent on their platform since late March. Many thought maybe it was part of shelter at home orders in New York, but the duo posted on their social media accounts that they were being bound by Barstool Sports not to speak about their situation but they would address their fans called “The Daddy Gang” when it was permissible. Shortly after that post, the hosts encouraged their fans to purchase “free the fathers” apparel to help them while they weren’t recording and restricted by Barstool Sports.

Inside Barstool Sports' Culture of Online Hate: 'They Treat Sexual ...
Dave Portnoy, founder and President of Barstool Sports

Late Sunday though, the president of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy revealed on the Call Her Daddy Podcast that the hosts were not recording because they had been attempting to gain leverage with Barstool Sports based on their success.

Most would understand that the hosts would be entitled to their belief and the compensation would be given as part of contract negotiations with their employer given their success from the time they had signed a contract to be part of Barstool Sports platform. Yet, the Call Her Daddy women were not honoring their contract and making demands that no other podcast on the platform enjoyed.

The sticking point seems to be that the hosts wanted the Intellectual Property (IP) of the show including the name if and when they moved to another platform. The IP had already been a sticking point when originally signing their contract. Portnoy maintained that the program was product created for Barstool sports in their employment and as such belonged to Barstool. The hosts’ own likenesses were able to be used without restriction, but since Barstool had secured advertising and promoted the program they deserved the IP of the program.

Portnoy also explained that Sofia Franklyn’s new boyfriend, Peter Nelson who is an executive with HBO had been shopping the podcast to a rival platform and hoped to cost Barstool Sports money. For Barstool Sports, they were willing to let the Call Her Daddy girls go after their contract was up, increase their salary, reduce the service time, and even give them the IP if they would honor the contract by continuing to host the podcast until the time was up. Call Her Daddy refused to accept the terms and stopped communicating with Barstool Sports executives. Portnoy maintains that eventually Alex Cooper contacted him and told him that ending the contract negotiation was Sofia’s idea and that Sofia would never sign the new contract or come back to the program. Cooper was willing to accept terms that guaranteed her $500,000 a year and finish the length of the contract.

Sofia Franklyn did address the topic on her personal Instagram and that she felt she was unfairly presented by Portnoy in his reveal. Also, surprisingly for the hosts the Daddy Gang that had felt that Barstool was being oppressive and in the wrong in March quickly turned on the hosts calling them spoiled and gold-diggers. Portnoy has also produced apparel mocking Sofia’s boyfriend using a nickname ‘Suitman” given his executive position at HBO. In addition, Portnoy has also superimposed his face into movie and television clips along with the girls and Nelson that includes Portnoy shaming or attacking the trio. Portnoy’s attacks in the clips are part of his promise to sue the duo if they don’t honor the contracts.

I’ll admit, I listen to several Barstool Sports podcasts, and am vaguely familiar with Call Her Daddy but I’m not surprised that Barstool Sports is coming out looking smart and generous in this. I’d also be interested to see if Alex does finish the contract and has a new co-host. It could find even more success and be a learning experience for her.

Dave Portnoy has also added to his own profile this week by questioning the wisdom of continued lockdowns and earned a retweet from Pres. Trump as well as an endorsement from Tesla & SpaceX’s Elon Musk for political office as Musk has seemingly realized that the woke left and Democrat government may not always be friendly to businesses. So, if you were wondering, yes, we are probably living in Bizarro World and that everything you thought you knew should be questioned.

Should the Call Her Daddy hosts been honest with their fans about the contract negotiations and accepted the terms of the new contract?

Poetry Wednesday 102

Today’s original poem wonders “How Is It Going Bee”

“How Is it Going Bee”

The apian way follows all routes to the queen

Workers giving a word, a sign, where to look for laying near the grass so green

Taking off from each blossom, flying into the sky

Your homes mean summer is upon us, soon it’ll be July

 

Golden treasure encased in wax—that royal jelly.

Treacly, amber, and nutritive, right now it’s meant for your belly

Honey—such a sweet thing; will soon be remade over

Keeping us in suspense and risking it for what was once wildflowers, orchid, and clover

 

Honey-makers, we drone on about them, but wood, sweat, and others are also alive

Easy to overlook such a tiny pest, a tiny swarm looks so humble

Don’t let us lose your pollinating aid, don’t let us bumble

When you’re not around, a soft dive into the oblivion of your hive

Before you take a sting anywhere on me

About to hit you out of fear for my own pain, but I wonder how is it going bee?

