Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Days of our Lives": Gay character Will Horton returns as a ghost, thinking he is EJ


Days of our Lives” has gotten a little interesting again.

It seems as those Will (again played by Chandler Massey) has come back as a ghost, resurrected by a witch, but the thinks he’s EJ.  Sami is back in the show, claiming she is his mother.  Sonny tries to convince Will that he had his daughter before he accepted who he was and married Sonny.
This is indeed a gay ghost story.  Or is this the sci-fi thing of switching bodies? 

  

In the meantime, JJ (Casey Moss) rocks. He has become the straight version of Will. Now when he does the right thing, he gets in trouble because of luck. The Dimera’s somehow hire Theo, who seems autistic, to commit a robbery for them. JJ catches him and thinks the scanning device is a gun.  When JJ says “drop that weapon”, Theo interprets it literally and turns to show the device. JJ  thinks it is a gun and shoots him. 

In a later episode JJ thinks he really did recognize Theo before pulling the trigger -- mind tricks.
   
I think DOOL needs to bring on Dr. Shaun Murphy from ABC's "The Good Doctor" as a crossover to bring Theo back!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"The Good Doctor" bonds with an autistic teen patient on Season 1 Fall Finale


The Good Doctor” (“22 Steps”) on Monday night gave Shaun his most interesting challenge yet. He treats a young teenage boy who presents after an accident and other unusual symptoms and is the first to recognize that the teen is autistic, “like me”.

It gets interesting. During an MRI, Shaun tries to calm the boy by counting steps.  It only works so far. The parents have given the kid a fad diet to counter autism, and as a result the boy has a serious intestinal illness needing surgery.  The parents don’t want Shaun to participate.  But Shaun, as usual, winds up being the only person who can save the boy’s life. The boy actually likes Shaun. The intestinal surgery scene has some pretty realistic looking bowels. 

There’s a subplot of a 73-year old man who deliberately broke his pacemaker because he wants to die. Pretty depressing.


And we could lose the part about Shaun’s supposed 2 AM calls when he loses a tool in the apartment.
  
Shaun finally buys a flat screen TV and enjoys football. Maybe, like Richard Harmon (who is so spectacularly successful as an actor in “The 100” at 26 precisely because of social skills) he’ll root for the Fighting Irish.  Maybe Shaun will take up the problem of concussion damage in the NFL.
   
I think they should do something with that loose end where Shaun puts out tuna for a stray cat.  It would make sense to have Shaun befriend a stray cat (or for the cat in Wyoming to join him), or maybe a larger cat like a serval or lynx.  He probably would communicate well with sentient wild animals, especially cats and even foxes. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Track and Fear" on ABC 20-20: n Olympic female shotputter and her coach


ABC 20-20 episode “Track and Fear” presented the story of female shotputter Baillie Gibson’s relationship with her coach, Craig Carter at the University of Arizona.  View link

The litigation goes both ways in this case, but it is timely given all the recent attention to sexual harassment.  It would be inappropriate for an intimate relationship with a coach to happen anyway even when consensual.


ESPN has a more detailed account of the event  as quoted by the New York Post I May 2017. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of University of Arizona campus by JSCarreiro, P.D.  I have been in Tucson once, in 1980, but actually considered this school as a senior in high school.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bill Weir visits Peru: Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and Amazon


Tonight on CNN Bill Weir presented Peru on his Wonder List program.

I had scheduled a vacation in Peru in the summer of 1974 which I cancelled when I went to work for NBC.  I spent a weekend in Mexico City.

The main event in the broadcast was the presentation of Machu Picchu, which can be reached by train and bus from Cuzco (which itself it at 11000 feet). There used to be another trainride from Cuzco across a 15000 foot pass in the Andes.  
  
There are several other sites similar to Machu Picchu. The Incas built an empire without a written language, and fit stones together without mortar.  Much of this was built before 300 AD.  


Weir visited Lake Titicaca, the highest in the world, and showed a micro-civilization of woven raft islands in the Lake, some of which offer motel or Airbnb accommodations. Other parts of the marsh people are poor, and there are legal issues of real property rights for floating islands (they pay no tax now). One is reminded of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq.

Bourdain did not visit the Gate of the Sun, which Van Daniken had claimed was built by aliens. There is also the mystery of the Nacza lines.
  
Bourdain then visited the areas of the Amazon pillaged by gold mining, leaving toxic lakes after strip-mining, along with a lot of mercury pollution. 

Wikiepedia attribution link for photo of Uros floating island in Titicaca

"Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA 4.0"

Thursday, November 09, 2017

"Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America": CNN Town Hall tonight


On Thursday Nov. 9, CNN hosted a Town Hall, “Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America” hosted by Alysin Camerata   Here is a major link for it, maintaining that 20% of all Americans know a woman who has experienced sexual harassment at work.

Anita Hill, now a professor at Brandeis, also helped host.

