The Spectacle Blog

Paris Climate Change Conference Expected to be Major Contributor to Climate Change

By on 11.30.15 | 11:57AM

This week begins #COP21, the United Nations Climate Change "Conference of Parties," destined to save us all from death by a thousand sunburns. Or possibly melted ice caps. Or more solid ice caps. Or snow. Or possibly no snow. Or something. They'll figure it out and then they'll tell you what to fear. No worries.

Anyway, this weekend, 150 separate world leaders flew in from all corners of the globe to attend the conference, which aims to keep global warming at "under 2 degress Celsius," a significant feat considering that the Earth has, according to the same body, warmed 0.85 degrees since 1880, and also because the planet travels around a very large, superheated body that is continually evolving and changing throughout its life cycle, thus affecting weather patterns and climate temperature on Earth. Later this week, around 20,000 individual delegates from 195 countries will arrive in Paris for the talks, by train, plane, car, bus and bike, burning over 300,000 tons of CO2, their primary ozone-depleting concern, by the end of the week.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad

By on 11.30.15 | 10:40AM

Fifty-eight years ago today my parents were married in St. John the Baptist Churchin downtown New Orleans. My mom was 19; my dad was 22. I — their eldest child — was born just over nine months later.

While I obviously have no memories of my parents’ wedding, I have in my head images of it because much of it was captured by an amateur photographer on 8mm film — a reel of silent, but color, film that I saw often as a boy whenever Dad projected it onto a screen that he’d set up in the den of our home. (I’m increasingly astonished that two people who married so young managed to remain together, happily, for 50 years, until my mom died in March 2008.)

Back then, the most popular new passenger car on America’s roads was (I believe) the ’57 Chevy Bel Air.

What About Paris?

By on 11.29.15 | 1:57PM

“Enough is enough,” President Obama said in response to the deranged shooter in Colorado Springs. Right-thinking Americans share the president’s disgust with this heinous act. But it sure would have been nice to have heard language this strong and decisive from Obama after Paris.

Happy Birthday, Vin

By on 11.29.15 | 1:55PM

Today is Vin Scully’s 88th birthday. Folks who listen to this vibrant and articulate broadcaster may find this number hard to believe. But it’s true. DOB 11/29/27 — do the arithmetic. Vin’s many fans across the nation wish him the best of days and many happy returns.

Vin has been calling Dodgers games, and lots of other sporting events, since 1950. He has told us that 2016 will be his final year in the booth. This makes his many fans — count me in this lot — both sad at this leaving and thankful for the many wonderful hours he has given us.

Happy birthday, Redhead.

Thoughts on the Planned Parenthood Shooting in Colorado Springs UPDATE

By on 11.28.15 | 6:15PM

As you know by now, three people, including a police officer, were murdered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. After a standoff that last five hours, the gunman surrendered to police. The suspect has been identified as Robert Lewis Dear, a man in his late 50's who had recently moved to Colorado from South Carolina and has had a number of skirmishes with the law arising from disputes with his ex-wife and various neighbors over the past two decades.

It is not clear that if Dear deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood, a point even Vicki Cowart, the President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, acknowledges. However, Cowart went on to decry "extremists" who she blamed for "creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country." Here is Cowart's statement in full:

Philadelphia 76ers Set NBA Record With 27th Consecutive Loss

By on 11.28.15 | 1:04AM

The Philadelphia 76ers have hit the record books for all the wrong reasons.

With a 116-114 loss on Friday night to the Houston Rockets, the 76ers have set a NBA record with their 27th consecutive loss. The losing streak dates back to last season when they lost their final 10 games. They are now 0-17 this season.

The single season record for consecutive losses is still 26 which is shared by the 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers and last year's edition of the 76ers. 

Their next game takes place on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Should they lose to the Grizzlies and lose again to the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday, the 76ers will set an NBA record by losing their first 19 games. The New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) began the 2009-10 season with 18 consecutive losses. 

Philadelphia is no stranger to long losing streaks. In 1961, the Philadelphia Phillies lost 23 consecutive games which is MLB's longest losing streak in the modern era.

First It Was the Washington Redskins, Now It’s the Edmonton Eskimos’ Turn

By on 11.27.15 | 10:18PM

For some time now there has been concerted effort to change the name of the NFL's Washington Redskins. 

Well, now with the Edmonton Eskimos due to play in Sunday's Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League's equivalent of the Super Bowl, only it's been around for more than 100 years) against the Ottawa RedBlacks, there is now a call for the Eskimos to change its name. In an op-ed in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (which is Canada's largest Innu organization), claims the Eskimos name imposes colonial terminology upon them:

The word Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term. It has never been our term. When Inuit mobilized in the 1970s to protect our rights, we started using the term Inuit to describe our people because that is our way of describing ourselves. No other society has a right to impose their terminology upon us.

Obama Lectures America on Syrian Refugees By Likening Them to The Pilgrims

By on 11.26.15 | 9:52PM

In his Thanksgiving address, President Obama once again lectured Americans about the Syrian refugees. This time, he likened them to the Pilgrims. "Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” Obama said. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance.”

Would we be put into the position to offer this chance if President Obama had been serious about enforcing red lines in Syria? Consider what historian Walter Russell Mead wrote a little over a week ago:

CNN: Israel? What Israel?

By on 11.26.15 | 2:03PM

Most of the Muslim and Arab world would love Israel to just disappear.

Well, CNN did its best to accommodate that desire. In an article on CNN Money about ISIS, it featured a map of the Middle East. Although this map showed Jerusalem, it was shown as the capital of Palestina. This is a Spanish/Portugese translation of Palestine.

When diligent readers brought to this to CNN's attention, they replaced it with one of Aleppo, Syria. 

Evidently CNN can't bring itself to admit that Israel exists. 

Labour MP John McDonnell Actually Read From Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book at Westminster

By on 11.25.15 | 3:03PM

Labour MP John McDonnell, who serves as the party's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, actually read from Chairman Mao's Little Red Book in the British House of Commons in an exchange with George Osborne who is the Chancellor of th Exchequer in David Cameron's Tory government:

Let me quote from Mao, rarely done in this chamber, 'We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know'.

I thought it would come in handy for you in your new relationship.

McDonnell then tossed the book across the dispatch box towards Osborne. But Osborne had a beautiful reply:

So the shadow chancellor literally stood at the Despatch Box and read out from Mao's Little Red Book.

Opening the book, he went on: "Oh look! It's his personal signed copy.