Sunday, June 30, 2013

Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" reports on "Gun Ownership"

On “Inside Man” Sunday night,  in episode #2, called “Gun Ownership”, Morgan Spurlock goes to work for SSG Tactical  Fredericksburg, VA (halfway between Richmond and Washington).  Morgan reports that gun purchases increased after Barack Obama was elected, and then again after the tragedy in Newtown because of fears of regulation.
The best present basic link is here.  (CNN has had some incorrect URL’s on individual episodes.)
The gun shops report that after Newtown, people who had never owned guns came in thinking they needed to own them.

Later he reports on Mayors Against Gun Violence.

He then visits the “Nation’s Gun Show” in Richmond.  Then he visits the Baltimore police department, with a familiar shot of Penn Station in Baltimore, on Charles Street, near the Charles Street cinemas and also the “gay bar” district nearby.

Spurlock tests the theory that limiting high capacity magazines would be an effective step in preventing rampage shootings, by giving defenders more time as firers have to reload. 

Spurlock also reports on the Senate filibuster on legislation increasing background checks back in April 2013.  He "blames" the misinformation from the NRA's lobbyists.  The terminology "universal registraiton" confused the public (it was actually outlawed in the text). 

The public is behind universal background checks, and Spurlock says that few if any Americans would need assault weapons for legitimate home security. 


I think that in practice, a lot of people are better off with no weapon.   Have a cell phone by yourself.  But there is a possibility that a gun could save your life.  Once, I thought I saw somebody pull a weapon as I was about to get out of my car at a service plaza on the Ohio Turnpike.  I sped off, and called police at the next interchange.  Mark Zuckerberg reports that he simply drove away from a gas station robbery attempt one time after he had move to California at age 20.    But maybe we were both lucky. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

ABC 20-20: "Teen Confidential": Honor student in W Va shunned, threatened for criticizing "slut shaming" private guest speaker

ABC 20-20 Friday night aired an episode called “Teen Confidential: If These Halls Could Talk”. 

It opened with the story of a prom couple in Tulsa, OK.  The only thing unusual was that each partner in this heterosexual couple was transgendered, and was living in the opposite sex.  One parent had said that being gay wasn’t a big deal, but transgender was more difficult to deal with at first.
But the most interesting part of the report concerned a female high school senior Katelyn Campbell (Facebook friends site), who spoke out against a “slut shaming” (a phrase she coined( speaker who had appeared at her West Virginia high school, George Washington near Charleston. The speaker, Pam Stenzel (“Addressing the importance of abstinence”, link), had been paid for by a conservative Christian group (“Believe in West Virginia”, link)  The ABC  link is here.with video here. Katelyn boycotted the speech and let a friend videotape it. But then she gave an interview to a local newspaper.  The principal called her in and threatened to call the college where she had a scholarship.  A large part of the student body shunned her, especially on Facebook.  The loss if “popularity” surprised her. But she sought an injunction against the principal and was welcomed by her college and got a national student leadership award for standing up to authoritarianism.

Later ABC presented a service which allows people to leave their personal cars to be rented by others at airports. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Did Food Channel's Paula Deen simply fall behind changing times?

Opinions vary on the deserved outcome of the career of Food Channel cooking guru Paula Deen.
Her two sons have vigorously defended her, saying her comments were taken out of context and that she group up in a different time and culture.  Of hand, the 2007 suggestion of a party with African –American waiters should have seemed insulting even then.  I remember back in 1995 when I went to a Capitol reception, and as the price of being welcome there, I was asked for the expected subservience. “Would you like to serve food?”
The New York Post has an opinion mentioning Deen’s “diabetes” inducing recipes, and her ties to the pharmaceutical industry, by Linda Stasi, here.  
Deen’s troubles had been exacerbated when she admitted to using the “N” word years ago in a deposition related to a racial discrimination lawsuit.  But that was a sin from the distant past.
 David Bauder has an AP story about the NBC Today interview on NBC News here
She had originally been scheduled to appear on “Today” on June 21 but cancelled at the last moment, link

Despite her “firing” by the Food Network and other corporate sponsors (Smithfield, Wal-Mart), her web page at the Food Network is still active, link here

This one is a tough call.  Did her tune change just because she was force into apology?

June 28:

Later information reports a publisher has withdrawn her best selling cook book.  And she's getting lawsuits from former employees.  Don't know how much real merit there is to them.  I've seen less than credible discrimination claims in my own career.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AC360 on Zimmerman trial: "Self-Defense or Murder?"

