Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oprah Winfrey's OWN network, and her Master Class; introducing writer Jeremy Lubman (serendipity on an Amtrak train)

Wednesday night, as I rode home on Amtrak from Tribeca in New York, I met Jeremy Lubman, who has written some of the episodes of “Oprah Presents: Master Class” on her new OWN, Oprah Winfrey Network.

I had not tried Oprah’s new network (since her show concluded in May 2011, to be replaced by Anderson this fall), but tonight I found that OWN aired a Master Class (link) with Sidney Poitier, now 83, who starred in “Lilies in the Field” (1964) and “In the Heat of the Night” (1967).  Oprah says that Poitier’s award for “Lilies” in 1964 was an inspiration for her.  He played in a total of 58 films. 

I recall that about three years ago Oprah tried another Master Class concept on an Internet webcast, with a variety of spiritual "gurus". 

Some of Lubman’s work appears on his own site here

You can watch “Ecomagination”, or any of several pieces for the Climate Reality Project (link),  or his “Experimental Short Film”, which is very abstract.  I should be able to identify the piano music, but it escapes me.  Maybe it’s Bartok, one of the folk dances.

Make sure to watch “Our Internet”, which is about the dangers to the continued ability “user generated content” because of the possible imposition of downstream liability on service providers with SOPA and Protect-IP, which were shelved in Congress this winter.  It’s interesting that one observer points out that laws like SOPA could destroy profitability ("money being made") of Internet start-ups as we know them now.  I like his black-and-white stagecoach image. 

See my "Bill Boushka" blog for more on SOPA, such as my posting on the "Middle School Detention Problem" Nov. 25, 2011.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

ABC 20-20 covers Human Relations (that is, Resources) stealth (and the determination not to hire mothers)

ABC 20-20 this evening, in an episode titled "True Confessions", included a frightening segment on how HR departments in many companies get away with discriminatory behavior, in this link ("20 tips to get, keep a job").  Even in this day, the report said, some employers go out of their way, under the table, not to hire women with children. They'll even walk the job applicant out to their car to see if they have a child seat in the back.

Employers also have "layoff lists" of people they want to get rid of, and tend to start making up files of incidents that could justify poor performance ratings.

The HR coach advised new employees not to take all their vacation at once in the first year on a job.  She also quit the HR business to become a whistleblower.

The report also covered Savanna Swanson, "Porn Star turned Mom".
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anderson's daytime show getting superficial on topics like UFO's, Amish life, bizarre workplace firings, improving personal memory

Anderson Cooper says that his daytime show is “where the real conversation begins”.   This week, there’s been a bit more variety and maybe a little less sensationalism.

Today, he hosted Marilu Henson, who coached people on how to sharpen the memory of details from their lives.   Anderson admitted he has trouble remembering even last week in detail.  I personally find that I can remember precise moments throughout almost my entire life.  If I laid them out by date and time in a database, there would probably be a few thousand data points.  In between these moments, though, I don’t sense continuity.

Anderson interviewed people who had left the Amish community, and these persons said that the “shunning” is much worse if you had been baptized in the community.  Social capital means everything to the Amish; no one individual is allowed to “stand out.”  One of the guests talked about the “black car Amish” who can have cars and minimal electricity.

A woman. Deborah Stevens,  who got fired from a job (with Atlantic Automotive Group) after donating a kidney for her boss, which was not used, appeared.  The details or this bizarre story appear elsewhere, as on Global Post, here.  She believes she was invited back just for the kidney. 

Earlier this week, Anderson interviewed people claiming to have seen UFO’s.  The director of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) appeared, and Anderson challenged him, saying that the government is not very good at keeping secrets.   A woman taking pictures of UFO’s with uneven shape claimed that the alien crafted interfered with the operation of her camera and then confiscated some of the pictures. 

In retrospect, it seems as though Anderson is glossing on the surface of some of his material.  A lot of the material on the website seems “pre-digested”  (like this segment on Amish rules, here). 

By comparison, Anderson went into detail on the Internet libel problem with his March 12 broadcast (which got into the Section 230 issue). And his CNN coverage weeknights generally is more detailed, with lots of experts, and a mood of “keeping ‘em honest”. 

He’ll need to keep the content depth up on his daytime show (which, after all, replaced Oprah) to keep his audience and "ratings".

