Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ABC Television and Univision launch "Fusion" network from Miami

ABC News has linked up with Univision to form the “Fusion Cable Network”, which launched yesterday from Miami, from a 150,000 square foot space. 
The Channel is in English but it will aim to attract young adults with some emphasis on Latinos. 
The opening of the service means that Miami will compete with Atlanta (CNN), New York and Los Angeles in the employment of national television journalists.  The Marlins will have to play better. 
The kickoff started off with an interview of president Obama by Jim Avila.
Jorge Ramos interviewed Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz, as well as controversial Maricopa County (AZ) sheriff Joe Arpaio.  The sheriff tells a young white inmate that he is sorry to see him back in tent city. It reminds me of Special Training Company in Army Basic Combat Training in 1968.
The news story link on ABC is here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Doomsday Preppers on NatGeo, in the Virginia mountains and on Kansas plains

In preparation for National Geographic Channel’s “American Blackout” later Sunday night, NatGeo aired some provocative episodes of “Doomsday Preppers”.

On “Let Her Rip”, a woman in southwestern Virginia somewhere deep in the mountains explains her concern that a nuclear blast is inevitable and that one effect would be an electromagnetic pulse effect. Another possibility would be a solar flare.    She, her boyfriend and teen son have built up considerable resources, including a water-wheel that can generate battery power.  She has also built a trebuchet catapult weapon.

She believes martial law would ensue and the government would try to confiscate her weapons. But she also tries not to attract attention as her family lives quietly in the mountains.

The location attracted my attention because I have visited an intentional community in the Virginia Piedmont (Twin Oaks), probably 150 miles away from her location.

The series gives an “X-Factor” score on how well prepared someone is to survive. 

The second half of the hour shows a young man, Joe, who quits a job in Kansas City and build a survival home in Kansas 70 miles away.  He uses some technology lightly but lives completely off the grid.  He even takes his family  away from its fortress home to see if it can live on nothing.

Both Doomsday Preppers seemed to feel that western dependence on technology makes everyone vulnerable to enemy attack.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fox covers MLB World Series, with particular focus on Boston's "Green Monster"

It’s nice to have the World Series on a major network, Fox, where the HD channel is easy to remember (213 for me).  
And Fox has made the most of the visual entertainment provided by Fenway Park, which we hope will never be replaced, although I wonder how the Red Sox could add more seats easily.  I have been in it once, in 1975, when I saw Boston lost to the White Sox.  But I certainly remember great games played there, like the 5-4 loss in the playoff game to the Yankees in 1978 on Buck Dent’s home run over the Green Monster.
Back on a Sunday afternoon in June 1961, the “new” Senators held a 7-5 lead after eight innings.  They scored 5 in the top of the ninth, when Willie Tasby hit a homer over the deepest part of the park, the 425 sign in right center.  But with two outs and a man on first, Boston came up with eight runs in the bottom of the ninth, to win 13-12.  That included a grand slam homer over the Monster to tie the score. The new Senators had been 30-30 going into that series, which ruined the season.  They finished 61-100. I would have a wonderful summer after graduating from high school and face my personal catastrophe at William and Mary the following fall.   
The Fenway stadium has marked the left field foul line now as 310 (it used to be 315).  That means a high fly that gets out down the line would probably be caught in a stadium with a longer foul line, like Detroit (347) or even Washington (336).  Anyone wonder why the Nationals don’t hit as many homers as the Orioles?  Their stadium is bigger.  In Baltimore, the right field line (with a moderate wall) is just 318.
The old Griffith Stadium in Washington DC had a high wall in right field, with a distance of 320.  But the left field line actually had a distance of 402, until it was cut back to 350 with a beer garden around 1955.  For the new Senators in the last season in Griffith stadium, the extra bleachers were removed and the old long foul line was restored. 
The second game of the series offered the Cardinals’ sensational 22-year-old pitcher Michael Wacha, who never seems to allow many baserunners and who has flirted with no hitters twice (once against the Nats).  He does this with a variety of fastballs and changeups and deceptive motion, but not much in the way of curves and sliders.  Ortiz hit a homer last night over the Green Monster on a changeup – but why an opposite field homer on a change-up? Wacha looks clean cut compared to a lot of other players, rather like a pop star.
Fox showed how the manual scoreboard behind the Wall at Fenway works.  It’s the only hand-operated scoreboard left in the majors.