Anderson Cooper ran a special AC360 “documentary” on the trial in Sanford, FL of the second degree murder trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.  The special aired, titled "Self-Defense or Murder?" at 10 PM only, so it was not the usual repeat of the AC360 program at 8 PM. Anderson says that the special coverage of the trial will continue at 10 PM all week. 
The basic link for the special is here.

Jeffrey Toobin, Mark Geragos and Marcia Clark appeared on the program.

The basic consensus is that the prosecution may have a very hard time proving a sufficient degree of malice to sustain a murder conviction. 

Much controversy seems to center around “audio” evidence. Will the phone calls that Zimmerman had made to police days before be admissible?

The defense "knock-knock" metaphor still generates controversy.

Zimmerman has sued NBC for defamation.  Yet some announcers refer to Martin's being "murdered" when the idea that it is murder has not been proved. 
There was even controversy over what CPR effort was attempted for Martin.

There was extreme controversy in 2012 as Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman until April, after national protests.
George Zimmerman appears in court with massive weight gain, into obesity.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Discovery Channel draws audience for Skywire walk over Grand Canyon by Nik Wallenda

The Discovery Channel aired live the 1400-foot skywire walk over a Grand Canyon (Arizona) chasm 1500 feet deep, by Nik Wallenda, live, to over 25 million.  Good for ratings, The basic link is here

The performer, 34, married with two kids, comes from a family of performers.  He topped twice to let the wind-induced vibrations (gusts over 40 mph) subside.  It took 22 minutes.

He plans the same stunt between the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in New York.  There’s no such target in Washington (maybe the Monument to the Old Post Office tower?)

I remember a daredevil getting arrested in NYC for climbing a Rockefeller Cemter building in the 1970s, when I lived there.  I rather admired his "courage" at the time.  

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wikipedia attribution link for Grand Canyon picture. My visits: 1967, 2000.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CNN: Morgan Spurlock is "Inside Man", looking at medical "reefer madness"

On Sunday, June 23, 2013, Morgan Spurlock premiered his documentary “original” series “Inside Man” on CNN, with an examination of medical “Marijuana”.
One of the biggest controversies concerns the way the federal government treats medical marijuana growing businesses in states that have legalized it.   Before election, President Obama had promised that growers who complied with state laws would not be pursued.  But industrial companies have been, and only one would speak on camera.

One female patient said that the pharmaceutical companies lobby the administration to prosecute growers even in states that have legalized it in order not to have competition for cancer chemotherapy drugs in their market. 
Toward the end, Spurlock covers a hearing in federal court to see whether  (non-profit but “industrial”) distribution center HarborSide (website link) in Oakland can stay open  The judge lets it stay open. A trial will follow. Harborside could be subject to civil asset forfeiture as well as prosecution.  The City of Oakland has actually sued the federal government to stop prosecution. 
A basic link by CNN (“5 things to know about medical marijuana” is here

The early part of the episode explains the history of the legal status of “reefer madness”, which wasn’t  illegal until 1937, when the government needed a new evil after Prohibition was repealed.
Nixon upped the war on pot, thinking it led to rebellion and weakness in a population that had to defend itself.  (But, despite his war with the anti-Vietnam protestors, he did end the draft.)

Spurlock goes through the state license process to grow  pot himself.  California licenses growing of pot for personal medical purposes only.  (His permit lets him grow 24 plants.) Then he gets himself “hired” by Harbor Side.  The business classifies different kinds of cannabis. 

Spurlock notes that for most people, tobacco and alcohol, both legal, are probably medically more dangerous than cannabis. He also compares the clientelle to that of a liquor store. 

What happens if a marijuana plant grows wild on your property and you don’t notice it.  A lot of things grow wild in the yard.  Birds plant them, rectally.  Probably some of them are toxic and mild-altering or illegal.  I don’t care.  I have no interest in using them.  They are part of nature.

In the 1972 presidential campaign, ultra leftist George McGovern actually spoke out against legalization of marijuana on the car radio one night.
A friend in Dallas who lost a testicle to cancer and then was treated with chemotherapy (Bleomycin and cic Platinum) said that he prevented almost all nausea and vomiting from the chemo with illegal marijuana from a local “dealer”. 

Why is marijuana so much more effective against nausea than any legally prescribed medication?  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

CNN AC360 previews "TWA Flight 800" with its own questions

Anderson Cooper AC360 ran a special on CNN Friday night “TWA Flight 800”, basic link here. This refers to explosion and crash of TWA Flight 800 off the Long Island coast July 17, 1996 (Wikipedia facts here).

