Friday, July 31, 2015

CNN 70's: "Reign of Terror: Terrorism at Home and Abroad": this came as much from the secular ultra-Left as from Islam

CNN continued “The Seventies: One Nation Under Change” (Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman) with “Reign of Terror: Terrorism at Home and Abroad”  link here
The hour long episode stresses that national awareness of terrorism started in 1970, particularly with the hijacking of four planes headed toward the Middle East, leading to the implementation of security screening at airports, which would not change significantly until after 9/11 in 2001.  There indeed a “September 11, 1970”.

The documentary briefly covered the attack on the Munich Olympics in 1972, by Black September.  Wordwide, attacks on civilian populations within the Middle East escalated sharply in the 1970s, including an attack on a school in northern Israel.  “Munich was so shocking because we televised it.”
Toward the end, the documentary briefly covered the Iran hostage crisis starting in 1979. 

But much of the terrorism was secular.  There was a massive explosion in Greenwich Village in 1970, eventually attributed to the Weather Underground. 

The worst case from an individual perspective may have been the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the ultra-Left Symbionese Liberation Army.  Hearst eventually took on the ideology (maybe under force) and participated in bank robberies and was convicted, although her sentence was eventually commuted.

I can recall “sitting in” on a couple sessions of the People’s Party of New Jersey in 1972, and there were members there who had no shame about advocating violence to force change, which is pretty much the case for most of recorded history.  The ultra-Left wanted to do with inherited wealth and with all of capitalism.

In Britain, the IRA was carrying on attacks in Belfast and eventually mainland England.  One member of the royal family was killed.
I did not give the issue much thought then as to my personal safety.  I flew for work a lot in 1973-1974 when working for Univac, and then flew to most personal vacation destinations, including the West Coast at least four times, Canada at least twice, and northern Europe once.  I felt more likely to be affected by the energy and gasoline crises. The idea that Communist guerillas could actually enter the country and wreak havoc, though, was taken somewhat seriously and happens in one of my novel manuscripts from 1981. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gregory Smith directs baseball-centered episode on "Rookie Blue"; Clive Barker's "Imajica" may soon be filmed for a television or cable miniseries by Josh Boone or Kevin Smith

It’s good to see Gregory Smith’s directorial career continue with an episode of “Rookie Blue” rerun tonight, called “Home Run” (link ). (Smith had played "Ephram" on "Everwood".) 
Baseball is well in Toronto, with the Blue Jays there (and Bryce Harper’s “clown question” quote in 2012 on a Nats road trip to Rogers Stadium).  Some of the police help set up a community baseball game, where Gail (Charlotte Sullivan) needs to meet a woman who will help determine if she would be a good adoptive parent of a girl from Africa.

The sandlot baseball field is small, surrounded by high chain-link fences.  On one play, a batter is thrown out at before getting to first on a ground ball that goes into center field – that wouldn’t happen. Then, someome hits a fly to center, and after the center fielder catches the ball, he is suddenly shot in a drive-by shooting, which sets up the investigation of gang-related activity.

As usual, Toronto, with all its skyscrapers, looks sharp in the background;  but the greater degree of socialism (and paid healh care) doesn’t seem to prevent serious problems with crime.
Smith (as Dov Epstein, the geeky cop) doesn’t appear as often as in other episodes.  He’s busy directing. Smith has dual American-Canadian citizenship.  Smith is sometimes compared to the younger Canadian (also Toronto-born) actor Richard Harmon, also a fan of US football.  It’s interesting how many actors and film producers grew up around Toronto, where film production seems to be one of the most important industries.
How does Canadian football compare to US, and does soccer compare to US football and baseball in popularity in Canada?

