Your summer in extreme weather
Ladies, don’t you just hate it when you’re ovulating? And guys are, like, not? Am I riiiiiiight?
It hasn’t even premiered yet, but Whitney Cummings’ aggressively promoted new sitcom may just be the most unself-awarely retro-sexist show on television. And in a season that’s giving us Playboy bunnies, sexy stewardesses and Charlie’s Freaking Angels, that’s quite an accomplishment.
As you likely already know from the deluge of magazine ads, billboards and canned laughter-heavy promos, “Whitney” is about a woman who’s happily unmarried to her scruffy yet adorable boyfriend. But lest you think this is some subversive takedown of biological clocks and enforced monogamy, the jokes about how a woman’s “silent treatment” isn’t really a punishment — probably not. Previews for “Whitney” include — I am not kidding — references to Cosmopolitan magazine, cupcakes, being “whipped,” and whether or not men are like cavemen. There are also references to cellulite, looking fat, her period, and what women “really mean” when they talk. As Best Week Ever exasperatedly points out, the show’s campaign might as well read, “Blah blah blah shopping. Blah blah blah PMS. Blah blah blah weight issues.”
Yet it would appear that our conquest by the short skirt-wearing, cutesy gun necklace-sporting Cummings — who writes her self-titled show and also co-created the marginally more promising “Two Broke Girls” — is all but inevitable. A recent Sunday New York Times Magazine profile in which she describes herself as “the weird, quirky, funny girl” ominously warned that “There Is No Escaping Whitney Cummings.”
“Whitney” may yet prove to be something other than the lame one-joke disaster NBC is currently showcasing it as. Who’d have thought “Cougar Town” would evolve into something funnier and more multidimensional than its dismal first few episodes? But despite the media blitz and near frantic promotion, is there really an audience for more clichés about how supposedly hilarious our gender differences are? The truly horrific “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a 90-minute collection of “Men are like this, but women are like this!” jokes, sank like a rock in its opening weekend.
Yes, men and women are different. But humor comes from originality and specificity, the way that Alison Brie makes “Community’s” Annie an uptight dork but a thoroughly rich character, or the way that Margaret Cho can wring wry wit out of real pain and anger. “Bridesmaids” was a movie about bridesmaids and managed to avoid sinking into the morass of tired “men are such beasts and girls are such girls” jokes. Sunday night’s female Emmy nominees and winners — smart, complicated, breathtakingly goofy women like Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, Jane Lynch and Tina Fey, among others — prove that you can be funny and a woman without constantly having to be funny about simply being a woman. And America may just not get into that giant Hot Tub Time Machine back to the Comedy Barn, where the Token Female is doing a routine about why the line is always longer in the ladies’ room.
Great Plains tornadoes
From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.
"It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."
But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."
On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.
Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."
An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.
Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.
Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.
Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."
Florida red tide
A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.
The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.