In the neighborhood in which I grew up, we had large back yards, and played softball with “outfield fences”.   One yard had a two story house jutting out in left field, creating a “green monster” effect (except that it was red brick).  The house has since had additions, so there is no longer a “field” there. Kids had odd ground rules.  If a ball was caught off the wall without hitting the ground, it was considered out (it is not in MLB). 

At a farm in Ohio, a friend made an outdoor “field of dreams” with a wooden picket fence in left, which I could not reach, and a wire fence in right, which was closer, which I could reach even though it was the opposite field.

We also made a lot of “cardboard stadiums” (particularly during summers in Ohio) and invented board games played with aluminum foil wad balls.  

Wikipedia attribution link for Green Monster picture. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

PBS Frontline: "Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria", about antibiotic resistant suberbugs

PBS Frontline on Tuesday night aired a scary documentary “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria”, with case histories of patients in Arizona, India, and finally at the National Institutes of Health, where the epidemic mysteriously jumped among patients for six months, leading to six deaths.  Extreme infection control procedures were needed.

The gram-negative bacteria is called “KPC” and has developed antibiotic resistance by integrating other genes (like “NDM1”) it finds in the environment.  One patient undergoes leg amputation after inability to treat the infection, and another had a double lung transplant. 
The more antibiotics are used, the more bacteria can become resistance. The bacteria are "promiscuous" in that the presence of a gram-negative bacterium with NDM1 in a culture can transmit the gene to all bacteria cells it comes into contact with.  It's rather like the "gray goo" problem. 

I can remember having some strep throats in middle age, but they have stopped.  That’s probably because I’ve developed my own immunity.

I had a severe jaw infection in 2004, leading to a dental cyst.  It was treated with clindamycin.  It did not return as acute infection, even though the cyst remained until recent surgery for implants.  I suspect I was lucky enough that my own immune system became able to resist the specific bacteria, which might have otherwise turned into a superbug.

Drug companies find they don’t have a financial incentive to develop new antibiotics, which may become obsolete.  The closure of a Connecticut plant for Pfizer hurt the opportunity to find a cure for gram-negative infections.

The main link for the episode is here

The CDC has called this bug a nightmare. 

This is a public health issue where individual actions can create a problem that is more than the sum of its parts.
The series will continue with a study of antibiotics in agriculture, next spring. 

Update: May 6, 2014

PBS re-aired this episode.  The story of the young man in India is especially disturbing to me, since I have seen a film about volunteer work with orphans in India ("Blood Brothers" with Rocky Braat, movies Feb. 24, 2014 and the video "Tomorrow" by Timo Descamps, drama blog March 27, 2014).

The young woman's case had started with hip pain and rash, which spread to her lungs.

The documentary warms that we are approaching a "post-antibiotic" era. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

CNN: "Lance Armstrong's Tragic Fall": Anderson seems a little more sympathetic to the biker than was Oprah

A special report for AC360 Sunday night “Lance Armstrong’s Tragic Fall” let authors Vanessa O’Connell and Reed Albergotti, authors of “Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever” explained the insidious nature of Armstrong’s fall into the “cheating culture” of doping, given the incredible pressure to win.  Greg LeMond appeared. But the most interesting interviewee was Tyler Hamilton, who describes the doping in detail.  It appears that riders were approached only when they were viewed as having enough “talent”.

The CNN link for the report is here

It’s always struck me that riders “sacrifice” their “appearance” in more conventional terms, to win, and that no one sees that as quirky.  Women still seem to want them.  That’s a far cry from how things were viewed in the 50’s when I was growing up.