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NBC Rock Center: "Permanent patients" at hospitals cost everyone, would not be a problem with universal coverage

NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams will air (Wed.) an important report on "permanent patients". It's the story of Barbara Latasiewicz, who had a stroke at work at 62 and wound up using $1.4 million at an Illinois hospital for two years because she did not have the health insurance that would have provided Skilled Nursing Care (SNF) for much less money, MSNBC text here.

The patient was not old enough for Medicare, which will, however, over 65, pay for some SNF care (up to 20 days).  People with "good" employer health insurance can typically get about 100 days of skilled nursing care covered. 

Again, the story seems to provide some justification for the "individual mandate".  Insurers could offer this coverage if everyone had to pay something.

But SNF;s don't have to take uninsured or indigent patients, so hospitals have to keep them, footing the bill.

This sort of situation can matter with eldercare, too.  Hospitals could wind up footing the bill if they can't place someone in a timely manner and if there is no family help available. More on that later in the Retirement blog.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Traditional TV ratings drop more this spring; start-up wants "TV Everywhere" on web

Bill Carter has a major story in the New York Times Monday about the decline in television viewership this spring, link here

The drop in “American Idol” may be one reason, as it tends to pull viewers to other shows. 
One problem is that networks run dramatic series in segments, with repeats in December and March, and viewers often don’t know when a series will resume, or what repeat episode is offered.

More viewers are watching episodes online, which doesn’t seem to get tracked.

Networks have tended to pull the plug on some promising dramatic series after one season, particularly in the sci-fi area, because they weren't satisfied with "numbers".  But these sorts of series may invite more online viewing.
Brian Stelter about a start-up called Nimble TV, which would extend the “TV Everywhere” concept, streaming a customer’s satellite (or cable) subscription to the web, somewhat challenging the turf-oriented distribution system, link here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

CNN Presents: "Betrayal of Trust" (harassment of female cadets at US military service academies); freeing research chimps; a baseball pitcher's comeback

Sunday night, April 22, CNN Presents, with Randi Kaye and Drew Griffin, started their usually provocative report with a story about sexual harassment (and much worse sometimes) of female cadets at the US Naval Academy (Annapolis) and US Military Academy (West Point).

Kyri Phillips and Jesse Joseph have the written report on the segment, titled “Betrayal of Trust?”, link here.
Karley Marquet (West Point) and Annie Kendzior have both joined in a suit against multiple US military defendants, going back to the Bush administration, for failing to enforce military rules against sexual misconduct and harassment. 

Annie, who aimed to be an F-18 fighter pilot,  says that at the Naval Academy, female midshipmen were called “dubs”. 
The attitude parallels anti-gay attitudes in the services well known from the battle over “don’t ask don’t tell” (with repeal in the fall of 2011), but dating back to much earlier times, as with midshipman Joseph Steffan’s book “Honor Bound” (Villard) about his expulsion just before graduation in 1987.

There is an element in the military that does not accept challenges to male domination of combat-related areas.

The second part of the report was called “Freeing the Chimps” and dealt with the previous use of chimpanzees in US medical research, as at NIH.  The report is timely given the Disney Nature film “Chimpanzee” (Movies blog, April 21).

The third part was called “The Last Season”, about the attempted comeback of left-handed pitcher CJ Nitkowski, now 39, who had (his own) stem-cell injections (in his shoulder) and played winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and wants to get back to the majors as a relief pitcher.  He pitched for the Nationals in 2005.

(Is Ross Detwiler, rather than Stephen Strasburg or Jordan Zimmermann or even Gio, headed to be the ultimate ace of the Nationals' 2012 starting staff?) 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Days": ex girl friend thinks Will plays "bait and switch"

On "Days of our Lives", the character Will (Chandler Massey) has pretty well "come out".  On Wednesday and Thursday, ex-girl-friend Gabi tried to enlist Will in a scheme to get a Chad.  Out of this there developed a conversation about why Will had lost interest in her, why she wasn't "good enough".  It had never occurred to her that he could be gay.  Then she tried to deny it, saying he was just trying to not make her feel bad.

It seems that this is the second time Gabi has dated a gay man, from what she says.  She's acting like men almost have a moral obligation to give her babies.

The rest of the show is getting sillier.  Stefano is still part of the old oligarch with unbelievable powers to run his own rogue state.

What will the show do with Will?  A relationship with Sonny?  Would that turn off the old daytime audience, or give it new viewers?

Friday, April 20, 2012

ABC 20-20 covers "open marriage" (to put it mildly)

ABC 20-20 tonight covered the topic of “open marriage” thoroughly – for heterosexuals. 