CNN produces its own report on the claims of the documentary “TWA Flight 800” , produced by Kristina Borjesson and Tom Stalcup, from EPIX programming, to air July 17, with a descriptive link here
CNN reviews the basic facts, that the plane seemed to break apart , the forward part seeming to fly at first, which must have been unbelievably terrifying for passengers. 
Investigators eventually decided that the plane exploded due to a fire caused by an electrical short.
But skeptics believe that the US government is trying to cover up a possible “friendly fire” accident from the Navy.
The CNN documentary suggests that the (pre-9/11) Clinton administration then was much more concerned with terrorism than we generally recognize here, since the 1993 World Trade Center incident had happened.
The incident seemed like another event over Scotland in 1988, caused by Libyan terrorists. Clinton was ready to go to war, and had a list of the "usual suspects" (from "Casalanca"), starting with Iran.  There was a vengeful attitude that we hear today, "you destroy our families, we'll destroy yours". 

I recall on the car radio at the time, listening to Joe Brown’s talk show, that a caller reported seeing a missile hit the plane. 
The CNN report, however, leaves open the idea that this was a real “accident”. There's a reference to an aircraft explosion in the Philippines in 1990.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Katie Couric: How people struggle with infertility; and some more controversy

Katie Couric continues to cover hot topics on her 4 PM (in the DC are) show.  I think they’re of more general interest than those on Anderson Cooper’s show that airs an hour before.
On Tuesday, June 18, she covered the lengths some people go to in order to have children.  One woman was carrying her daughter’s baby, being both a mother and grandmother.  A guest named Tom Arnold told of his learning of his infertility at a young age and struggling 23 years to become a father.  The link with videos is here.

It strikes me that the cultural divide on the importance of having children is growing again, as the population ages and there are fewer people to support the elderly (although in the United States, immigration saves us for the time being, maybe).  This has been called the “demographic winter” debate.
Today, Katie will interview Lorena Bobbitt, who took it out on abusive husband with a knife, and threw the amputated body part out into traffic in northern Virginia in 1993.  It made the headlines of the Washington Times (but not the Post) the day after it happened.  It got talked about in the workplace.   It was a bigger deal in the news with some people than was the debate on gays in the military. The catch line is, “There’s nothing to joke about domestic violence”. 
Next Tuesday, June 25, Katie will present pre-nups, in connection with “revenge porn” on the Internet.  An odd couplet.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oprah's OWN airs "God and Gays", report by Lisa Lang on public "apology" by ex-gay Alan Chambers to former "clients"

On Thursday, June 20, 2013, Oprah’s OWN network aired an important episode of Lisa Lang’s “Our America” called “God and Gays”.
The program focused on the apology by former Exodus International chief Alan Chambers to survivors of the “ex-gay” movement.  The event was not a service, but a meeting in the basement of the Hollywood Lutheran Church. 
The episode started with the founding of EI, and the story of Michael Bussee, who preceded Alan.  It also gave the histories of some of the attendees at the meeting, such as Christian, from Minneapolis.  It gave the history of his connection to a group called “Pray the Gay Away”, which OWN had apparently covered in an earlier episode by Lang.
The Minneapolis scenes included a shot of the Gay 90s on Hennepin, familiar to me (The Saloon is about four blocks down the street and perhaps the best dance bar in the Twin Cities – at least it was 1997-2003 when I lived there.)
Another attendee told the story of being the star “ex-gay”.   But he says it was a lie.

Chambers did not promise to dissolve EI in the meeting.  The attendees wanted to know how he would characterize the reinvented organization’s focus.  He couldn’t give them a buzzword.  It sounded like it had something to do with abstinence or with strengthening marriages of gays who were in intact traditional marriages.  It wasn’t terribly convincing.

One of the former ex-gays said that Chambers needs simply to shut the group down, not reinvent it.  Admit that it was wrong. that it was over.

Some people were in debt for years of "therapy". 
Oprah’s own sneak preview of the episode is here
I still am left wondering, of people who invested so much energy in the idea of homosexuality as sin, and imposing their will on others.  What did they want?  A swindle?  Power?  Feelings of superiority? Social subordination?  I wondered, if a man really is converted to “straight”, what is expected of the woman who marries him?  Some sort of mutual sacrifice?  The Mormon Church had already spoken on that one  on 20-20 one time.  Okay, life does require socialization and sacrifice and going along with the needs of the group.  That’s easier for some people if they know that everyone else is going to tow the line.  The ex-gay movement keeps talking as if the “upward affiliation” that it sees in male homosexuality would be tempting to any man in harder times if allowed to be.  It seems like a bizarre, self-effacing admission.  