The documentary does mention Armstrong’s interview earlier this year with Oprah Winfrey. It also summarizes how he discovered that he had testicular cancer in 1996 and shows some images from his treatment as a young man.  How did his recovery from cancer affect his attitude toward altering his body for competition?  It sounds like an interesting question.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CNN's Sunday morning shows interview McCain, Cruz on the "fairness" of the shutdown; SNL criticized for lack of diversity in its hosts, performers

On CNN’s Sunday morning news program "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley,  Dana Bash and Gloria Borger interviewed John McCain and then the controversial senator Ted Cruz.
Bash prodded Cruz on his motives, and it really seems as if there is a focus on Obamacare that seems out of proportion to everything else.  He says that it is his job to represent the 26 million people of Texas (I lived in Dallas myself from 1979-1988), not the Republican Party establishment.
I was not harmed directly by the shutdown and the markets did not become all that volatile.  But a future crisis could do grave harm if the US actually fails to pay its bills.  That risk this time was probably not as imminent as the Democrats said – we probably had enough money coming into Treasury coffers to pay bills well into November, but the T-bill rollovers every Thursday could have become catatrophes in their own right. 
Did Cruz force others around the country to make personal “sacrifices” so he could play his own politics?  Or to advance his own constituents?  John McCain talked about food lines in Arizona during the shutdown.  Cruz would say that the Democrats forced the hardship by refusing to negotiate, but that does sound like a kidnapper blaming a father for the deaths of other family members on the father’s physical “cowardice”.  This sort of thing really does happen.  The president insists that only Congress can appropriate money to run the government and authorize more debt to pay the country’s already-incurred bulls.   But previous presidents have, in practice, allowed “negotiation” over the debt ceiling, even if this sounds like giving in to “extortion” in principle.  So it is all a bit unclear.  Both parties are to blame.
Cruz pointed out Harry Reid’s embarrassing answer when Reid was quizzed about cancer patients at NIH.

If we did repeal Obamacare, what happens to people with pre-existing conditions?  Who pays when uninsured people show up in the emergency room?  If there is no individual mandate, who pays for the anti-selection problem?  Will "volunteerism" or the "natural family" really take care of all of these problems?  Consider the moral implications for individuals.
Bash did ask Cruz about the post-deal “threats” on Twitter, being investigated by Capitol Police and the Secret Service.  Cruz made light of it by saying no one can “blow up the Sun”.  That’s true, unless you include extraterrestrial aliens as the enemy and play an “Ender’s Game”.  But conservatives like Newt Gingrich have pointed out genuine existential threats to our way of life from possibilities like electromagnetic pulse, or EMP.

Earlier Sunday morning, CNN reviewed an “unrelated” matter, the reported lack of African American females on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, or SNL.  Debra Wilson said that producer Lauren Michaels can do what he likes, and that the most talented black entertainers probably weren’t auditioning or approaching NBC through their agents.  It does seem that SNL often likes young white entertainers, especially males, and that the brand of somewhat libertarian satire plays well with the professional audience that lives on both coasts.  It does like youth and vigor, with previous hosts like Justin Timberlake (with drag), Jake Gyllenhall (again even in drag).  Shia LaBeouf, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Taylor Lautner (who was still 17 when he hosted it), Michael Phelps (not an actor), and of course Justin Bieber.   It would seem that Reid Ewing (aka “Reid Rainbow”), the guest star playing and composing “Dylan’s” music on Modern Family would make an interesting and funny host, given his videos making fun of government bureaucracy and the desire of people to want everything to be “free” – to get something for nothing.  A dash of conservative humor (making fun of Obamacare) can really sell ratings.   

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Making the Case": CNN has a new legal program Saturdays with Don Lemon; a hint of more clamp down on Internet speech?

Don Lemon hosts a new special report program on Saturday nights on CNN, “Making the Case”.
The program opened with a report that two prisoners released from a northern Florida prison under forged documents, where a judge’s signature was forged on an adobe document.  Both men were apprehended at a motel in Panama City FL without incident.

