Sunday, October 28, 2018

"The Mediums of Lily Dale" on "This Is Life"

“This Is Life” with Lisa Ling presented “The Mediums of Lily Dale” Sunday night Oct. 28, link 

In a small village in upstate New York near Lake Erie, there are a number of mediums. 
Various clients, including Lisa and her sister, visit mediums.  Sessions take place in well-kept living rooms or dens, with simple hand-to-hand contact.

Lisa finds her own session less than convincing, but in most cases customers feel convinced they have reached the spirit of a relative with whom there was some apology to settle.
There is no use of Ouija boards (I attended a séance in Brooklyn in the 1970s where one was used.)

The community may not be too far from where the Buffalo unit of Understanding was located in the 1970s. 
The spirit of a departed person may be a four-dimensional tesseract with all the information of the person’s life in space-time. It would somehow have to be projected onto current time.  But it could matter how the person passed away.  If it were a gradual process with people present, there may be more substance to the soul object.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

"Will We Ever Find Alien Life?" on PBS Digital Studios

Matt O’Dowd, from PBS Digital Studios (in London, and the Curiosity Stream) asks (and “tells”) “Will We Ever Find Alien Life?”

He examines the Fermi paradox and Drake equation and gives us bad news on Tabby’s star. Dyson swarms could be easier to make than Dyson spheres.

Recent probes have shown that there should be about 40 billion inhabitable planets (and maybe moons) in the Milky Way.  Civilizations could build other structures, like O’Neill cylinders.

But civilizations have to pass through filters where asymmetric access to technology can jeopardize them.  O’Dowd mentions impulse control and the compulsive personality problem.  That sounds like Nicholas Taleb’s “Black Swan” long tail problem in his “skin in the game” book.

Civilizations will develop finance (probably digital currencies and blockchain) and political structures, which are likely to be authoritarian most of the time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"The Pension Gamble" on PBS Frontline

Tuesday night, Oct. 23, PBS Frontline aired “The Pension Gamble”.

The documentary examined the developing unsustainability of pubic employee pensions, most of all focused on Kentucky. In fact, PAAMCO Prisma responded to the broadcast with this link

The narrative explained how in the past public employees had defined benefit plans, which have gradually been replaced by hybrid plans that may be a little better than comparable plans in private industry, such as what I got when ING froze our pensions in 2000 (I was laid off or rather bought off with a retirement package at the end of 2001 in major downsizing).

However, as the documentary showed, many intermediaries on Wall Street made off well during the growth of the pension funds.
The documentary focused also on the plight of teachers in some states, like West Virginia, where many teachers have two jobs.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

"Far West Texas": a penultimate episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" on CNN

Tonight, CNN presented one of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” last episodes, Far West Texas
Bourdain focused on the southern part of the region, especially the St. Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, with the border going right down the middle as they have a picnic. No wall.
Over Thank  But it managed to warm back up to 70 two days later.
sgiving 1979, I went on a bus trip backpacking hike in Big Bend with the Sierra Club, and spent the first night at 6500 feet in Laguna Meadows, and a low of 15F.

I’ve also driven through Guadalupe Mountains National Park, with the highest point on Texas (8700), which I have never climbed.

The broadcast also focused on the town of Marfa and on ranching.

In my novel “Angel’s Brother”, the young character has had an epiphany on a hike with a friend on Guadalupe.  Later in the novel, the character “Bill” reintegrates himself as he “waltzes across Texas” (the western part) before he meets up to take off on a space voyage at the end of the novel.
There is an astronomy exhibit near Midland, farther north than in the program, at Meteor Crater.

On a flight from Dallas to San Francisco in September, I did fly over the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle (far north of where Bourdain filmed). 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

ABC 20-20: How a boy of 11 was charged as an adult with murder in PA

ABC 20-20 aired a disturbing segment Friday night, “My Son Is Not a Monster”.

The story concerns Jordan Brown, in Wampum, PA, north of Pittsburgh. When father Chris Brown’s fiancée Kenzie Houk was murdered in Feb. 2009 by a shotgun while 8-1/2 months pregnant, the son Jordan at age 11 was charged with the murder at age 11.  The ABC story is here

The charge – the arrest at 3:30 AM – seemed to depend on circumstantial evidence surrounding the weapon.

