Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Resurrection" theories start to mount up


I watched episode 6 of ABC’s “Resurrection” (from April 13);  right now, you don’t have to sign on for any but the most recent episode.   It was called “Home”.
  
I won’t get into the details as they’re widely available.  But some of the concepts stand out.
  
There is a pastor who has fathered a child by one woman returned.  That leads to a confrontation in a church service.  Whoever wrote the episode is probably familiar with conflicts within many mainstream church congregations these days that lead to pastor firings or resignations – I’ve seen a lot of that in my life. 
There’s another issue with a prisoner who simply dematerializes in his jail cell.  The sheriff lies down in his bed and takes a nap.
  
And there’s the engagement of researchers at NIH in Bethesda (where I was a patient in 1962).  Why not the CDC in Atlanta?  The suggestion is made that the “returned” came from a parallel universe.  Could they be holograms? An image could not get pregnant.
  
In general, this series does not seem as appealing as “The 4400”, as the characters are not as compelling.

  
The ABC player did have an annoying glitch: one commercial's picture stayed on the screen while the audio from the show played.  I had to take it off full screen with the escape key (Windows 8), close, and re-open, where the player resumed at the correct spot. 

It’s getting harder for these series to maintain traction. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Huffington-AOL video interview from NYC on LGBT Asylum Project, problems in Africa, Russia, even South America


The Huffington Post has a half hour video by a cable TV episode, “Gay Asylum Seekers in America”, hosted by Ahmed Shibab Eldir in New York City.  The link (no embed available) is here.

Eldir interviews two young men, from Guyana (South America, the country where Jonestown was), and Nigeria, each in the country about a year at the time of the broadcast (Oct. 2013). 

A substantial number of gay men and women from “homophobic countries” are in the United States legally on visas that could expire, and some may seek asylum.  A few have somehow been able to flee here and arrive, with little means of support.  Organizations to give them legal aid are appearing in New York (the LGBT Asylum Project NYC), Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC,  Eldir also interviewed two attorneys or activists, Ben Chapman and Kent Kindera.
  
There is more on the problem on my GLBT issues blog.  



Friday, April 25, 2014

"Black Box": a somewhat tame account of mental illness and neuroscience


ABC started a new series, “Black Box”, April 24, 2014, in the place held by “Scandal”.  The series is created by Amy Holden Jones.
  
The Pilot episode Thursday night was called “Kiss the Sky”.

Kelly Reilly plays Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who works at the Center for Neurological Research and Treatment in New York City.  Apparently she has to deal with her own demons, her own middle illness, or at least bipolar disorder.

But in the Pilot she has an 18-year-old patient (Josh Green) whose behavior has changed recently, leading to problems in college.  It’s apparent that he is seeing things, leading to the idea that he has schizophrenia.  He has developed a desire to become a writer and artist (and has the talent to produce bizarre drawnings), which he is afraid will be flushed out of him.  But doctors find a tumor which must be removed by difficult surgery, explaining the symptoms.  If he has the surgery, will he lose his creative edge? He gets desperate in a couple scenes, but when cleaned up he looks good.

There were issues like this (not with organic brain tumors, but with conflicts over my own goals) when I was “expelled” from William and Mary in the fall of 1961 and wound up as an impatient at NIH for six months in 1962.

    
The link is here

Somehow the whole episode seemed a bit tame.  The topic is going to be controversial given cases like Lanza and particularly Holmes.   

Photo: Mine, NIH Ckinical Center, where I was a patient in 1962. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"The Two Cubas": Logo docudrama shows the parallel lives of two gay friends in modern Cuba


The Two Cubas”, directed by Carolina Valencia, in 2006, is a significant 45-minute teledrama (from the Logo channel) about the lives of two gay men, friends, in Cuba, and it seems more significant now because of increasing concerns about recent anti-gay laws overseas. It could also be called “The Two Joses”.
  
Jose Rodriquez is a dancer, 38 years old, and has his own apartment in Havana. The film says that it is unusual for single men to be able to live by themselves in Cuba without getting married.  He has a successful career and has no desire to emigrate.

Jose Luis is an English teacher from La Habana, and has been invited to visit Germany by a friend there. Bu the has to get a visa to go.  At the end, he is denies the visa because Germany fears he is too “young” and will become “dependent”. 