Gretchen Carlson talked about her experience at Fox with Roger Ailes, and then about a creepy experience early in her career on Capitol Hill. 


There was discussion of the fact that in Congress there are several legal impediments for women reporting sexual harassment against male congresspersons.

Matt McGorry, from “Orange is the New Black” also spoke.
   
On my Wordpress news commentary blog, I have pubbed a detailed guest post by David Essel, “Sexual harassment, when will it end?” 



Today Roy Moore was accused of illegal sexual harassment during his candidacy for a seat as GOP Senator from Alabama, link. Moore's supporters made an odd comparison to Joseph as father of Jesus, which I have heard in sermons before.  Joseph had some explaining to do. (See "BillBoushka" blog, Dec. 24, 2007 on a sermon by James Somerville.) 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

"Business of Disaster" on PBS Frontline looks at behavior of FEMA and flood insurance after Sandy in New York


Tonight Wednesday November 8, 2017, PBS Frontline aired “Business of Disaster” about the way homeowners lost out after counting on government-backed flood insurance after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

The broadcast focused on Staten Island and southern Rockaways.


People often tried to lift their homes on stilts, or to rebuild all the joists from scratch.  A big controversy was whether foundation damage was caused by Sandy or had been pre-existing.

Byzantine bureaucracy of New York’s “Build It Back” program seemed to leave homeowners owing large legal bills. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

On Fox, Houston Astros "Strong" take Game 7 on the road in LA


The Houston Astros, who moved to the American League in 2013 (winning only 51 games that year, but 84 games in 2016), clinched game 7 Wednesday night on the road in LA.   Fox broadcast the series.


But of course it is Sunday night’s crazy 13-12 game that everyone will remember.
  
How often does a visiting team win game 7?  More often than you think. In 1975, after Cartlon Fisk’s homer in game 6 in Boston, the St, Louis Cardinals won the 7th game quietly in Fenway, 4-3.

Minute Maid Park is rather like another Fenway, with a short left field. It had been called Enron Field until the scandal in 2001.

I saw a game in the old Astrodome in 1984 (the Astros lost that game to the Giants). 

The grassy knoll in center field was removed before 2017.  
By User AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker on Flickr - From Flickr; description page is (was) here, CC BY 2.0, Link

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shaun becomes more "assertive" as "The Good Doctor" progresses


Two more episodes of “The Good Doctor”.

I didn’t see “Point Three Percent” until today, watched online.  Shaun has to deal with the idea of “lying” to a minor patient, a boy who resembles his deceased brother. He even says to a nurse “I need you” to get her to do the lying for him.  Them he has to ask if he is in trouble for ordering an extra test when he believes the osteosarcoma diagnosis may be wrong (0.3% chance)  There’s an interesting medical question:  could Epstein Barr virus have caused the sarcoma in a genetically susceptible patient?

There’s a subplot about an older man with tapeworms.


In Episode 6. “Not Fake”, Shaun decides he can save a leg after a huge accident with a titanium femur. Another female patient is severely burned.

Shaun avoids eye contact and is always probing the way he roves with his eyes. He says he doesn’t want “love” but he really does care about people.
  
I want to see his boyhood cat visit him.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Netflix ends "House of Cards" after long enough run; Wasn't Kevin Spacey's sin venial enough?


Netflix will end its “House of Cards” series with Season 6, which is a lot, NPR announced today in a typical story.

I know the purists will say there is no “statute of limitations” on involvement of a minor in moral codes (sometimes there is in state law).  Spacey’s tease of a 14 year old might have seemed more acceptable in 1986 (although you wonder about on the heels of HIV), than it would be after the exposure from NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” (mostly heterosexual cases) with Chris Hansen in 2005-2006, when public opinion flipped so quickly. Some teens are mature for their age and can tease.  But the social intolerance for anything like this seemed to flip around 2005.


Kevin Spacey has “come out” as a gay man, something I’ve heard for years.  Many are saying he has no right to hide behind a past phantom closet.

Milo Yiannopoulos, following the pseudo accusations against him in February, jumped all over Spacey on his own site today.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Putin's Revenge" in 2016 had been building up a long time (PBS Frontline)


A two-part series on PBS Frontline’s “Putin Files”, called “Putin’s Revenge”, traces the history that leads to Putin’s leading Russia to hack American social media with fake news to sow division and put an authoritarian-minded person (Trump) like himself in the presidency.


Putin, even like Kim Jong Un, has seen the US dispose dictators.  He interpreted statements by George W Bush (even after empathizing over 9.11) and then Hillary Clinton as an existential threat to the Russian state.  The fall of Gadaffi in 2011 after the Arab Spring strengthened Putin’s resolve.
  
Was the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law a diversion from this agenda?

A major incident that affected his attitudes was the 2004 Beslan School Siege by Checnynan extremists. 
  
