Monday, January 31, 2011

PBS Frontline: "Storm over Everest", recounting a 1996 tragedy on the mountain

PBS Frontline in 2008 aired a 105-minute film by climber David Breashears, “Storm over Everest”, apparently intended also for theatrical showing by Working Title Films. The film documents a storm on May 10, 1996, generated by an Indian Ocean early cyclone, when a team was making an Imax documentary about Everest.  At the time, forecasting was not as efficient or prescient as today. Breashers returned in 2004 to make more footage, before completing the film in 2008. Much of the film comprises interviews with survivors, much of the dialogue in Chinese and Hindu with subtitles, much as in a typical arthouse independent film.  The filmmakers recreated some of the storm scenes at Snowbird in Utah. Eight people died in the storm.

Everest is at about the same latitude as north Florida, but at altitudes of 26000 feet, temperatures even in Spring may be well below zero, and prevailing winds over 70 mph are common.

From the summit, one can almost see the curvature of the Earth, and many ranges are visible.

The film is available from Netflix. The link for the show is here

PBS offers an extended trailer (and sells a DVD), but says the film is no longer available for complete free viewing because of licensing issues. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Everest relief map. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eisenberg v. Zuckerberg on SNL (also Samberg)

Last night (January 29, 2011), Jesse Eisenberg hosted SNL, and the opening monologue got him into “confrontation” with the “real” Mark Zuckerberg (and also alter-ego Andy Samberg, who can look like anyone). It was no "Bambi v. Godzilla." 

Zuckerberg acted pretty confident on stage (once he was allowed on).  The real one is as good looking as Eisenberg.  But we all knew that from the Time “Person of the Year” offer.  They could have used Zuckerberg's program from "The Social Network" to determine which of the "Trio of the Bergs" was "cutest". Have they "friended" one another?  (And, remember, Zuck, "they trust you.") 

I guess you don’t have to join SAG to go onto SNL (Saturday Night Live).  I should try it.  What if Eisenberg played the 18 year old version of me at W&M in my proposed movie "Do Ask Do Tell"? 

I guess you can have very mild Asperger's and cohost SNL.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oprah airs show tracing her history of LGBT guests for 25 years; is the "Do Ask Do Tell" video an accidental nod for my books and intended movie?

On Tuesday Jan. 25, Oprah aired a special episode “Coming Out on the Oprah Show: 25 years of Unforgettable Guests”, link here.

The early part of the show focused on the environment in the 1980s, when it was daring to have openly gay guests. A touching tribute came from Michael, who secretly watched Greg Louganis (“Breaking the Surface”) on the Oprah show as a boy. Louganis, now 50 and living over 20 years with HIV, also appeared.  (Note the “Gold Medal Admission” on the site – why use the word “admission”?)

Later there were two college age young men raised by opposite sex but gay parents, who recounted the taunts of their middle school days.

Oprah also invited a prince from India, where homosexual acts were illegal until 2007. The Prince’s mother still disapproves.

The Oprah web page has a frame called “Do Ask Do Tell” (mine! -- or "my book!") about radio host Gayle King, who talks to Ty Hill, who lived a nervous like as a half-open JAG officer in the Army. Look on the lower right side of the web page. (The “Do Ask Do Tell” radio video sound track was not audible when I tried to watch it; I hope Harpo’s staff catches it; that’s the name of “My Book” and proposed movie, and I think they know it!).

Oprah did summarize the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” [and, prospectively, Obama's commitment to ending it in 2011 in the State of the Union address] and the overturning of sodomy laws with the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision. She also aired a clip from two men arguing for gay marriage on a show 12 years ago.

It’s easy to see the shift in public attitudes over the past quarter century. Oprah also said that her show as “for those who don’t get to be heard” and both she and Louganis said the important thing about celebrity is to use it to help others. 

As for my "Do Ask Do Tell" movie idea, it seems that at first Oprah/Harpo ought to buy up the old MGM studio and brand, and bring it back to life. (Check Wikipedia for recent MGM history, including Spyglass; I'll have more about it on my movies blog one of these days .  Maybe Facebook will want to buy a movie studio, too.)

Picture: An impromptu performance from Baltimore Pride, 2010. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PBS Nova: "Making Stuff: Smaller", a reprise on nanotechnology already popular in miniseries (Jake 2.0) and movies (Tron)

On January 26, PBS presented a NOVA episode “Making Stuff: Smaller” (not the colon, indicating a series), link here.

