Saturday, March 31, 2012

ABC's "Missing" picks up some momentum


I did pick up on the third episode of “Missing”, called “Ice Queen”; the second (“The Hard Drive”) had ended with Michael getting dragged onto a private plane and flown off in front of his mother.

We saw something of Michael (Nick Eversman), trapped in this luxury estate.  He figures out that he is in Russia, and he is well treated as long as he doesn’t venture into a firing zone.  Michael is becoming an appealing character.

In the meantime, an “old friend”  Mary (Aunjanue Elllis) crashes on Becca in Italy, expecting some kind of Biblical hospitality.  How much sense can that make, for Mary to fly across the pond on such a whim?  Does she know something?

As Becca (Ashley Judd) closes on a pleasure boat – and even asked not to photograph it – she winds up outsmarting a female adversary who then becomes a “liability” for the Russians.

And we learn that Michael is a target of those who had killed Becca’s husband (in Vienna, at the beginning of the Pilot).

Can a CIA agent lead a secret professional life unbeknownst to family and friends, and carry out a normal existence with a front job?  Is this what goes on?   Back in the 1980s, the federal government actually had a program for “civilian reservists” who would help prepare the country to survive nuclear disasters.   It got some coverage in the Dallas papers when I was living there. 

Of course, we have no idea what the “Russians” want now (except to run a mafia-like enterprise).  Who sees the threats coming: the president, the normal operational CIA, or the individual part-time agent?  In these days of “Wikileaks”, ordinary citizens may stumble on deadly secrets before the “authorities” do.

This episode moved along and created a little more credible suspense than did the Pilot. 

In this clip, Ashley Judd talks about how her character resolves the problem of being a mother and CIA by no longer being CIA. But that ain’t easy.



Update:   April 5:  So the husband is alive, had escaped the explosion, and may be responsible for holding the boy, who is quite resourceful, trying to determine his location by making a crude sundial. Then the script plays the cultural "man protects woman" card, by manipulating the young girl looking after him when he tries to escape.

I don't think this show says much about our "enemies" or even about the CIA.  It will pull every plot twist imaginable. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Piers Morgan interviews brother of George Zimmerman in Travyon Martin incident


Thursday night, Piers Morgan on CNN interviewed Robert Zimmerman, the brother of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch guard who is alleged to have shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL. (The interview was rerun Saturday night.)


The facts in the Feb. 26 incident are so muddled, as far as the press has reported them, that it is impossible to reach a reasoned judgment right now on what should happen.  Wikipedia has an article here. This is a matter where emotions and group mentality have overtaken fact finding.  
  
Robert Zimmerman’s tone was measured and somewhat analytic on the interview.

The major legal issue seems to be how Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law affects the normal legal "duty to retreat".

On Friday, Morgan had an on-camera argument with Toure about Morgan's lack of empathy, Huffington's story here

I recall the town of Sanford because in the late 1960s, a minister at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, John Howell, had come from Sanford.  

Over this weekend, CNN has been airing Soledad O'Brien's special "CNN Presents" report, "Beyond Trayvon".

Time Magazine has a shocking piece by Toure here.

Would this incident eventually fit into a version of the late Gode Davis's film "American Lynching"?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

PBS-NatGeo: "Quest for the Lost Maya"


Kudos to PBS for its partnership with National Geographic in presenting the 50-minute film “Quest for the Lost Maya” on March 28.

George Bey, Bill Ringle and Tomas Gallereta Negron explore the remnants of northern Maya society, which had apparently taken shape as early as 700 BC.  Around 800 AD, the northern Yucatan had a population similar to greater Los Angeles.  It had economic prosperity. What happened to it?

The political system became even more authoritarian as worship of Quetzalcoatl became part of the culture, as illustrated by serpents in the sculpture of the buildings.  Minor kings or nobles were expected to undergo elaborate ritual initiation rites, including mutilation, to be accepted into the “church”.

The apparent reason for the people’s leaving their settlements was drought.  The tidied up and left things in places as if they expected to return, but they never did.

Again, the story of this Maya culture warns us how major civilizations can fail. Yes, "we" can fail, too. 

