Sunday, April 23, 2017

CBS 48 Hours: "The Golden State Killer" and the "amateur" journalist who tried to solve the cases (and her sudden death)

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, CBS 48 Hours aired a crime episode “The Golden State Killer”, link.

The layered story concerned crime writer Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly at age 46 in her sleep, of an apparent cardiac arrest related to artery blockages and certain prescription drugs.  Her husband, Patton Oswalt, a well-known comedy performer, was interviewed on the show and related his devastation, even vomiting when finding her dead suddenly.  Oswalt has arranged for her book to be completed

She became an “amateur” journalist and sleuth, going to the locations of many of the home invasions which over time turned into murders, first in the Sacramento area and later around Los Angeles.

Wikipedia calls the perpetrator the “Original Night Stalker” with the article here.  The trail goes dead in 1986.

The history reminds me of the 2008 murders of defense-related workers in Prince Georges County MD. (January 24, 2015).
This is the sort of news puzzle that I could envision myself wanting to be hired to work on (to get outside my own narrative), but Patton seems to have arranged for completion of the book.  I don’t see it on Amazon yet but I’ll order it and review it when it comes out.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

CNN updates "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez"

On Friday, April 21, 2017, CNN re-aired (at 11 PM) a special report “Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez”, best link.

Hernandez is the former New England Patriots Tight End who was convicted on one murder (Odin Llyoyd( and charged and acquitted of two others.  Hernandez died in prison on April 19, which prompted CNN to update and re-air.  The death has been viewed as a probable suicide. But there is room to investigate.

The details of these cases, covered in a suspenseful manner in the CNN documentary film, are well summarized on Wikipedia, here.

The first two shootings occurred as a drive-by, where the two victims were in a car shot at by a passing vehicle. Hernandez and the victims had been in a club in Boston called the “Cure”.

The fact pattern suggests that Hernandez was very badly tempered and could carry out violent acts when insulted by minor incidents that often happen in bars.  The incident sounds like a straight bar version of Pulse, although it is much smaller and not related to terrorism.

Hernandez’s appearance was also remarkable, with body parts (especially arms) completely covered by tattoos.

He did have a nice home, from which police found many clues.

The one conviction will be reversed because it had been on appeal when he died. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

"Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life" on ABC 20-20 with Diane Sawyer

Tonight, Diane Sawyer presented, on ABC 20-20, “Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life”, also a forthcoming book.   Here is the first link.    The interview is at her home in Malibu, CA.

This broadcast follows a similar interview two years ago.  Jenner has started the sexual reassignment surgery, and says a trans person should never be “asked”.

The broadcast does show some early footage when she was Bruce Jenner, and he had started taking female hormones earlier than anyone knew.

Caitlyn says she voted for Donald Trump, and was disappointed when Sessions did not allow Obama’s interpretation of federal civil rights law to protect transgender youth in public schools to continue. But she says that more schools are coming up with innovative solutions to allow transgender kids to use the bathroom that matches their identities, outside of states trying to outlaw that (as with HB2 in North Carolina).

The broadcast covered identical twin studies that show a 39% concordance on transgender-ism, and even occurs with identical twins reared separately.

It also mentioned the old idea that the world is dangerous, so it is morally reassuring it there are men and there are women.   The show briefly mentioned the idea of gender fluidity, but that is not really Caitlyn’s narrative.

Jenner was involved in a fatal car accident involving paparazzi.

Malibu painting by Granville Rredmond, p.d., Wikipedia

Friday, April 14, 2017

ABC 20-20, Nev Schulman do another iteration of "Catfish", targeting an NBA basketball player

ABC 20-20 tonight ran its own account of “Catfish”, with a handsome Nev Schulman (now 32, a new father) helping narrate.

A young woman Shelly Cartier, living in a small town of Easterville way north of Winnepeg, Manitoba, “catlished” heavily tattooed and “illustrated man” basketball star Chris “Birdman” Andersen, resulting in Colorado police suspecting him of possessing child pornography until the “identity theft” was traced to her.

Cartier, bullied at school, had lived alone with her aging mother, whom she took care of, and spent years setting up the Catfish scheme, which sometimes led to extortion.

Birdman lost two years of work and endorsements because of the false accusations but eventually got to meet president Obama in 2014 when it was all over.

In the interview, she seemed hardly to care about the damage she had done to his reputation, as she was oblivious to his world of “privilege”.

She spent 18 months in jail in Canada and could be extradited to Colorado.  But she married a man in Brooklyn whom she met through Xbox.

The New York Daily News has this version here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Manitoba picture.  Richard Harmon tweeted about being there recenlty (for "Crypto"?)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CNN's "Finding Jesus" explains Doubting Thomas

CNN’s series “Finding Jesus” aired on Palm Sunday an episode about Thomas, that is, Doubting Thomas, who, after the resurrection, wanted to reassure himself that the risen Christ was real by seeing and palpitating the hand wound.

The episode then goes on to explain how Saint Thomas spread Christianity to India.

Several points come to mind. One is that the word “apostle” is broader than “disciple”.  There are apostles who were not part of the original twelve disciples (like Paul).

I see that I had reviewed a film called “Thomas” in the “Closer to Jesus” series back on Dec. 8, 2012.

The narrative does make the case for a faith that is connected to reason.  That looks forward to today’s issues of connecting faith to physics and cosmology (maybe the idea of intelligent design).

But there may be something else here.  Jesus provided the perfect opportunity for upward affiliation. A disciple could become concerned that somehow Jesus could disappoint them, as a human would.
I explored this in an unfinished composition, which I could say more about in my “Media Reviews” (really “Show and Tell”) blog on Wordpress (especially this post -- I need to add the "Doubting" material to this composition).

I’ll cover this later there, but here are three posts (more for my reference than anything else).