But the main focus of the program was the bullying case in Florida, where a twelve and fourteen year old girl are charged with cyberstalking and where the parents may be prosecuted.  Much of the show concerned the limits of freedom of speech on the Internet, which they involve making personal attacks on others, or particularly publishing embarrassing photos of others, which may be technically legal in many cases. 
These practices have been thought to be protected by the First Amendment, and service providers (like Facebook and YouTube) have been viewed as immune to downstream liability under Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  But many are calling for more liability for parents and possibly for service providers.  The show hinted but did not mention specifically that some state attorneys general want to weaken Section 230 as it might apply to state criminal laws (like with cyberbullying) or prostitution.
There was also discussion of a case in Maryville, MO where two teenage girls were apparently assaulted and the state has failed to prosecute the perpetrators, and the family has been forced to leave town.

CNN does not seem to have a specific web page for this show yet.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Return to Somalia" is a new series showing young adults from the West going back to the world's most lawless country

On October 16, PBS Howard University Television in Washington DC aired two 20-minute episodes of “Return to Somalia”, with starter website here.  Apparently the program plans more episodes and is looking for people of Somali origin interested in returning to Somalia for long periods of time for humanitarian and journalism projects.

The first episode, directed by Patrick Wells,  showed young men now living in the UK returning to Mogadishu. They worked on the “Anti-Tribalism Movement” and set up a highly secured meeting in a hotel.  The video shows a sign “Words divide us, Action unites us.”
The second episode, directed by Ruth Hamid, was “Aliya’s Story”. A young woman from America (Minneapolis?) visits Somalia and, before going, says she is in for culture shock. She considers her  wardrobe, and admits that America is all “ go go” and a self-centered mentality that “it’s about me”.  In rural African culture it is about family and clan.  She says he wants to experience that.
Once there, she tries to help build a school and repair a family home damaged by warfare.  She finds there is no government, no “phone book”, although there is some technology.  To get money for the project, you need to get approval from clan elders, an idea she has never encountered in the West.

She says that there are nice homes on the beach and that they are amazingly expensive even given the unstable government.
The series is also called “Breakthrough Somalia”.
It strikes to me that the short episodes could be edited and merged into a feature documentary film and put into the festival circuit (like Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto, SXSW, etc).  The group responsible for the project may not know “Hollywood” well.  It would be a good thing to find an executive producer who could make this happen. 
Wikipedia explains the complicated politics of Somalia, with its civil wars, factions, and complicated judicial system that sometimes defers to Sharia but not always.  Somalia even has, to some extent, a barter economy, almost out of science fiction (it reminds one of the Third Dominion in Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica”). 
The most important Hollywood film about Somalia was, of course, Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” with Josh Hartnett in 2001, about the 1993 raid (filmed in Morocco). There is also a 1983 film “Love Letters from Somalia” by Frederick Mitterand, where a gay man in Paris recalls a relationship in Somalia, which sounds hard to believe.  I think I saw that at the University of Minnesota at a festival when living in Minneapolis, around 1999.  The other important recent film is, of course, "Captain Phillips" (Movies blog, Oct. 11), about Somali pirates with one beach scene (filmed in Morocco) showing the culture of young men who get itno this.

Wikipedia attribution link for aerial Mogadishu photo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Revolution" gives its ex-geek the powers of telekinesis, with destruction

Many of the episodes of “Revolution” are based on movies, and on Oct. 16, played right during a Senate vote designed to prevent a doomsday, it aired “Patriot Games”.

Toward the end, there is a shocking revelation of the “technology” of the blackout. While former software engineer Aaron (Zak Orth) is sleeping and dreaming in rem sleep, he energizes a stream of firefly nanoparticles (like in the song) to set two men on fire in a critical scene. 
The idea of “powers” is not so new (Smallville), but the idea of telepathy or telekinesis from dreams is certainly provocative.  Who needs the Internet if mind powers work?
If one dreams about an erotic encounter with another person, does that other person know?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CNN "Crossfile" shows public has little confidence in avoiding default; On Piers Morgsn, Suze Orman warns Americans that they have to save themselves and each other personally

Carly Fiorina and Austin Goolsbee joined Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich on CNN’s “Crossfilre” Wednesday, and a surprising poll, taken at 7 PM, showed that only 38% of those responding believed that Congress and the President would close a deal before the debt deadline. The blog link is here
Gingrich is prone to warn of catastrophes, as he has written about EMP terrorism before, and feels that immediate default is not the only risk; runaway debt itself could lead to a financial collapse.

