Saturday, April 30, 2016

CNN: Eighties: Reagan out-maneuvers the Soviets to end the Cold War


On Thursday night, CNN continues the series “The Eighties” with an episode that showed how Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.
 


The episode begins with the worker strikes in Poland in 1980, and soon moves to Reagan’s proposal of “Star Wars”, which was somewhat motivated by the popular movie “War Games”, surprisingly prescient for today’s battles of hacking.

Russia got so far behind in technology that Reagan feared Russia could do something stupid, so Reagan opened up the idea of a summit with Gorbachev, who followed Breshnev.

Russia also needed relief from military spending to raise its civilian standard of living.  It also had to recover from the catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986 (Movies, April 24, 2016).

Finally, Reagan implores Gorbachev to “tear down that wall”,  In 1989, the Berlin Wall comes down, and Leonard Bernstein gives a concert of Beethoven’s Ninth where “Joy” is replaced by “Freedom”.
CNN has a link, “what the 80s looked like”.

A good companion is the coffee table book “A Day in the Life of America” (May 2, 1986).
 
The next episode should cover the AIDS epidemic.

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Afterlife" on BBC shows a resurrection and ascension, of sorts


Maryland Public television has re-aired some episodes from BBC’s “Afterlife” (2005-2006). Tonight, the episode was “A Name Written in Water”.

Tonight, the young professor Robert Bridge (Andrew Lincoln) lies in a coma from a brain tumor in a London hospital. A distant friend Allison Mundy (Leslie Sharp) visits him, to the consternation of his wife (Anna Wilson-Jones) and a professor (Kate Duchene).  Robert has already lost a son to cancer.



Robert comes out of it briefly,  after Allison has witnessed the “ghost” of an elderly woman dying on the next bed. At the end, Allison witnesses Robert’s resurrection, as his body dies, and then the angel joins another copy of his son.  The angel Robert says that what happens on the other side, in the Core, is ambiguous, both light and dark.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"The United Shades of America": What's going on in the rural south is still very disturbing, as W. Kamau Bell finds when he probes the KKK


On Sunday night, CNN premiered its series “The United Shades of America”, hosted by black comedian W. Kamau Bell, with the best link on CNN’s Money site here.  Kamau explores the activity of the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas, particularly a town of Harrison, AK north of the Ozarks. (I let the definite article in the title stay; CNN sometimes uses it.)

There is a street sign “anti-racist is a sign for anti-white’ with no known owner or website.  Bell talks to the controversial local pastor Thomas Robb.



The views of many people seem tied to the idea of vicarious immortality, the idea of continuity with a lineage that somehow needs to remain distinct and pure.  Never mind that the only reason skin color varies among people is the varying exposure of their ancestors to ultraviolet light from the Sun, with more need for pigment the closer they were to the equator.  (And white man might have mated with Neanderthal, although that’s not completely clear.)

Bell watches the gathering of kindling for a cross lightning, and notes that today he can go to a cross brining as a black man, but leave.  In the past, as the unfinished film “American Lynching” by Gode Davis shows, he wouldn’t have been allowed out alive.

Paste magazine has a story about what Kamau learned from doing the show.

CNN has not explained the sudden postponement of “Why They Hate Us” about, as Ted Cruz calls it, “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s a lot of suspicion that it has to do with objections from Saudi Arabia, after the president’s recent visit.  Conservative presidential candidate Ted Cruz should be jumping all over CNN and Zakaria for caving in to political demands, suppressing a free press.

Wikipedia link for Harrison “billboard” picture is here  (not embedded this time).

Update: May 21

In an episode May 15, Kamau examines community policing in Camden, NJ, near Philadelphia, one of the most troubled communities in the country. Yet at one time RCA Records had been a big employer there.



Update: May 28

Kamau visits people (including doomday preppers) who live off the grid, especially an intentional community south of Nashville, with a tofu business (like Twin Oaks in VA).  The commune is know as a place to come for midwives and to have babies -- the crops are human.  The commune tried to ban money, but is in danger of losing the land, so the people have to go out and get regular jobs. It's interesting how the people see this as "freedom".  There are about 1200 intentional income-sharing communities in the US, mostly rural.