There is also a “Gospel of Thomas”  I don’t see a film on this book on imdb (as there is one for Judas).

“Doubting Thomas” is one of the most provocative stories, for me personally.  What happens if someone you look up to really does “lose it”?

Monday, April 10, 2017

CNN "Believer" covers an orthodox Jewish sect in Israel stricter than most Islam

Reza Aslan’s “Believer” on Sunday night about the ultra-orthdox group in Israel, the Haredim, led to his essay “Why I worry about Israel’s future”.

Aslan considers himself a secular and socially moderate Shiite Muslim, whose family fled Iran in 1979 when the revolution against the Shah turned it into a religious state and led to the 444-day hostage crisis.   Secularism tends to promote not just freedom but its own brand of accompanying inequality.

But in Israel the Haredim is growing in political influence.  It’s high birthrate has caused it to rise to 13% of the population. The men don’t work, but spend all their time studying the Torah.  Their leadership considers this their “sacrifice”.  The women work and raise all their kids.  But the group has a legal exemption from compulsory military service.  It’s rather like the old US system of student deferments during the Vietnam War (or maybe comparable to conscientious objection).

The documentary showed some Haredi-majority communities where non-Haredi are bullied for not following Haredi practices, like modesty and strict gender segregation, which ironically parallels Islam.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Chesdovi under CCSA 3.0 showing Haredi gender segregation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

"Chicago Med" shows a hospital's computers hit by a ransomware attack, endangering patients

Tonight, Thursday, April 6, 2017, “Chicago Med” on NBC ran an episode called “Cntl Alt” (directed by Valerie Weiss), which opens with nurses finding that their tablets lock, and then the logon terminals lock up with a ransomware demand.

The hospital administrator Sharon Goodwin (Epatha Merkensen) refuses to pay the ransom. It may be too much of a spoiler to reveal that one of the surgeons did, when the screens come up – to save a patient’s life.   The hospital has to go on backup and manual procedures.  MRI’s cannot be done.  Monitoring equipment fails in the OR doing an operation.

Of course, one wonders why the hospital didn’t have an image backup somewhere. Is this what would happen?

There are interesting medical cases.  A bullet in the leg travels to the heart, necessitating bypass surgery. A young woman has PSP, progressive supranuclear palsy. And there is an outbreak of a fungal infection traced (eventually by contact tracing) to a used car.

The program was interrupted briefly by Lester Holt on NBC announcing Trump’s air strikes in Syria as retaliation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

MASN covers Nationals' nice win on Opening Day of MLB season

OK, MASN TV got us off on the right start Monday, broadcasting (paid service) opening day, as the Washington Nationals came from behind starting in the sixth and beat the Miami Marlins, 4-2, story .

President Donald Trump did not show up, but members of each of the fived Armed Services threw out a first ball.

Stephen Strasburg may not have been at his best, getting only three strikeouts, but got a lot of ground balls.  Blake Treinen lived up to his first test as a closer.

Adam Lind, acquired from the Mariners, hit a 420-foot home run to dead center on a low outside pitch from reliever Phelps, on his first swing as a National.  But Bryce Harper had broken the shutout in the bottom of the Sixth with his fifth Opening Day home run.

MASN has an active Facebook page on the Nationals and other teams, attracting more comments than the Nationals’ own feed.

On Sunday, ex-national Melacon blew a lead for the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the ninth (to the chagrin of actor fan Richard Harmon, who plays Murphy in “The 100”) to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Dead Reckoning: War, Crime and Justice" on PBS

Tonight, PBS aired a three-hour three-part documentary “Dead Reckoning: War, Crime and Justice” focusing on war crimes from WWII through the War on Terror.  Basic link is here.

The three episodes are  “The general’s ghost, The Blind Eye. In Our Time”.

I caught the last half of it.  Episode 2 was conducting war crimes trials based on genocide against indigenous Maya in Guatemala. A man was on trial denying he ordered the murder of civilians.

The last episode dealt with mainly atrocities in Bosnia (and Yugoslavia) in 1993 and Rwanda in 1994 (as well as Congo).  In Rwanda, people turned on others who had been personal friends.  The episode ends with a conviction in a trial in the Hague.  The Bosnia portion showed forensic efforts to identify many victims who had been buried in hiding. At the end, Aleppo was shown.
The consensus was that relatively few war crimes are prosecuted to conviction.

Wikipedia attribution link for image by Hypergio for new International Criminal Court Building in the Netherlands under CCSA 4.0.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Chess Country" on CBS 60 Minutes, as a professor mentors grade school kids in rural Mississippi

Sunday night CBS 60 Minutes, in a segment called “Chess Country”, showed how Dr. Jeff Burlington has mentored kids in Franklin County, Mississippi, teaching the basics of chess, story link here.

The kids eventually take a bus trip to Nashville, analyzing positions on the bus, and play in a huge tournament in the Opry Center.  Although school loses 30 of 32 first round games, it places well at the end, with one kid winning a crucial game with White on an opponent’s blunder (the opponent was higher rated) after the opponent offered a draw.

The townspeople say that the mentor was glad to teach chess to “hillbillies”.  But John Grisham comes from Mississippi.  There is now a chess center in the county seat of Meadville (in SW Mississippi).
I did notice that a number of the kids looked obese.  That isn't so good.  World champion Magnus Carlsen is also a fitness buff, to all appearances/

Is this volunteer activity I should do?  I do play the game well enough to teach it to “beginners”.  My highest rating ever was about 2000.  There are programs around the country for inner city kids.  There is a group in northern Virginia that holds “chess for charity” events at a local Catholic school.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

ABC 20-20 covers case of Noura Jackson in Memphis, and circumstantial evidence convicting her of "Matricide"

ABC 20-20 last night, in “Matricide”, covered the case of Noura Jackson, who was convicted for stabbing her mother to death in their home near Memphis early on Sunday, June 5, 2005.

