Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

The Lula ruling — An appeals court in Brazil announced this week that it will rule on January 24 on whether corruption charges against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will stand. If so, he can’t run in next October’s presidential election. Even if his chances of winning the election may be overrated, his name on the ballot would have a big impact on the race.


BBC Elsewhere — Without this invaluable website, your Friday author wouldn’t know that The Republic of The Gambia now claims that a written agreement that grants land to be used for a restoration of the Russian monarchy is a “false and faked document.” We would never have heard of“Arch Chancellor Prince Anton Bakov,” a man who claims to be Prime Minister of the Romanov Empire. Nor would I know that tourists who dress as Mario-kart video game characters while driving go-karts around Tokyo are now required to wear seat belts.

Saudi cinema — We’re pleased to see that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s cultural opening will allow Saudis to return to movie theaters for the first time since the late 1970s. We’ll be watching to see how long it takes Saudi moviegoers to figure out just how many Star Wars episodes they’ve missed.

What We're Ignoring

“For Mexico In Front” — The conservative National Action Party (PAN) joined forces this week with the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Citizens Movement party. At this point, the new coalition, known as “For Mexico in Front,” looks set for third place in next July’s presidential election behind the PRI and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party.

The 2018 Putin Calendar — Thanks for the sexy calendar Vladimir Vladimirovich, and Merry Christmas to you too. Thanks especially for keeping your shirt on this year. But you have to stop sending us these things. We get it. You’re dreamy. You don’t have to prove this every December.

Shen Yun — If you live in a big US city, you’ve probably seen the posters of leaping Chinese women, the colorful flowing robes, and the promise of “art that connects Heaven and Earth.” But for the 13th year in a row, we’re skipping Shen Yun. It’s not because the Chinese government says these self-proclaimed “elite Chinese artists” are the Falun Gong’s dance troupe and a carefully choreographed bid to subvert Chinese Communist Party rule through subversive kitsch. Nope, we’re not going for the same reason we never went to River Dance. Happy-looking dancers are boring. Dancers should look sad until the curtain call. That’s a rule. Fred Astaire is the only exception. And the Nicholas Brothers.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, but that means it creates a lot of waste in the form of cups and used coffee grinds. Every year, we drink out of 600 billion single-use plastic and paper cups, most of which end up in a landfill or our environment. Could coffee also contribute to a more sustainable future? A German company is now recovering leftover coffee grounds from bars, restaurants and hotels, and it's recycling them into reusable coffee cups. In other words, they're creating cups of coffee made from coffee.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

What technology was used to assist Eliud Kipchoge's historic sub two-hour marathon time?

A lot. If you watched the video of him, you saw that he was within a pace group, a whole bunch of runners in front of him cutting the wind. Some runners behind him, actually improving his wind resistance by having people behind him. There was a green laser showing him exactly what time he had to run. He had really high-tech gels that he took, these Maurten gels. I actually like those a lot, too. But the main thing were the shoes. These are the early prototypes of the shoes or the first version. He's now in the third version. But what's most important is there is a carbon fiber plate. You cannot bend this thing. So, Nike introduced these shoes, I don't know, two years ago. Now, there's a new generation. It's very controversial.

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Will the Catalonia question be a big issue in the Spanish election coming up in November?

You bet it will. Passions have been further inflamed now, and the question that has been difficult from the very beginning, by the very heavy prison sentences that was given to those that are accused of sedition, that is organizing the independence referendum. So, passions are heating up. It will be a difficult issue for the entire Spanish political system to handle for years to come.

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You'd think, being the relatively hopeful person that you are, that the nauseating anguish of Brexit would be more or less over now that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally reached a deal with Brussels on how to extricate the UK from the European Union.

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