Update: June 11

On June 5, Kamau visited Barrow, Alaska, in winter.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bourdain shows the radical hospitality of the Philippines ; Bourdain's tattoos expand; Zakaria special on radical Islam suddenly postponed


Sunday night, Anthony Bourdain gave us another tour on his Parts Unknown, “Unfinished Business in the Philippines” with all its 7000 islands.

Bourdain talked about the past dictatorships (Ferdinand Marcos), and the lack of government safety nets, people who emigrate to the West often send money home to family members – parents and siblings as well as their own kids.

But Marcos precipitated the biggest massacre of journalists in history, according to Bourdain.

Bourdain waded through ponds created by heavy rain – anticipating a typhoon – and enjoyed a Christmas feast (in September) of roasted boar. “Filippinos love feeding people.” Like Food and Friends?



Many US companies have manufacturing in the Philippines. Author Solutions (iUniverse and Xlibris) does some work there, and the facility is about 100 miles south of an area heavily damaged by a typhoon in November 2013.  Typhoon has more problems with typhoons than Japan, maybe slightly less with earthquakes.

Bourdian seems to have "safely" tattooed the upper sides of his forearms now.  He had gotten it on the chest in Indonesia, remember. That's all right.  At a Cracker Barrel near Quantico Marine Base last night, I overheard a babyfaced leatherneck describing what it would be like to get the other arm illustrated. There are multiple ways to become a man.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of terraced farming in northern Philippines  by Nonoyborbun, under CCSA International 4.0.


Update: 10 PM EDT

CNN has indefinitely postponed Fareed Zakaria's "Why They Hate Us" and no one knows why yet; no other breaking news.  Details on my International Issues blog this eveninh.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Game of Silence" on NBC: the "hidden past" plot seems rather stereotyped


NBC’s “Game of Silence” presents the “hidden past” plot concept.

In present day Atlanta, attorney Jackson Brooks (David Lyons) is ready to make law partner and is engaged, when some childhood friends appear from the past, harboring a secret. They had spent some time in juvenile detention after trying to help a girl after an awful auto crash.  I always wonder why Hollywood producers are looking for old series to rewrite rather than coming up with new, original ideas. For a guild writer, “It’s a job,” or maybe just a gig.



The series is created by David Hudgkins, is based on a very long Turkish series “Suskunlar” a true story about some Turkish children who were sentenced in absentia to a labor camp for a minor theft. But the idea that comes to my own mind is something like Peter Sraub’s “Ghost Story”, a novel and movie from the 1980s where a group of prominent businessmen hide a supernatural secret.

I picked this up (April 21) with the third episode “Hurricane Gil” and found the storytelling choppy, using flashbacks to show critical scenes that are interesting in their own right (like police stopping a convenience store armed robbery in its tracks) but using a confusing narrative.  With a flashback you ask the viewer to empathize with characters in a suddenly different (and older) setting. That works well only when the flashbacks are structured clearly. (This was even a bigger problem with “Revolution” where the back story of the blackout was never told adequately.)  The boat sequence in this episode does get brutal.

Official site for the show is here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PBS: "Washington in the 70s"


Some PBS stations aired a history episode “Washington in the 70s” (link) , somewhat recalling CNN’s, describing life in the Washington area in the decade when I moved away to go to work.

The series covered the last night of the Washington Senators at RFK in 1971 (I almost took a date to that game) where the Senators forfeited their last game to the Yankees while winning when the fans ran onto the field. But the Redskins, hiring George Allen, started to improve, and even won a title in 1972.

The city got some form of home rule, with a city council (with Congressional power of veto) and a mayor.

Culture also improved greatly as the Kennedy Center opened.

The series did cover Watergate a bit, but turned its attention to the tendency of the middle class, including black middle class, to flee to the suburbs.  But the Metro opened in 1976, and a stop was deliberately omitted from Georgetown.