She would be convicted of second degree murder on what seems like overwhelming circumstantial evidence.  But no DNA evidence was found linking her to the crime. (Some legal authorities see DNA evidence as actually still circumstantial.)  Some of the circumstantial evidence was quirky, such as her wearing long sleeves in summer heat to cover up her self-treatment for injuries during the incident.  She says “I have real hairy arms” and that she often shaves her arms, like a cyclist.  In the trial, she did not testify.

But she won a new trial because the prosecuting attorney broke a rule of criminal procedure by criticizing her not testifying, which is her constitutional right according to the Fifth Amendment.

She wound up taking an Alford plea, accepting the conviction for time served and not admitting guilt, and was released, although not for over a year.  She has settled with relatives for some of her mother’s estate.

Wikipedia attribution link for Beale Street, Memphis image, by Andreas Faessler, CCSA 3.0

Friday, March 24, 2017

ABC Nightline makes marriage reflexive

ABC Nightline (late Thursday night) covered the amusing topic of marrying yourself. “These Women Had Perfect Weddings for Themselves Without a Groom

Is that the ultimate expression of self-concept, marrying yourself?  My own father used to say, “You’re married to your records”.  Maybe it’s to my blogs, like this one.

So we have gay marriage, can we have reflexive marriage?   In French, the verb is already reflexive.  You marry yourself with someone.   “Elle s’est mariee avec Bill”.  She married Bill. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

"Truth and Lies: The Family Manson" on ABC 20-20

ABC 20-20 aired a 2-hour documentary “Truth and Lies: The Family Manson” (link ) about the life of Charles Manson, his crimes, and his followers, pretty much a companion to “Helter Skelter”.
Manson’s early life had a lot of petty crime, but he tried to become a music celebrity.  He believed he was deceived in a contract, and resented others in Hollywood who had a good life.

The documentary gives a step by step account of the Sharon Tate murders, with the home invasion and brutality, and other coverup murders, as well as the life of his followers on the “Ranch” and their attempt to “escape” in the Mojave Desert.  Manson would be arrested on car theft charges first, as his followers tried to prepared dune buggies for the coming race war.  (The video embedded below from ABC will show only with "http" rather than "https").

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos
The last part of the film shows the trials, with his female followers shaving their heads and making spectacles outside.  Many followers went to prison for life.  Manson’s death sentence was reduced to life but the film shows the old gas chamber.  Manson would be severely burned by an inmate in 1984.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tom Price defends GOP's AHCA on CNN Town Hall

Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash hosted HHS secretary Tom Price Wednesday night in a Town Hall, best link.
The biggest part of Price’s pitch was allowing consumers to avoid paying for specific coverages that they did not need (such as pregnancy for the elderly). 

Price also explained the anti-selection problem with pre-existing conditions and tried to defend the continuous coverage idea. 
But much of Price’s discussion concerned the ramp=up of premiums this year for people buying individual insurance from exchanges under Obamacare, to pay for other people’s behaviors and pre-existing conditions. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"The Most Powerful Man in the World" (Vladimir Putin, mentor to Donald Trump; the World According to Fareed)

Wednesday night, CNN aired another one-hour documentary by Fareed Zakria about America’s enemies, “The Most Powerful Man in the World”, that is, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, best link.

The documentary is filled with invocations of the stirring Russian national anthem (in E Major) by Alexandrov  (age old wisdom of our fraternal people, popular wisdom of our forbearers, etc).   Or try this one, with the Russian Army and Putin speaking.

It starts with a 35 year old lieutenant colonel Putin holding fort in Dresden, E Germany when the Berlin Wall falls.  It then covers the corruption of the 1990s with Yeltsin at the helm, with oligarchs getting rich and ordinary people starving – so in a sense, people had been addicted to communism. Putin becomes Prime Minister and speaks in 2000.  He befriends George W Bush in 2001.  With rising oil prices, Putin pursues nationalism in a manner that predicts Trump, and life gets better for many working Russians in a statist capitalist system.  So Putin becomes popular.

Zakaria covers why Putin especially had it in for Hillary Clinton (as explained here , going back to the Arab Spring).  Hillary was seen as a “hawk” on foreign policy, in some ways more conservative than Trump (like  McCain would be, Fareed says).  He also maintains that Putin sees Trump as his own “Apprentice”.

Putin is still wildly popular in Russia, with his “Make Russia Great Again”.  Zakaria didn’t mention this, but LGBTQ  people became scapegoats in 2013, largely because :GBTQ is seen as excerabting Russia’s baby bust (when Putin says “leave the children alone”, he really means, don’t let them get the idea that  it isn’t important to have kids).

Putin is, ironically, seen as a sex symbol, even in his 60s, even given horseback pictures that betray that he has no hair on his chest.  And the teats are getting sloppy.  Milo will notice that.

Vladimir Putin appears once meeting with Al-Assad in the film “Cries from Syria” which aired on HBO right after Zakaria (Wordpress).

He didn’t cover the 2002 theater hostage crisis in Moscow.

Wikipedia attribution link for Moscow picture

Monday, March 13, 2017

Josh Garcia visits Singapore as "Little Island, Big Flavor" on his "Voyager" program for "The More You Know"

NBC’s “Voyager” travel show with Josh Garcia (as part of “The More You Know”) on Saturday mornings on March 11, on a half-hour episode called “Little Island, Big Flavor”.

Josh gets off a Carnival tour cruise (I don’t go on cruises – ships do not constitute sightseeing destinations) in Sinagpore, almost on the Equator, the cleanest big city in the world, known for its strict laws about public littering and conduct (and canings).

The link right now is here.  I do have the latest Flash so I don’t know why the video didn’t play.

Note the physical contrast between Josh and his host.  Despite the Hispanic name and Puerto Rican background, Josh (now 36) illustrates that some people from Spain had originally emigrated from northern Europe a millennium ago, to Galicia.

