Monday, September 25, 2017

"The Good Doctor" starts on ABC, with an autistic surgical resident who is lovable


ABC premiered “The Good Doctor”, created by David Shore, tonight with a one-hour Pilot (“Burnt Food”) as resident Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), leaves his home in Cheyenne, WY, leaving behind a matronly tabby cat who seems to have helped raise him. Here’s ABC’s best link, for Autism Speaks. 

When he gets off a plane in California, a teenager is gravely wounded by a falling sign.  Shaun takes over from another doctor and saves the boy’s life, but not before getting into an awkward scuffle with the TSA. 

The hospital board contemplates whether to hire a resident with autism (with a meditation on comparative diversity), which seems more like Asperger’s Syndrome.  Most of incidents in the episode are preceded by flashbacks into his childhood when he was bullied, but was close to his brothers, one of whom dies in a fall in a railroad museum.

Not only does Shaun have a photographic memory but he also is savant, able to recall precise medical details and visualize all internal anatomical structures.  He seems not to react to some social cues because he appeared overstimulated but what his brain processes as “noise”.


But he always seems lovable and sincere.  Oddly, he can call people out for suddenly being rude and be right (almost like in a Ninth Street Center talk group in the 1970s, pretty much the way Paul Rosenfels would have).  It seems that a relationship with him would work unless it subjected him to sudden taboo surprises.

Sometimes his speech patterns and sentences remind one of Jack Andraka (at Stanford), except that Jack normally would not miss any social cues in common situations. (Jack is an accomplished athlete with his kayaking, but the show leaves the impression that Shaun could probably do something like that, too, maybe that will occur in a later episode.)   Shaun could probably speak publicly OK like in a Ted talk.   Maybe some people would compare his sentences to those of Mark Zuckerberg. Or perhaps Alan Turning, they way he is portrayed in "The Imitation Game".

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ABC 20-20 airs bizarre double-murder plot or ex-spouses in Texas, before trial


ABC 20-20 presented a murder for hire plot in Houston that is one of the most bizarre ever, the most detailed link is here in a story by Gwen Geffen, et al.

An established veterinarian. Valerie McDaniel, after a divorce, fell in love with Leon Jacob, who was a medical school graduate from the Caribbean.  As with a similar story on Dateline (May 18, 2017) about a different case, sometimes young doctors don’t work out well in residency and then go down into spirals. 


McDaniel would commit suicide by jumping from a balcony of her condo, after having said her gradual involvement in a double-murder for hire plot was insidious. 

The suspect in the episode does seem to indicate psychopathic personality disorder.

It’s unusual for news magazines to present cases like this before conviction.  The defendant maintains his innocence.
  
The heterosexual world seems to have a lot of these “Orient Express” plots.

By Dhanix at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

(Attribution).

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Twitter and Trump": Bill Weir reports on CNN


Twitter and Trump” with Bill Weir, aired tonight Friday, September 22, 2017, link 


Trump started using Twitter in 2009, when he was emerging from bankruptcy.

CNN has sometimes reversed the spelling, calling it “Trump and Twitter”.

The documentary first talks about the early seasons of “The Apprentice.”

The documentary goes back to 2006 with the invention of Twitter, and its explosion when Michael Jackson died.

Twitter was used to promote Trump’s “Think Like a Champion.”

Weir starts carrying around a thick hardcopy book “The Collected Tweets of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States”.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams explains that the brevity and metaphor in Trump’s tweets persuade visitors regardless of “truth”.  Obama was much more cautious.

Trump isn’t interested in books or presidential biographies.  His short attention span follows from TV and seems to meet the American public.


Trump’s use of Twitter contradicts his statements that he didn’t trust computers.  Although he uses Twitter to attack the media and journalists, he has not objected to the idea of “user generated content” and the risks it carries since it can oppose the establishment media. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Robin Roberts observes 5th anniversary of her bone marrow transplant on Good Morning America, as transplantation treatments among siblings or even strangers become much more common


This morning, Sept. 20, 2017, ABC News “Good Morning America” aired a special fifth anniversary celebration of (gay) news anchor’s Robin Roberts’s bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastc syndrome.
  
This form of early leukemia (which can become acute, AML) typically occurs after age 70, and often has very vague symptoms. I would wonder about the use of chemotherapy in the elderly, who have often have currently good life quality without symptoms, and would wonder if it extends survival. But in younger patients radical treatment seems needed. The most likely life-threatening events could include severe infections (especially pneumonias) or other tumors because immune system function is compromised, in a way somewhat like HIV.  
  
It appears that earlier chemotherapy, as well as exposure to hydrocarbons and tobacco smoke become risk factors.  Genetics plays a role.   Roberts reportedly had breast cancer earlier, so the earlier treatments could have led to this syndrome. 
  
  
Robin talked about sibling bone marrow donation, and noted that technology has made less exact genetic matches from donors work. 
  
