Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PBS NOVA: Pogue demonstrates making materials into shape-shifters (the spiderman gecko)

Some PBS stations re-aired the 2011 NOVA episode “Making Stuff Smarter” with David Pogue.  The basic video link is here.

A lot of it was surprising.  Many substances behave surprisingly because of physical surface features at a micro level.

An early demonstration was that of the “spiderman lizard”, the gecko.  The bottoms of its feet have tiny hairs which, being so small, invoke “Van der Waals forces” that grip and release at will.  In the animal world, “thmooth” isn’t always “desirable.”

Pogue showed how a military tank can be coated with a surface that can seal bullet holes automatically by reacting with the fuel

He then demonstrated “non-Newtonian” fluids, with variable (and often high) viscosity. An example is “ooglex”  (a particular cornstarch in water) which hardens during sudden trauma but the flows. He also demonstrated an “X-men” magnetic liquid which hardens only when there is a magnetic field.

Pogue then showed how aircraft wings can be made of material that can change internal shape automatically.

He also showed unusual research in preventing side effects from cancer chemotherapy. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Are Unions Still Necessary": Morgan Spurlock begs the question in his "Inside Man" series on CNN, from on high

Morgan Spurlock’s “Inside Man” on Sunday Aug. 26, begged the question, “Are Unions Still Necessary?” main CNN link here.

This time, Spurlock didn’t “grab a hammer” and join in and have to do a real job like everybody else;  he gawked at bit, unusual for him.  But he gave an excellent history of how the US Labor Movement got started. In the late 19th century, companies locked the doors and treated workers like slaves.  It happens today in the third world.

Spurlock covered job actions (short of full strikes) at Wal-Mart. Some consumers said, “if they don’t like not having living wages or benefits, just find an employer who offers one.”  It’s a free market.  Like they missed the entire point.

Still, unions can become another abusive power center, setting up union shops, demanding dues as a price of a job and controlling worker speech.  A labor leader said “an individual by himself is nothing”.  Like one of Ayn Rand’s “villains”. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

CNN: "We Were There: The March on Washington: An Oral History"

CNN Presents rendered a special report, “We Were There: The March on Washington: An Oral History”, on Sunday Aug. 25, narrated by Don Lemon.
CNN’s typical link is here

The “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963 was preceded by a great deal of uncertainty.  The march was put together quickly in mid August, and promoters didn’t know if people would even come.

The day of the March, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 1963, Washington was practically shut down.  The National Guard was readied.  Decisions had to be made about arming it, and making the Guard racially balanced.  Bars were closed in Washington DC.   Plans for martial law were drawn up. 

That morning, the highways were filled with busses. 250,000 people came, but the Mall did not begin to fill with people until after sunup.  Most people left DC before dark and went back the same day. 
Activists kept records on paper of the busloads.

After Dr. Martin Luther King, the most important speaker was John Lewis. 
The film mentions the contributions of black gay activist Bayard Rustin. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has an article om Rustin whom he calls a pacifist and socialist also, link here. Oh, maybe Noam Chomsky is straight!

(Note: the phrase “We Were Here” is also used in an important film about AIDS, movies blog, May 8, 2011).  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

CNN: Fareed Zakaria interviews Sara Blakely of Spanx: advice to entrepreneurs

Sunday, on CNN, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Sara Blakely, entrepreneur, and inventor of new styles of women’s undergarments.  The basic link and video is here

Although her product is not the most important in my world, her process of getting there was quite interesting.  She actually sold fax machines “door to door” while she worked on her dream.  She says she had to hire a lot of help for the patent part of it, which would be tricky because today there is such a problem with “patent trolls”.  She did the trademark part herself, inventing the spelling of her wordmark, “Spanx” at the last moment.

But the most interesting part of her story may have been the way she “got in” to Neiman Marcus, and flew to Dallas to give a 10-minute presentation.  She says she was so nervous that the threw up in the ladies’ room.  But she got the business.
She did focus on what consumers or real people want.  That may be part of the moral of her story.