© Ryan Stroud 2020

🐝🍯

History Monday #98

The fact is, they’re flooding this valley so they can hydro-electric up the whole durned state.

Uh-oh, Congress passed another big government bill that won’t really help financially strapped people. Yes, those are recent headlines, but they could also be applied to today’s #HistoryMonday event as well. Although, the historical event we’ll discuss was much more widely accepted at its inception and even today.

A Tennessee Valley Authority sign at the Pres. Roosevelt Museum

On this day in 1833, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signs Tennessee Valley Authority Act. This act was a hallmark of New Deal programs. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was a connected effort of public utility companies to be administered by the federal government.

The Tennessee Valley which comprises the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee,  and Kentucky, as well as slivers of North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. These states are all part of the Tennessee River watershed which would provide much needed resources for hydroelectric plants.

Building hydroelectric plants and a utility commission in the South during the Great Depression was a way to assist communities that were suffering even more than other regions of the country. As much of the South was already impoverished before the Great Depression, the financial crisis from the Stock Market and banks only compounded the problems.

While seen as part of Pres. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the TVA Act was authored by Sen. George Norris (R-NE). Sen. Norris had previously blocked a private utility effort by Henry Ford some 12 years earlier. In hopes of preventing further private utility companies that charged unfair prices for their consumers, Sen. Norris authored the Muscle Shoals bill in 1931, but it was vetoed as being a socialist idea by Pres. Hoover. Pres. Roosevelt was not as opposed to Sen. Norris’s efforts, and had campaigned for public utility commissions to be overseen by the federal government prior to his election.

fast forward

The TVA was originally headquartered at Muscle Shoals, AL but would eventually move to its present location in Knoxville, TN. A three-member board appointed by the President administered the authority: Harcourt Morgan, Arthur E. Morgan, and David Lilienthal. Under their leadership, Lilienthal became known as Mr. TVA for his efforts to maintain the commission and to be its public face.

During the initial building of the hydroelectric plants, much of the power produced was directed to aluminum factories owned by Alcoa and others. These plants were necessary for the building of airplanes and other weapons for the war effort. By the time the Fontana Dam was built, much of its electric output was used at Oak Ridge, TN for the uranium enrichment process needed as part of the Manhattan Project.

As power demands grew after World War II, the TVA changed to a broader electric utility portfolio. Adding coal power plants became necessary in the 50’s & 60’s and this became their primary electric-producing method. Keeping their costs low and promoting competition, a handful of power plants were built to use nuclear power, but with skepticism of nuclear reactions, this never really became a primary method.

Of course, as concern grew over the environmental impact over coal, the TVA has retired many of those plants in accordance with EPA regulations. They have in the last decade purchased equipment for wind farms. Also, in attempt to be more in touch with the 21st Century, the TVA has also recently added an in-house energy infrastructure cybersecurity panel. This panel oversees social media and IT programs to prevent threats to energy by cyberterrorists.

Many other rural electric cooperatives aspire to have the efficacy and fame of the TVA, but much of those attributes are reserved only in their regions. Private utility companies also exist today and are not always appreciated for their costs to consumers, but government regulations try to keep those prices in check.

 

The TVA has also been a source for tourism. You can visit many of the sites used by the TVA today and learn more about their construction and their impact in the region. Additionally, museums include artwork form the TVA remembering their contributions.

Media has included the TVA as part of their efforts as well, Ronald Reagan was fired by General Electric for his criticism of the TVA for being a big government program that shouldn’t be celebrated. Given that General Electric used electricity from the TVA, this was a conflict of interest for them. A more recent and less-controversial media appearance features the TVA and their efforts from the Coen brothers 2000 film O Brother Where Art Thou? The film includes the public utility as a timing foil for the protagonist who has to recover stored treasure before his house is flooded by the TVA.

Have you ever visited a TVA site?

