Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump's SOTU (that's not tofu)

Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech ran 80 minutes, like a short feature film, and started about 20 minutes late, and was carried live on everything Tuesday January 30.

One of the biggest concerns came with the North Korea portion, which I covered on the International Issues blog Jan. 30.

The pace of the speech was slow, but the tone appeared to be conciliatory, without the reality TV behavior of the campaign.

One of his most controversial claims was that “we are all dreamers”.

He also seemed to suggest a false analogy (statistically) between ME-13 and dreamers.

The claim about chain migration has little real significance. Distant relatives cannot get green cards now, and the process for all but immediate family is very slow and takes years.

Joe Kennedy’s Democratic response seemed inclusive, but some of the empathy was overdone. At one point, he seemed to put transgender people in the same boat as opioid addicts, probably not intending to.  HRC tweeted it. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Anthony Bourdain visits Puerto Rico (before Hurricane Maria), then Cuba

On Sunday night, January 28, 2018, I did catch up with Anthony Bourdain’s coverage of two more places: Puerto Rico, and Cuba (link ).
The Puerto Rico episode was shot a few weeks before Hurricane Maria.  It talked about the Ponzi scheme of bond holders, who can take all the public employee’s pension deductions and keep them to pay back debt. Furthermore the bond holders can dictate severe cutbacks in spending and public services. No question this added to the death toll an crippling inability of the territory to restore its power grid efficiently after the storm.

The hurricane could also provide a warning of what could happen in other parts of the US were there ever to be an EMP attack.

Boudain had a lobster and conch meal with one family and then visited a former Naval test range.

The Cuba segment talked about the waning of Communism.  As people start businesses and hotels or cruise ships begin to imagine coming, occasionally you see homeless in the streets.  That would never have been allowed during Castro.
The episode started with John Kennedy opening his first speech on the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Wikipedia attributions for photos:

San Juan

By JialiangGao - Self-photographed, GFDL, Link

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Van Jones Show on CNN

CNN premiered “The Van Jones Show” Saturday night at 7 PM EST.   There was a lot of talk at the outset of Donald Trump as a “virus” who evolved from an atmosphere of tribalism, and individualism that was leaving too many people out of the game.  Then Jones called the year one “A Tale of TwoPresidencies”. 
He spent a lot of time interviewing sports agent Jay-Z, before presenting the most interesting segment of the hour. Van drives through Charlottesville, around Lee Park, with one American-American woman and two conservative white men, one of them young.

The black woman insisted that the statues had been put up to keep blacks in their place (maybe they had, a century ago). But the white men talked about the specific architect who had put up the Lee statue and denied the idea.  Both felt that conservatives had become way too partisan and tribal and forgotten how to solve real people’s problems.  

Trump tweeted about this show Sunday morning, link.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

ABC 20-20: Sister Survivors: The Larry Nassar case

ABC 20-20 on Friday night presented “Sister Survivors” of sports doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse for 20 years of female athletes, link
The episode covered the seven days of victims’ statements and the duplicitous “apology” by Nassar (“a woman scored”). The Michigan judge signed his death warrant.

My own reaction is to wonder how he got away with this for twenty years.  A few women tried to speak up and were put down. No one would challenge the power structure, until someone did.

Nassar, 54, got 175 years in prison, on top of 60 years for child pornography.

At any time during those 20 years, someone could have called the police.  Did that occur to him?
Nassar even had peer-reviewed papers published on doing physical examinations.

One victim said she didn't want to testify because she didn't want to be remembered as a victim, but rushed to the airport at the last minute to get to the trial. 
This (heterosexual) case is even more grotesque than Larry Sandusky’s at Penn State. 

The judge has been criticized for suggesting that Nassar will experience in prison what he dished out (LA Times).  Monica Davey and Mitch Smith write in the NY Times, front page Sunday, about how Michigan State had conducted its internal review. Rachel Denhollander gives her own account on p. 2, NYTimes Sunday Review, "The Price of Raising and Army", here.  The Washington Post writes how Denhollander suddenly broke open the case after seeing a story in the Indianapolis Star in August 2016, and there had been 13 other chances. (Why a paper in another state?)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Milo Show

OK. Here we go, with “The Milo Show”, on Facebook Live. 
I don’t think Milon Yiannopoulos has his own cable channel yet, but he wants to pretend he does. He’s even charging a small subscription paywall starting in late January  2018.