The case was eventually moved back to juvenile court, and Jordan was convicted in a bench trial. But eventually the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction over unconvincing evidence. 

A different suspect has never been found.

Friday, October 19, 2018

O'Rourke looks sharp in Texas senatorial debate on CNN

Congressman Beto O’Rourke did a town hall on CNN Thursday night.  O’Rourke, from El Paso, is tall and thin and looks younger than 46, although not quite as young as David Hogg.  But the young people might win this seat. The debate was held in McAllen, TX, on the border.  

O’Rourke argued for pragmatic solutions to immigration and health care issues

The Houston Chronicle has endorsed him. 
Ted Cruz refused to appear.  But Cruz has argued that Democratic tax and carbon plans would hurt jobs in the Texas energy sector.
Texas has its own grid interconnection and would be in a position for national leadership on power grid security, no matter which party is in power.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"How Tech Companies Are Fighting Screen Addiction" on Lisa Ling's "This Is Life"

Allen Kim, for CNN, writes “How Tech Companies Are Fighting Screen Addiction” for Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” series on CNN Sunday nights.

The show featured a basketball player who got so hooked that he dropped out of school and sports.  But he did know how to code and perform in games.  Extreme gaming addiction is common. 

The episode stressed the way social media sites are programmed to become addictive by feeding the reward centers of likes or dislikes.

But this problem may be more serious, ironically, for people who use social media for social purposes.  It wouldn’t matter much for researchers and professionals.

The episode also showed a California teacher doing grade school math lessons with yarn, and no electronics. 

South Korea has rehab camps for screen-addicted teens.

Cathleen O'Crady weighs in on this problem on Ars Technica, here

Monday, October 15, 2018

"EI" discusses tech companies' deplatforming of sites due to activist public pressure after Charlottesville

“Economic Invincibility” offers a particularly telling discussion, “My Future on YouTube”.

He posted this in August 2017, shortly after the Charlottesville riots and the sequence where several white supremacist sites were deplatformed not just by social media but by domain registrars and conventional webhosts.

He mentions that he does not need the YouTube channel for a living.

He expresses a concern that some essentially left-wing activists would pressure YouTube to deplaform his channel as somehow indirectly harmful to some minorities.

He also talks about the possibility of writing a book.

This is quite a disturbing soliloquy.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lesley Stahl interviews Donald Trump on CBS 60 Minutes

Lesley Stahl interviewed President Donald Trump on CBS “60 Minutes” tonight.
The full transcript is here
A critical part of the interview concerned Kim Jong Un.  Trump called his “love” for him a figure of speech (after the big "love letters"). He admits he had to manipulate Kim because of the threat of war, on South Korea and possibly even the US homeland sooner than we thought (I’ve talked about his EMP threat before).
Stahl challenged Trump on climate change, with a metaphor of icebergs breaking off of Greenland.
Trump still rationalizes his denial and is concerned about US job loss and personal sacrifice.

The media is offended by Trump's "rogue actors" theory on the assassination of the Saudi Post journalist. 
Remember how Lesley Stahl at one time interviewed Mark Zuckerberg “The Toddler CEO”, when Mark asked, “Is that a question?”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Are Baby Boomers the Problem?" "EI" lays it on the line and talks about hypocrisy and sacrifice

Are Baby Boomers the Problem?

“EI” (Economic Invincibility) lays it on the line, and scolds some baby boomers for not being willing to make sacrifices when it comes to retirement and social security, given the demographic problem of their living much longer than did previous generations.

He mentions the Vietnam War and acknowledges that some made sacrifices and returned maimed and not appreciated, but then notes that many boomers didn’t serve in the military (like the student deferment system)  He vacillates or waffles somewhat between recommending just that boomers support Social Security reform for future retirees and insisting that they make some sacrifices now, living less independent with or near their kids.

I was born in 1943 (slightly pre-boomer technically).  I’ve gotten a decent pension since 2002 and Social Security since 2005.  I’ve been writing, a lot of it for free.  If I “had to”, I would have to raise money like other people.  This might be fairer to existing political advocacy because I would have to “play ball”.  EI, while conservative himself, is actually making a comment that could help progressivism on the Left.

