Stock Car Saturday


Last year the University of Tennessee played a college football game against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway that attracted a record 157,000 spectators. Photograph: Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Never mind that the NFL’s ratings problems run deeper than players kneeling during the anthem, which barely eats more than a minute of a broadcast that lasts at minimum three hours. In some ways the league set itself up for failure by committing so completely over the past decade to the rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the latter of whom retired two seasons ago after helping the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. Two star QBs who could step into that breach, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Houston’s Deshaun Watson, are out with season-ending injuries. Thursday Night Football has proven to be a disastrous experiment, one that produces far more player injuries than actual entertainment. Meanwhile stories continue to emerge about the adverse effects football has on players’ long-term health. All of it makes the NFL that much more difficult to sit with.

Still, things could be worse for the NFL. It could be Nascar. A decade ago the sport emerged as an unlikely challenger to pro football’s small-screen primacy, attracting nearly 20 million viewers to the 2006 Daytona 500. But Nascar has lost more than 45% of its audience since then, according to Nielsen. What’s more, equally dismal live spectator figures have compelled some tracks to remove seats from their grandstands. Denny Hamlin, a star Nascar driver, has made his peace with this. “People with smartphones, they’re rewatching races in the back of their car going up the highway,” he said back in April. “You don’t have to attend these races anymore. You get such a good experience through your cellphone, so the way we measure attendance and we measure TV ratings and all that’s always skewed because we live in a different world now.”

@ TG

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True Pervert/Grifter Thursday



Once a pervert always a pervert, now a Presidential pervert in need of expulsion.

Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled an explosive dossier of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, believes it to be 70% to 90% accurate, according to a new book on the covert Russian intervention in the 2016 US election.

The book, Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding, quotes Steele as telling friends that he believes his reports – based on sources cultivated over three decades of intelligence work – will be vindicated as the US special counsel investigation digs deeper into contacts between Trump, his associates and Moscow.

“I’ve been dealing with this country for 30 years. Why would I invent this stuff?” Steele is quoted as saying. One of the reasons his dossier was taken seriously in Washington in 2016 was Steele’s reputation in the US for producing reliable reports on Russia, according to Harding’s book.

@ TG

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Coal Fail Wednesday


President Donald Trump’s coal push is losing power as America goes green. An administration plan to subsidize solid fuels has stirred a backlash from industry, which fears it will distort power prices. Meanwhile U.S. carbon emissions from coal fell at a record pace in 2015. Environmental and economic forces are conspiring against the president’s campaign pledge.

In September, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adopt new grid rules that would effectively subsidize coal- and nuclear-powered electricity producers. The feedback has been strongly negative. Respondents ranging from grid operators to oil and gas trade groups to Brooklyn-based arts and crafts website Etsy have opposed the plan. The commission is supposed to take a decision by Dec. 11, but on Tuesday Chairman Neil Chatterjee told an industry publication the commission might order a new round of study to ensure that whatever decision it takes can stand up to legal scrutiny.

Coal’s future may not brighten even if FERC adopts Perry’s plan. On Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said coal emissions fell by a record amount in 2015. There were big declines in states that were key to Trump’s election victory, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. And the ultimate irony came in Perry’s home state of Texas, which recorded the largest drop and enjoyed a surge in wind power.


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CO2 Tuesday


The world is on its way to record-high carbon emissions in 2017, after three straight years in which human-caused emissions appeared to be leveling off, new research shows.

The projected 2 percent increase in emissions this year adds urgency to the UN climate talks this week in Bonn, where 197 countries are negotiating how to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement to slow global warming.

“There’s not much time left to cut emissions and keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees,” said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, who led the emissions research presented Monday in Bonn. The aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times. For that to happen, studies have shown that emissions must peak within the next decade and then decline to net zero.

The new figures may be disappointing after hopeful speculation that emissions were already peaking, but not entirely unexpected.


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Money Bags Monday


Wall Street bonuses may climb as much as 10 percent this year, in the first meaningful jump for the industry since 2013, according to a closely watched report.
Bankers who advise companies on issuing stock or bonds could see an even bigger pay jump, as much as 20 percent, compensation firm Johnson Associates Inc said on Sunday.


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Sunny, Windy Sunday


HERE COMES THE SOLAR WIND (AGAIN): A wedge-shaped hole in the sun’s atmosphere has opened and it is spewing solar wind into space. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring the gap, shown here facing Earth on Nov. 12th:

This a a coronal hole–a region where the sun’s magnetic field peels back and allows solar wind to escape. An emerging stream of gaseous material is expected to reach Earth on Nov. 14th or 15th.

Fun fact: This coronal hole is connected to another coronal hole that lashed Earth with solar wind on Nov. 7th, sparking Northern Lights in the USA as far south as Nebraska. Could it happen again? NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the solar wind arrives. Auroras will probably be confined to the Arctic, but the events of Nov. 7th show that pleasant surprises are possible. Free: Aurora Alerts.


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