Minnpost has a good summary of the new subseries. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Real life cold case clown killer case solved when Stephen King's remake of "IT" shows


ABC 20-20 aired a documentary ("American Horror Story") Friday Oct. 21 about Florida’s 1990 “killer clown” case that had gone cold for 27 years. The best link is a Miami Herald story on the episode here. 
  
Shelia Keen Warren was arrested in late September 2017 and extradited to Florida where she could face the death penalty for killing her former husband’s wife in the face after dressing as a clown and ringing a doorbell. She faces the death penalty now in Florida. 

The case drew some interest because of the Stephen King horror film (actually a remake) “IT” in 2017.

ABC produced a store owner who remembers a woman buying a clown suit. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cruz bests Sanders on CNN debate


CNN featured a 90-minute debate between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday night. Ed Rogers of the Washington Post says that Cruz “outclassed” Sanders. Odd for a liberal paper. 

  

Cruz made a salient point about the death tax.  Family offspring often have to sell businesses, which would have employed people, to pay taxes.  Cruz seemed to imply that people who inherit estates have a moral obligation to try to employ people with profitable businesses.  People who are good at running restaurants or especially franchise stores generally learned these skills from families. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This is Life: for teens the punishment way exceeds the crime on sexting


Teens indeed have trouble seeing around corners as to how adults apply the law.
Lisa Lang's "This is Life" presented two cases of teenage boys being tried as potential sex offenders.

In one case, in Minnesota, a fourteen year old had texted indecent pictures of himself to a 13-year old girl.  He was charged with producing and distributing child pornography -- of himself. His entire family lost Internet access, and his probationary therapy required passing inadmissible lie detector tests.

In Milwaukee, a 17 year old senior and athlete was prosecuted for "consensual" sex with a seductive 14 year old girl.  The parents called police.  He wound up with two years probation and ten years sex offender registration, and having to report himself a felon for ten years. There was a similar case in Michigan where the defendant said the girl had lied about her age. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Anthony Bourdain visits Lagos, Nigeria


Anthony Bourdain visited Lagos, Nigeria on Parts Unknown Sunday night, Oct. 15 (link )

The rich people live on Victoria Island, but the poor people live on canals in shantytowns.
Yet the people turn to entrpreneurlialism in  city with poor government services.  People scrape with little businesses, like cell phone repair.  They are good with their hands.  They are not afraid of high pressure selling.
  
Nigeria, however, is known for its anti-gay laws.  Why is this the case in a relatively “libertarian” economy?  Bourdain didn't go near this question.

Attribution link CCSA 2.0 on Wikipedia for picture OpenEdU.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"The Good Doctor": Shaun operates on a liver in transit; does Shaun talk to animals?


In Episode 3  “Oliver”of “The Good Doctor”, Shaun gets detailed to pick up a transplant donor liver. In route, with police escort, Shaun, using his savant abilities, detects a blood clot within the liver and performs roadside surgery on the organ.  He also keeps it cool in an emergency incident in a convenience store ice machine.

He also interacts with a neighbor in his Bay Area apartment. There is the barest hint of interest in future female companionship. 

A big cat who resembles mama cat back in Wyoming appears on his patio, and later Shaun puts out canned tuna to attract her back.  Did Shaun’s boyhood cat travel 1000 miles by magnetic sense to find him?  Does Shaun have an unusual ability to communicate with animals?  Maybe a future scene with dolphins and their sonar?



Shaun seems like an angel from another planet.  He speaks in non-idiomatic English, putting everything into logical consistency.  Yet he can take care of everything.  He remains physically fit.  Maybe there will be a scene showing him coding like Mark Zuckerberg. 

Episode 4 (Oct 16), "Pipes", impressed less. While the hospital struggles with a touch issue terminating a pregnancy, Shaun annoys his landlord with ridiculous demands.  This time his probing became irritating. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Lisa Ling shows Chinese capitalism, and birth tourism in the US


Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” on CNN tonight offered a look at the progress of capitalism in her home China (link  )

She showed the glitz of Shanghai, and said that a lot of formerly inconspicuous people had become able to get rich by making and selling consumer items. This is true despite the authoritarian view of speech and dissent and one-party rule.

One reasonably privileged young man wanted to develop a virtual reality business to allow poorer people to enjoy things without having to possess them.


The broadcast covered birth tourism.  Chinese mothers come to the US and get put up in homes for about $30000 to give birth to citizens.  But the parents have to struggle to get green cards, especially now.  And the kids may not learn Chinese well if the parents take them back.
  
Lisa Ling wants her own daughter to learn Chinese because she will need to be able to function in the Chinese economy, even given its authoritarianism.
  
By JesseW900 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, October 07, 2017

AC360 on CNN: Portrait of the victims in Las Vegas


On Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, Anderson Cooper AC360 aired a tribute to the 58 victims, fatalities in the Las Vegas shootings Sunday night Oct. 1. 