The renovation of Union Station and the 1976 bicentennial was covered.

But the occurrence of terrorism, with a series of hostage taking incidents in 1977 involving the Hanfi Muslims (actually the most liberal branch) helped add to a sense that the City was unsafe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Children of Syria" on PBS Frontline documents the a refugee family, from Aleppo, settling in Germany


Tuesday night, PBS Frontline aired a 54-minute film by Marcel Mettelsiefen. “Children on Syria”.  The film starts in 2013, as a family headed by a lean, handsome 40-ish Abu Ali faces civil war in Aleppo. The families in the area seem to be “white” and even European-looking and appear to practice moderate forms of Islam. But Abu has joined the revolution against Assad, and he says he now fears he has sacrificed his children’s future to fight against Assad when he previously had thought he was protecting his kids.  There is a scene where Abu fires at troops from his home.

Fast forward a year later, and Abu has been kidnapped by ISIS, and Aleppo has been sacked into destruction.  Huge sheets hide the streets to protect them from snipers.  The younger kids don’t understand what is going on, and one of the girls plays a fantasy  “game” about putting prisoners in cages and burning them.  Mother has somehow arranged bus passage to Turkey, eventually to Istanbul and some distant relatives.  The family applies for asylum in Germany and is eventually settled in Goslar.

In Germany, the family gets about $2000  a month along with health care, and public school for the kids.  In six months, the mood changes, and the family hears complaints that “you’re taking our money”.  The refugees seem to be supported by taxes and specific charities.  But the political climate is growing more difficult.



The mother checks for reports on her missing husband, and even looks at images of emaciated corpses, concluding are careful examination of details that a particular body is not her husband’s.

Wikipedia attribution link for Aleppo picture, by Preacher Lad, under CCSA 3.0

Aleppo, in NW Syria, has over two million people, in a city pretty much sacked by civil war, even before ISIS.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bourdain gives "A Very Personal View of Ethiopia" on his "Parts Unknown"


Sunday night, in his “Parts Unknown” series on CNN, Anthony Bourdain offered “A Very Personal Look at Ethiopia”, traveling with Marcus Samuelsson.

Spectacular scenery includes the Danakil Depression (hot springs), acid pools, and the Erte Are Volcano reminding one of Io. Ethiopia is home of nine of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
 
Bourdain covered the lessons of history.  In grade school, I had been used to the idea of Haile Selassie, but the communist “Deng” revolution in 1974 drove out the wealthy classes, who were forced to flea.  People who were “well educated” and “privileged” were individually targeted in a way that may remind one of today’s terrorism, but actually had become a left wing tactic in some parts of the world in the 60s and 70s.



Marcus and his wife Maya return to the town in which they were born with Bourdain.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Semien Mountains by Huliviil, under CCSA 2.0

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dateline episode "The Client" hits the subject of real estate agent safety, after a horrible case in Little Rock, AR


NBC Dateline on Sunday night April 17 aired an unusual episode, “The Client” (sounding like a John Grisham novel) about the kidnapping of an Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter in Pulaski County (Little Rock), by Arron Lewis.  Arkansas Online has a detailed story on the case here.

Real estate agents are vulnerable to crimes like this. This problem is significant for seniors as sometimes seniors go into real estate as second careers.

Lewis tried to claim she met him for a “consensual” sexual encounter.



His estranged wife Crystal Lowery testified against him at the trial for a reduced sentence.  She was a nursing student when she got a text that he had kidnapped a real estate agent.  Later, the couple decided that the victim “knew too much.”  She was allowed to suffocate to death.  But the original plan had been ransom for quick money.



There is a website dedicated to real estate agent safety here.

I have a personal policy not to allow myself to be taken alive if singled out at all in any kidnapping or terror event.  If it happens, that’s the end.  I don’t want to survive something like this as a “victim” and be ransomed for.  But I don’t work in this line of business.