Sloan Kettering has a transition apartment for patients recovering, but they must have 24-hour caregivers.
  
I didn’t grow up in a culture that encouraged “body part sharing”, because in earlier times radical cures like this were not yet possible.  It certainly provides a twist on notions of family values, and the idea that nature doesn’t need everyone to procreate.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sean Spicer steals the Emmy's with Trump-ism


Chris Cillizza of CNN writes “Hollywood just enabled Sean Spicer and that’s not funny”, here. That was all on tne Emmy’s last night on CBS.

OK, the largest audience to watch the Emmy’s ever.  Spicer has always said he was ordered to brag about the inauguration crowd size. 


Spicer has been mimicked on SNL in falsetto, and appeared recently on Jimmy Kimmel.


I haven’t seen him in drag or in a leather bar. He's not that macho or cis.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ken Burns and "The Vietnam War"


Tonight, Sunday September 17, 2017, PBS aired the first episode (90 minutes) of the 18-hour, 10 episode film “The Vietnam War”, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novich. 

The film went way back before World War I with the history of Vietnam, interspersing with Vietnam war veterans recollecting the fire fights in the early years of the war (through 1966).  One lieutenant recounts seeing his platoon of enlisted men (draftees) go down in a rice paddy. Another recalls telling his mother that he was not special enough to be saved from casualty. Still another recalls risking his gams as he slow-walked looking for ordnance.  That was like the “individual tactical training” that opened week 3 of Basic  -- “Prepare to rush!  Rush!”. Ohm yes, it was taught by the Fort Jackson Committee Group.


The film gives a lot of history of Ho Chi Minh, who at one time was a Vietnamese nationalist as be then became a Leninist.  In the Truman years, when he almost died. US tacit support for him, from FDR, would dissolve under Truman and Eisenhower. 

Gradually, during the Eisenhower years, the “domino theory” takes hold as the French eventually leave, with a corrupt but anti-communist government in the south (with a very complicated political history of its own).

Families were allowed 300 days to evacuate from the North as communism became more militant and developed guerilla tactics.  One woman tells her family’s story, which folds into the narrative supporting US defending the south, which grows during the Eisenhower years.   The new front that the US would call the Viet Cong would gradually emerge.  Two saboteurs would invade a US military compound in the south in 1959 and produce the first two deaths during a movie showing. 

Update: Sept. 18

The second episode covered a coup in South Vietnam after martial law, as well as the politics that led Kennedy to become involved.  It briefly covered the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It also covered the idea that the Soviets, Chinese and Americans gradually adopted the idea that conventional war could take them away from nuclear war, even as it involved sacrifices of young men to the draft.

Update: Sept 20

The draft is covered.  It resulted in an Army where minorities and the poor took more of the casualties. Colleges were required to "rank" and report the grades of students with deferments.

Johnson nixed the movement of troops into Laos and Cambodia out of fear of drawing in the Chinese and even the Soviets.

Later the torture of prisoner's of war as "criminals" in the North was covered, including one who had been there for eight years.

Dr. Benjamin Spock, who founded the "People's Party", wrote an article in Ramparts that got the attention of Martin Luther King. They founded "The National Coalition to End the War in Vietnam". 

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Secret State: Inside North Korea" with Will Ripley, shows the incredible zombie-like devotion of North Korean society to its leadership.


Secret State: Inside North Korea”, a one hour film, aired tonight on CNN,  with Will Ripley doing the travels.  The film follows on a similar effort by Jacob Laukaitis (Movies blog, Aug. 24). 

Will gets an escorted tour where he gets to talk to the people to an unusual degree.  Almost invariably, he finds them unquestionably loyal to the “ruling family” as god kings, as you would find with a religious cult, but this is a whole country.  The people seem to be one group mind, whose consciousness combines in a way alien to westerners. Is this only the effect of government propaganda control? 

The film starts as Will Ripley visits teenagers on the beach.  They seem fairly normal in demeanor as Will learns they have been taught to hate Americans, who are supposed to be real scary.  Am American man is supposed to have a big nose and a hairy chest.  Will, who is 36 and blond, says, “I don’t have a hairy chest.”  Already, there is a racial component;  Caucasians tend to be taller than Asians and white men are more likely to have noticeable differential body hair, which evolved in colder climates as a secondary sexual characteristic that might attract women.  On the other hand, the North Korean boys already seem proud of their uniformity and sameness.

Children are shown practicing with toy guns and video games to shoot Americans.  Ripley gets to visit the Demilitarized Zone, and talk to an opposing colonel his age about the hatred of America, which goes back to the Korean War in 1950-1953.


Will does visit the more privileged homes, including some in the city of Pyongyang, which is surprisingly colorful.  He does see present-day peasant agriculture.
  
He finally visits the shrine and volcano at Mt. Paektu near the Chinese border.