"An Uncommon Kindness: The Father Damien Story": service and sacrifice in the 19th century, when leprosy was prescient of AIDS

An Uncommon Kindness: The Father Damien Story”, by Steven J. Castillo, is a touching story of 19th Century priest Father Damien De Veuster, a Belgian Catholic cleric who devoted his life to serving those suffering from leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) in quarantine on the small Hawaiian island of Molokai.
Eventually he would contact the disease himself, even though it is not very contagious.  Nevertheless, people with the disease in those days were viewed as morally “unclean” and dangerous to the general population. The apparent parallel to AIDS and HIV starting in the 1980’s is chilling.
Robin Williams narrate the documentary, about 50 minutes, which has a lot of stills and is constructed somewhat in the style of Ken Burns.  The music is by Keola Beamer.  The film was originally produced in 2003 for Hawaiian public television.
Some of the film is shot in Belgium, where there was controversy as to where the priest should be buried.


It’s incredible when someone is so dedicated to service and poverty that he will take on the same risks as everyone else, of acquiring a malady or handicap, and share it with everyone else.   But people in the military do that every day. 

Compare to a PBS film about Carville, reviewed  here July 29, 2011.

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA shot of Mokolai.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On Days, Will stands up to Sonny's intrusive mother; Gandolfini's sudden death

Well, brownie points for a scene in “Days of our Lives” today.
Will Horton is about to get out of the hospital, and his baby is in a crib in his hospital room.  Sonny’s mother (Adrienne) has the gall to come in and ask Will to break up with Sonny, because Will’s family (especially his mother Sami) will put her little baby Sonny in jeopardy. Adrienne also doesn't want her husband to defend a "cop killer", never mind that the cop moonlights as a hit man. 
Sonny, remember, delivered Gabi’s baby in the woods, after escaping with her, while Will then got shot trying to rescue Nick from an escaped prisoner in an isolated "cabin in the woods". 

Will stands up to Adrienne, even when she says he is as selfish as Sami.  He remains calm during the confrontation, almost as if it didn’t happen, with the baby in the room.
In the mean time, Sonny receives a video from Chad (business partner) that seems to incriminate Sami for shooting a man that Stefano hired to kill Rafe in the hospital room. 

In fact, the man is the same as the one Sami tried to hire herself to wipe out the evidence that could implicate Will for shooting EJ a few years back.  
It you want to study character, compare either Will or Sonny to JJ.

By the way, the scenes where Kristen has priest Eric drugged so she can have him are ridiculous.  In the steamy scenes today (Friday June 21), just notice his (not her) legs.   Some of the writers are surely heterosexual.

Piers Morgan dedicated his interview program on CNN to the sudden death of James Gamdolfini, 51, who is said to have raised the level of television acting in the series "The Sopranos", which I have never watched.  People talk about "binge viewing of episodes.

Gandolfini is said to have made us "love a monster".

Update: Aug. 30, 2013

Will and Sonny are at odds with Gabi and Nick; details later.  But something else: anyone notice the subtle changes in Sonny's (Freddie Smith) "appearance".  It looks like Will didn't let him "keep it".  We don't get to see the most intimate scenes any more. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Girl Rising" aired as a special on CNN: how education for young women breaks a cycle of involuntary servitude in the developing world

On Sunday night, June 16, CNN aired a two-hour segmented documentary by Richard Robbins, “Girl Rising”, sponsored by IOXIO and Intel, "10x10" and Vulcan. .Cate Blanchett often narrates, along with Liam Neeson and Alicia Keys. 
The best CNN link (with videos) where the director discusses the film is here. But there is also an official site here

The film started by recounting the young woman Malala recovering in London from gunshot wounds  inflicted by the Taliban for promoting education for girls (NBC story), an idea that radical Islam sees as threatening to male marital sexuality.
The film then presents the stories of teenage girls (sometimes as young as 13) in several developing world countries:  Haiti, India, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Peru, and Afghanistan.
In Haiti, “Wadley” finds out that she is no longer allowed to go to school after the earthquake if she can’t pay;.  She says that “money” is something that lets some people eat three times a day and others only every other day.  She carries water pails for her family in the ruins.

In Peru, Selena Gomez grows up at 16000 feet in the Andes, as her father works in a gold mine and then dies in an accident.  That segment is filmed in black and white.

The Egyptian and some of the Sierra Leone segments are developed with rotoscopic animation.  In Freetown (Sierra Leone), a teen girl finally gets to host “Dr. Mirasma’s Miracle Mystery Show”.