The film shows gay bars and parties in Cuba, which seem to always get the watchful eyes of the police, but don’t seem to attract the harassment today that they did in the past.  Luis is stopped in one scene for not carrying his ID card.

The DVD can be rented from Netflix (“Red Envelope”).

In 1980, there was an influx of gay men who had fled Cuba by boat, and there was social pressure in the gay community in Dallas (where I lived at the time) to house them.  I wonder if the same situation could develop today if there are people seeking asylum from Russia, Nigeria and Uganda.  But in 1980, the people were already here.


In 2000, there was a film “Before Night Falls” by Julian Schnabel about Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) who would escape Cuba’s communism die of AIDS in 1987.

It strikes me as odd that Michael Moore (in “Sicko”) depicted Cuba as a model for health care!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"How to Live Forever", according to Morgan Spurlock: sacrifice your chest


Morgan Spurlock told us “How to Live Forever” with his episode of “Inside Man” Easter Sunday night (link here).

He started out by visiting the Grossman clinic (in Los Angeles?) and getting a really complete physical.  The stress tests cost him most of his chest hair (the sticky pads), and the plethysmograph fit snuggly over his balding leg.  He said he was 43, and surprisingly his biological age tested at 34.  But he had some dangerous spikes in blood pressure, and the doctor said he still had ill effects from that month of junk food for “Super Size Me” (remember, he actually threw up in that film). Sonny (on "Days of our Lives") gets prepped by Will but has a much better shot of living forever than Morgan does. 
   
The whole idea is to stay healthy enough that stem cell technologies and 3-D printing can give you new organs, and you can essentially live forever (or at least to 150, as in an ABC special a few years ago).  Venture capitalist Austin Hines in San Francisco (who looked young and cute) provided more of the research in genomes and fixing genetic mistakes, even in the unborn.

I wondered about the social, moral, political, and ethical implications.  If we can live forever, do we remain employed forever?  Do we stop having children?  Can we collect Social Security forever?  What about the people who can’t afford this technology?  Think of the cultural rifts that would result. It seems that “death” and procreation (with mixing of genes) are nature’s answer to entropy in physics.  Can we overcome that?  Should we? (Actually, another film shows Spurlock giving intimate support to his wife’s giving birth.)

Toward the end, Spurlock demonstrated virtual reality, and talked to himself (that is, a holographic replica of himself).  He also got into discussing “Transcendence” or the “singularity”, just as in the movie (April 19), complete with nanobots or nanites.  It seems that he really believes we can reconstruct ourselves from digital copies of our consciousness on super computers – that really might happen.  But talking to a copy of yourself isn’t quite the same as real human interactions.
  
If you live forever, you might have to live through some horrific catastrophes that people my age might miss.  But that makes a case for sustainability.

  

Monday, April 21, 2014

NBC Datelines: "The Road Home": Sam Granillo, survivor of Columbine, visits the sites of other school shootings


On Easter Sunday, NBC Dateline aired “The Road Home”, hosted by Lester Holt, and account of a 30-year-old Columbine survivor Sam Granillo goes on a road trip to visit sites of other school shootings, in March and April.  He drives first to Jonesboro AR, where there was an ambush by middle school students in 1998 – and they got out at 21.  Then he drives to Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, an area I drove through myself in July 2001. He also visits Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech.
   
There is a typical account here.
  
  
Granillo, now 31, describes being trapped for hours in a kitchen in the high school on April 19, 1999.  He also raises funds for the Wounded Minds Project.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Anthony Bourdain kicks off Season 3 of "Parts Unknown" with Punjab, Indai, and the border with Pakistan


Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” kicked off its Season 3 with a visit to Punjab, India.  The basic link is here.

The most interesting part of the documentary was probably the train ride into the mountains, through many tunnels, and an old railroad that runs along steep embankments, looking pretty unstable. 
A good part of the broadcast showed a bizarre confrontation ceremony between military guards at the border of India and Pakistan. 
  
Bourdain noted that farmers in the area lost land when the British partitioned Pakistan from India, or that today farmers have to cross the border and deal with the guards.

Bourdain also noted the heroin addiction in the area, part of which he attributes to the political conflict. He points out that these are two nuclear powers (although Pakistan has only the “suitcase nukes”).