American Express offers the video of her tips, above.  “Wait to tell friends and family.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ABC 20-20 "Highway Confidential": getting lost in Death Valley; hit-run CSI; most dangerous highwats

ABC 2020 “Highway Confidential” covered dangerous highways in the US, and various unpredictable hazards.
It started out with inaccurate GPS instructions, taking people to roads that no longer exist. A couple got into serious trouble after visiting Scotty’s Castle, near the Nevada border, when they go back into Death Valley.  I actually visited the place in December 1997 when I had rented a car in Las Vegas.  I had no problem finding it, or driving in Death Valley, but it was winter, with daytime temperatures in the 60s.  I stopped at a cafĂ© somewhere and read some of Clive Barker’s  epic novel “Sacrament” (yet to become a movie).  Curiously, Reid Ewing mentions the place in his short film “I’m Free” (Movies, May 13, 2013).  On that 1997 trip, however, an ignition key actually broke at the Hoover Dam parking lot, and Alamo had to bring a replacement, taking two hours.  (What if that happened with a rental in summer in Death Valley?)
The couple’s tale on 20-20 is harrowing.  The car failed, and they spent the night in the desert.  The car started the next morning.  Buy they wandered in the wilderness a whole day and were not found until the next day by police helicopter after being reported missing.  It seems that the Garmin GPS got stuck on one direction.
Users are supposed to update the GPS’s with updates from the company.
20-20 then did a “CSI for cars” presenting a detective who investigates hit-runs.  The show accounts an incident in California where a female driver left the scene claiming she did not know she had hit a person.  This could be a serious problem, with cyclists for the way, when there is not enough room in a lane to pass them and there is no shoulder.  The link for this section is here
The last part was about “crawling out alive” after natural disasters, such as a car in contact with a downed power line (“bunny hop to safety”), a fire, an avalanche, earthquake (in a parking garage) or being submerged, including a woman who survived after being pushed off the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Bridge by a truck that rear-ended her.  The was a recommendation to keep a window hammer in the car.  A Navy Seal provided advice.  
The show concluded with the 10 (or more) Most Dangerous Highways in America, by John Constantin.  One “The Snake” near LA, NC 129, MA Rt 6 ob Capecod, Rt 17 in NY., Red Narrows (Rt 6) in UT,  Cross Bronx in NYC, US 24 in Ohio, BeeLine in FL, Highway to Heaven near Cincinnati OH, I- 15 near Las Vegas.  A driver demonstrates the Cross-Bronx in a 1951 Hudson.
Wikipedia attribution link for Scotty’s Castle picture. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

AC360 interviews school employee from school incident near Atlanta; the importance of "stepping up", in person, when challenged to do so

The later into August it gets, the lazier network programming gets, except for news.  And for everything critical out there, right now it still seems that CNN is running away with a  pennant just like the Atlanta Braves.
Last night (Thursday, August 22, 2013), Anderson Cooper spent most of his hour interviewing Antoinette Tuff, the school (McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, GA) bookkeeper who singlehandedly talked the young man threatening the school with a weapon down into surrender.  The link for the episode, and video, is here
Tuff met 911 dispatcher Kendra McCray on the program.

There’s no need to re-summarize all the details, which are all over the news.  This incident had a safe conclusion, unlike Sandy Hook; from a policy viewpoint, we come back to Piers Morgan and his questions as to how someone like Michael Brandon Hill, who had been on psychiatric medications, still got access to weapons. 
The startling aspect of the story was the way Tuff opened her heart to the young man, to talk him into surrender.  She even said she loved him.  I could not have brought myself to say something like this.
A few years ago, I worked as a substitute teacher in Arlington VA and Fairfax County schools (middle and high).  Sporadically, unpredictable situations could occur, especially with special education students (who could not be avoided). I have to admit that I did not “step up” to these in ways that could be more personal than I was prepared for.  That’s one reason I no longer do this job.