These were families with children, with no compunction about variety, and no jealousy that each marital partner could enjoy other people.  

Back in the early 1970s, when I was coming of age, and even before my own “second coming out”, there was a lot of talk of open marriages and open families even among workplace heterosexual friends.  A book “I’m OK, You’re OK” often got mixed into the conversation. 

But today the concept does work with gay families, where two women and two men share parenting and babysitting duties for the kids of both couples.  I know a family like this in Dallas.  

20-20 went on to cover women's use of gigolos. 

Then the report turned to a memory  of Dick Clark and American Bandstand, from the early 60s, and his hosting of New Years Eve in Times Square 37 years in a row, especially 2002.

ABC Nightline followed up with a brief report on a new style of “porn” film, with a real story and real characters and more dialogue, as catching on with women.  Actually, some “gay films” are like that, very explicit but with real plots, mystery and characters (as “Focus-ReFocus, reviewed last week on my movies blog.)

Picture: a wild friend?  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Revenge": deposed writer Treadwell becomes a viral blogger; "Bachelor" series draws racial discrimination lawsuit

ABC's “Revenge” resumed “regular” episodes last night, April 18, this one titled “Doubt”.

Nolan (Gabrielle Mann) calls a lot of the shots and really is taking on a dominating kind of charisma. At the end of the show, he winds up with the possibility of playing protective “boyfriend” to Jack’s baby brother, Declan (Connor Paolo).   Couldn’t that get interesting!  Nolan will even watch Jack’s bar while Jack goes to Montreal to track down Amanda.

Nolan also talks writer Mason Treadwell (Roger Bart), who has said “never write again” after losing everything when Amanda torched him ,  into starting a blog to cover the upcoming trial of Daniel.  He has to learn how to use computers, and Nolan is the ideal coach. 

In the meantime, Daniel (Joshua Bowman) gets beat up at Riker’s Island, so the judge lets him out under $10 million bail and house arrest. 

Amanda (Emily van Camp) at one point says “they say we are the fairer sex. But we protect our nest.”  She then displays her knowledge of martial arts.

Maybe this drama is a lesson in karma, paying for other people’s sins. 

The link for the episode is here. 

YHN has this YouTube short on the “men” from “Revenge”:

Here's another ditty: rejected candidates from ABC's reality "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" series have filed class action lawsuits claiming racial discrimination against applicants being chosen as potential lead "bachelors" or "bachelorettes", typical story  from Eonline here.  Do networks "discriminate" on the basis of who will be the most physically appealing lead on a reality show?  Is this a case of lookism?  Could the show even work without it?  I wonder what Jeffrey Toobin on CNN would say about this one.  I have a feeling the suit won't go anywhere.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Washington ABC affiliate airs story on residential mold, might be a national problem with underwater ("pun") and abandoned townhomes

ABC Station WJLA in Washington aired a story about a mold problem in an abandoned townhouse in Prince Georges County, MD that sounds like something that could happen repeatedly and deserve a national report on a channel like CNN.

A townhome, apparently underwater in mortgage, was placed on short sale and the owner moved. Then a leak after heavy rains led to heavy mold problems that affected adjacent units. 

The county took legal action against the original owner, which is quite possible even when the defendant is out-of-state.   (For morbid amusement, look at the site "serve-em" here.)

This is another example where undervalued homes quickly spreads blight and can make neighboring homes, even when relatively new, uninhabitable. 

The WJLA story originally aired in December here  and was updated again today.

The CDC has a FAQ page that somewhat defuses the media-laden term “toxic mold” here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"CNN Presents" airs reports on mold in military housing, and on Joe Stack's 2010 attack against the IRS

On Sunday night, April 15, “CNN Presents” aired a report “Toxic Homefront” with Drew Griffin and Randi Kaye, about the problems in military housing near the Norfolk, VA Naval Base after it was turned over to a private contractor, Lincoln Military Housing, a few years ago.

Military families say that their homes are infested with mold from leaks and that the company has covered up the problem to cut corners rather than fix it.  It is certainly true that Lincoln did not build the homes but inherited them.

Virginia Senator John Warner has become involved.  Lincoln says it has fired some employers. The Navy fired one civilian liaison.

Surprisingly, CNN does not yet have a specific website for this report.   CNN has an iReport from a local source in Norfolk in January here

Lincoln is a major property management company, mostly running rental apartments, throughout the country.  I have rented from them before, as when I lived in Dallas.