Perhaps the documentary is a tribute to the old UPN series “Jake 2.0”, where a young computer technician gets powers are “infection” with nanobots in a lab accident.  In fact, nanotechnology is helping medicine design anti-cancer drugs at the molecular or atomic level, using a variation of bee venom to attack cancer cells (with “micro-robots”, the size of bacteria) without the usual side effects.

The early part of the show described the unique properties of “non metal” silicon, setting up the world of “Tron”. Ultimately, research aims to the ability to set digital bits with the energy orbitals of individual atoms.


Picture: A “home computer” from the 1940s, something my father used to do his “orders” as a manufacturer’s representative.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HD television viewers could call in violations, affect the results of sports events (in golf, at least)

Television viewers have been reporting minor rules violations in golf tournaments, resulting in disqualifications of two players: Camilio Villegas, in Hawaii; and Padraig Harrington, in Abu Dhabi. In both cases players were disqualified for singing incorrect score cards.

A story, discussing a possible PGA rule change because of the impact of television, is here from the AP.
Harrington’s violation could not have been known without HDTV.

The story suggests the possibility that PGA disqualifications could happen because of Internet or social media disclosures. Although instant replay is common in many sports (it is especially critical to verifying touchdowns in professional football, and outs and home runs in baseball), I’m not aware of any other professional sport where results could change because of a viewer’s report.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President's State of the Union, not as much tough love as expected

CNN provided the most comprehensive coverage of “The King’s Speech” tonight, as Washington “got it in” before an anticipated major snowstorm arrived.

Before the speech, CNN had a pre-show, playing the music from the HBO series “John Adams”.  They discussed the Oscar nominees, “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network”.

Yes, the Congress was “integrated” with forced bipartisan dating, and black-and-white testimonial ribbons.  But it’s not “whether we can sit together tonight, but work together tomorrow.” He called this a “Sputnik moment”, an experience I had discussed in the first chapter of my first DADT book.

The president, toward the end, said that no one would be kept from serving in the Armed Forces because of  who they are.  (The exact quote: “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love”.)  The Congress applauded, but the JCS service chiefs remained mum. The White House Blog link on this event is here

But he also suggested that campuses be opened to ROTC, as to put all divisions over “don’t ask don’t tell” behind us.

He talked about competitiveness in the workplace, and put it in terms of parents making kids turn off TV’s and medias. But he mentioned both Google and Facebook as outstanding American innovations.
He softpedaled on the deficit and national debt, and on “jobs today.”  He said, remove the tax cuts for the rich. But don’t disturb social security and Medicare for current retirees (as if means testing for them now could be politically feasible).

Obama indicated a willingness to consider (malpractice) tort reform in further discussion of the health care problem. 

There have been some articles that the president should have talked about “tough love”  (AOL’s on “tough love” in Politics Daily, here), and also that too much toughness could lead to social unrest (as on Alternet here ).

The two GOP responses came from Paul Ryan, (R-WI), Budget Committee, who started by a tribute to Gabbie Giffords.  He warned that America faces a tipping point on the debt, and could soon be in the situation of Greece and Ireland, forced to make drastic cuts on seniors right now.

Then Tea Party Rep. Michelle Bachmann from my old stomping ground of Minnesota spoke. Hers is an “unofficial” GOP response, but she says she was invited.  The gist was that European style health and welfare programs are dragging the US toward bankruptcy.

David Gergen and Piers Morgan commented.  The two GOP speeches are made to a television audience only, not to a crowd.

Here’s a link giving the exact text of the speech. 

Here was the president’s preview on YouTube.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oprah reveals a penultimate "family secret" on her show today

The media did its underwater dive and breathholding today (my dream last night) on Oprah Winfrey’s Family Secret – the ultimate item of PII.  She revealed today the existence of a half-sister, Patricia, whom she did not know about until 2007. And her mother had determined to keep it “confidential”. And no one tried to exploit or publicize it as it unfolded.  Patricia’s birth mother, who gave her up to adoption, did not want to meet her as an adult when confronted. Oprah gave some attention to the issue of “shame” by 1963 standards
The main link for the story on Oprah is here. The Seattle PI blog writes “Oprah pays tribute to lost sister for keeping family secret”, link here

As with the biography of Ashton Kutcher (Friday Jan. 21 here), the story could be viewed as showing the “power” that parents have when they give older (or twin) children siblings to be responsible for. Some siblings are more "fortunate" than others.  But here, the “responsibility” wouldn’t surface for four decades.