The episode shows the super modern buildings on the waterfront, and then Josh visits many little shops and buys shoes for his niece, calling her to get a shoe size.  He uses his selfie-stick a lot.  He also tries the food (like Anthony Bourdain would), eating whole crabs immersed in bizarre soups.

Wikipedia attribution link for dinnertime picture in Singapore by Allie Caulfield under CCSA 2.0.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

CNN: "Melania Trump: The Making of a First Lady"

On Friday, March 10, 2017, CNN aired “Melania Trump: The Making of a First Lady” with Randi Kaye.

The best CNN link seems to be here.

The most interesting portion was the coverage of the period when Donald Trump announced he would run in June 2015.

The episode covered the plagiarism scandal over her speech at the Republican National Convention.
But it also covered Donald’s courtship of her and the birth of Barron, who stood next to Donald when Donald accepted his win Election Night.  They were married in early 2005.

She did explain her legal immigration and citizenship in 2006.

She also explained her desired for activism against Internet bullying in social media.

Friday, March 10, 2017

ABC 20-20 exposes "Gay Conversion Therapy Camps" in the US deep south in year long undercover investigation

ABC 20-20 exposed the operation of “gay conversion therapy camps” in the South, especially in Alabama and Texas.  The main video link is here.

Parents in fundamentalist families pay thousands to “camps” that purport to convert their kids to potentially procreative and lineage-extending heterosexuality.

Much of the narrative focused on one kid, Lucas Greenfield, now 17, who was adopted in south Florida at 3, sent away to a camp in Alabama at 13, returned home, and then sent away again a second time, when he escaped.  He was actually rescued somehow by a stranger.

One black camp owner was convicted of child abuse and sentence to 20 years in prison with the help of Greenfield’s testimony.

The Family Research Council was interviewed, with a spokesperson rationalizing the practice and saying parents should have complete control of the medical treatment of their kids.  The idea came up at the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. Pence had proposed the idea of what amounts to conversion therapy to control AIDS back in 2000 but claims he does not support conversion therapy now.

The program repeatedly pointed out that medical authorities today insist that sexual orientation cannot be changed.

20-20 also covered the efforts of Supergirl actor Jeremy Jordan to rescue his lesbian cousin from a boarding school in Texas.  She was sent there after going to a high school prom with a girl friend. (patheos story ).

Some parents in evangelical circles see their own marital sexuality tied to control of their children 's reproductive potential and the guarantee of a lineage, as reinforced by a naïve kind of faith. It's rather like how the alpha male lion in a pride thinks.

Alabama's new Senator (Luther Strange, replacing Jeff Sessions) was diffident on his failure to prosecute vigorously when he was the state's attorney general.

Here’s a plug from Milo on conversion therapy, link.

Monday, March 06, 2017

CNN "Believer" shocks some viewers showing "cannibalism" in the caste system in India

Sunday night, CNN launched its series “Believer” with Reza Aslan, with some degree of controversy.   Here is Ben Selkow’s site for 34LukeFilms.

The first episode explored the Aghori in India.  The episode purported to explore the downside of the “believer’s” notion of karma, which rationalizes the caste system, and the shuttering away of some people as untouchables (leprosy was shown).  Hindu belief in reincarnation lies beneath this system, and this group takes that belief quite far.

Reza undergoes a potentially humiliating ritual on a beach-like river bank where all kinds of substances are smeared over main parts of his body.

Huffington Post’s contributor Vamsee Jurluri called the series “reckless, racist and dangerously anti-immigrant”.

The Washington Post headline was that the show “catches grief for showcasing religious cannibals in India”.  The Daily Mail weights in on the cannibalism practices here.

The Los Angeles Times says that the series “could use a little more enlightenment itself”.

Wikipedia attribution llink for Aghori image by Lewis2388 under CCSA 3.0.

Update: March 12

Reza (who was born in Tehran, Iran but no longer looks like it -- he also says he is a "moderate" Muslim) visits the Big Island of Hawaii (which I toured in 1980 -- and my car rental contract didn't let me drive up Mauna Loa) to a group called Cinderland or the Rainbow Village, a commune carved out of a volcanic outcrop (which has turned green) at about 8000 feet, run by a guru named Jezus.

The guru preaches that the world will end with another huge Flood or tsunami (well, the Canary Islands Cumbre-Vieja volcano could collapse and send a wave to the US East Coast).  But, unlike Jim Jones or Dave Koresh, the guru does not run a dictatorship or cache weapons.  The commune reminded me of a miniature Lama Foundation (which is north of Taos, NM, which I have visited twice, in the 1980s).  Reza interviews a number of shirtless men, mostly in their 30s and 40s or so, but surprisingly smooth.

March 19:

Reza visits Hati to explore voodoo, which became mixed with Catholicism, and which maintains that the disincarnates are very much with us.  He participates in a ritual sacrifice, and then has his body cleansed at a huge waterfall.  Haiti is the site of the only completely successful slave rebellion.

March 26

Reza examines the Church of Scientology.  He gets audited a couple times, once by an excommunicated adept who has started his own "business."  He describes the aggressiveness with which the Church enforces trademark and copyright.  He also hears believers talk about their past lives and reincarnation.

April 2

Reza explores the para-Catholic "Saint Death" cult in Mexico, as an answer to extreme police corruption and government breakdown by drug cartels, driving many of our immigration controversies in the world of Trump.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

CNN resumes "Finding Jesus" with "The Pilate Stone", analogy to Trump

Tonight CNN aired the newest episode of “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Fiction”, “The Pilate Stone” (link).

In Judea, an archeologist has found the underground ruin of where Pilate lived during the time of Christ.