As for the food, it was rather, well, lumpy.  Yesterday, at a Bar Louie, the person next to me ate raw oysters.  It’s not polite to photograph other people’s food, but it reminded me of Bourdain.


There was quite a bit of rural poverty, and I thought about the film by Rocky Braat “Blood Brother”  (Movies, Feb. 16), or even the video “Tomorrow” by Timo Descamps (Drama and music blog, March 27).

Wikipedia attribution link  for “Quidditch” stadium in Punjab.

Will Bourdain take on cultural hot spots, like Uganda and Nigeria (with the anti-gay laws), Ghana (with oil company controversy as well as Nigeria, again, with security problems for oil and privacy), Somalia (piracy), or the Central African Republic, which badly needs deep journalistic coverage in the midst of anarchy, or, for that matter, Syria.
     

Bourdain had kicked off Season 3 with a special hour reviewing Season 2, with emphasis on a few episodes, especially Sicily (where he was not pleased with the technical quality of the show) and Detroit. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Morgan Spurlock starts Season 2 as "Inside Man" by "joining" the paparazzi


Morgan Spurlock has started his new season (2) of Inside Man and became a paparazzo this time (“Morgan Spurlock Joins the Paparazz”), rebroadcast Friday night at midnight.  The basic link is here

Spurlock found that he had to get the lighting and focus right, which is hard to do under conditions of this kind of “work”.  He wound up making about $4 in his ten days.

Spurlock interviewed a security company president who argued for the celebrities, protecting their kids from attention.  One big concern is that a criminal could show up pretending to be a photographer and have a weapon.

Another spokesperson for the celebrities said that we need a constitutional amendment on the First Amendment reducing the right to photograph people, especially minors, even in public places. He predicted strong political activism to argue for such an amendment.
  
Non-celebrities have become more concerned about photographs of them showing up on other people's blogs and social media walls and getting tagged. 


The economic incentive is, of course, the tabloids and sometimes legitimate periodicals that pay big bucks for intimate photos that the publishers believe supermarket customers will pay to buy.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Fargo" on FX: seems familiar; it wasn't like that when I lived in Minnesota

The pilot episode, 97 minutes, in the FX series “Fargo”, called “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” (directed by Adam Bernstein) did seem to follow the 1996 Miramax film from the Coen Brothers, as I recall it.  Critics say otherwise; it’s not a remake, and not a sequel.  But it seems similar.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Lorne Malvo, a drifter who seems to have stolen a car and kidnapped a man in the trunk, who runs out into the frozen wasteland when Malvo hits a deer.

Soon Malvo is in town (Bemidji) looking for weaklings to recruit, and finds a henpecked 40-year old insurance salesman Lester Nygard (Martin Freeman) to drag into his scams.  Toward the end of the episode the violence gets gratuitous, and seems actually funny.  Bob Odenkirk plays Deputy Grimsley, who lets the drifter manipulate him. Molly (Allison Tolman) is the bossy female cop.

I must say the early scenes with Nygard makes me glad I turned down overtures a few years ago to train to become a life insurance agent.

The opening says that this is a “true story”. I guess so.  I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003 and it wasn’t quite like this.


The official site is here.

It takes a commitment to watch a long series like this. 


Picture: Near Brainerd, MN, June, 2011 (mine).  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gupta reports on Ebola from Guinea on CNN's AC360


Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on the outbreak of Ebola virus on AC360 Monday night. The report was from Conakry, Guinea. 

Gupta emphasized that Ebola is not airborne, and that it is safe to be near it, as long as no actual fluids touch him.  But tending to patients is risky for nurses, far more so than with HIV. 
Ebola has never spread by plane with a passenger to the rest of the world, but there is a fear that it could. 

Gupta noted that the young doctor, thoroughly suiting up, was unmarried and without children, and that was a prerequisite for treating the patients, as if his own life were less valuable.
 
There was a scare about a so-called “Ebola Reston” in 1989, according to Robert Preston’s book “The Hot Zone”.
  
  
Guinea is claiming that its Ebola outbreak is under control, Australian story here
  
Guinea is adjacent to Sierra Leone.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Born to Explore" traces the origin of break dancing; more about dolphis and sharks together


ABC stations (like WJLA in Washington) still offer some interesting Saturday morning adventures.
  