Here’s the News Banana’s account on YouTube.  Yup, once upon a time there lived a banana.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

CNN airs special downgrading libertarian position on "oldest profession"

On Sunday night, Jan. 23, 2011, CNN aired a one-hour special by Amber Lyon, “Selling the Girl Next Door,” about  "the world's oldest profession" and the trafficking of young women that the news report says results.

One major impetus for the special was the difficulties at Craigslist (as shown in a recent film on Lifetime about Phillip Markoff, see movies blog Jan. 3), which led it “voluntarily” to eliminate “adult services” ads, maybe at some cost to its own profits.  But many other sites, such as “Backdoor”, offer such services.

The documentary quickly turned attention to a “classroom” in Tennessee where convicted “johns” are sent in lieu of jail, as a condition of probation. A woman explains that many of the women on many of the sites are underage, and that customers may not know this, but they will be found guilty and labeled as “s.o.” if apprehended anyway. (This rather the inverse of the situation on Chris Hansen’s notorious Dateline series a few years ago; here lack of knowledge or belief of being under consent age is not a defense in some states.)  One could view the use of these sites as an "internet safety" issue, then.

The film also examined the lives of women in Nevada (from the “Bunny Ranch”) who work where “the oldest profession” is legal.

The attitude of the film was anything but libertarian. This is one of those cases were moralists can say that the demand for something “unwholesome” leads others to drag vulnerable people (in this case, young) into a kind of slavery to meet the demand.  But similar arguments are made against viewing drug use as a victimless crime.

The documentary could have gone more into the STD issues, too. 

The link for the film is here

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Fly Geyser in Nevada. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ashton Kutcher hosts Regis, says Facebook puts all new relationships on "Fast Forward"

Ashton Kutcher subbed for Regis Philbin (soon to “retire”) today on “Live with Regis and Kelly”. Yup, he promoted “No Strings Attached”, because that’s what young people want when they “attempt” relationships today.

But the most important thing he said was that Facebook has put all dating-based relationships into “fast forward”. (Yup, there is going to be another blackout!)  After all, before you go out, you know everything about the person’s “friends”, maybe all 800 or so of them. (Most people can keep track of about 150 “relations”.)  It’s worse than speed dating.

Kelly said she didn’t believe in Googling someone’s name before a date. But that was what people did ten years ago. Welcome to online reputation.

Kutcher has recovered somewhat from the consequences of his stunt double, but he really doesn't have that much to lose (see previous post) anyway. 

Here’s Kutcher explaining Twitter on Letterman last year (CBS youtube video). Ashton is "aplusk" ("A+K") on Twitter.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jimmy Kimmel presents Michael Carbonaro "creamed" when he has nothing to lose!

On Monday, Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC offered us Michael Carbonaro as an “entertainer”, in a skit called “Shaving Dream”, lathering his bod in shaving cream (or maybe whipped cream), building it up into pendulous assets, and then carving “The End” through the goo on his chest. There never was a razor, but he had nothing to lose anyway.

Is this what happened at the notorious 1961 William and Mary “tribunals”, which I skipped out on?

Remember the photoflash in the 1971 version of “The Andromeda Strain”? It was followed by “body analysis.” Give me Deliverance.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"The Road Back from Economic Meltdown to Recovery: Stanford Roundtable (Howard Univ. TV)

Tuesday night WHUT Howard University PBS in Washington rebroadcast a seminar from Oct. 24, 2009, “The Road Back from Economic Meltdown to Recovery” from the Stanford Roundtable, hosted by Charlie Rose.  Panelists included Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Google;Penny Pritzker, who serves on President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Guillermo Ortiz , governor of the Bank of Mexico; Stanford economics Professor Caroline Hoxby; Garth Saloner, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business; and Stanford President John Hennessy.

One of the biggest structural problems come from entitlement spending, which differs from the deficits after World War II.

Eric Schmidt from Google said that many college graduates who borrowed heavily to earn their degrees are not getting the skills they need for jobs in infrastructure.  Schmidt also discussed population demographics and the aging population.

Garth Saloner, Dean at Stanford, said that the economy seized in 2008.  He discussed the way deposit insurance works, as having unintended consequences.  

Eric talked about the policy of 20% free time at Google for creative personal projects (I wonder how I would use that), and mentioned that the Internet gives many people the chance to pretend they are famous and authority figures when they aren’t. But the Internet makes “smart people” more visible.