On Piers Morgan, Suze Orman ( link  ) warned consumers “The government is not going to save you, the stock market is going to save you” and called Congress’s behavior “shenanigans”.  She recommended that young people who are working keep saving in the stock market, because they have enough time for values to recover, and that workers consider using ROTH IRA’s, where they pay taxes up front but can withdraw later without penalty.  She also said that stocks might be safer than bonds in an environment where interest rates are likely to rise quickly because of political instability.  

Orman's comments sometimes don't seem to recognize the expenses and debt couples take on when they have kids. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CNN short documentaries on Malala Yousafzai, and Pope Francis

CNN presented a half hour special about Malala Yousafzai, “The Bravest Girl in the World” on Sunday Oct. 13.
This presentation explained how her life in the Swat Valley in Pakistan had been idyllic until 2008, when the Taliban took over and imposed the strictest Shariah law.  As of Jan. 15, 2009, girls were no longer allowed to go to school.  She defied and spoke up, and soon was targeted.
Christiane Amanpour interviewed her alongside her father.  She does admire Benzair Bhutto, and thinks about becoming prime minister of Pakistan some day. She also wants to become a physician.
The CNN link for the episode is here
CNN followed with another half-hour documentary, “Pope Francis: Man of Many Faces”, which discussed the new Pope’s humility and willingness to live simply. It was explained his stance on gay issues, that he does not feel he should judge the sexual orientation of any person, although he still remains somewhat troubled and uncertain about the Vatican scriptural interpretation of homosexual activity as sinful or “disordered”. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

ABC 20-20 presents Malala Yousafzai, after her miraculous recovery in England from Taliban attack

ABC’s 20-20 presented a special, “The Unbreakable: Just Another Teenage Schoolgirl”, about Malala Yousafzai, the Pashtun girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for going to school.

There is a saying in Pakistan, “A woman’s place is in the home or the grave”.  That quote starts the documentary.
The basic link for the report is here..
The basic biography is here
Malala had started her activism before she was shot, so she was targeted after some time by the Taliban.  Malala even rehearsed how she would reason with her attackers if they came.   She was shot on Oct. 9, 2012,  She did not have her face covered.  The attack is one of the most deliberate in modern history, anywhere.
The documentary describes the medical anomaly with the bullet’s path that enabled her to survive, although apparently deaf in one ear, but then surgery even restored that hearing.  Malala reports a long dream, like a near-death experience.   She was provided a medical plane to fly her to Britain for treatment.  It was not known for a while if she would ever speak again. 

She did not she had been shot at first.  She also feared that her family would have to sell everything they owned to pay for her medical treatment.
Now, education has become compulsory in Pakistan.  The documentary reports a petition signed with thumbprints.  But radical Islam views female education as a threat to fertility and the future survival of a tribe. Diane Sawyer met with fundamentalist women in black burqas.  “Freedom and democracy cannot co-exist with Islam” they said. They say that Islam demands subservience to the creator, not to one’s own desires or goals.  One woman said she is glad she doesn’t have to “compete” in the Western woman when all she wants is to be a mother. 

Malala maintains that knowledge is neither Eastern nor Western.  
Malala’s book “I Am Malala” was published by Little Brown on Oct. 8. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

C-SPAN airs Treasury Secretary Lew's testimony on debt ceiling, lasts 70 minutes, remains high level

C-SPAN televised live the testimony by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew this morning in front of the Senate Finance Committee on the possible consequences of not raising the debt ceiling.  The basic link is here.  CNN Money has a summary here. The hearing started at 8:30 AM and finished at 9:40 AM, with the last four Senators making remarks but not having time to get verbal responses. 
Lew’s remarks were general.  He said that he could not guarantee that the Treasury Department system could accurately prioritize payments to pay bondholders first even if President Obama decided he had the legal authority to do so.  However some Republicans (including Pat Toomey) have said that the Treasury already has a separate mechanism to pay bondholders, but it might have to the beta-tested quickly (see my IT blog posting this morning).  And conservative law professors admit that Social Security is a bondholder but a previous court opinion (Flemming v. Nestor) means that Congress can legally stop paying Social Security benefits in a national financial emergency. However, the testimony did not get to this level of specificity.
Lew emphasized that lifting the debt ceiling only authorizes the Treasury to pay bills already due based on what Congress had previously appropriated.  It does not create new spending.