The episode explains how Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of a capital offense, and he tested the Saducees by offering Barrabus, who had apparently committed one of the two offenses that could lead to crucifixion (that is, sedition-treason, or leading a slave revolt).

But the “liberal” Saducees still wanted Jesus to pay the price, for threatening religious authority.  Pilate was also angered when Jesus told him that Pilate’s authority came from God.  Pilate was loyal to the Emperor in Rome and feared “losing his job”.

The whole episode reminds one of group or mob rule, the sort of mentality that enabled Donald Trump to conduct “Lock Her Up” chants in his followers.

Wikipedia attribution link for US public domain painting by Antonio Ceseri.

March 12;

The series continued by examining the resurrection of Lazarus. (John 11:1-44).   This was a challenge to whether Jesus would use his "powers" (which would remind one of Smallville's Clark Kent -- the show was careful to say that Clark doesn't heal people).  The narrative helped convince authorities that Jesus was too dangerous to the status quo and help set up the Passion.   At one point, Jesus orders Lazarus to "come out" (no pun intended).

March 19:

The episode looked at the remains of the possible home site of Jesus in Nazareth.  The Romans would be very brutal and enslave populations to retain control.  The episode recounts how Jesus went off on his own once at age 12, but worked steadily until age 30.

March 26:

An episode describes King Herod's desire to assassinate the child Jesus and shows Herod's own mountain, covering his possible sarcophagus. The mountain looks like an example of ancient "mountaintop removal".

April 2:

The episode looks at Jesus's "best friend", Peter (like a kind of Marr Damon and Ben Affeck), and analyzes whether his remains really lie under the Vatican.  It covers his upsidedown crucifixion, and examines the idea of his possible cowardice. It also explores his differences with Paul over Judaism. 

Friday, March 03, 2017

"When We Rise: The People Behind the Story": documentary history of gay rights

When We Rise: The People Behind the Story” aired Thursday March 2, 2017 as a featurette before parts 4 and 5 of the series.

The one hour introduced the activists today, especially Cleve Jones and Ken Jones, who both survived AIDS by getting into antiretroviral drug programs in the late 80s that actually started to work.

The hour also gave a quick history of the LGBT community by decade, starting in the 60s, which ended with the Stonewall rebellion where people revolted in the streets against routine police raids of gay bars.  The early history talked of people being thrown out of their homes by religious parents, for no rational reason other than an authoritarian view of faith.  It seemed as though many fathers felt that gay sons could deny them grandchildren and a lineage to survive them, and that allowing homosexuality to be acceptable would undermine families and leave them with fewer children.

In the 1970s, gay pride marches started, leading to the first March on Washington in `1979, followed my future marches in 1993 and 2000.  The show covers the Briggs Proposition 6 in California in 1978, which would have banned gay teachers (or associating with gay causes by teachers), and the solidarity needed to defeat it (a lesson for me, perhaps), as well as Anita Bryant’s campaign in 1977.

It then goes to cover the AIDS epidemic quickly, as people went through generations of friend, and then moves into the 1990s with Bill Clinton’s don’t ask don’t tell policy for gays in the military, Obama’s repeal, and then DOMA and gay marriage, leading to the Supreme Court Obergefell decision in 2015.

Episodes 4 and 5 covered the aftermath of AIDS and moved into the 1990s, with Bill Clinton’s proposal to lift the ban, which sounded progressive at the time but led to 13000 discharges.  It also shows Cleve as a de facto foster parent, and the lesbian couple raising a daughter, who finally does well in school.  Trent Lott’s son comes out, and in one melodramatic scene, Trent threatens to shoot himself.

Friday night the last two episodes covered Proposition 8 in California and the DOMA trial before the Supreme Court.  There was a curious courtroom discussion over whether recognizing gay marriage would result in lower marriage rates among heterosexuals, because of loss of "meaning."  There was also some more coverage of the marches on Washington (Wiki).

Here's another discussion of the series.

Update: March 10, 2017

Brock Thompson asks in the Washington Blade, "Who was 'When We Rise'" for, anyway?"  Interesting way to ask this kind of question. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

CNN holds town hall with GOP senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham; Sinclair holds roundtable on Trump's speech

Wednesday, March 1, 2017, CNN presented a Town Hall with Dana Bash moderating questions to two GOP US Senatrs, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.  The best link seems to be here.
I had to record it because I was watching “We Will Rise”.  I had some trouble – I messed up and it didn’t start until about 20 minutes in to the show.  And it cut me off just before Graham was going to answer an important question on North Korea.

McCain said that Russian intervention in US elections by hacking and fake news influence could create an existential threat to US democracy.

Graham said that he wanted Trump to succeed, but that Putin has a blind spot when it comes to Vladimir Putin, worth 40 billion dollars (about as much as Mark Zuckerbeg), but much less legitimately.

Graham said Putin was interfering with Nato and trying to promulgate neo-fascist mass movements in Europe.

One doctor from Arizona questioned the idea of cutting Medicaid as part of “reforming” Obamacare.
Also, Wednesday night, Sinclair Broadcasting and WJLA News Channel 8 did a “Your Voice Your Future” roundtable from Arlington on Trump’s speech, moderated by Scott Thuman.  The link just given names the panelists.  Moran was my representative for years in Arlington, and Republican congressman Tom Davis was my rep in the mid 1990s when I lived in an apartment in Annandale (while writing my first book).

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Trump's address to Congress, on CNN and all major networks, makes the "mainstream" more comfortable.

The television event last night was, of course, Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.  I watched it on CNN.  (Spell his name "t_Rump"). Technically this was not a "State of the Union" speech.

Trump did sound “logical” in the way he described his “America First”.  Yes, it is reckless not to enforce our laws regarding entering the country.  Yes, it is difficult for the United States to vet people from failed or hostile states.  Yes, there is no Earth flag  This not Star Wars yet.