There is some other big news.  Today, on Twitter there was some impromptu discussion of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series, along with the David Lynch movie, which led to more about “Lord of the Rings” (Toiken, with the New Line trilogy) and that led to talk about Clive Barker’s “Imajica”.  I see that Teleread has an article from Nov. 2014 announcing that director Josh Boone (and/or Kevin Smith) will adapt “Imajica” as a television series, story here. No word as to cast or which network, most likely cable (something like SyFy), or conceivably even Netflix original.  Lionsgate/Summit have reportedly looked into it. The 900-page novel would lend itself to being broken into at least two films (remember that “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” generated whole series.) The interpretation, from a religious viewpoint, of the story will be controversial to some people.  I don’t see the project on Imdb yet.  But the material calls for Imax 3-D.  Barker's ability to convey what other worlds look like and what it is like to be there in them is unprecedented in fiction. 
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Rogers Center by Mike Russell and U Cinternational,  under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 license.  I was in Toronto in 1982 (and near it in 1992).  

The second picture, from my train set, looks like my concept of the First Dominion (aka "Heaven") in Barker's novel. Heaven may not survive the ending. The mountain wall is the "Erasure". 

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Manhunt" on ABC 20-20 covers NY state max security prison break and recapture

ABC 20-20 Friday night, with “Manhunt”, covered the entire history of the prison break of Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton maximum security prison in Dannemora, NY.  A typical link is here

The early part of the documentary covered the brutal crimes of both men.

And Sweat had carved out a panel in his cell starting in January 2015, often exploring the catwalks at night.

The two men headed mostly north, toward the Canadian border, staying in a few cabins, one of which is visited by reporters.

But the most shocking part of the story is the relationship with Joyce Mitchell. The other shocking part is the freedom that the two men had, and the incredibly lax security that allowed them to work on escape undetected for so many months.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

CNN 70s: "Feminism Makes Waves" and so do gay rights

CNN’s series “The Seventies: One Nation Under Change” continued Thursday night with “Feminism Makes Waves”.  The best link seems to be here
Most of the broadcast concerned the controversy over the failed Equal Rights Amendment.  Stay-at-home moms felt threatened and denigrated by the movement, and there was a general fear that men would not find monogamous marriage to dependent spouses “interesting” anymore because of new cultural competition. 

Sometimes the rhetoric was that the ERA would increase homosexuality, and would increase men not supporting their wives.  But there was no legal requirement that men actually do so.
Along the way came Roe v. Wade in 1973, which posed a different debate in terms of “pro life” v. pro choice”.
In the followup of Stonewall in 1969, gay pride marches started in the 1970s.  While the right of gay people to their own “private lives” started to become much more accepted in most places by, say, around 1973, some people wanted to blame gays for the cultural battle over the sexes, leading to Anita Bryant’s campaign against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Miami in 1977.  Bryant unbelievably talked about hunting down homosexuals when a pie was put in her face.  She also claimed to “love” the homosexuals if they would become ex-gays.
In 1978, voters in California voted down the Briggs initiative, which would have banned gay teachers.
Part of the broadcast also covered the rapidly increasing acceptance of adult pornography, starting with the Supreme Court’s overruling a Georgia law than affected having adult pornography even in private. The film “Deep Throat”, with Linda Lovelace, which I saw near Times Square in 1973, was at the heart of the controversy.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

CNN: "Children for Sale", documentary on the sex trade in the US hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith

On Tuesday, July 21, 2015, CNN presented the one-hour special documentary “Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking”, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith , at 9 PM EDT and then midnight,  with link here.

The documentary is part of the CNN Freedom Project.

The documentary focuses on Atlanta. It views the practice as modern day slavery.

The film defines “trafficking” as the manufacturing of children for the sex trade.  That is a degree above “prostitution”.

And in the US offering anyone under 18 is always against federal law, and is similar legally to possessing or distributing child pornography.

The documentary presented a shelter, “Living Waters for Girls”.

