In the summer of 2010, the soul singer Bettye LaVette stepped onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles with a 32-piece string section behind her and performed a four-decade-old song she’d only just learned: the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

At the time, LaVette was about seven years into a long-overdue career resurgence. As a teenager in the 1960s, she had scored a few memorable R&B hits, including the slinky, aching “Let Me Down Easy,” but she failed to make the kind of impact that many of the artists she came up alongside in Detroit — Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, Aretha Franklin — enjoyed. To many record collectors, LaVette was a great forgotten singer whose earthy voice could transform any song into something more than even its author imagined. To most everyone else, she was just forgotten.

For decades, she’d had albums shelved, projects scuttled and even one manager shot. LaVette calls this seeming yen for misfortune “buzzard luck,” but beginning around 2003, her fortunes began to change with a string of critically acclaimed albums.

Preparing for the Beatles tribute, her husband, Kevin Kiley, suggested she perform “Blackbird.” “I’d never heard the song before in my life,” LaVette said in a phone call from her home in West Orange, N.J., where she has been riding out the coronavirus pandemic. “Kevin played it for me and I said, ‘I wonder if people know he’s talking about a Black woman?’”

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About the only thing that would get me out of bed at 6 am on a Saturday.


BAY CITY, MI – Boaters looking to get in an early morning cruise or go fishing this weekend will want to reschedule their plans.

The Saginaw River near the Consumers Energy Weadock Plant in Hampton Township will close to all mariners and boat traffic during the final demolition of the structure set for Saturday, Aug. 29.

Crews from Bierlein Companies of Midland will use explosives to take down the final structure at the Weadock Plant, prompting the river to close from 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Saturday for safety.

The plant is a part of the much larger complex mentioned in my newest video, below. The remainder is scheduled for demo in 2023.

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Keeps it light with heavy material. The end is worth it.

Lessons from Laura

August 28, 2020

Top: Gulf of Mexico prior to Laura’s passage. Bottom: after.
HT to Simon Donner on Twitter.

Andrew Dessler on Twitter:

If you hear a “reasonable middle bro” who “cares deeply about the environment” but tells you that “climate change is not making hurricanes worse,” they’re gas-lighting you. Let’s examine the peer-reviewed science on this issue.

From chapter 6 of the IPCC Ocean and Cryosphere report. See also this web page from NOAA: gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming…

First, rainfall. There is a good reason for rainfall to increase with warming: Warmer sea surface temperatures leads to more water vapor in the boundary layer. Unless convergence into the storm DECREASES, you’ll get more rainfall. 

Here’s what NOAA says:


Next, intensity: Yes, we project hurricane intensity to increase with temperature:

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Not new information, I know, for readers here, but I hope you will share this very good and thoughtful piece by my friend Dr Katharine Hayhoe.

Teachable moment in the short attention span era.

Laura Damage Survey

August 27, 2020

Updating as we learn more

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As Laura looks more and more like a Cat 5…


Above – Big Lightning is a sign of an intensifying storm.

Jeff Masters in Yale Climate Connections:

Hurricane Laura powered its way to major hurricane status overnight, putting on an impressive display of rapid intensification over the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Laura is headed towards a landfall expected Wednesday night or early Thursday morning in northeastern Texas or western Louisiana as a major category 4 hurricane, and is expected to cause “catastrophic” wind and storm surge damage, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Rain squalls from Laura’s outer spiral bands were already affecting the coasts of Texas and Louisiana on Wednesday morning, and they will increase in intensity throughout the day.

Laura rapidly intensified by an impressive 50 mph in the 24 hours ending at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, with the winds rising from 75 mph to 125 mph and the pressure falling from 990 mb to 956 mb. This far exceeds the definition of rapid intensification, which is a 24 mb drop in 24 hours. Buoy 42395, located just east of Laura’s eye on Wednesday morning, reported sustained winds of up to 76 mph, wind gusts as high as 107 mph, and a wave height of 37 feet (11 meters).

At 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Laura was already generating a storm surge of 1 – 3 feet along much of the Texas and Louisiana coasts; the largest surges, between 2.5 – 3 feet, were at Shell Beach, Louisiana, located to the southeast of New Orleans, and Freshwater Canal Locks, on the south-central coast of Louisiana. Laura’s storm surge can be tracked using the Trabus Technologies Storm Surge Live Tracker or the NOAA Tides and Currents page for Laura.

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Dr Jeff Masters is now my colleague writing for Yale Climate Connections. I spoke to him in 2018 about, among other things, rapid intensification of hurricanes.


Just got off the phone with Jeff, and he’s working on an update which will be available soon.

He says Laura’s winds increased 40 mph in 18 hours, which qualifies as “rapid intensification”. It took a while to form an eye, but once it did, it was off to the races.

Update soon.