Monday, May 29, 2017

Bryce Harper loses his temper in a brawl after HBP, could cost the Nats later

It’s on MLB TV and I can’t get the MLB embed code to come up, but here is the link for Harper’s brawl in the Nat’s game in San Francisco today.

There is a video on YouTube.

I wonder if superfan Richard Harmon (“The 100”, “Crypto”) was at the game.

Bryce Harper will probably get a suspension of several games, which is not good for the Nats.  That hurrs a position player and his team more than a pitcher.

Harper had broadcast his own Superbowl party on Facebook Live from his new home (I think in Las Vegas).

Update:  May 31

Harper's suspension was reduced to 3 games but starts tonight, and runs through Saturday in Oakland. The Nats will miss him in a designated-hitter lineup in an AL Park. The Nats can use only 24 players for those 3 games. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Twin Peaks: The Darkness of Futures Past" licks off the 2017 renewal

Twin Peaks”, as directed by David Lynch and written by David Frost, returned with a bang on Showtime Sunday night May 21 (site).

The two-hour pilot (“The Darkness of Futures Past”) was divided into two nearly hour-long parts.

The show visits the town in Washington State 25 annees after Laura Palma was murdered and Kyle MacLaughlan (Dale Cooper) invited himself there to investigate the “wood spirits”.

Much of the material revisits the film prequel “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”, especially the salon scenes with the zigzag floors and red d├ęcor, where this time a disembodied blog on a stick says “I am the arm”.  This place seems to be in an alternate universe reached through a wormhole.

But the most interesting and shocking sequence happens in Part 1, where a computer nerd (apparently Ben Rosenfeld) monitors a bizarre organic computer with a portal.  When a girl friend visits him, they disrobe, revealing his absolutely hairless chest and perfect musculature, and in their passions, a golem comes from the portal and kills them, decapitating the girl.

The next day, another character is arrested, but he turns into a golem in jail and evaporates.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Digital Addiction" on ABC 20-20, affects some people a lot more than others

ABC 20-20 tonight covered “Digital Addiction” and digital obsession, covering three families with addiction to media and especially gaming.  Elizabeth Vargas reported.

A Michigan teenager, Josh, built his own computer but then became addicted to gaming and dropped out of school.  His parents sent him to a 10-week wilderness camp in Utah.  The Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor did MRI’s and examined the teen’s brain, and found brain activity improved after media was removed.  The teen comes home to a new home and is actually greeted by the cat.  The best link is here.

Yet, normally a teen capable of building a computer from scratch would be well grounded in reality.  Various other teens have gone on to, well, create Facebook.  So the effect of media exposure must be quite variable.

A 35-year-old father of four agreed to have his games taken out of his house to get over his addiction.
A teenage girl also went into a treatment program in California.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Within Reach" on ABC Nightline: Hollywood producer gets revolutionary hand transplant after mysterious and destructive illness

ABC Nightline on Thursday, May 18 (but after midnight into Friday) presented a report “Within Reach”, about film producer Jonathan Koch, who would have a successful hand transplant at UCLA. LA Magazine has a detailed story.  (The ABC video here will show only without https.)

Koch became suddenly ill in January 2015 before he was supposed to go to Washington. He still flew to Dulles, but soon was hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital with what seemed to be profound septic shock.   This could happen from antibiotic resistant super bacteria, or sometimes from some strains of meningitis. He was actually tested for Ebola. But in his case the cause appears to have been a reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, which usually causes mononucleosis. (It may be associated with Hodgkin’s Disease and with some non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, maybe the explosive kind that Maryland governor Larry Hogan recovered from,)  Such reactivation is very rare, but might be compared to Shingles and Chicken Pox, and theoretically a vaccine could be designed to prevent it.   The “infection” had some aspects of lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy. The report makes no mention of HIV, but it would be logical if it could me more likely with HIV infection.  Vaccine development might reduce the incidence of some lymphomas.

The episode documents the loyalty of his girlfriend.

Koch was put into medically induced coma and had a NDE experience, where he was told that recovery would be grueling, he reports.  He had severe gangrene, resulting in partial amputations and opportunity for transplant.


An extended version of this report was aired on ABC 20-20 on August 25, 2017. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AC360 tonight finds Yates interview, and Sanders-Kasich town hall overrun by Comey Letter

CNN tonight offered two big events (not “blessed events” indeed), as Anderson Cooper’s AC360 interview  with former deputy attorney general Sally Yates was interrupted by more breaking news, that Congress was preparing subpoenas around the “Comey Memo”.

Yates says that the Russians had leverage over Flynn.  She describes attempting to stay on under Trump and do her job for the DOJ.  On the way to the airport on Jan. 27, she got a text about the first Trump travel ban.  When she decided she could not defend it in court Monday, she soon got a note at the door firing her.

Earlier there was discussion of whether Donald Trump’s behavior constitutes obstruction of justice. Jeffrey Toobin says yes, Alan Dershowitz says maybe not.  Here is a New York Times analysis.