A lot of moral capital comes out of situations that we don’t choose to be in but must step up to.  A lot of the capacity for longstanding relationships to form and persist (marriages) come from this capacity.   And there seems to be an unpleasant inverse.  If one doesn’t step up when challenged, one loses one’s rights later if one becomes a victim.
AC360 spent a little time at the end with Hannah Anderson, rescued after James Lee DiMaggio was shot by law enforcement, in a horrific series that apparent had domestic causes.
AC360 did not get to covering the Duncan, OK “boredom” shooting of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane by teens James Francis Edwards and/or Chancey Allen Luna, with Michael Dwanye Jones as an accomplice.  Erin Burnett covered it, however on her 11 PM Outfront program on CNN.  The most recent information seems to be that this was a gang initiation shooting.  Overnight, there is news of a horrific beating of an 88 year old in Spokane, WA that sounds gang-related, and of a mass shooting near Miami, FL.  Piers Morgan will have a lot more ammunition tonight. 

Is all this happening because of no-parenting or bad parenting?  Does it have to do with the "right people" sometimes not even having children at all?  Or does it have to do partly with social disconnection, that invokes everybody?  Pastors will have a lot to say about these matters.

Wikipedia attribution link for courthouse in Decatur.  My last visit, 1971 (to grad school friends);  my last visit to Atlanta, 2004. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

CNN: "Jake Tapper Reports: An Unlikely Hero": Ty Carter at Outpost Keating in Afghanistan

Wednesday, August 21, 2013, CNN aired “Jake Tapper Reports: An Unlikely Hero”, with primary link here, link.

The report describes how Army Specialist Ty Carter would earn a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism when his unit was pinned down by the Taliban on October 3, 2009 at Outpost Keating in Afghanistan.

Carter had grown up troubled, and had an uneven experience in the Marine Corps.  He worked odd jobs, finding little purpose, but married and had a child.  He eventually joined the Army, maybe for better money but perhaps for more purpose.

The report emphasized that Medal winners don’t have to be stereotyped perfect people.
The film also left the impression that the men (and women) making sacrifices in combat are doing so because they have trouble “competing” on “our” terms in the normal “civilian” world.  We live off their backs.

The film also echoes Sebastian Junger’s “Restrepo” (movies blog, July 10, 2010).  

(Apologies: The "Trapper" in the url name was from a typo; it's "Tapper", no 'r'.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Does "Mark Z" rule the world? Cuomo interviews Mark Zuckerberg on CNN New Day; AC360 interviews Greenwald and Miranda

Chris Cuomo interviewed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 29, this morning (Wednesday, August 21, 2013) on CNN New Day.

Zuckerberg discussed a plan to get the remaining 5 billion people on Earth online with Internet access.  He has networked with other tech companies, including competitors, to form a group called “”. He said “Everyone deserves to be connected.”

Zuckerberg also discussed his ambitious ideas to reform immigration, so that tech companies can hire more highly skilled workers from overseas.  This has been controversial within the I.T job market.  Zuckerberg also feels that undocumented workers at the common or low wage end should be treated better and seemed to be hinting at the social issues of Americans depending on illegal labor to do jobs they don’t want to do, as Morgan Spurlock has recently covered on “Inside Man”.

Zuckerberg has worked with politicians in both parties on his immigration views, particularly GOP governor Chris Christie in NJ; GOP Senator Mark Rubio of Florida.  Cuomo pointed out that businessmen have more incentive to see both parties work together than do politicians themselves.  There was a faint hint of Zuckerberg;s running for office some day.  

Zuckerberg was dressed informally, in jeans and pullover.

Zuckerberg said, “I believe there are some things in life, if you believe it’s such a big problem, you just stick your neck out and get it done” and run with it.”  I could say that’s what I did with my first 1997 book, “Do Ask Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” that tackled gays in the military and “don’t ask don’t tell” as it was implemented then, tracking it back to my own life. 

Cuomo, as we know, can be a tough interviewer.  Remember how he handled Amanda Knox!
It’s important to note that Tuesday night, Anderscon Cooper interviewed Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda together Tuesday night on AC360.   The direct link is here. Greenwald (who published a lot of Snowden materials on the Guardian) said that investigative international journalism usually involves discovery of classified materials, and that investigative journalism is not terrorism and is not a crime.  CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that Britain, under its own laws, was justified in detaining Miranda at the Heathrow airport (changing planes) if it believed that Miranda could be carrying classified materials (perhaps even unknowingly) as a “mule”.