Here is his spiel on “Fat Studies”.  He speaks for himself; I need not summarized further. 
Milo seems to be broadcasting the series from Miami, which I just visited in November for the Miami Book Fair (also Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manor).  Our content is similar, although I am less “sensationalist” in how I say certain things.  Maybe I’ll see Miami again.  Another trip to Paradise, another visit to Hunter’s in Wilton Manor?  (In gay discos, most men are cis and thin, up to Milo's specs.)  I’d probably make a good subject for Milo to interview with my three “Do Ask, Do Tell” books. 
Oh, it’s only about 70 miles to Mar a Lago, if I can get invited there.

Try this Times article, which seems to belong.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, on FX

Tonight I watched episode 2, “Manhunt”, of Season 2 of “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” pn FX, basic link

The series is based on the book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” by Maureen Orth.  The episode is directed by Nelson Cragg. 
The series starts after the assassination (the pilot was “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”), and will then retrace Cunanan’s 1997 killing spree in backstories. A later episode will be called "Don't Ask Don't Tell" concerning the murder in Minneapolis of a former US Naval Officer. 

Episode 2 traces Cunanan’s (Darren Criss) drive to Florida, his getting a room and then stalking Gianni (Edgar Ramirez) whose couture and high lifestyle in south Florida, along with his connection to a possible lover, are shown. .

Criss is quite manipulative and chilling as the empty Cunanan, who saw himself through the shadows of others. In one scene, he tapes up the face of a sexual partner in an SM session and then stabs a breathing opening at the mouth.  He meets an HIV+  man who rooms with him for a while.

He barely escapes being identified by an employee in a sandwich shop.

Update: March 19, 2019

There is defamation lawsuit against FX and other parties regarding the film, details in "The Blast". 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"The Good Doctor": "Seven Reasons": Shaun thinks he detects a terrorist plot

Monday night, January 22, “The Good Doctor” Episode “Seven Reasons” depicted Shaun as becoming more assertive  ABC link is here

A female patient with a Muslim background is brought into the hospital with hand and forearm burns. Shaun assures her that it should heal without much scarring. But then she has breathing and heart problems.  Her windpipe has a puncture, and at one point Shaun wants to report the other doctor for a mistake. But then Shaun becomes suspicious that her injuries and symptoms come from handling dimethyl sulfate with her boyfriend, and suspects she was making a bomb.  In one scene near the end he says calmly “You are a terrorist”.

Shaun no longer strikes me as disabled. He takes care of himself physically just fine. He is simply different.  His communications and motives are crystal clear, precise, and follow their own internal logic.  He is like a kind of Clark Kent, almost a gentle extraterrestrial alien who can save everybody but whose personhood is partly non-human at an emotional level.  But would an alien have mastered human physiology?  Only if panspermia had happened.  He is different from “normal” people in the way a cat differs from a dog; but his adaptation to his world makes perfect sense.

That matriarchal cat from the Wyoming home in the Pilot must dearly miss him and out to be brought into the storyline.  How would Shaun relate to animals?  He would like cats much more than dogs. 
Does HFA (high functioning autism) really work this way?  This isn’t quite the same of Asperger’s but seems similar.  Does the HFA person simply follow his own internal logic to  adapt and “survive”?  That’s how evolution works.  In the animal world, lions and tigers (who can interbreed) vary enormously in sociability because of different adaptations to their environments.  People can vary the same way. Maybe in a future world a Shaun would fit in much more readily than today. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

CNN: "Trump's First Year"

CNN has been particularly preoccupied with the US government shutdown that started at 12:01 AM Saturday January 20, 2018.  

So CNN postponed its airing of its special 90-minute documentary “Trump’s First Year” (Freshman Tear?) until Sunday night (tonight). Here’s the best link so far.  No, “it is not safe”.

In the first hour, the documentary covered especially Trump’s retreat from environmentalism, and it had some graphic scenes of mountaintop removal in southern West Virginia.

The second hour got into all the firings (like Comey’s) and then talked about North Korea, with the exchange of insults with Kim Jong Un.

There is also a lot of coverage of Steve Bannon.

Most of all is Trump’s belief in tribalism, that the world is top-down and that you take care of your own first by expropriating or bargaining away the lives of other people. 

The government shutdown seems to have spoiled Trump's presidency's birthday party at Mar a Lago. But I wasn't invited anyway. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chris Cuomo has his own interview show on CNN Prime Time

I wanted to acknowledge that Chris Cuomo now has his own hour as a news analysis and interviewer on CNN, following Anderson Cooper, prime time, weeknights (and preceding Don Lemon).

Cuomo follows Piers Morgan and then Smerconish (now on Saturday mornings) on that spot. 

Cuomo, while nominally a mainstream Democrat like his father, is known for detailed questioning of people he interviews, as to the logical consistency of the claims they make.  He often seems harder on the Left than on the Right.  Cuomo’s analytical questioning style seems to come from his education first as an attorney (he has a JD). 