Poetry Wednesday 101

Taking a trip along “Old Man River” sounds appealing for today’s original poem

“Old Man River”

You’ve been like a close friend, always going strong

The path you take is winding and long

When I’ve had loads I need to carry you’ve always been there

Taking them to the sea, and the salty Gulf air

 

Been around in our lives, like an Old Man

Lucky you took care of Tom & Huck when away they ran

I know that it’s pretty up there at your starting line

Everyone is enjoying that scenery, even better than fine

 

Big Wheels keep on rolling—a slow ride and I can take it easy

Loving that pace, the rhythm is right

Seeing sleepy little towns during the day, perfect inspiration for night

Magnolias wafting from the banks, reaching my nose better when it’s breezy

Mississippi—Great River, your tribal name

Great river, what now describes your fame

© Ryan Stroud 2020

Current Event Friday #102

Problems in Georgia that aren’t related to their re-opening

Another week is in the books, and that means another edition of #CurrentEventFriday. Normally, I try to stay above the fray, but an event making the rounds the last couple of days is worth discussing regardless of my aversion to controversy.

Earlier this week, a video was circulated throughout social media that showed a confrontation between two white guys and an African-American man. As the video unfolds, one of the white men fires the gun he had on his person at the African-American man, killing him. Of course, this drew criticism from the African-American community.

Image

I saw a few posts like this one about the deceased gentlemen as the video began making the rounds and didn’t pay attention at first. Then, more news outlets and more accounts I follow on social media began sharing about it and the story is tragic. The events that led up to the death of Ahmad Arbery in the video seemingly point out an indefensible act of racism and vigilantism. Arbery was out jogging in a white neighborhood of Brunswick, GA when he was spotted by Gregory McMichael who believed Arbery was a suspect in a recent series of robberies. Gregory McMichael called for his son Travis McMichael to get their guns, a .357 Magnum and a shotgun. The pair then got in their pickup to confront Arbery. While the McMichaels chased Arbery, their friend William “Roddie” Bryan followed behind their truck and videotaped the encounter including the fatal shooting. In the video, Arbery attempts to evade the pickup and the McMichaels. Unable to do so, Arbery then tried to catch his breath. Gregory McMichael exited the truck and aimed the shotgun at Arbery. Fearing what could happen, Arbery tried to wrestle the gun away from the elder McMichael but in the struggle, the trigger was pulled three times and Arbery fell to the ground almost immediately.

Even more shocking, is the event in question happened in late February and the local prosecutor decided not to bring charges against the McMichaels as the event was only described by the McMichaels. The prosecutor also chose not to prosecute given his previous relationship with Gregory McMichael who is a retired law enforcement officer. The prosecutor recused himself and asked another local prosecutor to look into the case. With the new video being released by a friend of the McMichael family, the case has been re-opened, and charges of aggravated assault and murder have been filed against both McMichaels. They have also been arrested for those charges, and a charge for the friend who video-taped the encounter is also expected soon.

As the video made the rounds, notable activists with Black Lives Matter pounced on the event, calling out the white shooters. Everyone’s favorite NBA star and race-relations expert LeBron James even weighed in tweeting, “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” Presidential Candidate Joe Biden excoriated the McMichaels as well for their racist tendencies and cold-blooded execution of Arbery. Many also pointed out that the date of the shooting in February was eerily close to the date of the Travon Martin shooting.

In memory of Arbery, mini-marathons are being organized nationwide to honor Arbery’s favorite activity—jogging. Hashtags promoting the name of Arbery have also been a means of support and solidarity for the family in the midst of the re-living of the traumatic event.

Normally, I’m skeptical of events like this, that usually involve on-duty officers and citizens. Even just this week, a shooting in Indianapolis involved a handful of officers and an African-American man driving at excessive speeds on the interstate. As the driver got out of the car and attempted to flee on foot, he was shot by officers and killed. So, naturally I look at that and am not entirely surprised at the tragic consequence. This doesn’t seem to be the case in the Arbery incident. It seems purely that the two white guys can’t tell black people apart and were suspicious of any black man in their neighborhood. Many skeptics have also found that Arbery has a criminal record and point to that as proof that he was up to no good, and that the McMichaels might have observed Arbery committing a crime. Sadly, without evidence to prove Arbery’s activities or his ability to give a statement, those are only hypothetical at best. Assuming the McMichaels saw Arbery committing a crime, there should’ve been no reason to shoot him, as securing him and detaining him might have been the better option as citizens rather that law enforcement detaining him.

It will be interesting to see how the trial plays out for Gregory and Travis McMichael as well as William Bryan. Given that we’re just five months into what has certainly been a wild and unpredictable year, the attention to this case won’t likely go way overnight. Be sure to stay tuned to next month’s episode of “What in the world is happening in 2020?” to see what new characters and storylines are added for your attention.

Should the McMichaels have called 911 and waited for officers to respond?