The link for the broadcast is here


Wikipedia attribution link for Guatemalan NASA aerial map (south of the area discussed in the film). 



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ABC's "Body of Proof": "Going Viral", Part 1, puts Philadelphia at risk


Tuesday night, ABC’s “Body of Proof” aired Part I of a controversial 2-part series, “Going Viral”, directed by Alex Zakrzewski. Part 2 airs next Tuesday. 

It starts with a young man getting rebuffed by a woman in a bar, but pretty soon citizens in Philadelphia are dropping like flies in a sudden pandemic.   And it isn’t long before a viral YouTube video surfaces, where a young male “typhoid Mary” in a ski mask has said that the world’s population needs to be thinned out for a “new world order”.   Maybe he hasn’t heard of “demographic winter”.

The FBI gets involved, and is heavy handed.  The doctors first think that “it” is meningitis, which can be graphic because the meningococcus exudes toxins which block circulation and can cause multiple amputations.  But the patients seem to be bleeding out, quickly, as if this were some kind of Ebola or Marburg virus.  That’s not supposed to be airborne, so it’s unclear how the “typhoid Mary” works.

At the end, Dr. Murphy (Jeri Ryan) collapses giving a speech.

Will Philadelphia be “sacrificed” like a chess piece?

The full episode is here (not embeddable).


ABC offers a Web supplement series of the program starting at 11 PM, as explained on “Broadway World” here.    The Web supplement offers fictitious news conferences and more theories as to the epidemic. 

I may add supplementary coverage to this sequence on my “disaster movies” blog soon when I have more details as to the “theory” being presented.

Remember Richard Preston’s “The Hot Zone” in the 1990s?

See also my "disaster movies" blog April 3, 2012 for the full "Going Viral" review. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Anderson" covers arranged marriages, and the new movie "Bully"


Today, “Anderson” covered two important topics.

The first half of the show covered arranged marriages, which in the US actually have a low divorce rate (about 7%).  There was a couple picked almost randomly for a quick ceremony at Madison Square Garden, still together after years, and there were Egyptian and Indian couples.  In the Egyptian case, a girl was taken to dinner by her parents at 14 to meet the family of the intended groom.

An Orthodox Jewish woman was shunned by her family for refusing to consummate an arranged marriage, which her family claims their religious beliefs say she does not have a right to refuse.

The second half of the program introduced families presented in the new film by Lee Hirsch and Alicia Dwyer, “Bully”, which the Weinstein Company says it now will release with ratings because of the controversy over the R rating. Clips from the movie were shown. One boy, Alex, now 14 and in high school, was introduced in person and in the film, where an assistant principal is shown as saying she can’t stop the problem on a school bus, she can only put him on a different bus.

Anderson has a page on prevention from Susan Swearer, PhD, link here

Picture: Anderson Cooper’s new “home”. 

Update: MSNBC had more coverage on the film and more excerpts on March 29.  Unfortunately, the film starts only in New York and Los Angeles March 30 and may not be widely available until late April.  Since it will be released unrated, theaters will set their own policies. Regal has said it will treat it as "R".  Alex Libby appears in the MSNBC clip:



Sunday, March 25, 2012

CNN Presents: Reparations for the wrongfully convicted, "bounty hunting" in pro-football, IRS refund scams on debit cards


On Sunday March 25, 2012 “CNN Presents” reported on some painful topics.

The main segment was called "Price of Life", as follows:

One is the fact that in many states people wrongfully convicted are not compensated when they leave prison.  There was a case of 40 year old man in Washington state falsely convicted of a household rape on wrongful eyewitness identification (based on a sketch posted in a bar, and he was arrested in a bar).   He was freed by DNA evidence that implicated another man already in prison. The legislature tabled a bill to compensate him ($800000) because of the state’s budget woes.  So he winds up paying for other people’s crimes anyway.  (Is that the Biblical idea of shared sacrifice?)

Ohio will pay wrongfully convicted people, but only it they are no longer possible “suspects”.  CNN interviewed a female prosecutor who was not sympathetic to the man’s loss of money for a crime he didn’t commit.  Our system doesn’t necessarily protect people from economic loss; people have to pay for their own defenses if not poor.