He did cite examples of lesser known crimes committed by illegal immigrants.  He did mention “radical Islamic terrorism”, against the advice of advisers.  But the crime from “illegals”  has more to do with drug cartels than Islam.   Most of the well known Islamist terror attacks have come from people in the country legally, or second generations in families that did not assimilate well.

Overstated visas are a problem, and I was a little surprised not to hear it mentioned.

Trump, to his credit, opened by mentioning Black History Month and by condemning anti-Semetic threats recently.

Trump did not say how he would pay for all his ambitious programs, including making health insurance premiums lower for working Americans while covering pre-existing conditions (hint: public tax money).  Trump promised a “stable transition” for those in the exchanges.  He did not explain how health savings help poor people.

Here is CNN’s analysis of “6 takeaways”.  Why Trump called for “unity”, McTerran argues on CNN that his speech doesn’t negate his previous campaign of “hate”.

MSN fact-checked 13 of Trump's claims in his address.

Radley Balko's op-ed in the Washington Post is not very kind to Trump. ("A Broadside Attack on the Values of a Free Society.")  Rick Sincere of GLIL share this on his own daily paper today (March 2).

Trump wants to increase the relative proportion of legal immigrants brought in because of unusual skills.  He wants more emphasis on evidence that the immigrant can become self-supporting.  But that could support the idea of Canadian style sponsorship (or expansion of I-864 requirements).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"When We Rise": ABC miniseries dramatized LGBT history from the time of Stonewall

When We Rise”, directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black (supervising others), premiered at 9 PM EST on ABC stations on Monday, February 27, 2017.   Local station WJLA noted the series with a Facebook Live session earlier, and two major news stories, about gay adoption and transgender bathroom issues last night (the Gavin Grimm case before SCOTUS).

It is the largest GLBTQ media event ever made (outside of the “Queer As Folk” series some years back). There was a two hour pilot;  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, there will be six more one-hour episodes.

ABC’s Blog entry describing the series is here.

The premier is centered on the post Stonewall period of the early 1970s, about the time of my own “second coming”.  It focuses on several people who would gradually become known as gay activists.

Maybe the most conspicuous is Cleve Jone (Austin P. McKenzie) , who seems very charismatic and appealing as an 18 year old from Arizona.  His Quaker father wants to “cure” him with psychiatry when he comes out in 1972. Kicked out, he moves to San Francisco and deals with a world of police raids (though already abating) and fag street beatings, and crashing in people’s grungy apartments. Hosting people used to be common in the gay community in earlier days, although it often started with tricks.   Jones's father talks about "curing" him, but the script makes it clear that dad is worried about getting grandchildren.

Son Richard Socarides plays his dad Charles, the famous "therapist" with chilling effect.

Ken Jones (Jonathan Majors) deals with covert homosexuality talking to his Navy chaplain in the days long before “don’t ask, don’t tell” (after falling in love with a white sailor).  When he goes out on pass, he finds many gay bars (like the Black Cat) “off limits” for servicemembers (and signs are actually posted to that effect;  I never saw that personally).

Roma Guy (Emily Skeggs) moves to San Francisco from Maine to join the Women’s Movement.
Somehow, the title reminds me of the opening episode of ABC’s “The Winds of War” in 1981, “The Winds Rise.”

Here’s some typical coverage in The Advocate.

Wikipedia attribution link for San Francisco City Hall   CCSA 3.0 by “Cabe6403”.

Updates:  Wednesday, March 1

Episode 2 documents the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978, a referendum that would have mandated firing of teachers who promoted homosexuality (rather like Russia's anti-gay propaganda law in 2013).  The motive for it sounds like it's only about procreation -- a self-effacing belief that accepting open sexuality in society interferes with "normal people" having children -- but people used to experience marital sex much more collectively.

The episode then moves to covering the assassination of Harvey Milk by Dan White.

Episode 3 covers the emergence of AIDS in 1981.

There is a shocking scene where monitors at a bath house come into the floor and rip off the towel of a young man with hairless chest covered with Kaposi's sarcoma lesions.  "You can't be in here like that" the attendant says.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Full Measure: "The Sum of All Knowledge"

ABC station WJLA ran a show called “The Sum of All Knowledge” Sunday morning at 10 AM in the “Full Measure” series with Sheryl Attkisson..  (Like you can have the trappings of manhood “full measure” – an Army joke.) .

The broadcast talked about hired-under-contract digital activists who make paid posts, often automated into robo-posts, often with zombie profiles or “10 personas per user”.

So social media companies, especially Facebook, are becoming more sensitive about their “news curation”.

Facebook has been accused of suppressing conservative stories.  Twitter is believed by some people to be more likely to suspend conservative accounts (not sure there’s any substance, Milo notwithstanding).

There was mention of the Comet Ping Pong fake news fiasco in Washington DC in December 2016.

So a new messaging service called “Gab”. Founded in August by Andrew Torba, purports to appeal to those with more conservative, possibly even “alt-right”, views (Guardian story).

The link is here.  The tld is from Anguilla, and it is popular with artificial intelligence startups).

I tried the “Let Me In” and my email is on a long waiting list.  Wikipedia confirms that this happens.  If there is a waiting list, is this really “pro free speech”?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Journey with Dylan Dreyer" shows Leonardo da Vinci experiment

Saturday morning Feb. 25, NBC aired (after “It’s Academic”) the adventurous “Journey with Dylan Dreyer” (part of “The More You Know”), 30 minutes, exploring daredevils, in an episode called “Adrenaline Rush”.

Dreyer said that men with lower levels of certain brain hormones take more risks.

There was some extreme ski jumping in Norway, and then skydiving, but the main attraction was an experiment with a balloon and wind sails imagined in the 15th Century by gay inventor Leonardo Da Vinci.  It appeared to be carried out in the high desert in California near US 395.