Last night, for example, he gave Cory Booker (D-NJ) a hard time given his remarks connecting Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen with racism.  

It would be a natural question, would Chris Cuomo be a good candidate for president in 2020 for the Democratic Party?  Hardly anyone (except Anderson Cooper) knows policy better, as being qualified for “the job”. Or would he seem too elitist? 

I keep hearing other reports from mid-America in some towns (like Youngstown, OH) that Trump has been good for them, as far as more manufacturing jobs coming back. They seem not to care about Trump’s language. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Shaun plays hooky, goes on a road trip and finds love on "The Good Doctor"

The second half of “The Good Doctor” on ABC is less convincing. It is a two-part subseries called “Islands” (link )

Shaun plays hooky, which I don’t think he could get away with; but he finds romance and love with a girl who gets him out of his shell on a road trip to the wine country, even to drive a car.  He gets drunk and even pukes, and then they shack up in a motel.

Shaun gets a lecture that a "road trip" is not a personal emergency.  You don't get to whine if you don't have the opportunity for a walk-off win and have to hold a lead in the bottom of the Ninth. 
Then in Part 2, he gives notice that he will leave and follow her to Pennsylvania and get another job.

In the meantime, the hospital separates two twins joined at the head.  Then one of them needs to die to provide a heart transplant so the other one can live.

It looks like Shaun will stay and his becoming less autistic because of his relationship. I bet they have a child before the series ends. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

CNN: Axelrod interviews Condoleezza

Saturday night at 7 PM on CNN, David Axelrod;s “Axe Files” featured an interview with Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under President Bush.  The podcast link is here

Rice, who was single when holding the position, had almost become a concert pianist.

Rice seemed to agree with Trump that it may not be possible for the US to accept a nuclear-powered North Korea, although her language was calm.

But she also indicated that Olympics diplomacy could solve the North Korea crisis. 
She was a bit equivocal on George W. Bush’s contention that Saddam Hussein had possessed WMD’s when the US went to war in 2003. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"Inside the Rule of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un"

On Friday, Jan 12, ABC 20-20 ran “Inside the  Rule of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un”, 

The broadcast presented the two younger half-brothers, and gave the history of how they both “disgraced” the family with their contacts with the west.

Kim Jong Un is presented as growing up and being educated in Switzerland as a spoiled child, eventually groomed to rule by default,  even though technically he was a family “bastard”.  The broadcast called this a "Game of Thrones". 

After he came into favor as the next leader, the put on weight to emulate his grandfather, inviting fat-shaming from conservatives in the west.  Even that could have contributed to the Sony Pictures hack at the end of 2014 of the movie “The Interview” (Movies, Dec 27, 2014).  Theaters at first feared terror attacks if they showed it but soon relented.

The documentary also showed the execution by artillery obliteration of two members of his own staff for disloyalty, one of them for sleeping in a meeting.

The broadcast shows the assassination of Kim Jong Nam with VX in an airport in Malaysia.  His is reported to have the antidote with him at all times.

All this bodes poorly for Kim Jong Un’s predictability once he has nuclear weapons.

But the episode covered Un's fascination with basketball, where he can shoot well even though he is only 5 ft 5 in.  It covered Dennis Rodman's visit. 
Wikipedia attribution link of statues of Kim family, by de Roo, CCSA 3.0. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Discovery Communications to move out of Silver Spring

I have often walked near the Discovery Communications buildings in Silver Spring when going to events at the AFI Silver Theater.

So today everyone is surprised to learn that Discovery will sell its building in late 2019 as it moves much of its operations to New York City.  It will retain operations in Sterling, VA and Knoxville TN and may have other smaller locations in Maryland.

I’ve often watched many cable shows on Discovery, which has made many important television documentaries, mostly about science, ranging from astronomy to wildlife, somewhat akin to National Geographic.

The Washington Post has a major story here

Sunday, January 07, 2018

"Golden Globes" 2018: Impassioned calls for women to speak up

Sexual harassment (mostly heterosexual) and #MeToo was a major theme tonight on NBC’s “Golden Globes” ceremony, especially with a keynote speech from Oprah Winfrey.  The NBC News principal story is here. Many observers saw her speech as indicating she would run for president in 2020. 

One director said he gave back some of his salary so that female directors could be paid more.
There were also calls for more directorial roles for women.

Here is the New York Times complete list of winners in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Lady Bird”.

I didn’t notice any awards for “The Good Doctor”. 