“Ocean Adventure”  (from Costeau, originally) showed dolphins and sharks swimming and co-existing in a small area.  The dolphis seem to know when they can tolerate the presence of these large carnivores, who somehow know to leave them alone.  Cetaceans and cartilaginous fish are quite far apart biologically – yet dolphins – mammals like us – started with their inner fish (Thursday posting) and then went back to the ocean as mammals for “free” food.  Then the program showed an endoscopic examination of the mouth and stomach of a zebra shark, which was then set free.  Free fish, anyone?

  

Richard Wiese’s “Weekend Adventure: Born to Explore” covered the experience of “dance”, particularly in South Korea and China, and then mentioned the origin of “break dancing” in New York City as an adjunct to hip-hop and rap music, not to be confused with “dirty dancing” in today’s discos.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

NBC News: "108 Hours" in Boston; brutality against hope


NBC News and Dateline tonight aired “108 Hours: Inside the Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombers”, with Brian Williams. The major link is here.

The documentary introduces double amputee Jeff Bauman, who helped identify one of the suspects from a video while still in the hospital.  It then covers the day of the incident by talking to several victims.
  
NBC has plenty of clips from a year ago on YouTube but does not seem to have posted parts of the documentary yet.


Williams interviews police chiefs and articles, who admit they had a real problem with respect civil liberties, in having to release photos of possible suspects, the first of which was wrong. 
  
The documentary moves on to the night of April 18, and the shootout in Watertown.  Police are not trained for military style combat, and law enforcement feared they had military-style guerilla terrorists as they shut down the entire city of Boston as they looked for the last suspect, the younger of the Tsarnaev brothers,  Dzhokhar. 

Officials also admit that the misspelling of Tamerlan’s name on a watch list may have impeded his having been stopped from re-entering the country, as in this story in Boston, link 

The attacks seem to be so especially brutal in the way they were directed at individuals.  Jeff says he saw Dzhokhar on a cell phone in the crowd, unconcerned about the carnage around him.  It’s possible to imagine incidents that could have been worse in other ways, with WMD’s, like with radioactive devices or flux devices (for local EMP).  Even so, the attacks seem to have been brutally premeditated. “Jahar” had a twitter account (“J_tsar”) and a few posts after the incident are rather chilling, link  His icon is bisarre. Note particularly the comment the evening after about not finding "love" in the city.  

The documentary did not cover the carjacking Thursday night, which was particularly disturbing because the car owner was kidnapped at the same time, although he escaped when the brothers stopped for gas.  Most carjackings involve just taking the vehicle.  

Wikipedia attribution link for map of incident.  The article has many graphic pictures.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

PBS: :"Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius" and then "Your Inner Fish"; birds and fish are indeed like people


PBS aired two important nature specials Wednesday April 9, 2014, at least on WETA in Washington.
  
One of these was a NOVA subseries, “Inside Animal Minds” called “Bird Genius”.  The documentary showed corvids (crows and jays) learning to solve complex problems to get food.  One of these problems involved using the Archimedes Principle (which I recall from a freshman physics lab).  Dogs were relatively unable to solve the same problem.  One of the animals was the “new Caledonian crow” (from Scotland).
  
The film showed a chart correlating the ration of brain mass to body mass, and crows and humans have a higher ratio than most other animals.

  
The film even showed the ability of bee colonies to use geometry to keep track of nectar supplies, and communicate among the workers. 
  
Crows and ravens are thought to be the smartest of the corvids, but the English equivalent of the blue jay also had similar abilities.  Corvids also make tools from sticks and leaves to probe for food, and can teach the young to do this.  Among mammals, chimpanzees and probably gorillas and some other primates do this.
  
Corvids seem to be able to learn to recognize and bond to individual people, even in the wild.   

  
PBS NOVA has a link for the show, which requires the visitor to confirm her local station, here. (Sorry: ther embed for the entire show posted earlier appears to have been put up by an imposter of PBS; it had to be removed.)

There is a crow in the neighborhood that seems to recognize me, even when I am at a shopping center a mile away.  On the day in 2012 of Hurricane Sandy, the crow would chase me back inside (twice) when I went outside from the garage.  Did he sense the storm coming and was he trying to protect me? Crows seem to communicate with us as if they were an alien intelligence, but equal to us. 
  