Wikipedia attribution link got Little Rock courthouse by “City of Roses” under CCSA 2.0

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Rock the Park": two young men explore all the US national parks: today it's Great Basin in Nevada


Rock the Park”, starting in 2014, one of the outdoor series from Litton’s Weekend Adventure, features Jack Steward and Colton Smith visiting all the US national parks.

On Saturday, April 16, Jack and Colton visited Great Basin National Park in Nevada.  This is an area with no river outlets.  Despite desert location, the higher peaks have considerable snow, and ancient pine forests.

Jack and Colton tried to climb 13000-foot-plus Wheeler Peak from a base camp at about 6000 feet. The time of year seemed to be late March.  Unfortunately, they had cold and heavy snow, and their water supply was frozen over night.  They lost close to two hours thawing their water, and could not get to the summit and back before sundown.  The episode showed spectacular open scenery, however.

The men also went spelunking.   I recall a friend falling in a cave and West Virginia in 1990 and having to hike out with a broken arm.  This cave was a little dangerous.

"Those Park Guys" look pretty big and strong, like "college hunks" used by moving companies.



I wonder if they considered bringing Taylor Wilson (who runs his energy business from Reno), who could have helped them look for uranium and other minerals.

The official site for the series is here.

See also "National Parks Adventure" (Imax 3D) on the movies blog for Feb. 16, 2016.

Picture: Wheeler Peak, my 2012 trip.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bill Weir puts Bhutan on his Wonder List


Bill Weir’s “Wonder List” Sunday night (April 10, CNN) visited Bhutan, the “happiest” country in the world, best link.

But it’s an incredibly conformist country, where all movies are G-rated, and where television and other technology is rather recent.

At one point Weir hiked across a swing rope bridge across a valley that can take motorcycles but not cars, and that’s all the people want.

Weir showed the underground computers running a very sophisticated hyrdroelectric  power plant. The country has sophisticated systems to generate hydroelectric power without building dams.



The country is landlocked, bordering China, somewhat east of Nepal.

Wikipedia attribution link for topographic map of Bhutan by Captain Blood and Election World under CCSA 3.0

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ashton Kutcher pimps "The Ranch": an audience comedy-satire about conservative values; on "Days", the ultimate humiliation of a villain in a burning bed


I sampled the Pilot, “Down the Road” (directed by David Trainer) of the Netflix series “The Ranch”, after Ashton Kutcher (“A+K”) pimped it on late night television (was it Fallon or Kimmel?)  The series, created by Dom Reo and Jim Patterson, is an audience comedy about a  Colorado rancher Beau Bennett )Sam Elliott) whose favorite son Colt (Ashton) returns home to help take over the ranch, from a semi-pro career as a quarterback apparently in Canadian pro football. I thought, isn’t that up Richard Harmon’s alley?

Kutcher says that the intention is to write a comedy about conservative values.  Technically, the series has the look of a soap, filmed on an indoor studio.

There is brother Rooster (maybe “Chickenman” – Danny Masterson), who says he deserves to be heard because he is a person.  There’s girlfriend Anny (Elisha Cuthbert) and matriarch Debra Winger.

There’s a great scene where Colt gets initiated (just before sex) in delivering a calf (by fisting), and saving the calf by CPR. At the end of the Pilot, the barn is set on fire by lightning, during a storm when Beau has “prayed” for rain to save his crops.



Kutcher is now 38 (that's old enough for the GOP to nominate him for president as a libertarian-like candidate, probably desirable for voters), but has an amazingly lean boyish and taut body.  His modest chest hair grew back in “regions” after being waxed for the movie “The Killers”.  He still looks like he’s 20.

The official site is here  (requires Netflix sign in).
 
On NBC's “Days of our Lives”, Monday, April 11, Abigail (Kate Mansi) douses escaped killer Ben Weston’s (Robert Scott Wilson) with kerosene and then sets his gams on fire, before the new Chad DiMera (Casey Deidrick) puts out the fire.  If Ben avoids the death chamber and spends the rest of his life in prison as the necktie killer, he’ll deal with the humiliation of prematurely bald legs, too.  How did they film this without hurting the actor?  It’s a fitting punishment for killing Will Horton. But “Days” has killed off a lot of its characters.  The death of a whiny Stefano when shot by Hope was wonderful.