Throughout the documentary, a couple of themes reoccur.  The girls are often expected to be married off early, and often they are viewed as labor “property”, available to take care of younger siblings (whom the parents “chose” to have, not the girl)  but also to earn hard currency for the family.

Education for women in developing countries would help break their enslavement.

I could well have put this on the Movies blog, as apparently it aired at Sundance. Will it show in theaters, too?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"With Parents Like These" on ABC 20-20

On Friday night, June 14, ABC 20-20 did a report “With Parents Like These”, with several examples of “bad” (to pronounce the word the way my Army buddies did back in 1969) parents.
Or maybe not so bad.  The most disturbing story concerned a couple in Maine who allowed their teenager to have a party.  They thought they were providing supervision for teens who would otherwise be out wilding.  But more people heard about the party. “Old School”, and uninvited guests came with booze,  Soon some neighbors called, and police came.


Although the parents did not serve any alcohol, some “C2H5OH” was consumed by minors on their property, and they wound up with six months on jail, later reduced to a fine and community service. The female prosecutor was very determined that the parents had to monitor what was happening on their home turf. 

There were other questionable parents, such as the mom who leaves her 10 year old because she wants her own life, and the parents sued by their teens.

Being a parent is inherently risky.  It’s possible to be set up with false charges for child abuse, as in the 2001 film “Just Ask My Children”  (Arvin Brown), in which Gregory Smith appears at the end as 1 6 year old, and reflects on how prosecutors cajoled him at age 7 into testifying against his parents. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

CNN: Anderson Cooper interviews transgender former Navy Seal Kristin Beck

CNN has been running Anderson Cooper’s interview with former Navy Seal Kristin Beck, who did a male-to-female transgender change. The link is here

The “changes” have her more focused on wardfrobe than warfare.  She says being a woman takes more time!

In line with GLIL’s “Pink Pistols”, she’s now a firearms instructor.

She taught “man of steel” global omnipresent  journalist Anderson Cooper how to shoot at a pistol range. 


She’s also a motorcycle enthusiast, and builds bikes herself out of spare military parts.  

Remember the 1997 film "G.I. Jane"? 

Friday, June 14, 2013

ABC's "The View" reviews Scott Thorson (Liberace's love, who claims also a relationship with Michael Jackson) -- Oh, that means "interviews" him, maybe even waxes him

ABC’s “The View” today offered an interview with Liberace’s ex-lover Scott Thorson, who now claims now claims that he had an affair with Michael Jackson in the late 1970s.  He had been introduced to Jackson by Liberace, but not until he broke up with Liberace.
 The best ABC link appears to be this.

Thorson has since gone broke and had legal troubles, and had to be bailed out of jail. He is also needing treatment for colon cancer.  The movie and the book will get him out of financial straits, although that takes time. . The relationship was the subject of the HBO film (“Beyond the Candelabra”, reviewed on the movies blog May 27, 2013). 

Wikipedia explains the legal problems in a bio on him here. The incident seems to involve his using stolen credit cards.  

Thorson said he got hooked on drugs after the nose-job surgery.  The panel grilled Thorson about whether he took responsibility for himself (hence, I accidentally wrote that they "reviewed" him).  Their tone was refreshingly libertarian.

However, the interviewers also reminded the audience that in older times, relationships like Liberace-Thorson were kept quiet or given other names to keep them more socially "acceptable" and less distracting.  Liberace had plenty of business reasons to stay in the closet and not "tell", and let heterosexual women bask in fantasy.  It seems amazing now how easily the public was "deceived" -- because it wanted to be.  Even my own parents enjoyed Liberace, and I had an old 10-inch 33 rpm record of his playing. (Couldn't put my hands on it tonight, but it's probably around or packed up in a old moving box.) They didn't think very much about who he really was, and didn't know how to think about it.   
Thorson had been in the foster care system when he met Liberace.  His life obviously could have taken a very different course later. 


It pays to stay home from the bars sometimes.  You see more on television.  At least, on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel live tonight (June 14, 2013), some basketball player's chest hair wasn't safe, as he got waxed on camera (like in "The 40 Year Old Virgin") into a man-o-lantern, with the chakra area denuded permanently, perhaps.  This is worse than what happened to Ashton Kutcher for "The Killers" ("AplusK"  took down his own video on the event).

When you go to the discos, wear simple buttoned sports shirts, without undergarments, please.  Oh, when officers wear khakis, undershirts are unmilitary anyway.

