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?

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?

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?

Current Event Friday #101

Wanna go the movies?

Let’s all go to the movies, let’s all go to the movies and return to normal life. That sounds like a great idea, but you may not have much of a selection depending on the theater and the films out at the box office. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at what is happening in the world of film.

War of words erupts after AMC says it will ban Universal films ...

As movie theaters have closed nationwide as part of social distancing, film studios have released their films on their on-demand streaming services. Many moviegoers have found that they enjoy paying to watch shows that were just released on their home screens. Film studios have seen their revenues for these movies are comparable to theatrical release and in some cases even better than the theatrical release numbers.

Early this week, the head of Universal Studios noted this phenomenon and indicated that they will continue this practice along with theatrical releases even after social distancing ends. Given the success it’s hardly surprising, but it didn’t exactly thrill movie theaters.

After the announcement, AMC Theatres declared that they were not going to show or promote Universal films as a result. Regal Theaters made a similar announcement to AMC’s a few days later. AMC’s stock dropped just a day after announcing their new policy. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

The cost for an outing to a movie theater has already become somewhat cost prohibitive anyways, so this won’t help them more. For the cost of one movie theater ticket, people can watch films that were just made available by studios in the comfort of their home. Independent theaters and drive-ins are also expected to make more money in the midst of this fight as well. Since people can stay safely distanced in their cars and it’s summer, drive-ins will rake in the money. After social distancing restrictions are lessened, the independent theaters can also take advantage of a major corporation arguing with another major corporation. On-demand rentals and purchases will also see a spike.

I’m lucky if I go to the movie theater more than a handful of times annually. I’m fine with watching a movie on-demand for less than $10 and sometimes less than $5. If the movie is garbage at least I didn’t waste a lot of money like I would at a theater. Yes, you miss the large screens, but technology has made portable screens and projectors semi-affordable if you really want to watch on a large screen. Even the appeal of movies as a dating location has lost its appeal in recent years. Movie-size candy is affordable as well, and quality popcorn is affordable, so movie theaters don’t really have an edge anymore.

Knowing that movie theaters have already lost money while closed, I’m guessing they’re going to blink first and will eventually end up showing some Universal Film Studios movies. If not, I’ll watch the shows on demand or at the local independent establishment.

Would you rather watch new films at the movie theater or at home?

Current Event Friday #100

Changes to grocery shopping are necessary with social distancing

It’s time to do the marketing, we’re out of milk, potato chips, and frozen waffles. Before the challenge of Covid-19 this wasn’t a challenge. Most anyone just headed to the supermarket and bought what was on their list and brought it back home and place their goods in the fridge or pantry. Now many have adapted to how they will shop at grocery stores and these adaptations are today’s #CurrentEventFriday topic.

Running to the grocery store wasn’t a difficult or dreaded errand before social distancing, but now it has become more challenging. If I had forgot something on my list or realized after shopping that I should’ve added something to the list, I’d just head back to the store the next day and I’d have what I need. Now, I wait and add more things to the list for when I’m going to get groceries again.

Kroger begins online grocery ordering and curbside pickup at ...

 

One method I’ve found that others had already been using prior to this is ClickList® from Kroger. This allows you to select goods that the local Kroger or one of its subsidiaries have in their inventory. Once you’ve selected everything on your list, you choose a time to pick up the order at your local store. Once you’ve completed these steps, you pay for the purchase. You arrive at the store at the selected time, and contact the

phone number of the store and give your name and the slot you’re in and an employee loads your vehicle with your order. If some of the products you’ve selected are unavailable, you can choose whether to allow employees to substitute a similar product. If you choose to not allow a substitute for an out-of-stock item, then you will be refunded for the cost of that item and it will not be included in your order.

Many other grocery stores use their own version of this service. I’ve not used these programs at these other stores so I can’t testify to the process or the ease of using them. I would imagine that these services aren’t that dissimilar.

Along with the curbside pickup, stores are also offering delivery options or shipping. Since I don’t live in a location that is within the shipping or delivery radius, I’m unsure of how well this works. I’ve used pizza delivery apps and they work fine; I’m guessing grocery delivery also works.

The challenge and benefit of using these services is it prevents browsing or the impulse buying that inevitably happens when shopping in person. The challenging characteristic is the same in any online retailing which is that you may or may not enjoy the product once you receive it. Admittedly, I’m a little hesitant to online shop, particularly for clothing and had been for grocery shopping but what’s on my grocery list is products I already like and use.

Some products are unavailable for online grocery shopping so you may have to shop in person. Among those include hand sanitizer, alcohol, and pharmacy products. I have went shopping while wearing a mask and practiced social distancing in store and had no major problems. As the restrictions are changed, we’ll have to see whether online grocery shopping is the preferred method. I am enjoying the convenience of the service but wandering the massive Kroger stores does limit my exercise. So, not walking around a large grocery store and ordering more food may cause the ‘Quarantine 15’ that so many are joking about.

Have you used online grocery shopping? Is it better than conventional grocery shopping?

Current Event Friday #99

Inappropriate language during video games is a no-no

Another week is ending, and for one NASCAR racer their employment has ended. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday is all about what led to their firing and other consequences stemming from an unwise decision earlier this week.