Pictures: didn't come out well because of sun glare, but they are of an abandoned mental hospital in Crownsville, MD (near Annapolis).  The sign on the first picture refers to "Behavioral health".

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Race for the White House": Clinton leverages the 1992 recession and then changes gay history after beating Bush and Perot


The last episode (6) of “Race for the White House” on CNN presented the history of Clinton v. Bush #1 and Perot in 1992, with the best link here.

I remember the race well.  I was working for USLICO (now Voya-ING) in Arlington at the time. H. Ross Perot (founder of EDS, at one time a very strict and controversial IT employer in Dallas)  entered the race as an independent, dropped out for ten weeks, and came back in and got 20% of the popular vote.  I even voted for him. Had he not dropped out because of a tantrum, he might have won.  Perot had become a somewhat disciplined liberal or pragmatist, talking about “the American people”, saying “trickle down didn’t trickle” and even supporting pro-choice positions.

The episode started with the end of the Persian Gulf War (on Feb. 28, 1991), and a national celebration in Washington on June 8, 1991.  George H. W. Bush was at the top of his popularity then. But his popularity slumped with a quick “post-war” recession which saw professionals doing “grunt work” and “depending on friends and family” as a moralistic US News article then advised, about the same time that another issue ran “cycling’s best legs” – the boys and the girls were the same.

By early 1992, Pat Buchanan even challenged Bush in the NH primary, trying to bring back social conservatism. Before the primary, a mistress scandal almost derailed Bill Clinton, who became “the comeback kid” – even as Hillary said she wasn’t just a housewife who would “stand by my man.”



I remember Barbara Bush's speech on family values in the 1992 Republican convention. "You don't have to be married or have children to have a full life," she said, "but if you (choose to) have children, they have to become the first priority of your life,"  Yet that didn't seem to be enough.
 
Clinton became popular as the recession worsened, and Bush played catch up.  A new wrinkle appeared on the horizon which the episode didn’t cover.  In May 1992, Navy sailor (who flew helicopter spy missions around Iran as a regular military job, and had been called “the best submarine hunter in the Navy) Keith Meinhold, came out as gay on ABC news.  I found out about it the next day.  While the Navy processed his mandatory honorable discharge, which he would challenge, Joe Steffan’s story of expulsion from the Naval Academy, including his book on the subject (“Honor Bound”) would circulate in the late summer and early fall.  Gays in the military was becoming an issue that was probably made more likely by the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War, and then by a perception that a more liberal president would probably be in office in 1993.  Indeed, that would lead to “don’t ask don’t tell” for 17 years.  Perot had said he didn't think lifting the ban was "realistic", but obviously had softened his attitude on gay rights compared to times past.  Clinton was unable to gays complete equality on his own ("You're part of us") but would solve the problem with security clearances in 1995.

The episode mentioned Clinton's "draft dodging" which is a pretty complicated narrative, such as this account from PBS Frontline, and this from the New York Times.  This raises questions about morality (are people to be judged for actions policies that no longer are in the law) and ties in to the arguments I made in the 1990s about gays in the military. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Footprints in the Snow" on ABC 20-20: kids caught up in custody battles are hidden away


Friday,  April 8, 2016, ABC 20-20 aired “Footprints in the Snow”, an episode about an “underground railroad” to secretly house kids and teens caught up in custody battles, particularly in Minnesota.

Typical link is here.

The episode concerned the disappearance of two kids one early April evening from their Twin Cities home when their parents were in a bitter divorce and custody battle.

The investigation led to a “ranch” in northern Minnesota, where kids were housed secretly and home schooled by “religious” parents.



One teenage boy said he had lost a year or two of school because of all this and was way behind.

The show indicted the Minnesota family courts system.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

"Through the Wormhole" examines life after death, and the nature of consciousness (as "quantum entanglement" or "feedback loop"); Morgan Freeman hosts


Through the Wormhole”, hosted by Morgan Freeman, on the Discovery Science Channel, has covered a lot cosmological topics in a manner similar to PBS Digital Studios.