Lew also said that the T-bill auction yesterday had been difficult, with short term interest rates much higher.
Democratic Senators followed the same logic as the White House.  But some Republican congressmen tried to conflate the current debt ceiling issue (paying current bills with borrowed money) with the total debt issue, saying that at some point the debt itself could cause the system to freeze.  Of course, that takes us far afield from the obsession with Obamacare a week ago.  Lew, as well as one or two Senators in each party, mentioned the “dollar as reserve currency” problem, which is the basis of Porter Stansberry’s doomsday scenario (“The End of America” on my “cf” blog, Sept. 1, 2013). 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

AC360 Later, and Piers Morgan take up "debt ceiling deniers" in GOP

It’s hard to get in to various series on network television, which are rather underwhelming, when right now CNN is focused on whether our way of life is on death row, waiting for an official reprieve from John Boehner.
CNN’s “AC360 Later” did spend some time on “debt ceiling deniers” in the extreme right of the GOP. 
David Walker said that the Treasury could definitely pay all the bond debt indefinitely based on receipts coming in, but it would not be able to pay everything else.  Maybe it could have incredibly mass layoffs in the federal government and contractors, and catch up on what it owes.  The notion that the federal government is not legally obliged to pay promised Social Security benefits (because of the Flemming v. Nestor decision) was not mentioned, but needs discussion, because it could have enormous consequences for retirees, especially those with some other wealth.

GOP Hispanic strategist Ana Navarro said that “the ice is starting to melt” and that the tone had changed, but there was dirt on everyone’s hands.
Jeffrey Toobin said that John Boehner has the power to end this by simply calling a clean vote.
The applicable link is here.
AC360 also discussed weakening performance of American students, which accounts for young adults who are poorly prepared for leadership, and may account for some of the intellectually weak performance of people in public office.  Navarro said that there were terrific kids in high schools and colleges, and some did come from low-income minority families, but it wasn’t consistent.
Earlier, Piers Morgan had promised a show on “debt ceiling denial” but covered it with only one interview involving Robert Reich.

A private charity has stepped up and advanced money to families of deceased combat veterans.  Should private charity have to do the job when Congress fails? 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

"Scandal" resumes, and creates viewing parties; it seems way off track as to what's really going on

I heard about viewing parties for ABC’s “Scandal” last Thursday when I was at HRC’s building party.  I tried the Season 3 premiere (“It’s Handled”) tonight at the ABC site (it’s a little bit confusing, but it’s here 

The idea of protecting the “online reputation” as well as real world view of public figures is an interesting career choice for a single girl Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). 

So, the president (Tony Goldwyn) has a mistress, and idea that makes this series like a retelling of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.  Olivia is seen leaving the “Pad” and so she gets fingered as a possible mistress, but she gets cleared of suspicion quickly.  It seems that in this show gay tricks can get drugged, but they don’t look like the slim guys showing off at the Town Disco. 

Living "on the outside", she seems to miss her prior access to the White House, and throws a tantrum at least once. 
There are plenty of other subplots, about a middle aged gay staffer and his mom who will do everything for the Lord, or pretend that.   The first lady wants a “real job”, and tosses around the idea of running the CIA as if it were trivial.

The show seems to trivialize the real issues, which right now, with the debt issue, are rather threatening to most individual Americans. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

"The Fosters" on ABC Family: a lesbian couple takes on more children

The ABC Family series “The Fosters”, which piloted on June 3, 2013, was given accolades at Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner Saturday night in Washington DC.   It looks as though there were ten episodes in the summer of 2013 and the series resumes in 2014.
I checked out the Pilot today. The family is headed by lesbian domestic partners living in San Diego. Lena Adams (Sherri Saun), a school administrator (assistant principal?) and Stef Foster (Teri Polo), raise three kids: a rather charismatic and musically gifted teenage boy Brandon (David Lambert) from her first (heterosexual) marriage, and two fraternal twins Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez). As the Pilot starts, Callie (Maia Mitchell) is getting out of a juvenile detention facility and going into foster care with the couple.