Earlier in the broadcast, there was a detailed report on a ring of identity theft in North Miami Beach FL where thieves file fictitious returns on stolen social security numbers and put them on debit cards.  The IRS says it needs to be able to put refunds on debit cards because so many poorer people are unbanked.
CNN also reported on “head hunting” or “bounty hunting” in pro-football. 


I remember a boyhood friend (now  recently late) who talked about this one time back in the 1960s. It’s gone on for a long time.

I remember that as a shy kid, I thought playing football was so "stupid".  No wonder.

There was also a brief report on Whitney Houston’s coroner’s report. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

ABC 20-20 does detailed interview of Ravi in Rutgers webcam case


ABC 20-20 featured Chris Cuomo in a riveting interview Friday night of Dharun Ravi.
The link for it is here

Ravi speaks as if he thought his behavior was within social norms without expressing bias.  However New Jersey law defines bias in the viewpoint of the target (much as sexual harassment law is often defined). 
Ravi’s comment do need to be followed in detail. But why didn’t he testify?

The plea deal would have forced him to admit bias. He says he wouldn't admit something he thought untrue to avoid prison time and stay in the country.

The case had a lot to do with the launching of the “It Gets Better” campaign, but it is far from the usual kind of bullying case that happens in schools, and I don’t think it is a “good” case.  It may seem that Ravi is paying for the sins of everyone.
 
The broadcast continued with a discussion of Topix.com, a “gossip” bulletin boards for small towns.

LGBTV posted a YouTube preview of the "spy" interview, here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ABC "The View" shows "Zero Waste" home and the effort it takes



I don’t know how many of us could put the effort into a “Zero Waste” home, but that is what was presented on ABC’s “The View” Thursday, link here.

There’s a blog for it here which has its own store.   (I wasn’t aware that blogger could its own e-commerce links.)

It seems as though there’s a lot of work in making your own compost, and in processing all of you own waster locally. This may be the new horizon of “sustainainability”.

MSNBC has a similar spot in 2011.


This was a nice show to have the week of the DC Environmental Film Festival. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CNN Presents: "72 Hours Under Fire": Journalists talk about personal risks in covering a war zone (Homs, Syria)



Saturday night (March 17), “CNN Presents” aired “72 Hours Under Fire” about the government siege of Homs, Syria.  CNN journalists and security planners discuss, in the video below, the planning for coverage of the fighting, and the use of safe houses and clandestine movements.

One of the female journalists says, “yes”, we’re going into a war zone.”  In the broadcast, the same journalist commented on her right to leave after covering the story, which the people there do not have.

It seems that “real journalists” have to “pay their dues.”

Wikipedia attribution link for “Krak de Chevaliers” castle near Homs. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cartoon Network airs half-hour special "Stop Bullying, Speak Up"


Sunday, at 5:30 PM EDT, the Cartoon Network ("CN") ran a half-hour special “Stop Bullying, Speak Up”,  directed by Lee Hoffman, with basic link here. The program had been announced on CNN.

The show comprised sound-bites from kids and celebrities.  One of the most engaging was Matt, teen doing bicycle tricks on the Chicago lake shorefront.

Celebrities included Trevor Bayne (race cars), Hope Solo (women’s soccer), and Joey Lagono.

The show opened with a brief statement by President Obama, that bullying is wrong, even though it seems to come from community ideas of mandatory social structure and hierarchy.

The show did not focus particularly on the LGBT bullying problems.

The entire show is available on YouTube here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Zakaria: "Saving Health Care" on GPS


I encourage everyone to watch Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square special, “Saving Health Care”, at 8 PM EDT Sunday night (again at 11 PM). 

Zakaria looks at the National Health System in Britain, and the systems in Taiwan and Switzerland. Taiwan has only one insurance company, and Switzerland has a Romneycare (or Obamacare) mandate that actually works pretty well.


Zakaria also told the story of a young male social worker in Camden NJ who investigated patterns of health care use and opened a health maintenance clinic in a large public housing building. 