Cooper calls it “stories of the fallen”.  He also says he does not name perpetrators on programs like this.

Here is the portrait of the victims and a narrative of each one in the Los Angeles Times. 


The photo is from my own visit to Las Vegas in May 2012. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

"The Good Doctor" went door-to-door as a boy


The Good Doctor” continued with Episode 2, “Mount Rushmore”. 

The episode starts with Shaun waking up in his minimalist apartment, doing pushups, and arriving at work.  The bus is late, and he says it cannot be his fault that the bus is late.  Odd.
His bedside manner is challenged when he is brutally honest about seeing a patient’s sarcoma near her aorta.  But later he will propose a way to save her life, by removing a kidney first to get at the tumor.

When he questions the discharge of a little girl with stomach problems, he goes to her house later, just in time to save her life, too. 

His manner sounds robot-like, rather like Spock in Star Trek. But he can question other people’s social games, like sarcasm.  He sees and processes everything the way a cat would (compared to a dog) – and cats really do notice everything in their environments. Still, he remains lovable. It is almost as if he came from another planet with unusual abilities and different modes of self-awareness and expression. 

  

The title of the episode comes from a flashback where as a boy he is raising money for a brother’s cancer treatment after a trip from Wyoming to Mt. Rushmore (in SD) is canceled. When a homeowner turns him away, he throws a stone.  I found that backstory disturbing, as I am sensitive myself to receiving door-to-door visitors out of security concerns.  That is getting less acceptable today than it used to be.  

ABC has reportedly ordered the rest of the season as episodes. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Days of our Lives: a gay wedding breaks up as a former husband is rumored to have returned from the dead


Well, gay marriage is back on Days of our Lives. Sonny is trying to marry Paul, the baseball pitcher, as part of a double wedding (the other part is straight). When Ben escapes from a mental hospital and shows up and crashes the wedding, it all breaks loose. Ben claims Will is still alive.

So there is a love triangle again.  What a nice plot on a soap for a gay triad.


Straight young policeman JJ (Casey Moss) has turned himself around and rather rocks now, and says he loved Will himself.
  

Nevertheless, it still seems that Sonny has trouble protecting his chest hair. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Lisa Ling covers sex therapy on her "This Is Life" series


Lisa Ling, in her series “This Is Life” on CNN, presented an episode on sex therapy, in one of the most explicit episodes ever, best link.  This seemed to be the premier for the fall of 2017. 

She started with a couple in a second marriage where the husband had settled into his role of instant family but host the ability below the waist.

She presented a therapist who treated a middle aged man who simply wanted to be able to experience intimacy.


She mentioned the movie “The Sessions”, and presented a therapist in San Francisco treating a young man with cerebral palsy.  Lisa Ling joined in appearing in the nude in that session (blurred on television).

Intimacy was presented as an end in itself.  I remember the tension when I went through my heterosexual dating in 1971.

Intimacy in relationships makes openness to those in need easier and more likely. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

AC360 hosts townhall on NFL player kneel protests


Anderson Cooper hosted a townhall on the President, protests, kneeling and race tonight, story. 

Filmmaker Spike Lee, Rev. Mike Faulkner, and former Green Beret Nate Boyer spoke.

Faulkner said that the flag should be honored and saluted, but protests could follow the anthem and flag presentation.



The media seems to rewarding Trump’s obsession with the NFL protests, at the expense of attention to grace infrastructure problems like in Puerto Rico, or even coverage of North Korea. 

There is a United States Flag Code, 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

CNN: Obamacare repeal debate on Graham-Cassidy, the day before it dies


On CNN, JakeTapper and Dana Bash hosted a debate on Obamacare repeal or replacement with Amy Klobuchar, Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, and Bernie Sanders on CNN Monday night, Sept. 25, at 9 PM

Graham insisted that the block-grant idea behind the repeal was better because the people in the states could elect officials who would represent their interests.  Obviously low income people in red states won’t buy this.

  

There was some discussion of how Britain, Canadian, French and Swiss healthcare systems work.  Obamacare was compared to the Swiss system, except that in Switzerland all policies are individual or family, none come from employers. 

The Senate gave up on the vote Tuesday as it did not have enough votes, after Susan Collins insisted on remaining a No. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

"The Good Doctor" starts on ABC, with an autistic surgical resident who is lovable


ABC premiered “The Good Doctor”, created by David Shore, tonight with a one-hour Pilot (“Burnt Food”) as resident Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), leaves his home in Cheyenne, WY, leaving behind a matronly tabby cat who seems to have helped raise him. Here’s ABC’s best link, for Autism Speaks. 

When he gets off a plane in California, a teenager is gravely wounded by a falling sign.  Shaun takes over from another doctor and saves the boy’s life, but not before getting into an awkward scuffle with the TSA. 