Is this Jimmy Kimmel's idea of what it means to "do me" (or "do you")? 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Katie Couric interviews cast of "Man of Steel"

Today Katie Couric interviewed several cast members from Zack Snyder’s film “Man of Steel” – the latest about Superman. 
Henry Cowell stands out among those who have played Clark Kent as the first with a conspicuously hairy chest.  He says he was fat as a kid, but bulked up for the movie.  He also says he was raised on the Jersey Islands, an unusual background. 
Amy Adams, as Lois Lane, said that Henry plays this much more dramatically than has anyone before.  Not sure how that would compare with Tom Welling in the CSTV-WB series “Smallville”., which ran ten seasons.  
Laurence Fishburne plays troubled journalist Perry White; Russell Crowe is dad Jor-El, and Michale Shannon in General Zod.

I had to watch the interviews online, here. The local stations pre-empted the show with reports on the tornadoes threatening the Washington and Baltimore areas today, including shots of the Chesapeake Bay waterspouts.  The media hype on storms on the East Coast is extreme.  This was nothing like Oklahoma.

Today, on ABC’s “The View”, parents from Newtown were interviewed.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CNN Piers Morgan has Town Hall on Snowden leak; interviews heroine from Santa Monica event

While I don’t intend this blog to be a pitch just for CNN, it seems that Turner is on a winning streak with me.  Maybe I do belong in Braves County.  On Monday night, Piers Morgan Live held a Town Hall to discuss the Edward Snowden “leak”  (it’s not exactly Wikileaks II but it might as well be). 
James Woolsey appeared and said that he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and perhaps spend life in prison (not in the same cell as Bradley Manning – who will be in an Army stockade anyway).  CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin said that, while the urge to disclose what seems like a dangerous potential government overreach sounds compelling, Snowden simply chose the wrong way to do it.  You simply let people decide to disclose classified material on their own volition on whim.
The best link for the broadcast seems to be here
Ron Paul appeared, and said that “telling the truth is a heroic effort.”

On Thursday, NY Congressman Peter King (R) suggested that reporters or publishers who disclose documents they know to be classified and extremely critical, be subject to severe penalties, too.  What about  bloggers?   What if something big were leaked to me, and it was possible to verify it was for real? 

Morgan also spoke with Debra Fine, grazed four times in the Santa Monica rampage.  I won’t get in to what kind of heroic actions one should take if stumbling on to an event like this.  If I saw if from a distance, of course I would call 911, but I wouldn’t be able to interfere physically.  I don’t think that individuals’ being armed or "brave" can stop someone like this.  I know people who live not far from there (and was in the area on a 2012 trip), so this was particularly scary. 

Again, we seem to have very incomplete information on what makes people like Holmes, Lanza and now this gunman tick.  We need an actual public trial on Holmes, I think, to get into what this is all about.     

Monday, June 10, 2013

CNN's Bourdain gives a sensational report on "Congo" on "Parts Unknown"

Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” original series for CNN, mostly about culinary delights abroad, came to a sensational season conclusion Sunday night with a broadcast of “Congo”, with main link and videos here
Bourdain stressed the colonial history of the Congo before it became “independent” at mid 20th Century. 
The Belgian King Leopold had exploited the land and the people in a way that would even make American slavery seem almost generous by comparison.  Natural resources from Congo were taken to build modern day Belgium and the Netherlands.  It’s possible for the Left Wing to make a huge moral case out if this history.
Much of Bourdain’s journey was on his own boat down the Congo River, as he stopped at various towns that have decayed into ruins since the 1960s.  Food was often improvised, such as a river stew that he showed. 

Bourdain actually crosses into Congo from Rwanda, and says that Rwanda is reasonably civilized now, with Internet and some modern infrastructure, fifteen years after horrible civil wars. 

Earlier episodes of “Parts Unknown” had visited Libya, finding it more civilized than expected, and Peru.  Bourdain went into the Andes, but not to the highest places leading to the Altiplano and to Bolivia.  In Peru, Bourdain had to pay off local “guardian angels” in order to travel into the mountains by car to explore chocolate production.  

Wikipedia attribution link for Congo map here

Sunday, June 09, 2013

CNN: Piers Morgan interviews Joshua Cooke on the effect of "The Matrix" on his mind before his crimes

On Friday, June 7, Piers Morgan interviews Joshua Cooke, in prison for killing his parents.  The interest point in the interview was the influence of violent video games and possibly television shows and movies on an unstable person, even a young adult.  Cooke explains in this video how his thinking was influenced by “The Matrix” trilogy of movies. Cooke was surprisingly articulate and remorseful (having been treated for mental illness).