Kyle Larson, NASCAR driver, fired from racing team - CNN
Kyle Larson, former driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Car

Kyle Larson has been a top driver in NASCAR’s highest series the Monster Energy Cup Series since he joined the circuit. After finding success in the Xfinity & Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Larson earned a spot with Chip Ganassi Racing at the highest level in 2014. He earned Rookie of the Year awards in 2013 in the Xfinity Series and 2014 Rookie of the Year in the Monster Energy Series. Sadly, all that wasn’t enough for Chip Ganassi Racing to continue employing him after a mistake Sunday evening.

While virtual racing in the iRacing race on Sunday, Larson’s virtual car made contact with another car. Larson became frustrated with his spotter who had failed to inform him of the nearby car. Venting his frustration, he then yelled at the spotter while using a 6-letter racial slur beginning with ‘N’ which was heard by everyone watching the race. Another driver reminded him that the communications were not on a private team channel.

Larson apologized after the race for his language, but it was not enough. NASCAR announced Monday they would be pursuing action against Larson for the error. Several of his sponsors in the next days terminated their relationship with him including Target, Chevrolet, and Clover Financial. NASCAR suspended Larson indefinitely on Monday along with Chip Ganassi Racing. Tuesday, Chip Ganassi then announced that they had terminated Larson’s employment with the team.

Obviously, this was a dumb mistake for Larson. What’s interesting is that Larson is half Asian and earned a spot in NASCAR through its Drive for Diversity Campaign. So, obviously Larson has to know that NASCAR values racial and gender diversity. Besides that, you shouldn’t utter racial slurs anyways. Some have tried to soften Larson’s language arguing that rappers use the word often in their songs, other athletes use language in games, and other drivers use similar or worse language on their radios. That’s a logical fallacy called ‘what-aboutism’ that tries to deflect responsibility away from the guilty party because someone else does similar negative things.

The fallout has also brought attention to fans who aren’t exactly thrilled with the iRacing format that NASCAR is promoting while dealing with social distancing restrictions. Last week, Bubba Wallace quit the race after wrecking and was fined for his failure to continue the race. Critics of the virtual races point out that these are not official NASCAR events, so NASCAR has little to no authority for what happens during these races.

I would guess that Larson will eventually be reinstated by NASCAR and join with another team, and the suspension might overlap with the same time that NASCAR is not holding physical races since the timing would be comparable. I’m also surprised that the punishment has been this serious. Even drivers who have been arrested for DUI weren’t fired by their team or suspended indefinitely by NASCAR like Larson. Considering DUI and other acts are criminal and don’t result in such punishments, Larson’s is surprising. Chip Ganassi Racing will be able to weather the changeover as well thanks to the physical racing hiatus. This will afford them time to reach out to veteran or development drivers to finish the season in the car. One possible replacement is Ross Chastain who has filled in for Ryan Newman after the Daytona 500 crash that resulted in Newman’s hospitalization. Chastain has already had success with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Xfinity Series and has driven for teams with affiliations to Chip Ganassi Racing. With Larson having had success at all levels, I could see Hendrick Motorsports offering him a ride after this season when Jimmie Johnson retires at the end of the season. Other drivers have stated that they believe Larson deserves a second chance. Bubba Wallace, an African-American driver has acknowledged that he didn’t appreciate the language Larson used, but that Larson deserves a second chance. With his talent, Larson will likely receive that opportunity sooner than later.

Did the punishment fit for Kyle Larson’s conduct?

Current Event Friday #98

Racists and pandemics are a bad combo

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t discriminate about who it affects or infects. Sadly, some humans are discriminating towards others in the midst of this pandemic. The racism and discriminatory practices tied to those thoughts are today’s #CurrentEventFriday topic.

woman in crew neck t shirt wearing face mask
Photo by Skye Dingle on Pexels.com

While the origin of the virus has been linked to China since early Winter, this origin has provided cause for racism. Many in the mainstream media harangued Pres. Trump for his usage of ‘Chinese Virus’ in his tweets to label the disease. Many have argued that this inflames tensions and is an approval of racist practices. Those who defend usage of this label point out that during the onset of this disease prior to its widespread effect in the United States, that the term ‘China virus’ was commonplace. Specifically, the media personalities condemning Pres. Trump were using ‘Chinese virus’ themselves until the pandemic became so prevalent in the United States. Further, that by calling it a Chinese virus, Pres. Trump and others are pointing out China’s totalitarian government contributed to a lack of information and allowing the disease to run rampant when they tried to control the spread of information and punished those who spoke out about it.

In the midst of the kerfuffle of how exactly to label it, a doctor of Korean descent was refused service at a gas station near Indianapolis this last week. Even worse, a man in Texas stabbed several members of an Asian family at a local supermarket including two young children. Others of Asian descent in California and New York have been assaulted in the last two months by people fearful they will be infected while using racial slurs.

Obviously, Chinese people are not guilty of spreading the disease. There are enough problems with lost wages and widespread infections without adding discrimination efforts based on race. The problems with the disease’s origin can be linked to a totalitarian government not protecting its citizens and under-reporting the severity of its disease, not the citizens themselves.

Racism will not solve this pandemic crisis, and in fact the United States by some statistics is the largest affected nation. Arguably, Americans who are strongly independent have allowed the disease to spread counter to the spread in China. Too many Americans are suspicious of government and resist grand-scale government intervention as a result of these suspicions. I’m waiting to see if a federal law is enacted to force people to stay home but I don’t expect compliance by everyone. I’m hopeful that with warmer weather and people taking this seriously we can see the disease reach its high point and taper off soon (so I can return to #CurrentEventFriday that isn’t linked to Coronavirus). Time will tell of course

Have you observed anyone being racist in the midst of this pandemic?