The hospital board contemplates whether to hire a resident with autism (with a meditation on comparative diversity), which seems more like Asperger’s Syndrome.  Most of incidents in the episode are preceded by flashbacks into his childhood when he was bullied, but was close to his brothers, one of whom dies in a fall in a railroad museum.

Not only does Shaun have a photographic memory but he also is savant, able to recall precise medical details and visualize all internal anatomical structures.  He seems not to react to some social cues because he appeared overstimulated but what his brain processes as “noise”.


But he always seems lovable and sincere.  Oddly, he can call people out for suddenly being rude and be right (almost like in a Ninth Street Center talk group in the 1970s, pretty much the way Paul Rosenfels would have).  It seems that a relationship with him would work unless it subjected him to sudden taboo surprises.
 
At one point Shaun says he wants to make money so he can have a TV set.  That may sound autistic, or maybe he was just being snarky for once. 
  
Sometimes his speech patterns and sentences remind one of Jack Andraka (at Stanford), except that Jack normally would not miss any social cues in common situations. (Jack is an accomplished athlete with his kayaking, but the show leaves the impression that Shaun could probably do something like that, too, maybe that will occur in a later episode.)   Shaun could probably speak publicly OK like in a Ted talk.   Maybe some people would compare his sentences to those of Mark Zuckerberg. Or perhaps Alan Turning, they way he is portrayed in "The Imitation Game".

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ABC 20-20 airs bizarre double-murder plot or ex-spouses in Texas, before trial


ABC 20-20 presented a murder for hire plot in Houston that is one of the most bizarre ever, the most detailed link is here in a story by Gwen Geffen, et al.

An established veterinarian. Valerie McDaniel, after a divorce, fell in love with Leon Jacob, who was a medical school graduate from the Caribbean.  As with a similar story on Dateline (May 18, 2017) about a different case, sometimes young doctors don’t work out well in residency and then go down into spirals. 


McDaniel would commit suicide by jumping from a balcony of her condo, after having said her gradual involvement in a double-murder for hire plot was insidious. 

The suspect in the episode does seem to indicate psychopathic personality disorder.

It’s unusual for news magazines to present cases like this before conviction.  The defendant maintains his innocence.
  
The heterosexual world seems to have a lot of these “Orient Express” plots.

By Dhanix at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

(Attribution).

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Twitter and Trump": Bill Weir reports on CNN


Twitter and Trump” with Bill Weir, aired tonight Friday, September 22, 2017, link 


Trump started using Twitter in 2009, when he was emerging from bankruptcy.

CNN has sometimes reversed the spelling, calling it “Trump and Twitter”.

The documentary first talks about the early seasons of “The Apprentice.”

The documentary goes back to 2006 with the invention of Twitter, and its explosion when Michael Jackson died.

Twitter was used to promote Trump’s “Think Like a Champion.”

Weir starts carrying around a thick hardcopy book “The Collected Tweets of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States”.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams explains that the brevity and metaphor in Trump’s tweets persuade visitors regardless of “truth”.  Obama was much more cautious.

Trump isn’t interested in books or presidential biographies.  His short attention span follows from TV and seems to meet the American public.


Trump’s use of Twitter contradicts his statements that he didn’t trust computers.  Although he uses Twitter to attack the media and journalists, he has not objected to the idea of “user generated content” and the risks it carries since it can oppose the establishment media. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Robin Roberts observes 5th anniversary of her bone marrow transplant on Good Morning America, as transplantation treatments among siblings or even strangers become much more common


This morning, Sept. 20, 2017, ABC News “Good Morning America” aired a special fifth anniversary celebration of (gay) news anchor’s Robin Roberts’s bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastc syndrome.
  
This form of early leukemia (which can become acute, AML) typically occurs after age 70, and often has very vague symptoms. I would wonder about the use of chemotherapy in the elderly, who have often have currently good life quality without symptoms, and would wonder if it extends survival. But in younger patients radical treatment seems needed. The most likely life-threatening events could include severe infections (especially pneumonias) or other tumors because immune system function is compromised, in a way somewhat like HIV.  
  
It appears that earlier chemotherapy, as well as exposure to hydrocarbons and tobacco smoke become risk factors.  Genetics plays a role.   Roberts reportedly had breast cancer earlier, so the earlier treatments could have led to this syndrome. 
  
  
Robin talked about sibling bone marrow donation, and noted that technology has made less exact genetic matches from donors work. 
  
Sloan Kettering has a transition apartment for patients recovering, but they must have 24-hour caregivers.
  
I didn’t grow up in a culture that encouraged “body part sharing”, because in earlier times radical cures like this were not yet possible.  It certainly provides a twist on notions of family values, and the idea that nature doesn’t need everyone to procreate.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sean Spicer steals the Emmy's with Trump-ism


Chris Cillizza of CNN writes “Hollywood just enabled Sean Spicer and that’s not funny”, here. That was all on tne Emmy’s last night on CBS.

