Friday, July 20, 2018

CNN: "The Trump Show" isn't as original as "The Truman Show"


The Trump Show” aired tonight on CNN, sounds like a takeoff of the movie “The Truman Show”. 

But it was an examination of how Trump’s presidency has influenced television series. 
  
For example, Homeland, where there is a Russian plot against the White House, was compared to the Russian hack before the election.

  
A lot of attention was focused on the suspension of RoseannBarr, as a “business decision”, after her racist metaphorical Tweet concerning Obama. New York Times has a big article on how companies draw the line, and this is starting to affect conduct that tech companies will tolerate on their platforms.Roseann now claims she was tired because she admitted she had voted for Donald Trump. Yet originally she was "hired" because her conservative credentials would appeal to a certain blue collar base. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

CNN's "The 2000's": a hasty summary of Bush-Gore, then 9/11 and Iraq



CNN has started its series “The 2000’s” which means 2000-2009.

After the mandatory intro based on television in the era (they neglected “Smallville” and “Everwood”, two of my favorite comfort foods during much of the decade), they hastily summarized the 2000 chad election (Bush v Gore), 9/11, and the war in Iraq.  It takes a lot more than an hour to do justice to these topics in a history show.

It did do justice to "Sex in the City" and the Fox series "24" (Kiefer Sutherland) which I watched on Tuesday nights. "Lost" get mentioned. 

At the end, the show intimates that winning the peace in Iraq would be difficult.  Indeed, ISIS proved that. 

  
The show did not go into a supplementary CNN article explaining that Al Qaeda cancelled a cyanide subway attack in New York, which might have happened the same time the war in Iraq started (in March 2003) in order to discredit the theory that Saddam Hussein really did have WMD’s. This plot is much less known than the anthrax attacks at the end of 2001 (which ABC Nightline had warned could happen in 1999 special).  

Sunday, July 08, 2018

CNN footage of ongoing rescue in Thailand of boys trapped by water in a mountain cave



I thought I would give a CNN video link from the rescue effort of the boys’ soccer team in a cave in Thailand.
  
  
British Navy seals are accompanying Thai seals, and the Pentagon is said to be giving some technical assistance.

As of now, four of the boys have been pulled out.  It is expected that the rescue will resume as soon as oxygen tanks are refilled.

The story may provide a lesson on boys’ learning water – swimming and diving skills – and on what society expects in the way of people stepping up when children are in trouble.

A recent tweet by former Navy Seal Kristin Beck (who transitioned to female after her career) seems meaningful here.

Update: July 11

The boys and coach are all rescued now and doing well.  But the pumps failed just after the last rescue.  This was a very close call (Guardian story). 
   
Picture from Wikipedia near the site in northern Thailand.
By Georgina Rose - University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

PBS News Hour: "How a New Aristocracy's Segregation Puts Stress on Society", with Matthew Stewart



A recent PBS Newshour with Julie Woodruff (June 29) reatures an interview by Paul Solman with writer Matthew Stewart.  The segment is called “How a New Aristocracy’s Segregation Puts Stress on Society”.


The theory is that it isn’t the top 0.1% or even top 1% that matters; it’s more the top 10%, below the top 0.1 –  families and individuals with net assets of at least $1.2 million.  That probably includes assets managed in inherited trusts (which is my situation).

Such persons or families tend to live in gated communities (which are slowly becoming armed and gated) or relatively secure modern urban high-rises. They tend to be able to send their kids to better public schools, or private schools.  All of this is familiar. But what’s a little more provocative is that Stewart points out that people still tend to marry within their economic class (even if more often across racial lines). He covers how this is a carryover of the way royal families have behaved in Europe for centuries, and quotes a PBS comedy about someone not marrying within his class.  That sounds like the musical “My Fair Lady”.

Stewart notes that people in the 90-99%-ile feel they have a lot to lose because of one mistake, so they tend to become retentive and defensive, often not sharing in the risks that lower income people face -- and this sounds like Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Skin in the Game" book. So, by behaving "responsibly" as an individual and making measured choices and "doing no wrong", you are actually contributing to the pressure of people less well off than you. 
  
It even affects social behavior and dating.  In gay discos today, I find myself being approached by minority women when I am “watching”.  Some people believe that “body fascism,” especially in the white male gay community and apparent on various YouTube videos, could contribute to a political climate that eventually facilitates real political fascism (Umair Haque implied that recently).
 
Stewart also notes that poorer education and cognitive skill development below the top 10% leads to lower literacy, and more vulnerability to fake news campaigns spawning political divisions.