At 10 PM CNN;s Jake Tapper hosted a one hour town hall debate with Bernie Sanders and Ohio governor Josh Kasich, who did not support Trump. Instead of talking about tax reform and health care, they had to talk about the current crisis, and were pretty much in agreement.

Trump goes on a nine-day road trip to visit all three major faiths

Sunday, May 14, 2017

CNN's Axelrod interviews California governor Jerry Brown

David Axelrod interviewed Democratic California governor Jerry Brown Saturday night on the Axelrod files, in the governor’s office in Sacramento.  CNN link is here.

Axelrod spent a lot of time seeking Brown’s comments on Donald Trump and the Comey firing.

Brown, a lifelong bachelor (like Senator Lindsey Graham, R-C) attracted attention with his austere lifestyle when governor back in the late 1970s.  In earlier times he had, like Jimmy Carter, preached frugality and the inevitability of change away from materialism.

In the interview last night he described his upbringing as a Jesuit.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

ABC 20-20 and John McAfee's saga in Belize

ABC 20-20 last night covered the saga of John McAfee, founder of McAfee Security (no longer part of the company) and a “person of interest” in a mysterious murder in a coastal community in Belize in 2012.  The best link seems to be here.  One of the scenes shows a man running through a field a night, a memory of the cornfield scene in the first episode of “Smallville”.

The episode explains that Belize is notoriously weak on getting criminal convictions.

McAfee would eventually “escape” to Guatemala, have a fake heart attack, and get deported to the US.  He now lives in Tennessee and was picked up one time for DUI.  McAfee would become a Libertarian Party candidate for president in 2016.

But I can remember the McAfee of the 1990s, whose mission in life was to eliminate all computer viruses.  That’s especially relevant on this “Day After” WannaCry worm.  Other companies have become much more credible in the anti-virus market (Kaspersky, which is in Russia, and Trend).

A church youth group which I know does missions in Belize every June, at Double Head Cabbage, about 20 miles away from where the rich people like McAfee have their beach resorts. (See Drana blog, Nov. 4, 2012).

 There is some short film video of the place that the group has taken that really ought to be entered into film festivals (like DC Shorts). Much happier stuff than McAfee.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Riverdale" somewhat reminds me of "Twin Peaks": Archie's world more than Jughead's

I caught the last episode of “Riverdale” on CWTV tonight, produced in part by Greg Berlanti, who had given us “Everwood”.
I’m not a fan of the Archie Comics series of teen characters (trying to survive their reckless adult folks) in what looks like an upper midwestern town, maybe in Wisconsin (like the two angels Matt and Ben in “Dogma” in 1999). Actually, it looks pretty normal.   Somehow I think of “Twin Peaks”.

The last episode is “The Sweet Hereafter” (Chapter 13), and it showed the very likeable musician Archie (New Zealand actor K.J. Apa) saving a teen girl from drowning in a frozen pond.  Then in the final scene, it seems that he is there for his dad after dad gets shot in a home invasion of his office or warehouse or diner.

Apparently the show emphasizes Archie as much as narrator Jughead (Cole Sprouse).  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Did Sinclair make Washington's WJLA ABC affiliate "conservative" in its news coverage?

In the Washington Post Style section, Tuesday, May 10, 2017. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post, analyzing the behavior of the Sinclair Broadcast Group in Hunt Valley, near Baltimore, as it contemplates buying Tribune Media.  Fahri writes that when Sinclair bought Washington DC affiliate WJLA, it moved the station’s news coverage to the right. The article is here.

Fahri insists that Sinclair forced WJLA to cover Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities (the email scandal) during the 2016 election, but not to give corresponding attention to Trump’s.

I cannot say that I had noticed this.  However, I’ve noticed that WJLA has been more aggressive in reporting arrests (before convictions) of sex-related offenses (like child pornography possession, or teacher misconduct).  But what is more interesting is the coverage of Sinclair last summer of possible threats to the power grid, which I wrote about on Wordpress around July 6 (link)  Sinclair sponsored a “Your Voice Your Future” forum on the issue from a station in Green Bay WI  Aug. 8, which WJLA advertised but then did not run; visitors had to find it online themselves.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

PBS Frontline: "Poverty, Politics and Profit" looks at how the billions we spend on homelessness falls short

Poverty, Politics, and Profit” on PBS Frontline on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 looks at why the billions we spend on housing the homeless leaves so many in the streets.  The link is here.   Laura Sullivan investigates. The film is written and produced by Rick Young,

The broadcast starts with a curious prelude in a ritzy enclave in Costa Rica,

It says that the 2008 financial crisis threw people out of homes and added to the number of people competing to rent apartments.

It speaks of Section 8 as a “housing lottery”.

It then looks at some section 8 recipients in Dallas.  Section 8 recipients have 90 days to find a landlord who will take their voucher.

The documentary looks at an apartment complex being built in Frisco, TX north of McKinney, Plano and Dallas. The city didn’t want to allow Section 8.

The film  looked and the earlier idea of housing projects which failed, and was replaced by vouchers for poor people to move to more affluent communities with tax credits and section 8.