OK, the largest audience to watch the Emmy’s ever.  Spicer has always said he was ordered to brag about the inauguration crowd size. 


Spicer has been mimicked on SNL in falsetto, and appeared recently on Jimmy Kimmel.


I haven’t seen him in drag or in a leather bar. He's not that macho or cis.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ken Burns and "The Vietnam War"


Tonight, Sunday September 17, 2017, PBS aired the first episode (90 minutes) of the 18-hour, 10 episode film “The Vietnam War”, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novich. 

The film went way back before World War I with the history of Vietnam, interspersing with Vietnam war veterans recollecting the fire fights in the early years of the war (through 1966).  One lieutenant recounts seeing his platoon of enlisted men (draftees) go down in a rice paddy. Another recalls telling his mother that he was not special enough to be saved from casualty. Still another recalls risking his gams as he slow-walked looking for ordnance.  That was like the “individual tactical training” that opened week 3 of Basic  -- “Prepare to rush!  Rush!”. Ohm yes, it was taught by the Fort Jackson Committee Group.


The film gives a lot of history of Ho Chi Minh, who at one time was a Vietnamese nationalist as be then became a Leninist.  In the Truman years, when he almost died. US tacit support for him, from FDR, would dissolve under Truman and Eisenhower. 

Gradually, during the Eisenhower years, the “domino theory” takes hold as the French eventually leave, with a corrupt but anti-communist government in the south (with a very complicated political history of its own).

Families were allowed 300 days to evacuate from the North as communism became more militant and developed guerilla tactics.  One woman tells her family’s story, which folds into the narrative supporting US defending the south, which grows during the Eisenhower years.   The new front that the US would call the Viet Cong would gradually emerge.  Two saboteurs would invade a US military compound in the south in 1959 and produce the first two deaths during a movie showing. 

Update: Sept. 18

The second episode covered a coup in South Vietnam after martial law, as well as the politics that led Kennedy to become involved.  It briefly covered the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It also covered the idea that the Soviets, Chinese and Americans gradually adopted the idea that conventional war could take them away from nuclear war, even as it involved sacrifices of young men to the draft.

Update: Sept 20

The draft is covered.  It resulted in an Army where minorities and the poor took more of the casualties. Colleges were required to "rank" and report the grades of students with deferments.

Johnson nixed the movement of troops into Laos and Cambodia out of fear of drawing in the Chinese and even the Soviets.

Later the torture of prisoner's of war as "criminals" in the North was covered, including one who had been there for eight years.

Dr. Benjamin Spock, who founded the "People's Party", wrote an article in Ramparts that got the attention of Martin Luther King. They founded "The National Coalition to End the War in Vietnam"

Update: Sept 26:

More recent episodes covered Nixon's treasonous behavior just before the 1968 election, and Johnson's inability to admit what he knew;  also the "Medium Cool" violence at the Chicago Democratic convention, when LBJ would have been renominated had the Secret Service let him come to Chicago. 

Then the use of women in the war, especially the medical corps.  The episodes also covered the "rush" of battle, which leads decent men to do things they would never do in civilian life.  Then, the My_Lai massacre, and then Kent State, which could have been even worse.  The National Guardsmen were poorly trained and privileged enough to get out of the draft.

Update: Oct. 1

The series concluded Sept. 28 with the collapse of Vietnam in 1975 and the fall if Saigon, after Congress refused funding South Vietnam.  America broke many promises, and the North Vietnamese even stole classified material from the Marines before it could destroyed and built hit lists of civilians. After the harrowing evacuations, many South Vietnamese civilians were kept in "reeducation camps" for years.  That's how serious communists were about ideology at a personal level, with expropriation. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Secret State: Inside North Korea" with Will Ripley, shows the incredible zombie-like devotion of North Korean society to its leadership.


Secret State: Inside North Korea”, a one hour film, aired tonight on CNN,  with Will Ripley doing the travels.  The film follows on a similar effort by Jacob Laukaitis (Movies blog, Aug. 24). 

Will gets an escorted tour where he gets to talk to the people to an unusual degree.  Almost invariably, he finds them unquestionably loyal to the “ruling family” as god kings, as you would find with a religious cult, but this is a whole country.  The people seem to be one group mind, whose consciousness combines in a way alien to westerners. Is this only the effect of government propaganda control? 

The film starts as Will Ripley visits teenagers on the beach.  They seem fairly normal in demeanor as Will learns they have been taught to hate Americans, who are supposed to be real scary.  Am American man is supposed to have a big nose and a hairy chest.  Will, who is 36 and blond, says, “I don’t have a hairy chest.”  Already, there is a racial component;  Caucasians tend to be taller than Asians and white men are more likely to have noticeable differential body hair, which evolved in colder climates as a secondary sexual characteristic that might attract women.  On the other hand, the North Korean boys already seem proud of their uniformity and sameness.