Then Neil Shubin hosted “Your Inner Fish”, the beginning of another science series, showing how human limb anatomy goes all the way back to fish, because of a gene that allows the number of bones with each succeeding segment of an appendage to increase while going farther from the center of the body. The primary link is here

I was somewhat reminded of Reid Ewing’s short film “Free Fish” (2012), in which at one point Reid pets and plays with a sting ray (not even a bony fish, more like a shark).  Why is this large primate messing with me?  Then, “I’m done with you.”  But, indeed “fish are like people; when one of them dies, nobody notices.” 

Wikipedia attribution link for New York Aquarium, Coney Island (my last visit, 1990).  Also, Wikipedia attribution link for picture of crow.  

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

CNN: "The Survivor Diaries" with Anderson Cooper, tells story of Adrianne Haslet-Davis, from Boston Marathon attack



As the anniversary of the Boston Marathon attack in 2015 approaches, CNN aired the first report of  “The Survivor Diaries”, about Adrianne Haslet-Davis, whose foot was amputated after shrapnel tore through her ankle.
  
The report for the story is here. Anderson Cooper hosts.  The Advocate has a report here of Cooper’s coverage (you have to watch a Gilette ad of male chest shaving to get to the content). 

The initial part of her account is quite chilling.  She and her husband saw the first explosion and feared the worst, which happened.  Her husband was also injured.
  
  
The last part of the episode did show her returning to dancing with the prosthetic.
  
I won’t get into recounting the emotionality of the middle of the episode.  She was also honored at a Boston Red Sox game.
  
I did not particularly relish this series, but saved it last night as I was out.  I get rather uncomfortable contemplating intimate relationships after disfiguring injuries.  I do have an issue with the idea of remaining sexually attracted to a partner after something happens, particularly because of a crime resulting from someone else’s nihilistic indignation.  I have not actually experienced this up close, although there was a sequence in the late 1970s when this might have happened.  Dealing with HIV patients as a “buddy” in the 1980s did not present this problem precisely because the patients would not live long, so emotionally that aspect made it actually easier.  Likewise, dealing with end of life from ordinary aging does not present this problem and is not by itself challenging or controversial.  But I’m not sure that I would could survive a deliberate maiming (conceivably targeted) like this, or could support someone else in a relationship.  This is not a particularly good place to be, though, as it makes one (and others) even more vulnerable, especially to misdirected anger or hostility of others. But, I am 70.
   
When I was substitute teaching a few years ago, a few times I was ambushed with an expectation of involvement for which I was not prepared by my own life or choices.  I resisted making something or someone "all right".    
       
Anderson dances with her and says he forgets which leg is the prosthetic, as it is all covered with socks  Then Anderson says, “This is how my dates with girls always ended”.
  
Adrianne does say that the surviving brother Dzkohkar Tsarnaev should get the death penalty.   But there needs to be a full trial to know what he was really thinking.  But I sometimes wonder if lack of emotional resilience (as I described in myself) can invite more problems from others who somehow think they are victims themselves.  
Update: April 10

NBC News reported on Jeff Bauman, also an amputee, who has written a book named "Stronger".

Right now, the video speaks for itself.
Wikipedia attribution link for Boston downtown area panorama. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Mystery Files: Hitler" from the Smithsonian Channel

The Smithsonian Institution Channel has a series called “Mystery Files”, and the “Mystery Files: Hitler” (23 minutes) gives an insight on to what led Hitler down the path of being one of history’s most violent dictators, after wandering through early adulthood as a homeless, failed art student in Vienna just before World War I.
  
Hitler was not even “German”, being born in Austria, nor was he “Aryan”.  Perhaps there was a sense of upward affiliation in his attitude.  What seems surprising is that, as a soldier, he adapted to military life in the trenches during WWI relatively well despite his quirkiness and perhaps physical backwardness, because of his absolute loyalty to something bigger than himself, Germany. Most of the time, he worked as a runner, delivering messages between the front lines and command.
  