I also insist that I view my FICA taxes over the years as an “annuity premium” even though legally it is not (Flemming v. Nestor, 1960).

EI says both of his parents are baby boomers.  For a young man who discusses heterosexuality so explicitly in other videos, his personal appearance is lean and immaculate and would appeal to most gay men. Of maybe he believes that even in the heterosexual world, the male should be conspicuous with beauty, as it is with many birds (like cardinals).

Monday, October 08, 2018

PBS: "Where Did Viruses Come From?"

Where Did Viruses Come From?” from PBS Digital and PBS Eons.

Most of us have viral DNA, even templated by retroviral RNA, in our genomes.

The video examines whether viruses came before cellular life, and it isn’t clear.

And because viruses don’t produce energy, there is a good question as to whether they are really alive. An RNA or DNA strand wrapped in protein. The video examines some very large viruses, actually larger than some bacteria.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Lisa Ling covers "Gender Fluidity" on "This Is Life"

Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” series covered “Gender Fluidity”, season 5, episode 3.

The Advocate has a summary presenting EJ Johnson (son of Magic Johnson), here. 

The episode young adults who view themselves as “agender” (with no gender) was well as transgender (woman to man in one case) but “gender flux”.  I had covered gender-neutral pronouns on the LGBT blog Sept. 9.

There was a 42-year old man, already balding, who liked to experiment with women’s clothes and considered himself fluid, and his wife was OK with it. They have a daughter.
At age 75, I can say I would never have considered an intimate relationship with a self-declared fluid person. I’m too much into the cherry picking and upward affiliation.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

"Modern Family", Season 10, Episode 2, brings back Reid Ewing as Dylan

Reid Ewing, who I believe turns 30 in November, appears in Season 10, Episode 2 of ABC's “Modern Family”, called “Kiss and Tell”.

I haven’t followed the series recently.  But he appears to revisit his old relation with Haley at about 19:00 into the episode, link

It’s interesting that his appearance has hardly changed in all these years.

Yet, he offers a shocking chapter in the new book “(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health”, edited by Kelly Jensem, on p. 95, “I underwent cosmetic surgery for my body dysmorphia and I wish I hadn’t” back in 2008, when he was 19 and thought he had to in order to make it as an actor.  The piece is graphic and shocking, yet you can’t see any evidence of it on television episodes or his own Twitter pictures. I’ll di a review of the book later. 

 Note that around six years ago he did a video “Imagine Me Naked”, still on YouTube.

I hope this is a sign his acting career is resuming (he presented a rainbow over LA on Twitter recently, about the same time I was in San Francisco). But he has a manga animated film he is producing and editing (“The Winchester Half-Tragedy”).  I wish my own “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” (set in an O’Neill Cylinder but not animated) were as far along.
Much of the episode today presented Mitch and Cam.  I guess Jesse Tyler Ferguson is holding up pretty well at 42.  Can I say the same for Ryan Seacrest on “Live with Kelly and Ryan”. He won’t wear socks.

Monday, October 01, 2018

"Manifest": new series on NBC presumes an airline is "abducted" and disappears for over five years, and then lands

I watched, online, the Pilot for "Manifest", the science fiction drama created by Jeff Rake for NBC, which had premiered Sept. 24 while I was in California. 

The premise is that in April 2013, a flight from Jamaica for NYC dematerializes in the air and reappears and lands in November 2018. The passengers experience severe turbulence and the lights go off, and laptops fall to the floor – and then it all returns to normal.  The first sign of “trouble” is that air traffic control sends them to Newburgh, and the people are met by security on the tarmac.
Much of the story is seen through police officer Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), who volunteered to accept denied boarding. In the meantime, her fiancé married someone else. She was traveling with her brother Ben (Josh Dallas).

Michaela learns that her mother has died. But soon she starts hearing voices that lead her to prevent a child from being struck by a bus, and later to rescue two abducted kids.
Michaela’s nephew Cal (Jack Messina) will be eligible for a new treatment for cancer, yet the researchers are reluctant to start because his time period is “out of protocol” because of the “abduction”.
At the end, the plane blows itself up.  It doesn’t want to release its secrets.  The premise of the show does remind me of "The 4400".