The local LGBT outdoor group “Adventuring” in Washington DC used to do hot air ballooning (has to be very early in morning) and actual parachute training ($160 a session back in the early 1990s).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

CNN: "The History of Comedy"

I finally got to CNN’ “The History of Comedy” tonight, with the episode 3 title “Comedy in Real Life”.

So they showed Ozzie and Harriet as a kind of sanitized real life that sat well with sponsors.

Then they moved on to trendier movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “The 40 Year Old Virgin”.  Quirky men (including hairy men) could sometimes become the butt of “family comedy”.
Comedians said that a lot of their humor came from dealing with nasty challenges in childhood.

“Comedy can’t exist unless it’s true.  You don’t laugh unless there’s truth to it.”

What I recall is really loving the situation comedies of the 50s: “Amos ‘n’ Andy” (“there is no legal marriage between George Stevens and Sapphire Smitm”), “l Love Lucy” (especially when Lucy works on an assembly line) and, “My Little Margie” (which really invented the like “You’re fired”)

Feb. 25 CNN re-aired "The Funnier Sex". .

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CNN airs Democratic Party Chair debate

CNN aired its Democratic Party chair debate from Atlanta tonight, account here.   It started late, at 10 PM.  Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo moderated.

Trump was called a “draft-dodging” charlatan.

At least one candidate talked about impeaching Donald Trump over violating laws against emoluments.

There were seven candidates, listed here by NPR.

There was a lot of talk that the party needs to take the vote seriously in every state and in rural areas.

There was criticism of playing bedfellows with big business.

"A unified party is Donald Trump's worst nightmare."

The "party of fairness" had its theme stolen by Donald Trump.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

ABC 20-20 covers Atlanta area baby hot car murder conviction

ABC 20-20 on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 aired the story of the conviction of Justin Ross Harris for the death of his son left in a hot car in an Atlanta suburb (main link ).

Amy Robach, his wife, says her nightmare started when she went to the day care center that end of a June day and found her son had never been left there.

The court trial would emphasize their lack of emotion with the loss, and with Justin’s philandering.

Amy still supports his side of the story.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Law and Order SVU: "Great Expectations" provides a lesson on dangerous sports hazing that becomes sex abuse

An episode called “Great Expectations” (as if based on the Charles Dickens novel and derivative classic film, with the Twilight Zone character Pip) on NBC’s  “Law & Order: SVU” (or “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”) on Thursday, Feb.16, was especially instructive.

A 13 year old boy is hazed after causing his junior varsity hockey team to lose a game to a missed goal shot.  The hazing is sexual, and includes anal prodding, apparently with a hockey stick.
The boy dies from secondary infection.  That shows that in rare cases, homosexual abuse of a minor can result in death (just as with heterosexual abuse).

The boy has finally “talked” before dying, having resisted because of team peer pressure.  Another team member is arrested and charged with manslaughter. But it turns out that this boy in turn has been severely abused by his own father, who is exposed and arrested.

Here’s the playback link for the episode.

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Real Time with Bill Maher" features Milo Yiannopoulos and a "conservative" panel

Tonight, “Real Time with Bill Maher” started out with a twelve-minute interview with provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  There had been a lot of publicity over the protest cancellation by Jeremy Scahill. 

Milo, looking very young, and pretending effeminacy, partied in his usual way and said he does hire gau people at Brietbart (joke).  They talked about Leslie Jones (who recently impersonated Donald Trump).  Breitbart just put up the full interview here

I had missed the first ten minutes (didn’t realize it was on tonight).  I caught the end of the interview, which then went into a panel discussion (“What Conservative Principles?”)  with Malcolm Nance (Counterterrorism Information Center), Larry Wilmore (comedy) and Jack Kingston, Representative from Georgia (Republican).  The panel felt that the Flynn-Russia mess and pre-election hack presented a grave national security and political crisis.

Larry Wilmore gave Milo a hard time over Milo's attitude toward transgender people (Vox story). 

The Maher interviewed Leah Remini about scientology.
The show offered 15 minutes extra of all panelists (except Leah), including Milo, in “Overtime” on Live YouTube.  Milo said, surprisingly, that transgender could be mental illness and that the public does need to be protected in the bathrooms.  But that was his only provocative statement.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

PBS Nova: "The Origami Revolution"

PBS Nova produced a stunning documentary “The Origami Revolution”, aired tonight at 9 PM EST.
The documentary traced a Japanese art form of folding flat sheets of paper into an understanding of how most or all of nature is predicated on origami.  In biology, leaves fold as origami into fractals.  In organic chemistry, bonds seem to follow origami, as does the formation of proteins, viruses, and now appropriate drugs to counter them (like PrEP).

In designing space craft, origami can be used to define space structures that can unfold as deployed.

Bullet-proof vests can be designed according to origami folds.

The program especially focused on the work of 35-year-old MIT professor Erik Demaine, who has produced mathematical proofs that almost any structure can be approximated by origamis (papers {
"The Fold-and-Cut Problem"} here and {"Folding and Cutting Paper"} here).

In cosmology, dark matter seems to fold by origami, with conventional baryonic matter galaxies forming along the folds.

Wikipedia notes Jack Andraka’s interest in origami, contributing to the intuition that led to his pancreatic cancer detection test. (Sorry, Jack, I misspelled “oragami” in my tweet;  no spell check, corrected it in subsequent general tweets with the hashtag.)   Reid Ewing’s display of Japanese art (from manga and Dangaronpa) on his twitter feed seems based on origami.

Wouldn’t carbon nanotubes (for many new medical tests) be created as origami?

Origami can be protected by copyright law (and very likely patent), which could certainly generate future litigation even in areas like pharmaceuticals.  However the existence of academic mathematical proofs for existence of various folds might argue for “fair use”.  In that sense, origami could have the same status as chess openings or chess endgame problems.