Children are shown practicing with toy guns and video games to shoot Americans.  Ripley gets to visit the Demilitarized Zone, and talk to an opposing colonel his age about the hatred of America, which goes back to the Korean War in 1950-1953.


Will does visit the more privileged homes, including some in the city of Pyongyang, which is surprisingly colorful.  He does see present-day peasant agriculture.
  
He finally visits the shrine and volcano at Mt. Paektu near the Chinese border.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

AC360 debriefs Hillary


Anderson Cooper interviewed Hillary Clinton Wednesday night Sept, 13 on his AC360 show about her new book “What Happened”.

She does claim that she would have won the election had James Comey not popped the letter to Congress Oct. 28.  But she spent some time discussing Comey’s report on her in July 2016.  She described the sequence as a “perfect storm”.


But one interesting fact was that Rudy Giuliani had warned on Oct. 26 that some sort of bombshell was coming.  That was the same day I sent an email expressing an interest in hosting asylum seekers, assuming Clinton would win.  I had heard of Giuliani’s rumor at the time but dismissed it.

She said that the Electoral College should be abolished (story). 

She also claims that Bernie Sanders’s campaign against her damaged her campaign before her nomination.

During the general election, some voters feared, “What if she goes to jail?”

They talk about the Second Debate, which happened right after Trump’s Access Hollywood tapes, which Anderson hosted, where Trump followed her around the stage and where she wanted to yell “You creep!”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hand-in-Hand 2017


A spirited fundraiser for victims of  Hurricane Harvey, one hour, was run on NBC, ABC, CBS, CMT and Fox, with multiple celebrities. This was “Hand in Hand 2017: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief”.   I thought I spotted Justin Timberlake, too.  Of course, Ryan Seacrest. Who makes pop stars.



The basic link is here. The Telethon was broadcast from New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Showtime's "Dice": real life actors become each other


A friend contacted me to note that he appears in the Showtime series “Dice”, created by Scot Armstrong.  Here’s the official site.

I tracked this down, and purchased on Amazon ($2.99, there was no rental option) episode 2 from Season 1 (2016, pre-Trump), called “Ego”, and watched the 27-minute episode, directed by Jay Karas.

The series seems to be a stage-comedy pubcrawl, where real-life actors play themselves as characters in other celebrities’ lives.


Andrew Dice Clay wants to reclaim his title as the king of  standup comedy. In this episode, he wants to re-invigorate his bedroom life with Carmen (Natasha Leggero).  An old friend. Adrien Brody wants to research Dice as he prepares for his own role in an upcoming Broadway Shakespeare performance.  Dice resents it as Brody starts to “become” Dice by putting on the costume (a bit of “Sartor Resartus”) and Dice eventually replays the kindness by stapling Brody to bed.

Actor Mark Parrish is listed in imdb as the Uber driver, but I didn’t spot him in the episode.

The show appears to be set in Las Vegas. 

Update:  Sept. 10

Mark Parrish appears as the highway patrol cop who arrests Carmen in an episode called "No Bullshit". 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"City Under Water: Catastrophe in Houston" on ABC 20-20


ABC 20-20 aired “City Under Water: Catastrophe in Houston” as a one-hour report on Hurricane Harvey Wednesday night (Aug 30), link

The report focused on many individual rescue stories, especially with the “Cajun Navy”, and showed that I-10 east of Houston had become part of the Gulf. While it showed many scenes in public building shelters (I wondered about Minute Maid Park), it did not get into the subject of how people will be housed after the water recede.



ABC and Disney have declared Aug. 31 as a “Day of Giving”. You can consider eating out art participating restaurants in almost any city.
  
By OverlordQ - Created by OverlordQ using WikiProject Tropical cyclones/Tracks. The background image is from NASA. Tracking data is from NHC., Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Special CNN video on the Haaj


Here is a special CNN video showing the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage at Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in detail and up close. 

Muslims save for decades to pay for the once in a lifetime 7-day pilgrimage.  It is probably the largest public gathering on Earth.  



The video shows the circling of the Kaaba seven times.
  
By User:AsceticRose, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Diana: Chasing a Fairytale" on CNN


CNN has aired “Diana: Chasing a Fairytale” (2 hours), a biography of Princess Diana, who died in an accident in a tunnel in Paris on Aug. 30, 1997 when the driver was being chased by paparazzi.

An interesting part of the film concerned Diana’s marriage to Charles, whose outside interests tended to make her feel excluded at first.  There were some behavioral issues at first.


There was also the issue of Camilla Parker Bowles, the “rival”.