During the 10 AM morning hour, CNN reported the 35 year sentence to Bradley Manning, who could be paroled in ten years or so.  The defense actually admitted that previously Manning had struggled with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
CNN also covered the “You Can Play” Project for LGBT athletes, which will be covered again soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CNN: "Amanda Knox" in its "Crimes of the Century" series; have we seen enough of this case?

It’s late summer. Television is plagued by repeats and the few original shows seem like stale reality experiments.  That may change next week as we remember the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.  But in the meantime, CNN seems to stand alone with some interesting new programming.
CNN has already covered Amana Know enough (“Foxy Knoxy”) but Sunday night its “Crimes of the Century” series continued with “Amanda Knox”, who was convicted for the murder of roommate Mededith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in early November 2007.

The film makes the point that in the US, only Rudy Guede would have been prosecuted, according to reputable DNA evidence, and other indications that this was a robbery gone wrong.  The prosecution was driven by a self-energizing process, where the tabloids made a lot of Knox’s less than humble public behavior, and a politically motivated prosecutor, who appealed to sensationalist theories about Satanism (o All Saints Day) and sexual temptations. 

The link for the episode is here.

What’s worse is that the Italian public rejoiced in her conviction.  Her publicly surly attitude had made her seem like an enemy to average people, and vulnerable to vengeful setup.  Is this a lesson for other Americans when they travel, even in stable western countries? 

European justice systems do not have as many protections for the defendant as do American systems. 

On practice, the “presumption of innocence” seems stronger in the US, although it is not explicitly stated in the US constitution (Wiki link). 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Morgan Spurlock works as a ranch-hand in "Nebraska Drought" on Inside Man

Morgan Spurlock’s latest “Inside Man” episode Sunday night (Aug. 18), “Nebraska Drought”, link here,  let us see Morgan become employed as a ranchhand in western Nebraska.  Spurlock, as a journalist, likes to prove he can do “real jobs”. 

Spurlock says the area looks like Mars.  The area is not perfectly flat, as there appears to be a range of hills in the distance, perhaps near Scottsbluff (which I visited in August 1994, about the time of my own personal “epiphany”. )  

The drought was causing the family to have to see much of its herd.  In one amusing sequence, Spurlock has to insert his forearm (protected by seran wrap) into the uterus of a cow to see far along her pregnancy was.  He could feel the head of the calf.

“The young steers go to market.  We split the babies from their mommies.”
The Midwest has to deal with a cycle of droughts and floods.  The southern part of the Mississippi valley has torrential rain right now (and frequent big tornadoes).   In 1993, much of the upper Midwest was flooded by incessant storms, but probably farther east than where Spurlock shot this episode. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Chadronn State Park. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ABC's Weekend Explorer covers rescued pilot whales, reclusive sea turtles, child nature education in Africa

Saturday morning, ABC’s “Weekend Explorer” from Litton featured an episode on “Sea Rescues” where pilot whales are rescued (sometimes after beaching) and nursed back to health at Sea World in Orlando.  Biologists conclude that some of the cetaceans are not skilled enough to survive again in the wild.  Compare this account to the movie review of “Blackfish” about the orca, on July 29, 2013 on the Movies blog. 

That episode was preceded by a session of “Born to Explore” (site) by Richard Wiese, where children in Africa were being taught nature, although it seems like they live into daily contact with it anyway because of their low standard of living.  Volunteering or going on missions there could be a serious challenge for many young adults or church groups that sponsor them because of political instability and human rights issues.   Yet the need is great.  The episode went on to cover the life cycle of a sea turtle that lays eggs on the Indian Ocean side of the South African coast, and hides the eggs deeply in sand from predators.

An earlier episode by Wiese had explored the Cheetah Conservation Fund.  Cheetahs are threatened with extinction, but are sometimes kept as pets in South Africa.  That’s illegal in the US and most countries, but cheetahs sometimes do bond to humans and behave in a rural or ranch household much like big dogs, and seem to learn very quickly, as in the 2005 film “Duma” (Carol Ballard, WB), where a cheetah learned to operate a remote TV and ate at the family dinner table.  Servals also bond to humans but require enormous commitment when kept.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Morgan Spurlock visits bankrupt Stockton CA as "Inside Man" and becomes a "Guardian Angel"

Sunday night, Aug. 11, 2013, CNN aired the latest episode of Morgan Spurlock’s “Inside Man” series, this one being “Inside Bankruptcy”, with alternate title “Stockton Guardian Angel”, link here.