Another segment on “CNN Presents” was “Faith & Fury” where CNN interviewed the wife of Andrew Joseph Stack, who at 53 flied a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas in February 2010.  He also burned down the family home right before the IRS attack. There is a site that hosts Stack’s “manifesto” ranting about a number of issues, especially the IRS, here

See also the account of the Stark incident April 18, 2010 on the "Films on Major Threats to Freedom" blog.

Update: April 16:

The links in the second comment didn't take, so here they are:

Kelman's testimony is here.  The Contempt of Court citation from California is here

Re-aired April 21. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"CNN Heroes" sponsors a report on an male couple adopting a kid from foster care

On Saturday afternoon (April 14), CNN has been running a short film video on foster care and and on adopting children from foster care.  The video also mentions the difficulties may same-sex couples have in many states in adopting children.

The specific video discusses David Wing-Kovarik and partner Conrad.  The video comes from the “CNN Heroes” program. About a third of the report, by Danielle Berger, is available online:

 CNN also has a blog entry by Jason Lucy from 2007 “My Take: On adoption, Christians should put-up or shut-up”.  He writes that there are 138 Southern Baptists in the American foster care system waiting to be adopted  and asks, “how many sermons have you heard on the Biblical mandate to care for orphans”, link here

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Missing" makes Michael very resourceful; Kelly humiliates a male co-host

Missing” last night (“The Three Bears” continued to develop the character of the boy  Michael Winstone (Nick Eversman), who accepts the chivalrous responsibility to protect the girl (Teresa Voriskova) who had been abducted as a “foil” by the sex trade (“real men don’t buy girls”). He gives her an insulin shot and, why exploring the “estate”, find a cache of insulin so he can take her with him if he escapes.  At one point he almost does so, on a conveniently nearby freight train on a single track in the woods.

In the meantime, Becca travels to Prague and finds the banking industry there more sophisticated in the US, using multiple thumbprints for access.

Did Hubby Paul (Sean Bean) mastermind the whole abduction?

I'd still like to know the "point" of what the Winstones had spied on! World domination by someone. Maybe to communists come back, or turn into fascists.  It's all the same. 

Ashley Judd has made some TV appearances recently, and been critical of lookism as applied to women.

This morning, I have to say that Kelly (on ABC's “Live with Kelly”) humiliated temporary co-host Joel McHale, 44, well, about his body and the downstairs effects of aging that should stay out of sight. (Remember the movie "What Lies Beneath"?)  He doesn't have competitive swimming or cycling as an excuse.  It can be too late in life to wear shorts.  You take a chance if you go onto her show.  But maybe if you're not into lookism for men.  Regis didn't exactly quit when he was ahead. 

Update: April 21

The April 19 episode of "Missing" has Michael and the girl getting away on that all too conviently-placed freight train just as Mom arrives to protect her young. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PBS Nova "Deadliest Tornadoes" examines the 2011 season

Tonight, PBS Nova aired “Deadliest Tornadoes” and explained how a La Nina pattern of ocean currents and a warming world set up the jet stream to greatly exaggerate the risk of severe storms in the southern plains, farther east than usual, in April and May of 2011.  There was a similar pattern in the fall of 2002, and possibly during a deadly outbreak in 1974. 

The program covered the Alabama outbreak in April and the Joplin tornado in May, and covered the level of damage done by each level on the scale.
Some homes do have safe rooms (rather like “panic rooms”) in the center of the structures.

Even lightweight debris, like cardboard, becomes deadly and destructive at 200 mph.

Will tornadoes farther north become more common, or will long-tracking tornadoes appear more often East of the Appalachians as the climate warms?  How can homeowners live with a greatly heightened risk of these events? 

In general, the program echoed similar documentaries in the past on the Weather Channel and Discovery Channel.

The link is here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PBS: "The Titanic with Len Goodman": summarizes the history of the bigger film

PBS stations aired “The Titanic with Len Goodman”, narrated by the “Dancing with the Stars” host.
Paramount is re-releasing James Cameron’s 1997 film in 3-D.  I remember seeing it in St. Paul, MN when it opened in a packed theater, not the best auditorium. But I don’t plan to re-see the film. I remember the music score, and the film had quite an emotional impact, as I saw if shortly after I had relocated to Minneapolis. 

This documentary talked about the building of the ship – even down to the riveting – in Belfast, and then discussed the class divisions on board, as presented in the film. It’s true that the lower class passengers were often prevented from going on deck where they could get to lifeboats.