I was in route to Minneapolis to do a corporate transfer that Labor Day weekend and heard about what had happened in an apartment elevator in Oberlin, OH. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Trump speech at Ft. Myer; Ryan's Town Hall


President Trump proposed a pragmatic strategy In Afghanistan in his speech from Fort Meyer, VA, Henderson Hall, tonight, in a half-hour address.  He said that he would not announced an end date to any strategy and that any plan would be results-based, not time-based, because an enemy can simply wait us out. The main CNN story is here.  He seemed to read the speech from a teleprompter.

Trump made an appeal to distributed consciousness:  a wound on one is wound on all of us.  It doesn't seem to apply to him.

His approach is called "principled realism".


Then CNN presented a Town Hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan. 

Ryan was quite emphatic in denouncing neo-Nazis and white supremacists as particularly dangerous enemies, especially of African-Americans, and said the President messed up a couple times in handling this issue.

Later Ryan defended the idea of replacing Obamacare with a system that singled out high risk pools for special subsidies.  CNN coverage here

Ryan talked about the beneficial effect of Foxconn on his own home community in Wisconsin.  

Ryan said that the recent progress of North Korea toward miniaturized nuclear warheads on ICBM's could create a grave threat to the U.S.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Fractured America" on ABC 20-20: Right-wing extremists goad violence out of the Left


ABC 20-20 aired “Fractured America” tonight, with portrayals of the most extreme domestic movements on the right and the left, from White Supremacists, to ANTIFA (Anti-Fascists).
It started out by covering a female demonstrator (Lacey MacCauley) from ANITA leadership whose speech was rather metaphoric, to covering the demonstrations on Inauguration Day. It moves to the violence at Berkeley when Milo Yiannopoulos appears. 

It switches to covering Heimbach, and then Richard Spencer.  Listen to some of the quotes:
“Equality is for losers”.  “We want to march like ants in formation.”

The documentary moves to covering a gathering in Pikeville, KY (which I visited in May 1972 when looking at strip mining).


The documentary covers the eruption of violence Saturday morning in Charlottesville, VA leading to a car attack resulting in one death, and then it cover’s Trump’s “blame both sides” flips.
Finally it tries to sit MacCauley down next to Spencer.  There was a discussion about a “white homeland” v. “anarchist utopia.” and then the need for self-defense.  OK words are not bullets.  It’s impossible to summarize any logic that makes sense.

The broadcast emphasizes that most political demonstrators are non-violent.
  
What seems most at issue is the “right” of people who claim systemic group oppression not only to use force to defend themselves, but to compel others to support them preferentially in order for them to achieve their collective goal.  The White Supremacists started Charlottesville, and intended Antifa to combat them, which happened.  But Antifa , whatever its own wrongdoing, seems to have a lot of public support for its clam that it can expect society to regard white supremacy as the greater evil first.  Sometimes social change does require some physical altercation.  Look at Stonewall. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dateline: "Diabolical": framing a rival for computer crime, and the ultimate catfish


An episode of Dateline, aired Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, “Diabolical”, is important because it shows a someone being framed for a computer crime.  The link for watching is here


In Los Angeles, the wife of a US marshall sent emails to herself and made them look like they came from a romantic rival with spoofing software.  The rivalry was complicated by condo mortgage problems, The rival was arrested in kept in jail for three months (with bad food) before a good lawyer figured this out.  The Los Angeles Times has the story.

This has been called the “ultimate identity theft” or “reflexive catfish”.

The incident was also connected to bizarre video games involving fake rapes. 

The Los Angeles Times has an explanatory story here

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

PBS previews Ken Burns's "The Vietnam War"


Monday night, at 10 PM, PBS previewed Ken Burn’s film “The Vietnam War”, with the preview video here. The video was often interrupted with lengthy requests for donations.

The main link for the series is this and it starts September 17,. The most interesting part from my perspective is likely to be the issue around the draft, deferments, Basic Training, people trying to “get out of things” by enlisting NG, and so on.



YouTube offers a 53-minute interview with Ken Burns from the LBJ Library in Texas. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

"Why Trump Won": CNN, Zakaria


Why Trump Won”, Fareed Zakaria’s documentary film (one hour) just aired tonight, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 on CNN (it had been originally scheduled for July 31), best link here

Zakaria had predicted on Oct. 16, “let me be clear, Trump will lose.”  And he was wrong.
  
But in hindsight it is easy to understand that white working class Americans who had been displaced by elitist shareholder capitalism, which was gradually moving toward the “elitist” Democratic Party with its new rainbow concept of diversity.  The epicenter of the base was perhaps Trumbull County Ohio, SE of Cleveland, among the hardest hit by the plant closings.  The job implosion led to a gradual decline in the social fabric rather parallel to the inner cities, but to a whiter population.

  

Yet Trump, by ignoring all the rules of the game, beat out 16 candidates in the Republican Party and survived gaffes, including a display of his heterosexual fantasies to Access Hollywood;  his base voted only for their own immediate interest, not for the good of the “country” or especially the “world”.  So we had America First. Even science was elitist.  Projections about what could happen to future generations were elitist.