That second title refers to Spurlock’s own volunteerism, as he steps up to become a neighborhood Guardian Angel in Stockton, CA, after it has lost police and fire to severe budget cuts after declaring bankruptcy.

Spurlock rides around with former mayor Ann Johnston, who explains how the housing crisis and price collapse wrecked the city, which had funded expansion on municipal bonds.  But it stopped paying, but dug itself further into risky investments.  A lot of controversy concerns the huge demands of police and fire unions, and Johnston says that she was surprised that some non-management people in police and fire made $200000 a year.

With weaker police and fire, residents face increasing crime, especially in areas with so many foreclosed properties.  Residents have to build social capital and learn to depend on one another, rather than institutional law enforcement.  That sounds like a pro-gun argument, too.

Spurlock also covers how other nearby bankruptcies have wrecked the pensions of former city employees, cutting them in one case by 90%.  It’s not clear what the PBGC can do in these cases; that would make a good topic to report on. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Stockton waterfront on San Joaquin River, 


As the episode starts, Spurlock is checking in to a stunning hotel with a room view of the river.

I drove through the Central Valley area last in Feb. 2002, visiting Bakersfield.    

Update: July 19. 2014

The violent bank robbery and taking of hostages near Stockton CA has been linked to gang activity but also to the past real estate and city bankruptcy, which could have undermined police protection (a fact which Spurlock mentioned)..  Associated Press has the story here.   Of course, state police and FBI wouldn't be affected by the bankruptcy.  This level of violence is rare, but hopefully is not a trend.  One ordinary consumer (Misty Holt-Singh) was kidnapped from the bank and died in the gunfire.  Jaime Ramos has been charged with armed robbery, kidnapping ,and may be charged with capital murder under special circumstances, enabling the death penalty (which has been struck down by a federal judge, a ruling that is appealed).     

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CNN's Gupta changes mind on medical use of and decriminalization of "Weed"

Sunday night, CNN aired Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed: Special Report” and rep-examines his own position as a physician on marijuana use, especially medical marijuana.  Sanjay’s own link (including a video) explaining why he changed his own position is here. Gupta even admit's "I've tried pot." 
Gupta takes us to a secret marijuana growing greenhouse high in the Colorado Rockies (where it is legal according to state law), and showed some special plants that combine cannibas of various strains with other substances that seem to have medical benefits.
He showed a 19 year old man with hiccoughs, and THC controls it, when no other medication does. Gupta examines the issue of driving a car when having used, and finds that habitual users sometimes have fewer problems with incapacitation than new users.  It's not clear if there could be a "safe" level of THC when driving, as is common with alcohol regulation.

Later, he shows a small girl whose epilepsy is brought under control when no other medication worked, and she starts eating normally (she had been tubefed) and goes back to school.

The documentary actually starts with presenting the little girl, Charlotte.  It then traces the history of marijuana, which was prescribed legally until 1930.Harry Anslinger found that he could exploit the public fear of drugs for political purposes (explained here).  The substance in the cannibas plant that controls seizures, Cannabidiol, is not mind altering and probably could be manufactured if legal and sold; it would seem then that pharmaceutical companies would have a new motivation to keep the plant illegal bu substances extracted from it, at cost to consumer and for corporate profits, legal.  Charlotte needed only the Cannabidiol, and without specific medication available, needed a variety of plant high in Cannabidiol and as low in THC as possible, so it had to be especially grown.  The family in Colorado was the only source of this possible plant. The family at first did not want to give the plant to a young child.

The show mentions that NIH and some other authorities don't recognize the medicinal value even of cannabidiol.  That doesn't make much sense now. 
Gupta also shows research that shows how marijuana affects the prefrontal cortex in the brain. If taken before adulthood, it can cause lower IQ’s and less cognitive function.  For artists, that would mean less, not more, creativity. 