Zakaria says that the reason the free market has trouble working in health care is that people don’t know when they’ll need it.  Well people tend not to want to pay for insurance, because the sick people generate most of the claims.  The price for dental implants or Lasix surgery or hair replacement will come down, because it is optional.   Coronary Bypass Surgery or Cancer surgery is not a choice, and you have no real option to choose a cheaper provider.  That’s why conservative (or ideological) arguments don’t work, in Zakaria’s opinion. 

The link for the show is here.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

CNN brings out more details in Ravi webcam case; more on eldercare crisis


CNN has covered a number of controversial situations in the past 24 hours.

On Friday night, AC360 gave detailed coverage of the conviction of Dharun Ravi for invasion of privacy and the “bias and intimidation” in the Webcam broadcast of Tyler Clementi, which was followed by Clementi’s suicide.


On Saturday, Avery Friedman and Richard Herman, both defense or civil rights attorneys, commented on the case on CNN. They both felt that the New Jersey “bias and intimidation” law could be challenged on appeal, or at least its application. Had Tyler not done what he did, there would have been no prosecution. 

CNN showed a videotape of Ravi’s interview detectives, where he says he put up the webcam originally to watch his stuff in the dorm room.  He was uncomfortable with Tyler’s asking for privacy with another person and asking him to leave.  In my own experience with dorm life, back in the 60s, that wasn’t done. 

But the jury members told Anderson Cooper that Ravi invited others to watch the webcams at least twice, which they think enhances the claim of bias.  Ravi says he did not post the webcam contents on the Internet; they were never available on YouTube, for example. 

Also, one of the CNN accounts this weekend said that the university did offer Tyler a room change and that Tyler refused.  I had not heard this before. I don’t know if it’s correct.

Ravi could face a ten-year sentence and deportation.  But it sounds as though an Appeals Court may see this differently.

In my own circumstances at William and Mary in the fall of 1961, I felt that my roommate did display animus with his comments, but this was qualitatively different from mere pranks or even voyeurism.  In my own mind, I’m a little unconvinced that this incident rises to that level.  (WM ought to have offered me a room change, and I would have taken it.) For example, if anyone from the defense thought my perspective could be helpful for comparison purposes, I would provide it. (By the way, I lived in New Jersey 1970-71 and then in 1972-73.)

The New York Times has a number of detailed articles, the latest March 18 here. What are the expectations in a dorm that one student and ask the other one to leave for intimate encounters? (This would apply to heterosexuals, too).  What about the same problem in a small apartment. There are a lot of details (such as Tyler's reading Ravi's tweets) that make this a very complicated and bizarre, and yes tragic, case.  We can only speculate on what was really on Tyler's mind, and that may be even more difficult to deal with. But "homohatred" is usually more obvious than it was here.

The Tyler Clementi tragedy does deserve a detailed (90 minutes or so) treatment in documentary film, maybe on HBO or maybe in theaters. I reviewed today on my Movies Blog a film from Poland about this general issue (of humiliation by airing videos of intimate encounters).  Could this happen in a heterosexual setting, too?


Later, on Saturday, Frederica Whitfield and Karen Lee went over the problem of eldercare.  There was a story of a woman who suddenly needed 24-hour custodial care after a stroke.  Lee said bluntly that adult children need to prepare to take care of their parents, and even suggested that siblings get together and see who will play “family slave”.  Nursing home and live-in costs are rather comparable now, close to $80000 a year in most parts of the country.  The hourly rate for home-health aides is about $19, and there are serious policy questions looming in the near future over overtime for non-live-ins (and as to whether they are really “contractors”). 


Lee suggested that adult children urge their parents to buy long-term-care insurance.  "If it doesn't come from their pockets, it will come from yours." She explained the spend-down requirements for Medicaid. 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

ABC's "Missing": A mom will do anything to get her young back (but this isn't what the CIA is really like)


Well, here we have something with at least some gospel parallelism to my novel. You have a CIA agent whose career is or was covert. And the agent has to go all over the world to solve a mystery.

But here the comparison stops. In the Pilot of ABC’s new series “Missing”, Ashley Judd, as Becca, pulls every escape and hand-to-hand combat trick appropriate for a female James Bond. This is the stuff of the 60s, of world domination.