  
Stewart’s June 1, 2018 article is “When the Poor Turn Against the Poor” and is available here

Monday, July 02, 2018

"Days of our Lives": Sonny is blackmailed into a gay marriage he doesn't want; could the soap break the ice on gay players in Major League Baseball with Paul?



Days of our Lives” now has the preposterous situation where Leo tries to blackmail Sonny into marrying him in order to make a fake “sexual harassment” lawsuit go away.  Sonny even “accepts”.
The writers have concocted a plot in the gay world where an entire company (Titan, named after Saturn’s most interesting moon) goes under in the same way that the Weinstein Company in the film world did because of a sexual harassment scandal.

Of course, Weinstein’s problems have reached multiple criminal charges.

But the idea of blackmailing someone into gay marriage does seem to make a mockery of it.  

Conservative reviewers (and maybe “The Washington Times”, which used to put the word “marriage” in quotes when referring to same-sex unions) will have fun with this one.

It’s no laughing matter now, since the Supreme Court is likely to move even more to the right.

Right now, “Days” has become the most gay-centered soap ever, outdoing the sitcom “Modern Family” even if with a grimmer plot.  And the actors Freddie Smith (Sonny) and the returned Chandler Massey (Will) have habits of suddenly molting their body hair, to later return.  (This might happen to Casey Moss, playing the reformed character JJ, who is straight).

  
The best plot direction for DOOL would be to have Paul (a Japanese American, played by Christopher Sean) recover from his shoulder injuries (like Stephen Strasburg right now) and return to Major League Baseball and pitch a complete game no-hitter as an openly gay pitcher.  (It can even be against the Nationals.)  Let him hit a home run in the game, too.  The film “Alone in the Game” will create more attention to gays in sports.   Right now, MLB, despite its non-discrimination policy and LGBTQ nights in every city, seems to have no openly gay players (note the video, however).  “Days” should try to change that, at least in fiction, so it happens in real life. 
   
I hope I've given the writers of the soap some real ideas.  No, I don't work for them. 

Update:

Leo is gone.  Looks like Sonny killed him accidentally in a fight. Now they have to dispose of the body. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

"The Difference Between the U.S. and Canada" on "United Shades of America"


W Kamau Bell’s “United Shades of America” presented “The Difference Between U.S. and Canada” Sunday night on CNN, as here
  
Several big points were covered.  Canada has single-payor health insurance (which Bernie Sanders hypes) so everyone is used to it and it isn’t controversial (except for the waiting lists).
  
He covered the influx of young American men during the late 1960s because of the draft, including a writer and shop owner who settled in Toronto for life.

He also covered undocumented immigrants crossing the Canadian border from the U.S., a lot in Manitoba.


I’ve touched foot in every province except Prince Edward Island (and not in Yukon or NWT); I crossed “illegally” into Saskatchewan over back farm roads in 1997, well before 9/11-mandated tightening. Now you need a passport.

Bell mentioned Canada’s hospitality to returning flights, which stopped in Gander Newfoundland (I’ve stopped there) right after 9/11. 

Bourdain had recently covered Newfoundland. Toronto, however, is hardly a "part unknown". 

Remember “Blame Canada” from The Simpsons.
    
Many young actors come from Canada, especially Ryan Gosling and Richard Harmon (“The Greatest of All Time” as per Timo Descamps, cannot run for president.)  I think Gregory Smith ("Everwood") has dual citizenship.  Ontario’ school systems seem to prepare youth for film and acting careers (film is one of Toronto’s biggest industries, as it is in Vancouver also).  I find it interesting that young Canadians seem to have the political awareness that Americans need, and are much less susceptible to demagoguery.  
   
By Kenny Louie from Vancouver, Canada - York after sunset, CC BY 2.0, Link

Update: July 1

Bell presented an episode on Hawaii.  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Family Secrets": NJ doctor in opioid scandal arrested for murder of wife (ABC 20-20)



The June 22 episode of ABC 2020, “Family Secrets”, gave the bizarre narrative of Dr. James Kauffman, who had recently committed suicide in prison after a much belated arrest in Atlantic City for the hired murder of his wife five years before.

All of this was related to an “opioid” business which has become a national scandal in the past few years. 

The wife April had been a popular Jersey Shore talk show host. 

  
It’s interesting that most of the murders on 20-20 and Dateline involve complicated domestic disputes.  Relatively few involve foreign interests (no one has covered the 2008 cases of Kanika Powell and Sean Green (see Jan. 24, 2015 on this blog), which seem to have gone cold; there’s a reddit on it now. )  It’s about time that Dateline, 2020, 48 Hours, or CNN Presents covers this case.