Hitler was wounded twice.  The first time, he had a shrapnel wound in the thigh and was in the hospital a few months, but returned to duty.  The second time, he became a casualty of poison gas, apparently phosgene, which causes blistering of the skin, internal lung tissue, and blindness, usually temporary but sometimes permanent.  Hitler dreaded blindness as a personal sacrifice, because for a time he still imagined going back to his art.  Intelligence records show he may be been in a psychiatric hospital where his blindness continued for a while because of supposedly hysterical or psychosomatic factors.  He was treated roughly by a psychiatrist whom the Nazis later eliminated with a hit man.  Gradually, his sight returned.  It would be interesting to wonder if the skin burns could have been permanently disfiguring.
  
Hitler decided to go into politics.  What seems amazing, though, is that a man who now was now over 30 and had never risen about private first class made his way up party ranks so quickly. 
  
  

This is one of a long series of biographical and historical portraits of enigmas, available on Netflix Instant Play.  

Monday, April 07, 2014

HBO: "Silicon Valley" presents the "in crowd" in the Internet world (but old school)


There’s a new series on HBO by Mike Judge, “Silicon Valley”, a half-hour comedy series which premiered Sunday night, April 6. 

The cast seems to include a lot of appealing young men, the kind that would be viewed as attractive in a gay disco.  They are surprisingly stereotyped. 

The comedy is supposed to come from the idea that those who succeed in Silicon Valley (not “Silicone Valley although that could make sense) are the least prepared to maintain it, as a company tries to fight off acquisition by Google.

The pilot includes a vomiting-wastebasket scene, and the line “I have gay friends”, which is something gay teachers had to say back in the 1980s.

The series is directed by a former systems engineer from the very early days of the Internet. 


The HBO link is here

“If you want to live here, you’ve got to deliver?”

“Jobs or Wozniak?”
   
It is true, in the early days of Facebook, programmers actually crashed and lived together in a Palo Alto CA house to get the platform built.

Picture: No, not Silicon, but Disney, but it's what I have, from 2012.  

Best looking: Bobak Bahktiari, as the CEO of Immedibug.    
 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

NBC Dateline: "The Girl in the Blue Mustang", almost cold case from CA desert in 2000

NBC Dateline “Saturday Mystery” was the re-airing of “The Girl in the Blue Mustang” (from 2010), the story of the murder a college co-ed freshman who starred in some rock videos (maybe reminiscent of the “kiss or kill” scene, Movies blog, April 2),  in a parking lot near I-10 and north of LA on the edge of the Mojave Desert,  on Feb. 22, 2000. 

A security guard, Raymond Jennings was eventually prosecuted, after returning home from serving a tour in Iraq in 2005.  He stayed in jail until trial in 2008. He was a father of five kids.

It took three trials to convict him, of second degree murder.  The juries hung on the first two trials.  The physical and forensic evidence was seen as weak.  Jennings seemed to know a lot more about the case than was reasonable.

The third trial was held in the Antelope Valley, the original jurisdiction, rather than in LA.  Was this a case where a witness "helped too much"?  The jury deliberated for weeks.  

At sentencing, Jennings maintained his innocence and said he held no remorse because he didn't do it. He claimed he was at peace with God and Christ.
There is a detailed analysis on a blog called “Requiem for an Editor”, here


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I actually visited the area, which looks familiar, in May 2012. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

ABC 20-20 covers especially gruesome murder by a "spoiled" teen of his parents before a "house party" (in FL)

ABC 20-20 had a three disturbing stories about teen behavior tonight, in an episode titled "Teenage Decisions, Dire Consequences". 
  
The last of the stories considered the “choking game” which even “good kids” engage in.  About the only explanation was the immaturity of the “teen brain” which does not recognize consequences of actions. Dr. Phil has often talked about this.  In my own observation (having worked as a subsitute teacher), I simply see enormous variations in maturity.  Participation in multiple "real world" activities requiring some social interaction seems to result in much more rapid social and cognitive maturity.  But so do some solidarity activities.  Chess, for example, by the nature of the game, teaches the idea of long-term consequences for early decisions.   
    
The most disturbing story was the first episode where a teen, Tyler Hadley, killed both parents and then held a “house party” that evening, in Florida town of Port Saint-Lucie, FL.  The parents’ room was filled with junk during the party.  He told his best friend, who waited several hours in disbelief to leave and call police. 
    
Nancy Grace, legal consultant to ABC, commented.  The link is here.  The teen took a "selfie" picture first. 
  
The act seems incomprehensible.  Tyler was sentenced to life without parole recently.