The program was followed by an animated short about how the Battle of Yorktown was won partly because of an African American spy who would have been freed if he had fought for the British but had to petition for freedom after the Revolutionary War.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Piers Morgan opens CNN career ("replacing" Larry King) with letting Oprah tell it all

On Monday, January 17, Martin Luther King Day, Piers Morgan opened his show "Piers Morgan Tonight" (as Larry King’s “replacement”) with a deep interview of Oprah Winfrey. His byline, “You should be free to ask any question you like.” Does that mean the interviewer should be free, or the subject?

This time, the basic link has it all.  It offers a clip of his question to her about Michale Vick, not the most challenging part of the event. 

The most interesting part of the show came at midpoint when Oprah explained her “not being the marrying kind” and not having her own children. But I didn’t know she had been raised by a single mother, had become pregnant at 14 (in 1968), with a son that died as an infant.. She was born in Mississippi (in 1954) when it was a state under apartheid.  But at 19 she began co-anchoring radio news.

She did talk about her responsibility to others, given the idea that her life had taken a different course.
Piers seems quiet and low-key to me, compared to Larry King. The episode had more the character of a Charlie Rose interview.

It strikes me that the “interview” can make a good pretext for a mystery movie. Some is taken away and “interviewed” for a purpose unknown to him.   I remember seeing an Aussie film “The Interview (Craig Monahan) at an international festival in Minneapolis in 1999 or so based on that pretext. Sometimes Anderson Cooper's interviews come across this way.  But maybe the interviewee should be able to ask any question he wants. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Golden Globes" echoes Facebook in more ways than one

The Social Network” won “best picture drama” at the Golden Globes tonight, and somewhere Mark Zuckerberg was thanked for “allowing” his story about “communication” to be filmed, although Zuckerberg had nothing to do with it. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield stood tall on the stage. Michael Douglas, in remission from throat cancer, announced the award. 

It’s rather interesting that “The Social Network” is a drama, not a comedy, in the view of the HFPA. Is this a preview of the Oscars? 

The Kids Are All Right” won best comedy-musical.

Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) won best actor in a dramatic role.

Host Ricky Gervais (LA Times story) thanked the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) for making him an atheist.

Another speaker called the event "a night of heavy drinking and --- breakfast"!

There was plenty of talk about a silly suit against the HFPA; but, unlike copyright and patent trolling, I don’t think it’s very significant to “ordinary” artists, writers and bloggers.

Website is this  

Friday, January 14, 2011

CNN AC360 special on AIDS and HIV

Anderson Cooper’s AC360 program is doing a Special Edition, 1 hour, at 9 PM EST, “AIDS Is a Plague Allowed to Happen”.  The lead story is by playwright Larry Kramer, here.  The article discusses coming plays and films based on Kramer's work. 

The show began with an interview with Elton John, and soon provided a retrospect of the public mood in the early 1980s.  The first atypical cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Pneumonia (in gay men) were identified in mid 1981 by CDC.  ABC 20-20 presented a horrifying report on it in May 1983. In 1984 the virus HTLV-III which would become known as HIV was announced, and a “test” was available in 1985.

The show recalled Rock Hudson’s announcement and his passing in three months.

The public awareness of AIDS has dropped since the mid 1990s, as HIV infection has become more manageable for many people with protease inhibitors. The first anti-retroviral drug was actually AZT, around late 1986. 

Now, African Americans have 46% of new infections in the US, and heterosexual transmission has become much more important in that community.  One fifth of infected people in the US do not know they are HIV positive.  The stigma is still quite severe outside of the MSM community.  But later a gay man with HIV spoke of the stigma within the younger male community, much of which does not realize how vulnerable it is, as in Kramer’s article.

Dr. Anthony Fauci from NIH appeared, and said that with medication treatment the life expectancy with HIV infection can be as long as 50 years. In 1983 it was 26 weeks. 

Protease inhibitors may be tolerated better than they were ten years ago. Some writers used to talk about the "protease paunch", but the muscle deterioration seems to have been alleviated with more recent drugs. 

They also explained why it is so difficult to design a vaccine, because it is almost entirely to clear the virus completely from the body. 

However, Fauci gave an interview to CSPAN regarding a possible vaccine trial about a month ago, here.

Picture: White House on World AIDS Day, 2007. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All networks carry memorial service in Tucson, president talks about sacrifice

All major networks, including CNN, covered the memorial service in Tucson this evening, at the McKale Memorial Center at the University of Arizona.