The documentary then explains the “tax credit industry”.

The documentary moves on to Miami and traces kickbacks and corruption (and shell companies) that lead back to Costa Rica.  One of the companies was named after a taxi driver, indeed an abuse of “reputation”.  One developer who had accepted kickbacks had to do community service with the homeless in person as a condition of probation.

The film returns to the difficult of people with vouchers actually finding apartments that accept them.

Monday, May 08, 2017

CBS 48 Hours details Nebraska murders committed by a fired medical resident out of revenge

On Saturday, May 6, CBS “48 Hours” aired an investigation of the double murders committed in in 2008 and then in 2013, that turned out to be committed by a former medical resident at Creighton University, Anthony Garica, link here.

The perpetrator had come from an immigrant family in California and completed medical school but gone off the rails and performed poorly as a medical resident, and been fired from jobs in Utica NY and Creighton.  As with James Holmes, he seems to developed some sort of violent mental illness, unusual and disturbing for someone with that background.  The motive seems to be revenge.

Another pathologist at Creighton escaped being targeted by not being home, when she got an alarm from her security company.

Firings of residents aren’t real common, but the work has long shifts and is very exacting.  But a firing can end one’s career in medicine.

I do have some familiarity with the University of Nebraska, which is in Lincoln, indirectly from my time at KU in Lawrence in the 1960s.

Update: Sept. 24

A similar episode aired on Dateline, "Haunting",  Sept. 23 on the same case. 2 hours.  This is one of Dateline's most compelling episodes.  The early part of the episode shows the perpetrator contacting kids online, adding to the chill.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Anthony Bourdain visits Basque country, especially San Sebastian

Anthony Bourdain visited one of my personal favorties on his CNN “Parts Unknown” Sunday night, San Sebastian-Donostia Spain (eatery writeup).

It’s on the Eurailpass train, but Bilbao, sixty miles to the west, is not.  You take a bus, or at least I did in May 2001.   Bourdain did not visit Bilbao, went over into French Basque country, and also went into the mountain interior.  .

Bourdain says that San Sebastian, in the Basque NE corner of Spain, has the best food in Europe – a lot of sea delicacies like pates based on squid or shrimp and various garnishes and eggs.  I remember this in Bilbao, where I visited the Guggenheim.

San Sebastian has a famous circle beach, a film festival, and the city looks rich when you walk along the canal.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Concha Bay

Thursday, May 04, 2017

ABC Nightline: Famine in Somalia

ABC Nightline reported Tuesday night from Somaliland (in Somalia) about the famine associated with drought and climate change, link 70% of the livestock has died.  April is supposed to be the wettest month but there has been no rain.   There is also famine in South Sudan, northern Nigeria, and Yemen.

David Muir reports.

Save the Children is the charity involved in providing the relief.  Save the Children gives out mobile phones with credit for buying food in some areas.  The charity works there despite terrorism and violence and offshore piracy.  Carolyn Miles head of the charity, did speak about Trump’s priorities.
The seven minute film is quite graphic.   Three other unspecified nations are involved.

Muir visits a hospital in Burao.

Wikipedia attribution link for Burao picture, CCSA 1.0

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Jimmy Kimmel cries over son's surgery as Shaun White appears on his show; more debate on pre-existing conditions in health care

Olympic snowboarder Shaun White, now 30, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel last night, to relate his own experience of growing up after two or three surgeries for Tetralogy of Fallot, after Jimmy opened his show May 1 on ABC in tears describing his newborn son’s open heart surgery.

The event has already focused more attention on the health care debate in the Trump administration and in Congress, as in this Post Dispatch article.

Kimmel might be able to pay higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, but an ordinary person could not, without public funded support.  Today, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN he would favor covering excess expenses for pre-existing conditions with public funds (probably reinsurance).

White did not remove his shirt during the broadcast, but pictures before indicate that the scars from surgery, just below the nipple, are practically invisible.

Kimmel has often been silly, saying he wants to be president (maybe have a baseball player like Kris Bryant as his running mate) or at least be vice president.  Would he run in 2020?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Is the hack of "Orange Is the New Black" just plain silly?

A hacker has demanded “ransom” from Netflix for its series “Orange Is the New Black”, Season 5, and Netflix has refused.  Forbes has ridiculed the idea in an article here
I’ve watched an episode and reviewed it before, and frankly I don’t have time to follow many series, given the number of independent films I review. 

As clever as the idea for the series is, it would be harder to write for it than to write scripts for independent films based on the same ideas.

The hacker has threatened other series to upend the “world order” of cable and subscriber television.  Since I am able to, I always watch these things legally (I have Comcast-Xfinity, and also Netflix).  

 I’ll pay to watch an independent film on Amazon rather than hunt it down at one theater in the area, although I try to make it to festivals. 

But I suppose some people would do illegal downloads to watch Orange or other series. Maybe that's even a legal peril for Airbnb hosts. 

The other thing is that I’m usually not upended by “knowing the ending” in advance.  Although for some series (“The Event”, “Flash Forward”) the ending really matters.