Marijuana is often more concentrated today. Although science shows it less "addictive" than many other substances, the body develops tolerance and cannot easily console itself with naturally occurring brain chemistry if using the drug.  Users tell me that it intensifies senses, especially visual details.  I've tried it only maybe twice in NYC, once in New Mexico on a camping trip in 1980, with no effect at all. 
But it does seem effective in treatment of many illnesses.  Israel is sponsoring research in even more areas, such as some cancers – as a primary chemotherapy, not just to control nausea.  It seems to be effective with Parkinsonism. 

The question is why THC can’t be prescribed where medically appropriate and regulated like any other drug requiring supervision and prescription.

As recently as five years ago, Gupta had said he would vote against decriminalizing marijuana. 
At least one friend used it in 1980 “off the street” to prevent nausea when on bleomycin and cis-platinum for testicular cancer, and he says it worked perfectly. 

Update: July 13, 2014

Giupta aired "Weed 2", a second hour of documentary, following up on some patients.  More states have expanded medical marijuana but patients cannot cross state lines.  In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie shut down the expansion.  One family had to move to Colorado. 

Picture: just wild grape, perfectly legal. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Steve Harvey's talk show: board games, cardboard baseball stadiums (when kids are unplugged from the Internet), and some self-depliation

Steve Harvey’s talk show on Friday did some goofy stuff, and caught my attention as “Days or our Lives” concluded.  (Still, Sonny is the only sane character.)

One of his reports Aug. 9 showed families unplugging from electronics and technology completely for 48 hours.  The link for it is here.  Because parents have to “socialize” their kids into the real world, restricting web and social media access (or monitoring it on a “family computer”) makes more sense than it does for single urban professional adults.  Teens need to make friends in the actual world as well as on Facebook.  Kids were shown playing geographical board games that looked interesting.  I’m not sure if it was “Global Pursuit” (which “we” played on an Adventuring camping trip in West Virginia in 1990), “Star Reporter”, or even “Mr. Ree”, an obscure competitor of Clue (and more complicated, from what I can remember of my Ohio summers in the 1950’s).  Maybe they did play Monopoly.  As kids, we invented versions of “back yard baseball” and made cardboard stadiums that could play mechanical forms of board baseball.  The run scoring was actually reasonable.  We also made filmstrips by hand and had “movie” showings.  All of this happened four decades before the Internet.

Then, Harvey got really goofy.  He invited some nonchalant audience male members to test some consumer products and let the audience vote on them (link).  One of them was a cleverly designed clipper for self-removal of back hair.  Fortunately for Harvey, the white man who came up was appropriately but unattractively hirsute.  Harvey and the audience were not impressed.  This was a simple product, not “No-no”, which gets gratuitously advertised Saturday mornings on CNN, almost like the old Saturday morning cartoons. 

Harvey also has a radio talk show.

Update: Aug. 14

It seems as though Gillette is getting serious about male body depilation.  It seems as though the company is encouraging women to tell men they want their men to give up everything women don't have and become drones.  What would Steve Harvey think of this Gillettee commercial for ProGuide:

"What do women want?" The ad asks.  Remember the movie by that name ("What Women Want", 2000, by Nancy Meyers), with all the depilatory strips?

It gets even worse with the Washington Post story Aug. 14 by Paul Fahri, on Gillette's ads for male boy grooming, here.

Do you have to have something before you are something?  Ask Seve Karvey.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

AC360 interviews Brian Manning, Bradey's father

Anderson Cooper interviewed Brian Manning, father of Bradley Manning, on his AC360 news show in CNN Tuesday night, with details here.

The elder Manning said that he believed that disclosing classified material is wrong, and that he has worked in this area himself.  But he thinks that Bradley Manning was set up because he did not get along well with some others in his unit. 

He said that based on his experience with computer systems, he didn’t think it was possible to upload that much material (700,000 documents) without others noticing.  I would think that shouldn’t be too hard at all.