PBS had aired a longer Independent Lens feature film on Origami in 2009. It was titled "Between the Folds: Art, Imitating Life".

Wikipedia attribution link (p.d.) for art work made by folding dollar bills.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

CNN: "Debate Night: The Future of Obamacare": Sanders v. Cruz was the pitching matchip

On CNN, “Debate Night: The Future of Obamacare”  Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) square off on Obamacare and replacing or “repairing” it   The debate took place at George Washington University in Washington DC.

There is an existential question on whether health care is a “right”.

Sanders keeps insisting on single payor, “Medicare for all.”

Cruz says “Medicare for all” would be “Medicaid for all” and that Medicaid has poor outcomes for patients.

A woman with multiple sclerosis talked about having to leave Texas because it didn’t provide the Medicaid extensions for Obamacare.

Cruz talked about the waiting lists and often poor care in Britain, with socialized medicine under the National Health System.

No one, however, had a solution for the fact that younger, healthier people, often saddled with college debt, have to pay higher premiums to subsidize older people or people with pre-existing conditions.  How to solve this?  Family values?  Volunteerism?  GoFundMe?

I have suggested a reinsurance mechanism for excess claims due to pre-existing conditions.

The waiting list issue is real.  When I had a freak accident and major hip fracture in Minnesota in 1998, I got a top-flight surgeon and successful surgery immediately at the University of Minnesota, probably because my employer, ReliaStar, had excellent “cherry picked” health insurance.  With weaker insurance, I might have lay in traction for surgery much longer.

Cruz did a thought experiment, in which he speculated that expropriation of the top tech companies in the US would pay for only one year of Sanders’s Medicare for all.

Vox disputes Cruz's claim that Canadians come to the US to get around waiting lists for health care.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Patriots make record comeback in Super Bowl on Fox; Lady Gaga dazzles at halftime

We’re told that this was the first overtime Superbowl in history,  Down 28-3 at one point early in Q3, the New England Patriots came up with 25 unanswered points (with two 2-point conversions despite a missed extra point) to tie, and won quickly in overtime, 34-28, barely placing the ball over the goal line.

The game, which lasted over four hours elapsed, was broadcast on Fox.

Atlanta had a chance to put the game out of reach with a spectacular reception, before a sack took them out of field goal range.

Here is the widely circulated Lady Gaga halftime show link. One conservative Facebook female friend asked if her performance came right from Satan.
Mike Pence appeared at one point, in a VIP box.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of NRG Stadium in Houston, p.d., DHS photo

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Nancy Pelosi holds town hall on CNN

Nancy Pelosi held a town hall on CNN Tuesday night January 31, 2017 with Chris Cuomo moderating, at George Washington University.

Pelosi dodged questions from audience members who claimed they had been harmed by immigrant crime, with tangential apologies.

But he did say “Democrats are capitalists”  in answering a college student’s question whether adults under 30 were rejecting capitalism.  But she discussed the progression from “stakeholder capitalism” to “shareholder capitalism” which had led to huge compensation for CEO’s and had exaggerated income and accumulated wealth inequality.

Pelosi's analysis of capitalism can be compared to Steve Bannon's, who talks about "statist capitalism" and "extreme capitalism" (of the Ayn Rand sort, which is essentially shareholder capitalism), and claims that people need a grounding in faith to have balanced capitalism because secular logic alone can rationalize anything -- but I don't get his connection to nationalism and autarky, other than in connection with religious war imposed by others.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump makes his Supreme Court announcement like an Apprentice season conclusion

President Donald J. Trump conducted an episode of The Apprentice, inviting his top two candidate to Washington, and then announcing Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia's seat in the US Supreme Court.

He made a show of heterosexuality, kissing his wife before the announcement.  He is young at 49.
Gorsuch said that a judge who likes every decision he reaches is likely a bad judge.

Gay activist quickly began to denounce the choice, mentioning the Hobby Lobby decision on whether employers could be forced to cover contraceptives.  But most of his decisions, stripped of identity politics and interventionism, seem to have a somewhat libertarian flair.  He is thought to be similar to Scalia.  One observer on CNN said he had been critical of Obergefell as court interventionism.
Lambda Legal has a page on him labeling him as “dangerous”,  as if he were a clone of Milo Yiannopoulos, which is a bit ironic.  I have a feeling Trump would have hired Milo as an “apprentice”.
Nope, Troy McClain (from Season 1 of Apprentice) wasn’t there, as there is no “Team” to take one for.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ABC News Anchor David Muir Interviews Donald Trump

Wednesday night, ABC News aired a special report, “ABC News Anchor David Muir Interviews Donald Trump”, with video and transcript link here.

Trump said that he may not do his job as well if he has to act too “presidential” like Abraham Lincoln.

Trump later talked about the upcoming refugee halt, which will last several months and ban visitors from seven countries, including Syria, indefinitely. He said it will take about a month for the entire new policy to become clear.  It’s unclear, for example, how asylum seekers are affected.

He said he will set up safe zones in Syria or other places in the Middle East and protect with troops if necessary.

He defended his claims about voter fraud.  Apparently states don’t clean up their rolls when people move (discussion on Twitter today with reporters at Vox).

Trump did seemed civil with a member of the liberal establishment media and showed some of the Oval Office attractions.

One crowd size, “I won’t allow you, or other people like you, to demean the crowd” of people who have been left behind and forgotten.

They also talked about the American Carnage in Chicago.

Trump said he has been told that torture (“Extreme Rendition”) sometimes works.  He said, “they chop off heads and send the pictures all over the world.”

He did talk about getting the nuclear codes right after the oath of office.

"The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets."

He said we should have confiscated oil to stop ISIS from funding itself.

Trump said he told the GOP that the easiest thing to do is let Obamacare implode.  But he says he wants to do the right thing and replace it with something simpler more quicly.