Tag Archives: Hawaii

Turns out the Packers earned themselves a trip to the Super Bowl, after all

The traditional consolation prize for losing in the Championship round of the NFL playoffs is a trip to the Pro Bowl. It’s no Super Bowl, but a free trip to Hawaii is nothing to sniff at (unless you’re Marshawn Lynch). But this year, after their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Seahawks, a few Packers ended up with a trip to the Super Bowl anyway.

I’m sorry, did I say Super Bowl? I meant the Key & Peele Super Bowl Special:

Continue reading Turns out the Packers earned themselves a trip to the Super Bowl, after all

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How’d this enormous coconut crab end up in Hawaii?

Biologists in Hawaii are mystified by the first appearance of a coconut crab on their islands since 1989:

Continue reading How’d this enormous coconut crab end up in Hawaii?

John Oliver’s evisceration of Miss America shows he doesn’t understand beauty pageant winners

In John Oliver’s acclaimed evisceration of the Miss America pageant, HBO’s new host investigated the pageant’s oft-repeated claim that it makes $45 million in scholarship money available to contestants on an annual basis. Unsurprisingly, he concluded that the stated figure substantially overstates reality.

But he was wrong,* and it’s all because his fact-finding elves didn’t dig deep enough into the types of people who compete in the pageant — and particularly, into their educational proclivities (emphasis added):

Continue reading John Oliver’s evisceration of Miss America shows he doesn’t understand beauty pageant winners

Blame the continuing ban on in-flight electronics on Virgin America

When I received an email from Jetblue a week ago (Subject line: Take off without shutting off!), I thought the airline was improperly taking credit where none whatsoever was properly due:

Continue reading Blame the continuing ban on in-flight electronics on Virgin America

I hope Kim Jong-un brushed up on his American geography

North Korea has been threatening the United States with nuclear annihilation for as long as you and I can remember, but a recently-successful nuclear test, a newly-installed leader, and seemingly-specific attack plans have US strategists unsure of the degree to which they must take all this seriously.

The most recent round of threatening exchanges began about three weeks ago, after the UN Security Council agreed unanimously to tighten sanctions in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test. Kang Pyo-yong, the country’s vice defense minister, declared, “If we push the button, they will blast off and their barrage will turn Washington, the stronghold of American imperialists and the nest of evil, and its followers, into a sea of fire.”

I can’t say I lost too much sleep in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. After all, D.C. is probably out of North Korea’s range – the New York Times noted that “North Korea does not have the technical ability to use nuclear-tipped missiles” – and besides, the city is hot and humid and full of Congressmen, so good riddance.

But in the meantime, North Korea supposedly launched massive cyber attacks against its southern neighbor, placed its military on the highest level of alert (presumably, red), and severed its only line of communication with the South Korean military. And the threats haven’t been all one-sided: last week, the United States signed a formal defense agreement obligating it to protect South Korea from even small provocations, and flew B-2 stealth bombers over the country.

And so, we got another round of threats, these much more specific, and — I have to admit — much more worrisome. In any event, it’s probably worth paying attention if only because it’s better not to be taken by surprise in a situation involving the nuclear capabilities of a short man.

Much like in the previous threat, North Korea helpfully provided a list of targets. Kim Jung-un himself is quoted saying that in the event of a US attack, North Korea would “mercilessly strike the US mainland… military bases in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.” I count four specific targets on his hit list: Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, and the US Mainland. Which brings us to a game of One of these things is not like the others.

The first three share one feature in common: the targets are entirely in or on the Pacific Ocean, just like North Korea. In other words, Kim’s list makes a lot of sense: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles must be able to travel 1000 miles before they can travel 2000 miles, so as North Korea continues to develop its rocket technology, some targets are sure to come in range before others. That the targets are so specific and relatively nearby — and not, say, Detroit, New York, and Miami — might lend some credence to Kim Jung-un’s threat.

But what of the Thing that is not like the others — that is, the threat to hit the US mainland? Just last week, North Korea got a lot of attention when it released a photo with a map in the background detailing a “US Mainland Strike Plan”, so you know at least someone is taking the possibility seriously:

Continue reading I hope Kim Jong-un brushed up on his American geography

Another NFL Coverup?

No, I’m not talking about the recent spate of NFL player body-snatching, or even the Drew Brees/Vick’s Nyquil-related conspiracy I identified a month and a half ago.

This conspiracy goes to the top.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently expressed his approval over NFL All-Stars’ play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl. What he meant was, the football players on the field actually hit one another like football players.

All of them, that is, except one:

Continue reading Another NFL Coverup?

In which I put on my Nate Silver hat

Election day has come and gone, and while we — thankfully — already know the outcome, I can still write about it because votes continue to be counted over two weeks later. You may have heard that Barack Obama pulled out a victory in the Presidential race, earning just over 50% of the popular vote. And in a fun bit of irony, it’s looking increasingly likely that Mitt Romney will end up with roughly 47% of the popular vote.

But as you know, the popular vote doesn’t actually count for much. In case you have trouble hearkening back to 2000, a number of pre-election articles speculated that Romney might win the popular vote but lose the electoral college. A few even explored the dreaded electoral college tie (tl;dr – President Romney, Vice President Biden). And while neither of these nightmare scenarios came to fruition, that we could even conceive of such a thing underscores the extent to which our national offices need not reflect public opinion, as reflected — for the sake of argument — in the popular vote.

And the Presidency isn’t the only race in which the results need not align with the will of the collective people.

In the Senate, that much is obvious: every state, regardless of size, gets two Senators. But this year, when the Democrats expanded their slim majority to 53-47, the margin roughly mirrored the popular vote. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, was a clear outlier — Republicans comfortably held onto their majority.

What happened? Did that many people vote for Obama and for a Democratic Senator — and also for a GOP representative?

As you probably guessed: No.

Like in the Presidency and the Senate, House Democrats received more votes overall, but still managed to lose the chamber. If you prefer a graphical representation, here’s what that looks like, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Continue reading In which I put on my Nate Silver hat

That’s no moon – but it’s also not a spaceship*

The dominant structure at Camp Muir – the last stop of many climbers on their way to summit Mount Rainier – is a ‘black box that looks a bit like an oversized semi-truck container’. And it’s overdue for a makeover.

To this end, the National Park has made available four potential plans for public comment. They are, as related by The Seattle Times:

– Removing structures and replacing them with large tent pads.

– Maintaining the camp as it is.

– Replacing non-historic structures with those that match the style of the historic buildings.

– Building a new structure.

I’ve never been up to Camp Muir, and I was curious to see what this abomination looked like. The difficulty I had in tracking down a decent picture spoke volumes: no one really wanted to photograph this thing, post it online, and make it easy to find. It’s just not so photogenic. But I did manage to dig up one image:

Continue reading That’s no moon – but it’s also not a spaceship*

Birthers: more right than you thought (pun absolutely not intended)

Mitt Romney’s recent decision to hold an event with Donald Trump provoked a shitstorm of renewed focus on the Donald’s birther credentials. Once again the center of attention, Trump failed to disappoint:

Now, there’s something I’ve never understood about birthers. Well, there are a lot of things I’ve never understood about birthers, but let’s focus on one. First, let’s review the relevant clause of the Constitution:

Continue reading Birthers: more right than you thought (pun absolutely not intended)