The series started in 2010, and I’ll talk about Season 2, Episode 1 on June 8, 2011, “Is There Life After Death?” directed by Kurt Sayenga.

The episode gets a kudo in the Hufflington Post by Janabi Barooah, “Scientist shows what happens to ‘soul’ after death” (related video short).  The scientist is Stuart Hamerhoff at the University of Arizona.



Let’s backtrack. Freeman introduces Eben Alexander, a physician who went through a near-death experience from unusually aggressive meningitis and whose book “Proof of Heaven” (Book review March 30, 2013) had described sitting in a dark empty “core” for a long time first. But in this film, Alexander describes flying through a verdant valley with butterflies (“OGAB”) before settling into the Core, which he describes as becoming differentiated into color spaces after time, and apparently connected to other areas of the Universe.

A free essay on Elsevier (oddly caught up now in the “open access” legal controversy) describes the work of Penrose and Hamerhoff.   The brain, at the deepest cellular level, comprises microtubules which grant access to “quantum consciousness” which can connect information at different points in space-time (although it cannot violate “causality”).  When someone passes away, his or her self-awareness may be distributed at various nodes around the universe.  What no one has a handle on is whether all 100+ billion people who have lived can be individually parsed after death (let alone all other sentient animals on Earth and on all other inhabited planets in the Universe or Multiverse). Or are all the individual egos connected by “quantum entanglement”.  There is plenty of precedence for distributed consciousness on Earth, which the orca (killer whale) may show.  The concept of entanglement could explain why sometimes people fight to keep their separateness when they get unwelcome attention from others.

As for self-awareness after death, I'm pretty convinced it never goes away.  If you did something evil, like fly a plane into a skyscraper, you know you did wrong.

The output of artists, especially music, is thought to provide a form of permanent collective consciousness.  Beethoven is still aware of himself through the music he wrote (especially after going deaf), which is shared with other "souls".

Tanya Lewis, writing for Live Science, questions the ideas, saying “The brain is not a quantum computer” .

The description of “microtubules” comports with another idea, using nanoparticles for monitoring health and delivering medicine.

But an article by Tom Siegried in 2012 in “Brain Molecular Marketing” talks about the ideas of Douglas Hofstadter (“I Am a Strange Loop”, book review June 1, 2013), that self-awareness comes from mathematical systems that perform self-reference, and create symbols as pivot points for themselves. I can recall discussions back in the Army (at Fort Eustis) with other soldiers in how I tended to see people (then, other soldiers) in “symbols”.
 
Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce a film of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama” for over a decade.


Thursday, April 07, 2016

CNN continues "The Eighties" with "The Age of Reagan"


CNN continued “The Eighties” tonight with “The Age of Reagan”, summarizing Ronald Reagan’s presidency.  It started with the release of the Iran hostages on the day of his Inauguration.

The episode quickly covers the assignation attempt by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981, right after he have a speech in a hotel near Dupont Circle.  It recreates the news reports on the bullet that missed his heart.

It moves on to cover the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and the taking of American civilian hostages in Lebanon, especially journalists.  That would lead to underground deals that would connect to Oliver North and the Iran Hostage crisis, which never quite became another Watergate because it didn’t happen for political gain.
 
The episode covers his firing of air traffic controllers for illegal strikes.



The episode also covered Reganomics, or “supply side economics”, or “trickle down”, as the nation slid into recession in 1982, as inflation (from Jimmy Carter’s days) began to subside.  In 1983, the business cycle started to turn around as it was “morning in America”.

The episode noted Reagan's apparent mental slowness in the 1984 debates with Mondale (though he hit one of Mondale's comments out of the park, as Bentsen did with Dan Quayle in 1988).  There was some question of his sharpness in the last years at the White House. But the episode doesn't mention that Reagan would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994 and die slowly in 2004.  Nancy Reagan's dedication to "Ronnie" is a matter of legend.