The link for the video is here.  CNN videos seem to no longer offer embeds.  Cooke says he watched a VHS tape of the movies so often that it wore out and that some of the tapes had to be replaced.
I have to be candid about this. I do recall being a bit traumatized by televised violence as a kid.  I remember a Saturday morning series, “Movies for Kids”, with a serial feature called “The Clutching Hand”, made in the 1940s, and I was rather scared – and tantalized – by it. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

ABC 20-20: "The New Help": Butler school is harder than Army Basic

ABC 20-20:” The New Help” presented the “live-in” domestic help industry.

It started with a bi-racial married couple living in a 500-qg-rt apartment in a Hollywood estate, showing the sparse lifestyle and murphy bed, but pool access. 

In southern California, nannies are in short supply, and command top dollar. 

But the most interesting part of the presentation was the butler boot camp or academy (in The Netherlands), where David Muir attends as a reporter.  The “students” pay $17000 tuition for an eight-week course that not all of them pass.  The days go 16 hours, and they have balls thrown at them as they carry dinnerware, to simulate angry guests.  They have a drill where they have to dress in a tux within three minutes.  They have to learn to iron clothes with military precision --- we didn’t have to do that in Army Basic. The :academy" section reminded me of Donald Trump's "Apprentice".  

I cannot imagine a life based on living in someone’s home.  I want my own life.  But good butlers can make six-figure salaries. 

(Note: ABC videos work better for me in browsers other than Internet Explorer; scripting issues.  Try Chrome or Safari if possible.) 

I thought that the ethical questions about live-ins came up during my own mother’s eldercare, when we used live-ins twice when I was living in another city.,  We didn’t do that at the end.  Live-ins don’t make overtime (that was a 2007 case before the Supreme Court) and would seem exploited – although my mother said, “well she gets to live in a nice house” – while I can go out and “play”.  I remember moral debates with the hospice staff about this.  This would make a good topic for a 20-20 report.

One time, in the middle 1990s, I went to a reception at the US Capitol, for the House, and my ticket was saying “yes” to, “Would you like to serve food?”  So subservient!

Friday, June 07, 2013

NBC "Hannibal" episode "Roti" offers the ultimate strip game

NBC’s “Hannibal” episode last night, “Roti” (directed by Guillermo Navarro, based on a concept and story by Bryan Fuller) certainly pandered to the morbid and the ideas of desecration.
In this setting, the agents travel to (Charm City) Baltimore (where else? – they need the Orioles) to track down escaped mental patients (MP’s), who were psychiatrists themselves – a  Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and a Chesapeake Bay Killer, which all sounds silly to people who live within forty miles of the Bay Bridge (which I do).  But this episode was not the best for the Free State of Maryland (neither was the movie with Anthony Hopkins).   The “killer” gets a hold of “Chilton” (Raul Espzarza, no relation to the Dallas companyu for which I worked) and Chilton definitely “gets it”. It’s one thing to have your shirt undone and removed in bar;  it’s another thing to be put down on an operating table, and have your internal organs removed while you are alive – vivisection, on camera. 

As Will Graham, Hugh Dancy proves the double side of Asperger’s.  Socially reticent, he can see people in his meditations and dreams – in glacier-splitting sequences that remind one of Christopher Nolan’s effects in the film “Inception”.   Graham seems to be incredibly gifted, in a way not so unlike Mark Zuckerberg – and without his personality “distance” the latter would not be a multi-billionaire.  There is something double-edged about the whole idea of socialization.  People who are less socialized may not pay their dues, but outrun others, upon whom they have depended.  Except that Will Graham, here, really does pay his dues. He is so likeable.

By the way, no “Rookie Blue” last night because of basketball on ABC.  Maybe just as well. 
Pictures: Mine, NW Va mill, then Annapolis MD

Thursday, June 06, 2013

"Training for the Apocalypse", a NatGeo documentary looks at "survivalism" in several communities

The National Geographic Channel offers a selective overview if the survivalist world (pre-2012-Mayan) in the 45-minute documentary by Robert Van Alkemade, "Training for the Apocalypse".  .

The film focuses mainly on three communities:  a post-Mayan tribe living around a volcano lake in Guatemala, a group of exiled Mormon fundamentalists in an area called Parowan, Utah, and another “survivalist” in modern day Philadelphia.

The largest amount of coverage is given to the people following the “Parowan Prophet”, led by a plane crash survivor Leland Freeborn.  A father is teaching his 5-year-pld son to shoot on a rifle range, and then his little daughter; there is a scene with several small children in a room with rifles. 