There was also a nasty incident of "virtue signaling" (and shaming people into conformity on supporting a politically correct cause openly) involving Blanc Blanco, as explained on "Intellectual Takeout" by John Miltimore. 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

CNN: The Trump-Russia Investigation with Pamela Brown

Friday, January 4, CNN Presents aired a 90-minute special report, “The Trump-Russia Investigation” narrated by Pamela Brown, link.

Much of the early part of the film did with the ironic firing of James Comey, and the whole idea of inviting someone to dinner to ask him to be loyal.

There was a lot about meetings with Russians that had business overtones. 

This is a president who seems to believe you can make policy by governing hierarchal relationships in a power chain, rather than by doing the math first.   He thinks individuals need to take care of each other in relationships rather than just take care of themselves come what may.

Friday, January 05, 2018

"Waco: Truth and Lies" from ABC News

Thursday, January 4, ABC News aired its 2-hour documentary “Waco: Truth and Lies”, which recalls the period from 1993, from late February until April 19, when the FBI had a standoff with David Koresh and his Branch Davidians religious cult.  Here’s the best link

The compound was about ten miles NE of Waco, Texas. 

The documentary mentions the recency of the first World Trade Center attack.

All this occurred early in the first term of Bill Clinton with Janet Reno as attorney general.
I remember visiting the area with a friend on a trip to Texas in late March, 1993.  We watched the standoff from a rented car parked on an overpass.

I also remember the day of the fire.  I was driving back to work from lunch and entering the parking lot with Pat Buchanan on a talk show, who saw the first fires break out.

The special had many interviews with survivors, who were indeed “true believers” in the “faith”.  Many saw this as a warning about fascistic national government. 

Libertarian parties would make a lot of the Waco incident in the years to follow.  A number of documentary films were made.  These include “Waco: Rules of Engagement” (1997), "Ambush at Waco" (1993), "Assault on Waco" (2006); "Children of Waco" (2007)

Picture: My 2005 visit.  I expect a major trip in Texas by this spring.  

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

On "The Good Doctor". Shaun's behavior when in a group confronted by armed robbery poses a moral dilemma

I missed the episode “Apple”, of “The Good Doctor”, aired Nov. 20 (episode 8), but it brings up a serious moral dilemma, a kind of Trolley Problem.
On the way to work, Shaun steps into a convenience store to buy fresh apples, and the store is held up by an armed robbery. The robber demands that Shaun keep his hands up and turn over his wallet at the same time.

Shaun refuses because these are logically inconsistent demands. Shaun shows no emotion even when the robber taunts him.  The robber becomes unnerved by Shaun’s lack of apparent fear and goes off the rails, and shoots a woman in the store.  The owner hits the robber over the head with a baseball bat, and soon police apprehend the robber.  Shaun’s behavior may have indirectly contributed to the woman’s been shot, but also led to the robber’s apprehension.

Later, Shaun participates in saving the woman’s life in surgery with his own savant skills.

There is a side episode about a drug addict that doesn’t seem connected to the story.

The girl’s boy friend, who was in the store, “blames” Shaun for the girl’s wounds.  But Shaun refuses to accept responsibility for what someone else chooses to do. Later the boy friend apologizes and admits he wanted to leave her.

Shaun would make a reliable witness at a trial of the robber, because his testimony would be clear, objective and unemotional
It is important to note that Shaun did not confront the robber out of ideological motive, like never giving in to a “terrorist”.  For example, I have written on other blogs that if I were singled out in an incident for kidnapping, I would not comply, even if it meant my death and everyone else in the room, because I see this as a necessary sacrifice (or line not to cross) in order not to negotiate over my own life with terrorists or criminals. But I would take no moral responsibility, only the criminal or terrorist would.  Of course, this goes down the revolutionary “Marxist” line that the members of the bourgeoisie have it coming to them.  I used to hear this in revolutionary circles (like the People’s Party) in the early 1970s.  It fits in to the Patty Hearst, Getty, and Manson cases, and is a point that Pam Geller makes in her recent book “Fatwa”.

Note that "savant" skills used to be called "idiot savant".  No longer.  

Monday, January 01, 2018

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen pair up outdoors for New Years Eve on Times Square

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen provided the CNN coverage of New Years Eve on Times Square in New York City Sunday night, Dec. 31.

The crowd was segmented into pens, and there were no incidents visible.

Andy and Anderson stayed outside themselves in 10 F weather, each with three layers (they said) and Anderson with no hat.

Kathy Griffin, who needs her Anderson, no longer does the show, after her own affair with "misconduct."  She cries that her career is over.

But AOL reports on the event, and that Kathy Griffin tweeted the pair during the show.