There is family, of course, at the center. The Pilot opens with Becca on the phone with her husband Paul (Sean Bean) in Vienna. When her 8-year-old son goes back inside to pick up a soccer ball, Paul’s car blows up.

Then its ten years later, and Becca has trained her 18 year old son Michael (Nick Eversman) to be fit. To make the show work, he has to go abroad for college.  So it’s off to Rome.

It isn’t long (about 15 minutes into the hour) that her son has stopped returning cell phone texts, and Becca is worried enough to go to Rome and snoop.  And pretty soon there’s an assassin on every corner.  And CIA Central seems to know about it.  Becca goes into non-stop martial arts.

Becca hacks into a security camera system to find the tape of her son’s abduction, and the evidence trail leads her to Paris.  As the episode ends, she’s floating in the Seine. 

I know, a mother will do anything to save her young.  (Becca says to one CIA agent, “I can tell, you don’t have any kids.”)  Mamma leopard will do anything for her cub (remember the NatGeo show recently?) 

But seriously, what’s interesting to me is not just the non-stop action (even without Sean Connery, Roger Moore or Daniel Craig), but the Mystery.  What is this conspiracy about?  (Remember how “The Event” started?)   For all we know, maybe Michael is “one of them”.  (Remember, in “The Event”, hero Shawn is an “alien” and doesn’t even know it.)

Some day I’ll look into what screenwriting TV episodes is all about. It sounds hard.

ABC’s main link for the show is here.



Update: March 20

Ashley Judd does an interview on her own bout of depression and her role in this series, on ABC Nightline, here

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Anderson Cooper gives his thoughts on "STD site creator" interview; AC360 covers California's history with eugenics


Anderson gave his thoughts (link) after the interview Monday (on his own afternoon show) of Cyrus Sullivan, founder of “STDcarriers”.  I covered the substance of the interview and compared to other sources on my main blog.

Anderson Cooper will question and scold guests on his shows (including AC360) more than other talk show hosts.  I’m surprised that Mr. Sullivan even agreed to be on the show if he could not defend what he is doing with the site. 

I certainly get the point – he is facilitating the possibility that others will make false accusations that cannot be easily refuted – but at a much lower level almost any service provider may be doing this.  I explained the Section 230 implications on the main posting. Today, I replied by Twitter to Anderson, and send links and comments to both Huffington Post and Electronic Frontier Foundation.  This whole matter needs a lot more investigation.

Anderson had also covered the “Kony 2012” film and director Jason Russell.

AC360 on CNN has the second part of the story of California’s sad history with eugenics back in the 1930s, with Elizabeth Cohen reporting here.  The state even had corresponded with the Nazis on the issue.  North Carolina is trying to provide reparations, but California is stalling.  The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has shown an exhibit on the issue.



Monday, March 12, 2012

ABC 20-20: "Revenge for Real", in the Hamptons


Cynthia McFadden hosted the first “ABC Revenge for Real” Wednesday March 7 from ABC 20-20, hosted here.  It was not as engaging as the fictitious drama.  The story of a rich woman with rapidly fatal breast cancer (wealth could not save her life),  an unfaithful husband, and an electrical contractor Daniel Pelosi, who was convicted of a an invasion-style beating of the husband in the fall of 2001, shortly after 9/11.  

Much of the show, toward the end, consisted of  a long prison interview with Pelosi, who told ABC to send divers into a Long Island Sound channel to look for a recorder that was never found.  Remote surveillance of the estate from cameras does figure into the story.

I recall a minor real-life "Revenge" story in Fire Island in 1978, not leading to anyone's death, though. 
  
There was no one to like in this episode.  I can't wait for the series to resume.  Nolan is just too fascinating. 


On April 11, in preparation for the completion of the season (starting April 18), ABC "Revenge" aired a synopsis narrated by Emily, "Revenge from the Beginning", showing all the highlights of the season so far. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Animal Planet airs a lot of shows on cats, more than equal time



Animal Planet spent all day Saturday on cats (“Must Love Cats”, typical link), with John Fulton, and an episode of “Too Cute” at 8 PM was particularly interesting. This is certainly more than “equal time for cats”.