Young women are often targeted after being noticed by pimps dancing for clubs.  And some men fly into the city, rent rooms near the airport and use them only for a few hours. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

CNN: "An Aviator's Survivor Story": a teenager walks out of a plane crash in the Cascades

Monday, July 20, 2015. CNN offered a 30-minute special report, “An Aviator’s Survivor Story”, about the journey of Autumn Veatch from a private plane crash in the North Cascades in Washington State. The story is here.
She was unable to save grandparents from a burning plane. She followed a stream, in surprising cold given the altitude (5000 feet or so) that eventually led to a highway where she was found near a small store.

She had many relatively minor burns and cuts and dehydration.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Walter Siegmund of Mt. Degenhardt in North Cascades, under creative commons share alike 3.0 license. My most recent visit close to the area was in July 1990. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Stranger than Fiction" on ABC 20-20: "Gone Girl" kidnapping cases in California, "spoiled male" suspect arrested, defusing idea of hoax

The ABC 20-20 episode on Friday July 18, 2015, “Stranger than Fiction”, video link here (requires "paywall" cable sign-on to see entire episode), documents at least two kidnapping cases in California which seemed to be bizarre perpetrations of an “Oceans 11” nature.  A former Marine, professor and attorney, Matthew Muller, has been arrested for both crimes (People account here ).  The psychology of Muller is disturbing, and is a case of a well-educated, perhaps pampered young adult male running into what appears to be mental illness and descending into crime, a troubling pattern behind some notorious recent crimes.

 Actually, the first kidnapping, of Denise Huskins, in the early AM of March 23, from a home in Vallejo CA where she was with her boyfriend Aaron Quinn, was at first thought (by local police) to be a “movie script” staging hoax and was compared to the movie “Gone Girl” (movies blog, Oct. 4, 2014).  The case broke with a similar case June 5 in nearby Dublin CA.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

CNN 70s: "The State if the Union Is Not Good": quoting President Gerald R. Ford

CNN continued “The Seventies: One Nation Under Change” tonight with “The State of the Union Is Not Good”, link here. CNN was able to air the show despite the evolving story with the shootings in Chattanooga (International blog).  Specifically, the “not good” in Ford’s speech referred to the economy: inflation and weak employment at the same time, partly because of energy problems.  I remember the sense of foreboding on New Year’s Eve at the end of 1973 (before Nixon left).
That quote comes from President Gerald Ford’s “State of the Union” address on January 15, 1975.

I remember watching Ford pardon Nixon from my new apartment in the Cast Iron Building in New York on a Sunday in September, 1974.  In fact, I started a new job with NBC in New York on August 12, 1974.
The documentary discussed the gasoline shortage in 1979, after the fall of the Shah of Iran, but the more serious shortage started with the Arab Oil Embargo in the fall of 1974.  I remember hearing about Israel’s action on a Saturday in October 1974 after getting to the Ninth Street Center on a Saturday night.
The documentary also didn’t mention the New York City financial crisis and the “Ford to City: Drop Dead” (NY Times account here ).
It did cover the talks that Jimmy Carter brokered between Begin and Sadat at Camp David in early September 1978.  But after the fall of the Shah, and then when the Shah was admitted for cancer treatment in the US, the hostages were taken in Iran at the embassy in November 1979 (the pretext of the movie “Argo”, movies blog, Oct. 14, 2012).  The hostages would not be released until Reagan took office on January 20, 1981 because Iran didn’t want Carter to get any “credit”.
Carter had been an nuclear engineer in the Navy, and the Three Mile Island incident in March 1979 was also a blow to his energy policy.  I remember that day, driving in the open range in Texas (having just moved there) and seeing “meltdown” headlines in papers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ABC carries ESPY awards from Staples Center in LA

Wednesday evening, ABC carried the ESPY (“Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards”), with a long preshow party held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  (The drought air was absolutely clear blue and smog-free.) The official site from ESPN is here.  It was hosted by Joe McHale.

The best team was a women’s soccer team.