He did not mention his son’s sexual orientation or gender issues.
He did add up the possible sentence, which could be up to 90 years.   This is the case even though Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy.
Cooper also covered the beginning of the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, TX.  Hisan is acting as his own attorney, which allows him to question prosecution witnesses and go on his vindictive “jihadist” rant with victims, which seems to be what he wants.  AC360 covered the fact that he still draws his full military salary.  Furthermore, the victims are views in terms of workplace violence, which gives them less assistance than if their losses occurred in combat.  There are political reasons (as related to Guantanamo) why the Army and DOD don’t want to regard this crime as a terrorist act (whereas the Boston Marathon incident is regarded that way).

Hasan, as a military psychaitrist, apparently told soldiers as patients to turn themselves in as "war criminals" for fighting against Islam!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

CNN: "The Trial of Andrea Yates" (in "Crimes of the Century" series) again looks at insanity defense

CNN’s airing of “The Trial of Andrea Yates” as part of its “Crimes of the Century” series may be notable most of all for its depiction of the dangers of post partum depression.  The basic link for the documentary episode is (website url) here
Yates drowned her five children near at her home near Houston, TX in June 2001 (Wikipedia history here.  She and her husband had felt a religious duty to have and raise as many children as possible.  After being placed on medication, she stopped medication during her fifth pregnancy, which may have contributed to her background.

Yates believed that her children would grow up to become criminal or “defective” and would be condemned according to her religious belief. 

As with John Hinckey, much of the documentary focused on the use of the insanity defense.  Yates was convicted and sentenced to (almost) life in prison.  But then a question came up about testimony that Yates had watched an episode of “Law and Order” where an insanity defense was used in a similar circumstance.  Research showed that no such episode existed (not even the script for one existed), an much of this research involved the web and search engines.  (It is a curious opposite to my own “screenplay” incident that I detailed on my main blog, July 27, 2007/)

The informal phrase from many people on cases like this is "crazy but guilty".  

Thursday, August 01, 2013

"Our Nixon": CNN Films airs documentary of home 8 mm movies made by Nixon's aides

On Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, CNN aired a documentary “Our Nixon”, assembled and directed by Penny Lane. The film is a narrative history of the Nixon presidency seen largely through super 8 mm home movies create by Nixon’s closest aides, especially Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin. CNN’s link for the film is here. (An Oliver Stone epic like "Nixon" it is not.)
Early in the film, nightly news reels are shown from late 1968 reporting the appointment of Nixon’s aides. Chapin was 27 when he joined, and would now be 67; the aging in 40 years is interesting.
During the first three years, Nixon was preoccupied with “peace with honor” in Vietnam; the aides even today say that the protests made winning peace harder.  At a White House entertainment event, some performers actually protest.

About halfway through the film, the aides cover the president’s comments on Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, a foreshadowing of today’s controversies over WikiLeaks and Edward Snowen.
Then Haldeman presents a bizarre tape of Nixon discussing homosexuality, saying that it brought down the Roman Empire, and that Communism would try to push it because it attacks our values (false! – look at the anti-gay laws in Russia now, in fact!)   CNN features that conversation on the strike page for the film.  Haldeman coins the word “liberality” as if derived from “Liberace”.  Publicly, officials never talked about homosexuality in the early 1970s (despite the recency of Stonewall);  it was called “civilization’s secret” in those days.

The tapes cover “Nixon in China” (John Adams), completely covered by TV.

The Watergate burglary was not much more than a blip at first in June 1972, but it started getting major attention after Nixon started his second term in 1973.

But first Nixon announced a temporary peace in Vietnam.

Haldeman, in a 1975 interview, is asked why Nixon didn’t destroy the tapes.  Haldeman says no one imagined they could be demanded.  This was decades before the Internet when anything digital wold last forever. 

The latter part of the film recounts the familiar sad history of Watergate (including the Saturday Night Massacre in October, 1973).

One of the aides said he could have crashed a helicopter or private plane he was piloting for Nixon and ended the entire Watergate mess. 

All of this happened while I came of age, serving out my time at Ft. Eustis, VA in the Army and working on my first three jobs, at RCA, the Navy Department, Univac, and finally moving to NYC to work for NBC just as Nixon resigned.
The film runs 84 minutes (almost two hours with commercials), but the TV printed listings had given it only one hour.  It does belong to the new "CNN Films" series.