The wireless telegraph room had been used for passengers to send and receive the 1912 equivalent of emails.  But the staff did not have time to review the warnings about icebergs in the Atlantic.

The documentary focused on a couple of wealthy males who “saved themselves”.  One of these men was Thomas Henry Ismay, founder of the White Star Line.  Ismay thought he was jumping into an empty seat in a lifeboat that would leave anyway.  But for men to save themselves if there was any chance that women and children could be saved first, was considered cowardice. In modern times we are not as likely to think that today. But we only need to think back to the days when we had a military draft. 

The film told the stories of some of the other common passengers who sailed from Southampton, including a nurse who caught a baby in her arms in one of the lifeboats. 

The link for the show is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Titanic voyage map. 

Update: April 15

ABC started a series on "Titanic" with a three-hour pilot April 14, showing the slow reaction to hitting the iceberg. It was hours before many people knew how serious this was. With Peter McDonald, Steven Waddington, Toby Jones. Basic link

Sunday, April 08, 2012

AC360 Special: "Kids on Race", on Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday,  AC360 Special Report presented “Kids on Race” with Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien.

The documentary presented the interesting result that, when young, white children are more likely to believe negative stereotypes on race than African American children. As the African American kids age, they are more likely to believe the stereotypes.

The show also pointed out the white parents are likely to tell their kids that talking about race at all is inappropriate and inflammatory. My own parents tended to believe this in the 1950s or 1960s.  However, the pastor at our church, Edward Pruden at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, had been one of the most progressive on race in his day.

The show presented at least one case of school bullying just based on race. 

Later the show moved into interracial dating.  Sometimes parents believe that if a teen dates a partner of a different race, they believe that “their own” is “not good enough”. 

Some kids thought that race mattered in choosing friends, even though parents denied they had tried to impart this view with their children.  The implication of the show is that it gets more complicated when it comes to actual dating. 

Later in life, when it comes to dating, “lookism” is likely to affect choice of partners, even well within any one race or group, and that can become its own issue. Are their moral limits to one's setting up his own "axiom o choice"?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

CNN Presents: "The Scary Guy", performer hired in anti-bullying efforts

On Saturday night, “CNN Presents” did a spot on “The Scary Guy” (link), a heavily tattooed performer whom schools hire to do school assembly programs countering bullying.

A middle school principal in Austin, MN said that he was effective.  But another middle school principal disagreed, saying consistency is important and that having teachers and administrators greet students every day helps control the problem.  (When I was a sub, the Arlington VA school systems asked subs to do this.  To me, it seems gratuitous.)

Part of Scary Guy's "act" includes an antic similar to something that happens in the movie "Carnage". 

There has been some controversy with the IRS as to whether the performer is really a "non-profit" but schools don't care. 

When I subbed, one high school presented Christ Rock in an anti-substance-abuse assembly.

Friday, April 06, 2012

ABC's "Scandal" kicks off with episode that hinges on repeal of "don't ask don't tell"

Thursday night, ABC launched its new series “Scandal”, about a “fixer”, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) who “fixes” political problems for the president before they become public.  You could call the show “online reputation on steroids”.  I wonder if Michael Fertik ( will appear, or be a character.

In the Pilot episode (“Sweet Baby”), Olivia tells a sweet girl she is another Monica, and to leave town and live the rest of her life in obscurity.  Then she turns her attention to saving congressional hopeful St, James (Dan Bucatinsky), and Iraq and Afghanistan war hero and ultra conservative.  When someone is murdered, James is a suspect, and his alibi is a surveillance video showing him kissing another man.

Olivia herself reminds James that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been repealed, and that sexual orientation need no longer be a wedge issue defining social conservatism.  He is arrested, but then freed when he admits he was with a man.  Finally, he gives a riveting speech anyway to his constituency, and can say that he is proud of who he is.

Olivia, however, has to watch her own behavior with the president (Tony Goldwyn).

The show is created by Shonda Rhimes.

The link for the first episode is here

Interview with Washington on ABC’s “The View”.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

PBS Nova: "Hunting the Elements": Chemistry class, with an economic policy warning

Wednesday April 4 2012, many PBS stations aired the two-hour Nova documentary, “Hunting the Elements”.

The film may sound like a sophomore chemistry class, but it made the Periodic Table of the Elements entertaining, starting out with the manufacture of gold from ore.