Many major officials spoke, including Arizona governor Jan Brewer, and cabinet officials Janet Neapolitano (Homeland Security) and Eric Holder (Justice), before President Obama starting speaking at about 8:43 PM EDT (it ran from 6:43 MST to 7:17 MST, 34 minutes). The president announced that Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes for the first time.

The early part of the president’s speech talked about the self-sacrifice of several who saved lives of others Saturday morning (sometimes being quite specific as to “tackles” and preventing “reloads”), and he mentioned the nine year old girl born on 9/11 who wanted to play major league baseball.

The text of the president’s speech is here

Networks scrambled to adjust their schedules. Fox canceled a new episode of “Human Target”, an ironic title (even if based on a comic book idea), and failed to communicate such in its local TV websites or through cable box schedules.  I’ll check to see if the episode is available online tomorrow.

ABC Nightline held a one hour special on the service.

Wikipedia attribution link for Tucson picture.

I visited the city once that I can recall, in January, 1980. My father had wanted me to look at the University of Arizona when I was in high school. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

PBS Nature: Reprise of "Born Free" with Elsa the Lionness and the Adamsons

On January 10, PBS Nature presented “Elsa’s Legacy: The Born Free Story”, which follows up on the original story of George and Joy Adamson, who, in Kenya, raised a lioness, Elsa, to the point that she actually had cubs, and released her into the wild.

During the years that followed, there would be some incidents where a few people were injured (and one death), and one lion was put down.

But George and Joy discovered that wild animals, at least carnivores and large cats, are individuals (just as or domesticated dogs and cats), fully capable of bonding to humans as individuals.

The 1966 film “Born Free” (Columbia Pictures) was directed by James Hill, and starred Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers. I remember the moment when Elsa returns.  The Adamsons created this experience long before lions were perceived as endangered.

Watch the full episode. See more Nature.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Facebook executive Randi Zuckerberg interviewed on CNN about online world's response to Arizona incident

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and spokesperson for the company, was interviewed by Dan Lemon on CNN on Sunday night about the coverage of an impact of the Arizona incident on Facebook. She said there had occurred 3 million status updates since the incident, compared to 2 million in 2008 with Obama’s election. There was a lot of debate on gun control, without radical changing of positions. The discussion on Facebook was seen as “watercooler talk” rather than formal blogging. Randi’s page is this.  She does have a link to Facebook Live (the video streaming channel) on her page.

The interview did not go into the negative territory of “amateur vitriol” discussed often in the media today.

Lemon also interviewed libertarian Neal Boortz, who has his own radio talk show in Atlanta, “Neal Nuze”, link here. His slogan is "Somebody's got to say it."

I’ll check the CNN video page to see if Randi’s interview appears soon.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

CNN covers Incident in Tucson Arizona, uncovers bizarre information about prime suspect

CNN has been covering the tragic shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona since mid afternoon Saturday January 8.

Jeanne Meserve has a prospective on the prime suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, who apparently has a lot of bizarre content, including YouTube videos, on the web, with incoherent views. Apparently he likes both the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.

Loughner’s YouTube Channel (which might not stay up long) was called “My Final Thoughts” (link ).

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition but is expected to survive, and a federal judge is dead. Because a congressperson and federal judge were victims, the crime becomes federalized. The incident occurred at an informal town hall outside a Safeway in Tucson.

Philip Klein of the conservative American Spectator has a blog entry already analyzing how Loughner might have interpreted Marxism, here

KGUN9 in Tuscson (and those are interesting TV call letters) has a perspective on Loughner here.

The Sheriff says that police are looking for a second "person of interest", and does not believe that Lougher acted alone.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

CNBC's "The Facebook Obsession" answers "The Social Network" and even "Catfish"

On Thursday, Jan. 6, CNBC, with Lester Holt narrating, premiered “The Facebook Obsession” (I think they were going to call it “The Facebook Effect”), as if it were the “documentary” intended to go with the film “The Social Network”. (It repeats Friday Jan 7.) Earlier that evening, CNBC had re-aired Leslie Stahl’s 2007 interview with Mark Zuckerberg, with his now famous "Is that a question?" line. (See my movies blog Oct. 3, 2010 for review of "The Social Network".)

The CNBC film starts out with a “Catlfish-like” story, where a young woman in Ohio tracks down her biological mother in South Dakota.

The middle of the film summarized the history of Facebook, and showed Zuckerberg being interviewed at 19. The most “stable” person interviewed always seems to be Chris Hughes.

It also presented Zuckerberg’s concept “The Open Graph.” It discusses the malleable concept of privacy, which seems to be up to Facebook to define.