Tyler had been angry at the house rules his parents were applying, and apparently they were going to send him to a residential drug rehab program.
    
This is a particularly disturbing case.  Tyler had been given everything and came from a “good” and stable home. But so had several other young men in the news in recent rampage cases.  


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Will and Sonny are married now (Days of our Lives), as of 1:26 PM EDT today


Will and Sonny officially got married at 1:26 PM EDT on NBC’s “Days of our Lives”.  NBC immediately put on a commercial for its upcoming “Rosemary’s Baby”.

They were all dressed in formal wear – I’ve never worn a tux in my life and would be up the creek if some dinner really required one. 

One of the most interesting characters easier this week was Tad, who was so repentant after being a jerk about Will two years ago. 

I could say, all of this is so politically correct!

  
Note the music by Johann Pachabel.

Some episodes in the past have suggested that the soap takes place in Ohio, which has a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions like Virginia's, but that ban is coming under repeated challenge now. 

  
Could I spent the rest of my life with someone?  I remember those days when I “dated” more, wanting the relationship to mean something at all, to have some continuity.  But I had no thoughts like “spending the rest of my life with someone”.  To maintain sexual interest if something bad happens (whether disease, war, or crime) seemed alien to me, but at one time it became a big moral issue.  That’s coming up soon on my new “Bill’s Media Reviews” blog.


It seems that twice, at least, Sonny has let Will (behind the scenes) shave his chest, before they’re in bed together.  They have to look the same, you know.

Guy Wilson doesn’t seem to bring the dramatic intensity that Chandler Massey did. (And the lighting on his face had a lot of glare in the wedding scene today.)  But Chandler was a different kind of actor, very effective in scenes where “power” is needed, like in dealing with Sami’s selfishness, or in manipulating EJ.  Chandler is following the example of David Gallagher (“Seventh Heaven”) and finishing his college degree.  But did he not want to be around for the actual wedding?

I can imagine another actor who could have been hired as Will, Timo Descamps, 27, the Belgian-Dutch actor (also singer and producer, said in Wikipedia to be openly gay) so effective as “Shane” in “Judas Kiss”.  He can definitely act with a neutral US accent.  


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

PBS: "The Story of the Jews" with Simon Schama, last episode "Return" presents case for Israel


PBS has aired a mini series “The Story of the Jews” by Simon Schama.  The last of these (“Return”) gave the history of the establishment of the modern state of Israel and of the security issues from the settlers’ point of view.  The basic link from PBS is here and another link from WETA is here.
  
In 1948, the British processed Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, where they still weren’t welcome even after the liberation from the Nazis.  Two-thirds had died in the concentration camps. 

The documentary interviewed a man with a family in a West Bank settlement.  He said that everyone watched each other’s kids.  Life was somewhat communal.  He said that his people had a right to live there because they had in Biblical times.  Much of the West Bank territory figures into the detailed history of the kingdoms in the Old Testament. 


When members of a group believe that their identity as a “people” is of singular importance, their attitudes toward individual human rights does change.  Although Israel is OK with gay rights, many other countries where there is a similar concern about collective national identity (like Russia) are not, partly because procreation becomes some important as a virtue.

All of this would contradict the work of George Meek (see International blog, Dec 23, 2012 and May 20, 2013, picture above). 

See also "The Case for Israel: Democracy's Outpost" on the Movies blog, Nov. 13, 2013, with Alan Dershowitz, 





Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Smerconish takes over Piers Morgan's spot on CNN evening, at least last night; talks about political polarization, Malaysian airplane

Michael Smerconish appeared in the CNN Interview program, replacing Piers Morgan at 9 PM EDT, on Monday March 31, 2014.
  
Smerconish has a website describing his program here.
  
Smerconish started out by discussing political polarization, and made the point that every single Republican member of the House was to the right of every single Democrat.  This is the result of gerrymandering.
Later he moved to a discussion of the Malaysian lost plane, and the contingent legal complications were presented.  Boeing might be better off if the plane is never found.
  

Media reports also indicate that he will take over a Saturday program on CNN, link here.  Apparently Smerconish first appeared on the CNN Weekend on March 8, 2014. 
  

Smerconish has a new novel on Amazon, called “Talk”, from Cider Hill Press.