Much of the show presented awards to disabled athletes, and there were some testimonials about players with cancer. The emotion put into this celebration would not have been common when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s.
There was a segment on female-to-male transgender experience, but the highlight of the evening came with the address and autobiographical video of Caitlyn Jenner, to accept the Arthur Ashe award (video).  She did mention the recent plans to lift the ban on transgender individuals in the military. She said that it is important to respect everyone for “who they are” and that diversity is a good thing. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

NBC Ninja Warrior shows feats of upper body strength

On Sunday night, NBC Sports presented a two hour NinjaWarrior special, USA vs. the World.

Men from various countries, including Japan, Finland, Italy and the US performed timed tumbling sequences requiring great upper body strength. In some sets, men lifted horizontal ladders above them and pushed them up.
40 year old Travis Rosen won by scaling the inside of a 77 foot tower, in 40 seconds.
The event took place outdoors in Las Vegas.

This was the sort of thing that was my own personal nemesis in Army Basic in 1968!  Doing the horizontal ladder. You needed "lesbian" arm and shoulder power.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dateline: "Mystery on Lockhard Road": David Camm case in Indiana

On Saturday, July 11, 2015, NBC Datelines re-aired “Mystery on Lockhart Road”.  The video preview is here

A former Indiana policeman, David Camm, was convicted of murdering his wife and family, sneaking out of a basketball game. He was said to have been reckless with other women.  The idea that he could have times his break from a pickup game of hoops was seen as absurd.

But a relative insisted on looking more at DNA evidence, and a Charles Boney showed up as a suspect.  A second trial convicted them both. But in a third trial, Camm was acquitted and Boney was convicted.  Boney insists that Camm set up a complicated plot involving Boney (explained near the end of the broadcast).  There was also an element of fetish.  

Camm discusses his final acquittal with a Louisville KY station here.  

Saturday, July 04, 2015

"Rediscovering Cuba: A Journey Home" by NBC4's David Culver

News4 (NBC Washington) reporter David Culver reports in a half-hour segment of his own return to Cuba, where he was raised (despite an English name, appearance, and no accent).  The segment was called “Rediscovering Cuba: A Journey Home”.  The link is here.  It could compare to an Anthony Bourdain episode but the tone is more familial, gentler, personal, with no particular emphasis on the food. 
He visits Havana (“The Lost City” with Andy Garcia), and then flies 500 miles to the SE to his home town, more in the Castro "countryside but surprisingly developed.
Cuba is not on the top of my travel list, despite recent opening of diplomatic relations.  Internet access on the island is reportedly poor. 
But the history is important, not only Guantanamo, but the Cuban Missile Crisis, which provides a curious twist in my own life (when I was a “patient” at NIH) back in 1962.

Wikipedia attribution link for CIA map of Cuba 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

PBS "First Peoples": humans evolved rapidly by "interbreeding"

PBS has a new series from “Wall to Wall Media”, called “First Peoples”, tracing the origin of man. The major link for all the episodes is here.   The first three episodes dealt with Africa, Asia, and Australia.
The overriding theme is that modern man (“homo sapies”), came into contact with “archaic humans”, other species but close and recent enough to interbreed anyway.
In Africa, the oldest male fossil for homo sapiens seems to have been found for a male in Ethiopia.  Common male and female ancestors for everyone living today have been found dating back to about 200000 years.
But there is evidence that homo sapiens from Africa mated with Neanderthals in what is now the Middle East.  Modern Europeans and Asians have up to 2% Neanderthal genes.   Some Africans may have pygmy genes, and some Asians may have older “homo erectucs”.  Interbreeding allowed men to process Vitamin D, develop stronger T-cells or various other immune mechanism, and even process energy differently so as to be able to live with less hemoglobin (in Tibet and eventually the Andes).  In all cases, genetics encouraged the most capable human to live in a geographical area, so intellect always tended to improve, whatever the previous species.
Interbreeding provides much faster evolution than simple mutation.
Homo erectus has been around for 1.5 million years, so humans may be older than we think.  One of the biggest challenges has been natural climate change.
On Australia, aborigines had to adapt to drought after Ice ages ended. 
One could say, we are all black.