There’s a group conversation where the religious word “abomination” turns into an unfortunate pun, “Obamination”.  The group keeps potassium iodide around and fully expects nuclear catastrophe. 

There is discussion about what self-sufficiency should mean.  Should it include interdependence on geographical neighbors (propinquity)?  One home says., “If you can read this, you are within range.”
In Philadelphia, Fernando Salguero teaches urban survivalism, in a group called “survive and thrive”. In outdoor sessions, people even eschew camping gear for Stone Age basics.  One of the members speculates that self-sufficiency is a moral duty; civilization where we can depend on an infrastructure is a kind of unsustainable aberration.  If that is so, there certainly is a profound effect on our moral views on almost everything about the relationship between self and others. Salguero says that everyone must decide whether to be a "hero, villain, or a victim."   I think that the words "victim" and "casualty" have different moral connotations.  

After all, the Neanderthals survived about 100,000 years on a basic level.  But they didn’t make it forever.  One could wonder this about the Amish.
The term “Doomsday Preppers” is never mentioned, but it  certainly could have been.

There's no direct mention of the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) threat from a terrorist attack, or severe power grid disruptions from large solar storms, but that would have been appropriate. 

I noticed on imdb that Gregory Smith (postings May 30, June 3) is listed as an executive producer.   

There's a classical orchestra work which could apply, Anatoly Liadov's "From the Apocalypse". Op/ 66. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

NBC's "Revolution" comes to an underwhelming close (but it will be back next fall)

Finally, the long premier season, filled with doomsday prepper militia battles, of “Revolution” came to a conclusion June 3.  The title of the episode was Toilkenesque, “The Dark Tower”.

Rachel and Zak and company get in to the control center and call the general Monroe’s bluff.  With some crafty Unix shell programming, Zak gets the light turned back on for the whole world. A commercial came on just after Zak pressed Enter on the console keyboard. 

Four quadrillion nanobots die.  There was a rumor they were going to destroy the world literally anyway.
No matter, most equipment wouldn’t work after lying dormant for fifteen years.  And urban downtowns would look much worse than they do in the finale (like they did in the Pilot).

There’s a lightning storm, but the world doesn’t catch fire or come to an end.  The Earth does not become Melancholia.

There's also a curious homoerotic reference between Miles and his brother.  


But Monroe launches ICBM’s at Atlanta and Philadelphia.  And we find out that the original president of the United States was holed up at Guantanamo.      

Monday, June 03, 2013

Katie Couric looks at issues for child actors as they grow up; some quirks appear

Katie Couric today, on her syndicated daytime show, presented the issue of child actors and how sometimes they stumble.  There was some considerable attention to the “downfall” of “Family Matters” star Amanda Bynes, partly from the viewpoint of vostar Jaleel White and then Mara Wilson.  The link for the episode is here.

The view was presented that children, as stars, get used to having attention given to them all the time, as long as they are “cute”.  After puberty (which is earlier for girls), they are no longer such, maybe. 

There was also a well taken point that for young people, time seems to pass slowly, and “accomplishments” take on enormous importance, because there are not as many of them as there are in a longer lifetime history of an older person.
Jonathan Lipnicki, a former child star of the movie “Jerry Maguire” (with Tom Cruise playing a sports agent), now 23, appeared, and made an odd comment about a chest wax (“it’s free”) as if it were a normal experience for actors, and he actually bled from it.  (Is he old enough?  In any case, the chest cape is viewed as an extension of the beard, totally optional in polite company.)  Nobody talked about this in the 1950s, with actors like Victor Mature (in all those Fox Roman spectacles) and John Wayne.
At the end of the show, the actors played a “Throwback Showdown” game.
Other “child” actors seem to have made the transition to adulthood fine. Logan Lerman played “Bobby” in “Jack and Bobby” – remember that scene when as a 12 year old, he protects his mom from a suitor on a camping trip?  (“You think I don’t see things because I’m just a kid. But I do.”) 
Then there is Gregory Smith, now 29 (on “Rookie Blue”, May 30 – Imdb says he participates in directing the series).   He would have been 18 when starting to play piano prodigy Ephram fo “Everwood”, but had starred in “Small Soldiers” at 14, “Just Ask My Children” at 16, and “The Patriot” at 15, “Harriet the Spy” and “The Climb” at 12..  Imdb says he has co-produced a  NatGeo TV documentary “Training for the Apocalypse” about doomsday preppers; sounds interesting.   

And there is the career of Macaulay Caulkin in the ridiculous “Home Alone” movies.