The show visited Japan, where homeowners sometimes build catwalks around their living space, which is smaller than in US homes.  Cats and dogs live in harmony, but cats tend to sleep on the walks, above the owners and above computer equipment, which they don’t seem to disturb.

The show documented an effort to rescue cats from a radiation-contaminated area of Japan after the tsunami, and visited the 8-sq-mile “Cat Island”, where cats sensed the tsunami and ran to higher ground, warning many people.

The show documented a commuter train station, named after a resident cat, Tema, who brought it back to economic health.

There was a case in Japan where a cat woke up a family to save it from carbon monoxide poisoning, and the same thing has happened in Indiana.

Cats and dogs both domesticated themselves, by moving close to ancient human settlements, making themselves useful, and behaving well enough to get fed and have easier lives, ensuring reproductive advantage. 
     
The domestic cat is perhaps the only animal to show up at a stranger’s door and invite itself in. That happened with me in Dallas in 1979.  “Timmy” actually learned what my car sounded like and would run toward my apartment door as I pulled in. Once inside, right for the refrigerator.

Here’s the main AnimalPlanet-Discovery link.

Friday, March 09, 2012

ABC Nightline: "Sovereign Citizens: Radicals Next Door"

ABC Nightline aired a significant 17-minute "short film" episode March 8: "Sovereign Citizens, Radicals Next Door", link for episode (website url) here (no embed code provided).

The report focused largely on a group in Alabama, including a pastor who insisted he did not condone violence.

The "sovereign citizen" movement extends the idea of personal or familial sovereignty to such an extent that it believes government cannot collect income taxes and cannot force parents to send their kids to school.

The idea of "sovereignty" here though is at adds with "personal autonomy" or "individual sovereignty" as a classical liberal understands it.  The "liberal" believes that government needs enough infrastructure to be able to preserve meaningful ordered liberty and this must be supported by fair taxes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a video on the radical movement, which is perceived to be affiliated with the extreme right wing.




Wednesday, March 07, 2012

PBS presents "Journey of the Universe"



Brian Thomas Swimme narrates the documentary “Journey of the Universe” from the Greek island of Samos, birthplace of Pythagoras.

Swimme opens with a discussion of the Big Bang, and with a comment that the physical constants were just right so that the universe could form and expand without exploding or re-collapsing.

Later, he claims that the Earth’s temperature has remained rather stable despite a nearly 30% increase in the Sun’s output, and says that the Earth is living an organism, that learns (compared to stars).  Can other planets other solar systems in the galaxy do this?  DNA propagates consciousness not through matter and energy in the usual sense, but through information.  Is consciousness an expression information, apart from the other parts of physics?   

The program was interrupted my funding pitches.  The actual film runs around an hour.

The website is here.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Piers Morgan "asks" and Kirk Cameron "tells"; Michele Bachman is evasive as usual; The View comments on everything, including attachment parenting


There’s a new flap. As I returned from the grocery and flipped on ABC’s “The View”, the girls were talking about Piers Morgan’s interview with Kirk Cameron, not just on gay marriage, but on homosexuality itself. 
  
CNN has the link here.  Huffington Post also embedded the interview, but the embed doesn’t seem to work, so I’ll give the original link.
  
Kirk Cameron (who played Caleb in “Fireproof”, movies blog Sept. 27, 2008), played Seaver in “Growing Pains”, appeared in the “Left Behind” movies, and has played in “Family Law” and “Touched by an Angel” (the last of these was a favorite of my Mother’s) said that he viewed homosexuality as “detrimental and ultimately destructive”.  But, as the women on “The View” pointed out, he said that only when prodded by Piers Morgan as to how far his views went beyond religious opposition to gay marriage itself.  Both Piers and  The View took issue with statements from celebrities that go after people who are just going about their lives, and immutability got mentioned.   
  
Piers asked Cameron how he would deal with a hypothetical gay son, and the answer was ambiguous. Piers said he would have no trouble at all. 
  