A teacher in Massachusetts, in her 50s, was forced to resign after ranting about her students on Facebook, because she thought that only her “Friends” could see the comments. Wrong.

Then the film covered the political impact of Facebook, how Obama addressed it in the election (and how Chris Hughes is sometimes credited with Obama’s election), and how the White House had to change its own internal social media policy.

Toward the end, the film did cover Zuckerberg's "they trusted me" IM's at Harvard, and there is a suggestion that he made need someone more socially comfortable to actually run the company.

Here’s the link for the film, “A CNBC Original”.

CNBCTv posted a YouTube preview of the show (which seems more permanent that the embed at its own site).

Tonight CNBC also re-aired “Inside the Mind of Google”.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Return of ABC's "V" doesn't promise any mystery

Well, ABC resumed the saga of “V”, with Anna making no bones about the evil nature of her plans for us, behind the scenes, including “breeding” with a Queen. That’s all old hat, but the “Red Sky” isn’t; it seems to come from Italian art movies, and it seems also to resembled Stephen King’s Dome. (She still feeds the fantasy that her Blue Energy and Red Sky will cure global warming, comic-book style; it's funny how Anna picks up on the buzz words of AlterNet politics. In fact, the episode of Season 2 opens with a dream where everyone drops in the street, as if this were to become a Resurrection of “Flash Forward”. (At least there was another Blackout -- but only in a dream, or alternate universe!)

I still think that both “The Event” and “Flash Forward” pose a lot more constructive “mystery” than does this rather comic-book like series.

There’s also nothing too subtle about peeling back skin-deep beauty and finding wretchedness underneath. We’ve seen that before with Dorian Gray. There is a bit of Oscar Wilde in this series.

Monday, January 03, 2011

BBC-PBS: "Extreme Animals- The Big Chill: The Heat Is On"

PBS has a BBC series called “Extreme Animals” with a typical episode called “The Big Chill: The Heat Is On”, about how intelligent animals survive extreme conditions and temperatures, which gives more credence to the possibilities for extraterrestrial life. The link is here.

For example, many bears can hibernate because they can make protein from their own waste, which other carnivores (and primates) cannot do. Since bears have intelligence similar to that of carnivores, it shows that very advanced animals can make extreme metabolic adaptations to survive.

Octopuses in the Antarctic can grow large and require cold water, which can hold more oxygen, because their circulatory systems use copper to move oxygen rather than iron.

Elephants, one of the few non-primates and non-cetaceans supposedly able to recognize their own faces, can remember exactly the location of desert aquifers underground.

The show also presented a frog (an amphibian) which can survive being frozen, with the expansion of the water upon freezing.

A biologist inserts his relatively hairy arm into a bee hive to see how hot it is inside. Because the bees have no young yet, they do not sting. He says he has to act “smooth”.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

CNBC: "A Week in the Life of American Airlines"

Visitors may want to check out CNBC’s “A Week in the Life of American Airlines”, link here  Not like Michael Moore, but good for an independent film.

The film showed how airline workers work behind the scenes, and how management and labor are at each other’s mercy.

It then goes into how American saves money in maintenance by sharpening and keeping old tools.

It then explains the extreme variation of pricing of seats on each flight.

The range of ticket prices on a Dallas-Hartford flight was $50 to $800 one way!

The airline computed the cost of coffee for pilots and tried to shave costs in every possible way.

It sounds brutal to have to commute to work by air.

They also demonstrate what happens when a passenger has a heart problem.

No, AA won't take us to the Moon, or to Titan.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Suze Orman gets to "burn em again": New Years, she shows her perception of filial piety

Tonight, New Year’s Night (a good time for black and white movies like the old “Sabrina”), Suze Orman appeared on CNBC and did another smackdown series. Yup, she does a lot of them.

But the best one may be a question from an middle aged woman who showed some filial responsibility and said she was in a position to bail her parents out of bankruptcy, as her father’s “hobby business” had failed. Orman recommended allowing the bankruptcy, and then helping them get a fresh start, perhaps by living in a CCRC (and selling the house),

Earlier, Orman smacked someone down for wanting to retire at age 58, and said that 84 was the average age for entering a nursing home. Living a long time was not necessarily a blessing in her eyes.

At t10 PM, CNBC followed with “Till Debt Do Us Part”, and put a lot of people on cash budgets, with families denying their kids computer games and even time online. Family cohesion helps with debt, it seems. The hosts made one family also give up processed foods and donate them to a food bank, and then work with the food bank in planning menus!