In time Callie is contacted by her brother (she uses some subterfuge with Brandon’s cell phone), and fears that Stef will send her back when she realizes how “bad” her family or origin is.  There is a physical confrontation near the end where Brandon is almost shot.  Eventually, the couple will wind up with both kids.

In one early scene, Brandon is improvising music on the Casio piano (in G Major, I checked), where each family member has a theme or melody, almost like themes in a sonata-allegro. Brandon seems to function for his own purposes pretty well despite the competition of so many siblings. 

It’s quite remarkable that the couple dedicates itself to more of “other people’s children”, particularly before the legal climate (during the Proposition 8 months) denies them full legal marriage rights.  But there was a gay male couple in Florida that was taking in HIV-infected foster children but was not allowed to adopt them.

I’ve known of one case where the male son raised by a lesbian couple got in to the Naval Academy. 
In Minneapolis, at least when I left there in 2003, there were bus-stop signs encouraging singles to adopt.

The link for the Pilot is here. 

ABC Family has interesting stuff.  Remember “Kyle XY”?  Is it a "new kind of family"?  Is it "modern family"?

Picture: evening in San Diego, June 2012 (my trip). 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

NBC "Revolution" episode "There Will Be Blood" explains the "Doomsday Prepper" mentality as a perverse idea of "freedom"

NBC’s “Revolution” episode Wednesday night (“There Will Be Blood”, as if named after the Paul Thomas Anderson film) contained a particularly disturbing partial explanation of the blackout fifteen years before. A particular character says that the FBI was on the way to his home to arrest him for information it had sifted about his Internet activity off his computer (sounds like the Snowden scandal).  But the Blackout happened, and there were no more computers. The character said he could, in the countryside, do anything he wanted, as long as he had the guns to protect himself and his family. This was his idea of “freedom”. Sound familiar, like Doomsday Prepper talk and the most extreme NRA factions?

This also sounds like a feudal world with no central authority, with only rich and powerful families in local control, like warlords. 

It’s a bit scary, because the anarchism coming from some parts of the Tea Party sound like this is what they want.  Some kind of purification, followed by a new world order, with luxury and freedom for only the privileged few, and a heavy practice of family and tribal, and perhaps religious, authority.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Piers Morgan interviews Jesse Ventura about JFK;; "AC360 Later" continues shutdown reporting

CNN’ Piers Morgan had a townhall on the shutdown, but the most interesting part of his show was the appearance of Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, who pushed his book giving a conspiracy theory on the Kennedy Assassination, “The Killed Our President”.  The main suspect, the military industrial complex, that didn’t want Kennedy to end the Cold War and pull out of Vietnam.  Hence we had a draft and 50,000 deaths. 

An earlier interview with Ventura:

Earlier, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma told Morgan that in previous shutdowns government employees had always received retroactive pay/ 

The Washington Times is reporting that Piers Morgan may go off Prime Time soon, link 

Drew Pinsky, Rick Lazio, Ros Louthait, Charles Blow, and Tina Brown made up the panel on “AC360 Later”, where Anderson has broken he habit of repeating his 8 PM CNN show at 10 PM.  There was a lot of discussion of why President Obama has been on the sidelines.  Answer, you don’t interrupt the opposition when making a mistake.

The panel said that Boehner won’t send a reasonable CR back to the full house even though it would pass, because doing so would cost him his speakership.  But they provided a scenario where he could talk himself out of political trouble on the debt ceiling in two weeks on a smaller issue, like the medical device tax, letting him say that he got a concession on the ceiling, whereas Obama can say it was just for reopening the government.

Anderson reported on how Jimmy Kinnel quizzed citizens on whether they preferred Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, not realizing that they are the same.

Kimmel asked if Obamacare would lead to gun prohibition, and people said yes.  The people acted dumb.  Was this an act?  

Later, AC360 covered the fact that HIV infection is creeping back up in young gay men, especially minorities, and health insurance is obviously relevant to being able to pay for the modern medications.