I had moved to Texas in January 1979 and lived there until June 1988, almost the end of the Reagan term, before Bush was elected to “Reagan’s third term”.  I did well economically myself during this period.

It appears that the broadcast of “The Age of AIDS” will occur on April 28.

Monday, April 04, 2016

"Race 'to' the White House": Andrew Jackson, a preview of today's Trump?


The CNN “Race for the White House” covered the 1828 race between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, who had won in 1824. The link is here.  There's an issue with prepositions here; it's impossible to remember whether it is "to" or "for".  I think "to" is a better pronoun for what is going on with Donald Trump in 2016, so it stays.
 
Jackson is given credit for starting the Democratic Party and instantiating the idea that the people should pick a president.  He became the first “populist”.

Adams had wanted to build up the nation’s infrastructure for commerce.

The Adams campaign played dirty politics, claiming Jackson was a “bigamist” and slandering his wife – something we’ve seen recently.



It also says that Jackson executed his own men during the War of 1812.
 
The episode also covers the duel with Charles Dickinson in 1806.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Bill Weir rides down the Colorado River, warns on how long it will last


Bill Weir’s “The Wonder List” visited the length of the Colorado River, from its source northwest of Denver.  Despite being on the other side of the Divide, Denver gets first bid on the supply.

The documentary moves down to Utah to visit the lakes Meade and Powell, and the Hoover Dam, before winding up in the Grand Canyon.



Most of the documentary explored the dwindling water supplies, with a discussion of how cities need to “build smart” and reuse water.  In Las Vegas, homeowners have been asked to remove grass and use gravel for lawns. Everywhere there are exposed white rock showing lower lake levels.

The episode concluded with Weir’s memory of Mt. Sopris in Colorado, near where he was raised.
 
Weir’s article on the Colorado River is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of Colorado River by Shannon

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Vox presents Halloran video on the unprecedented carnage of WWII, just in the numbers


Neil Halloran has prepared an 18 minute documentary “The Fallen of World War II’, where he does comparative analysis of civilian and military fatalities by country and continent, relative to population, for World War II compared to other wars.

Zack Beauchamp described the film in an article on Vox, “You don’t understand how deadly World War II was. This video explains why”.  Vox is slowly moving into the video area, as if to have its own little Internet video news commentary channel.
 


The video explains how even the British and Americans were willing to inflict casualties on civilians. The heaviest civilian casualties happened in the Soviet Union.

I remember the idea, when women joined the military or worked in factories, was to “free the men up to fight”. Yes, men were expendable, fungible.
 
He also describes the “Long Peace” and the “New Peace” which are now threatened by radical Islamic jidhadism.

Friday, April 01, 2016

"Freelance Economy" looks at artists as businesspersons in NPR's "Articulate" series with Jim Cotter


WHYY of NPR has produced a video Freelance Economy”, with host Jim Cotter in a series called “Articulate” for NPR station WHYY in Philadelphia. (26 minutes).

The overriding theme was the way artists have to respond to the market to make a living and develop entrepreneurial business skills.

The first artists was cabaret director and performer John Jarboe, who isn’t your conventional drag queen.  He wants gender bending, but to become the lumberjack when necessary, rather than be the Nellie who shaves his legs.



He moved on to guitarist Erin McKeown (“Histories”), Thaddeus Squires, founder of Culture Works, and tap dancer Michelle Dorrance. He concluded with Gabriel Kahane, son of a classical pianist and conductor, who focuses now on the art of song with piano or guitar, combining folk or pop with the 19th century idea of art song, which dates back to Schubert, Wolf and Mahler. One of his compositions is “Craigslistlieder”.  Each song solves a harmonic, melodic or cadence problem. He cautions on songs that are too “catchy” as one can tire of them.   He has released at least five CD’s, one of which, called “The Ambassador”, focuses on locations in Los Angeles (drama blog, June 10, 2014).  One of the songs is dedicated to Latasha Harlins, whose death came shortly after the Rodney King riots.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Latasha_Harlins