The controversy surfaced right before Super Tuesday, and again it seems to draw attention to Rick Santorum’s social conservatism, which I discussed yesterday on my Books blog and then the main blog.  I know what he is “getting at”, and it seems nebulous.  I even agree that much of our society has become less “social” – you have to be a rugged individualist and a content or business creator and a high achiever to be “respected” – we’ve had a culture where marriage and family got looked at as a hidden and voluntary afterthought.   Santorum and Cameron may be right to say that this situation – of expecting everybody to prove they can go it alone -- isn’t sustainable.  But then they predicated “social capital” for everyone on the intensity (as well as permanence) of heterosexual marriage.  They put forth the mindset that, “I can make the emotional sacrifices for intense family life if I know everyone else has to.” That is the way people thought a couple generations ago, but it doesn’t play today.
  
Morgan also interviewed Michele Bachmann recently, last night, and Bachmann said she had nothing against gay people or anyone, but complained that everyone has it in for religious people.  Recently I’ve seen Christian groups play the “persecution” card – because overseas, in some African and Muslim countries it is a real problem.  But it sounds wrong to say you’re persecuted because you say your religious beliefs require you to exclude or pursue others who don’t follow your beliefs. 

Later today, The View discussed attachment parenting.  It strikes me that this topic reinforces a point – it’s hard for some people to achieve this kind of intensity in family life if they have to compete with others who don’t.

I’ll add the link for Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke’s appearance on The View yesterday, discussing Rush Limbaugh’s pseudo-apology, here

Oh, also – thanks to The View – for reminding me to go to the polls myself today –- it’s in my state.  I’ll vote at 2 o’clock sharp.  I like to listen to Ron Paul more than anyone else.

Picture: A Metro ad uses the word "Pride" in an unusual way. 


    

Sunday, March 04, 2012

CNN Presents: Army secret medical experiments on recruits in the 50s; sainthood; reporter safety in Mexico; health initiative in Kenya


Today. CNN Presents aired a report (“Vets Feel Abandoned After Secret Drug Experiments”) by Sanjay Gupta on secret experiments performed on Army recruits until the 1960s during the Cold War at Edgewood Arsenal, MD.  Recruits “volunteered” and were given passes and liberties, but not told the would be injected with various drugs and toxins or might inhale tear or even nerve agents, and suffer permanent injury.  The VA is only beginning to have to deal with claims that the Army hoped would die off.
  
I visited Aberdeen myself in March 2010 to follow-up on stories of EMP weapons that had appeared in the Washington Times.  A friend of mine worked for a while on base as a civilian contractor for Univac in the early 1970s.  
   
I did not encounter any such “volunteer” opportunities during my hitch in the Army 1968-1970.


CNN also reported on the inability of the Mexican government to prosecute the murder of journalists by drug cartels in certain areas of Mexico. It also reported on the Vatican processing for sainthood.

Earlier today Dan Ogola reported on CNN’s “What’s Next” on “Creating Wealth Through Health”, here as reported by a native of Kenya, who says he and his brothers originally had to support their parent’s family, but managed to get partnerships arranged with American medical schools.  Churches in the United States have sometimes worked in volunteer fashion in Central America but only with much more difficulty in Africa (I know of one small project in Kenya from an Arlington VA church several years ago). 

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Talk Radio: yes, Rush was "over the top", but it gets rough anyway.


This is more about radio, which I’m lumping with TV. I have to “admit”, I’ve enjoyed listening to Rush, particularly on car radios, especially back in the 1990s, sometimes when “on the road”.

Rush has his side to the recent “incident” about his slur over women and contraception, on his own site here  and he seems still to have sponsors. He says he has no "power" to harm women or anyone else; only Big Government does. What’s most interesting is his interview with “conservative” and virtuous columnist George Will, whom my own father used to call “one of the smartest men in the world”.  Will thinks that the White House is a lost cause for the GOP in 2012, because it’s made a mess, and it doesn’t have a credible candidate who doesn’t have a lot of drawbacks with a lot of the electorate.  No, I don’t think Will supports Santorum’s rants. Will wants the GOP to focus on strengthening the House and winning the Senate back.  Unlikely in 2012 if Obama wins re-election, which sounds probable.