The middle section of the film dealt with the composition of the human body:  97% is carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus,  sulfur.   There was an amusing sequence where Pogue gave multiple urine samples and hydrated himself with so much fluid that you wondered if he was prepping for a colonoscopy.  The film showed him taking an odd sports fitness test, with various electrodes applied to all parts of his body on camera (sometimes embarrassingly smooth), and then his not coming out too well on the physical fitness side.  Call this his “tribunals”.

Pogue did some of the typical classroom experiments of putting sodium into water.

The most important point of the film economically concerned the rare earths, which are similar chemically because their outer shells are the same. (The electrons vary on inner rings – ask that on a chemistry test.)  China seems to have a monopoly on neodymium, which could cause serious economic problems (in manufacturing computers, smart phones, and their replacement parts), and possible rare earth shortages should be viewed as a major international policy issue.  The film showed the one rare earth mine in the US, an open pit mine apparently in the Sierras. 

It also showed Mono Lake in California, but never to around to mentioning organisms in the lake where arsenic subs for phosphorus.   The film did explain how semi-conductors work, and why alloys are often stronger and less brittle than the original metals.   

Here is the link for the film.

Wikipedia attribution link for Mono Lake picture   My most recent visit was in 1985. Other pictures: cast iron (or wrought iron) shop project from 7th grade, 1956;  aluminum table -- strong and very light. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

PBS Nature reports on dolphins and whales: "Ocean Giants: Deep Thinkers"

PBS Nature aired the one hour film about whales and dolphins, “Ocean Giants: Deep Thinkers”, directed by Anushka  Schofeld, Ingrid Kvale and Mark Brownlow, link here. The film is narrated by John Benjamin Hickey. 

The documentary explored the cognitive abilities of these cetaceans in several parts of the world. Bottlenose dophins were shown learning to experiment with bubble rings; and then near Australia dolphins where shown having developed fishing by hydroplaning on the beach, and near Florida by setting mud traps.  Humpback whales hunt in pods of unrelated animals to catch herring near Alaska, using sonar to chase fish into traps of bubbles.  Gray whales were shown having empathy with humans.  In Baltimore, at the aquarium, biologists showed how dolphins recognize themselves.

I guess both Rick Santorum and Charles Murray would admire the “social capital” of whales and dolphins.

Cetaceans have “spindle cells” in their brains, even more than humans.  They may be even more intelligent than chimpanzees.

Here’s a PBS Short filmed in Hondouras, “The Dolphin Reading Test”, from the NOVA “Science Now” series:

Picture, mine, Baltimore Aquarium, Nov. 2009. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

NBC Dateline: "What Happened to Phoebe Prince?"

Sunday night, April 1, NBC Dateline broadcast “What Happened to Phoebe Prince”, with correspondent Kate Snow.  This was the case of Irish immigrant girl Phoebe in a high school in South Hadley, MA, who was bullied by other girls who saw themselves as romantic rivals.

In the end, other kids were prosecuted, and had to make statements of apology in open court after Phoebe took her own life.

This particular case did not have anti-gay elements to it.

The documentary asks what administrators and teachers should have done.  I know that it is very difficult for a substitute teacher to do anything.

The film “Bully” from The Weinstein Company has started only in New York and Los Angeles so far. 

Picture: Worcester MA, 2011. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

"Shark Tank" challenges entrepreneurs to win over investors

Some ABC affiliates air a reality show called “Shark Tank” where business “acolytes” make their pitches for investors to support their entrepreneurial plans. 

Saturday night Mark Cuban (HBNet) and Barbara Corcoran (a real estate guru) were among the judges.  And more often than not, the word was “I’m out”.

One young man did a song and dance for “I’ll draw your cat”.  This seemed to be a greeting card business.  He offered 25% ownership for a $10000 investment.

Another man wanted to start a sales training company. “I can sell you anything” he claimed.  My own father (a glassware manufacturer’s representative) used to say that. “I can teach anyone to sell anything”. Always be closing and obey the “100 Mile Rule”.

Still another wanted to offer an entertainment franchise of magicians, jugglers, and break dancers, for Las Vegas.  One man got tasered in his seat.

The best idea may have come from a young family man from Sparta, NC who had invented a storage and carriage rack system to install on pickup trucks.  But the judges wanted him to be opening to manufacture overseas (China) and to using professional distributorships.

The link for Shark Tank is here.    

WJLS’s link is here

Picture: from Union Square, NYC.  Admittedly, it doesn't support capitalism.