As to the incident, the Washington Post has a stinging editorial, “Bum Rush: The GOP can no longer ignore its Rush Limbaugh problem”, link (website url) here.  Even the president has apologized to the Georgetown University student whom Limbaugh insulted with his uncivil remarks. At the very least, they sounded creepy, voyeuristic.
   
I can remember, back in the 90s, hearing Rush rebuke callers who whined about joblessness.  He’s not the only talk show host to do so.  I can remember a host in Dallas in the 80s who fired back at a caller, “Are you good at anything?”

There have been other kings and queens of Talk Radio. Remember Dr. Laura Schlessinger (“I am my kids’ mom” – tautology) with her “stupid conception” – that’s OK, but, please, not her remark about “biological error”?  Here are some morsels from “Stop Dr. Laura”, link.  I used to hear a lot of her on car radios, too. I recall a demonstration against her in Minnesota back around 2000.

Back in the 1990s, Joe Palka was the "liberal" talk radio voice in the DC area (he once answered a call-in from me to the effect that gays should not embrace libertarianism). Dr. Gabe Mirkin was the "health nut" advocating severe low fat diets for everyone.  And for about eight months in 1993, Scott Peck, the gay son of a Marine Corps colonel outed by the debate on gays in the military, had his own call-in show on gay issues on Sunday nights.  Frank Kameny and I often called in, but not enough other people did. 

Remember that Oliver Stone directed a film "Talk Radio" for Universal in 1988. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

NBC's "Awake": an accident victim (and detective) lives in two parallel worlds


NBC’s “Awake” constitutes Hollywood’s latest exploration of the idea of parallel worlds.  The series, created by Kyle Killen with Pilot directed by David Slade, premiered on March 1 (10 PM EST). I actually had heard about this series in a sermon in Arlington VA about risk taking in mid-January.

Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs), a Los Angeles detective, wakes up after a car accident and rollover. He’s told that his teenage son (and tennis star) survived but his wife has perished.  But soon he finds himself in another reality, where his wife survived (he finds her repainting the hallways in their home – like people used to paint apartments). 

In each universe he has a different therapist: a woman (Cherry Jones) in the first, and an Asian man (BD Wong) in the second.  As he returns to work, he finds he can use clues from one world to help solve crimes by entering the other, working with different detectives (Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama).

Of course, an obvious parallel is “Inception”, and here there’s no spinning top to test reality.
Another movie that comes to mind is “Jacobs’ Ladder” (and, going back to 1984, “Dreamscape”).

NBC put the full pilot (embeddable) on YouTube (this is unusual practice for a network), and has allowed the press to see the first four episodes, with favorable reviews.

Is Michael "a dweller on two planets" for just fighting off the end? 


I thought I overheard "Sofia" (Laura Innes, "The Event") in the background in one scene, maybe a preview. 

Picture: this burned-out truck really was sitting there in a parking garage in Annapolis MD yesterday. 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

ABC's "Revenge" turns on "the top 1%"


ABC’s “Revenge” turned politico last night, so to speak, in the episode titled “Scandal”. The Grayson family hires a prominent, hard-nosed African American attorney from Manhattan (so far, uncredited on imdb).  He immediately jumps on the idea that a third person must have been present “on the beach”, because “person of interest” Daniel (Joshua Bowman) has a wound on the back of his head. The attorney warns that the DA will want to make the trial a political spectacle for his Democratic Party machine. They’re rich, and the victim is gay.

The arrest scene is brutal, and the judge insists that the “top 1%” not buy their way out of what other people suffer, and demands that Daniel stay in jail in Riker’s Island while awaiting trial.

Toward the end, we see an “omniscient observer’s” recreation of the beach murder, where Daniel and Tyler struggle, and somehow Daniel gets the gun loose, and grabs it. When the third man appears, Daniel somehow fires.  The man knocks Daniel out, and then shoots Tyler two more times.

Could a "self-defense" argument work, anyway?

Tyler has turned into a psychopath, and the other “Kinsey 3”, Nolan, has become likeable but schemes 
behind the scenes.  You wish the script had one “better person” be gay (maybe Declan).  But the problem is, most of the people in this series are bad to begin with, but we still find ourselves drawn to the story.