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.

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". 

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. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dateline "Infatuation" depicts bizarre love triangle in Dallas with a closeted gay crush


NBC Dateline “Infatuation”  (link )   presented the mystery of the stabbing of Samantha Nance  in a bizarre love triangle (or rectangle).  The Dallas News has the fact history

Daniel Willyam would be convicted largely by circumstantial evidence for a stabbing that took place in a typical Dallas garden apartment complex.  Samantha had a slender boyfriend who also was a student at the Dallas Institute for the Arts. The other boyfriend had an unusual collection of trophy weapons, but turned out to have a firm alibi at the school despite the convicted suspect’s attempt to frame him.  Willyam apparent had a gay crush on the other boyfriend and felt “left out” socially.


The suspect had shown anger management and jealousy problems in the Navy, and perhaps “upward affiliation”.  The case is very much an aberration in the history of former gay servicemembers and “don’t ask don’t tell”. 


You need your own track in life to avoid these kinds of emotional traps. 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

ABC 20-20 and CBS 48 Hours both air "Death by Text" of a suicide of a Mass. teen, who seemed gifted


ABC 20-20 aired a report “Can Words Kill: Death by Text” Friday night, about the suicide of Conrad Roy by carbon monoxide in his car, as he was receiving text messages from a former girl friend Michele Carter.

She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a bench trial by a Massachusetts Judge.

The case breaks through legal boundaries of whether encouraging someone to commit suicide by texts or social media is actually a crime.

It could one day have some implications in the downstream liability issues, where Section 230 is already under threat of erosion over the Backpage scandal. ‘


But the case is also disturbing because Conrad seemed to develop mental illness in his late teens, despite being a good athlete and student (July 16).

CBS 48 Hours  aired a similar show with Katie Couric called “Death by Text”. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

"Salvation" on CBS: a teen "superhero" find competing with the Russians matters more than saving the Earth from an asteroid


“Salvation”, on CBS, is a somewhat hyped series about how the US deals with an asteroid threatening Earth.

Liam Cole is the 20-year-old MIT student played by British actor Charlie Rowe, who discovers the asteroid shortly after the government does. Clean cut and charismatic, Charlies finds himself in a bizarre political struggle where his own professor wants him to cross over to the Russians, who seem to be competing for the solution.  The story become a reflection about today’s ideas of power and oligarchy and money as becoming more important than survival.


Erica Luttrell is girl friend Claire.

There are eight episodes, packed into six Wednesday evenings July 12 through August 16. 

Update: Sept. 10

On Aug. 30, the president collapses dead as she is about to tell the nation.  Apparently the Russians poisoned her. So the public doesn't now yet.

Update: Sept. 21

The season finale "The Plot Against America" sees the return of the female president MacKenzie. and a NORAD warning of a Russian nuclear attack. The "good people" will live on an orbiting space station for 2 years until Earth recovers.  But Liam, in the very last scene, announces a discovery that could change everything, a glimmer of hope.

Liam is turning out to be a kind of Messiah, the perfect kid that every parent wants.  Does this fit our preconceived fantasies of what superheroes should be like? White, cis male, both geeky and reasonably athletic, and perfect to look at.  Someone gay men and straight women want in bed.

Sounds like there may be a season 2, and it might start on the space station and return to Earth.  I claim that idea.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Al Gore town hall on CNN: "Climate Change Crisis: Town to Act"


Tuesday night, August 1, 2017, CNN hosted a town hall “Climate Change Crisis: Time to Act” with Al Gore, whose second film “An Inconvenient D=Sequel: Truth to Power” opened recently, after his groundbreaking “An Inconvenient Truth” opened in 2005.


Gore answered several people who had lost homes to floods in Louisiana, after unprecedented rains, or to wildfires.  People did not have flood insurance because massive events like these had not happened in the area before.

Gore said that big storms may not be more frequent, but when they come they will be more destructive because they have more heat and moisture to work with.

Gore also said that on all social issues, there is always denial and popular resistance, until a new generation wakes up to the idea that you just have to recognize right and wrong and to the right thing. He said the same thinking had applied to civil rights and gay rights, including marriage equality. 

Picture: Ski lift thru burned area in Gatlinburg, TN, my recent trip 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Hack of HBO's "Game of Thrones" shows the skew in Hollywood for big $$


I have to express some snark at the stories of hackers stealing HBO’s “Game of Thrones” content and threatening to release it, as Grant Rinder reports on Vox. Apparent the threat includes leaking screenplay scripts.

Previously there had been an incident with Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”.


Right now, I discuss my own screenplays and novel plots on a Wordpress blog, because no one perceives any “ratings” value.  It all seems rather silly.  In fact, there is a “third party” rule in Hollywood that doesn’t even allow studios to look at a logline, let alone a script, without an agent,, out of fear of accidental copyright infringement, given the obsession with audience volume with bean counters for the more popular shows and movies. 

Indie media is a different matter, I hope. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

ABC 2020: "Life and Death on the Border": US agents coax teenage mule to poison himself with meth he was carrying


Tonight, Brian Ross hosted 20-20 “Life and Death on theBorder”.   In April 2013, a 16-year-old Cruz Velazquez appeared at the border in San Ysidro, CA with two bottles of liquid.  The two border officers, a man and woman, eschewed performing chemical tests for drugs, and beckoned the teen to take four swallows.  The liquid contained methamphetamines.  Cruz became ill, and medics were not called at first.  Cruz would die 90 minutes after drinking the poison.

The two officers are still on the job and have not been disciplined.  The female officer was herself treated when the drugs splashed on her skin.


I had heard about this incident in a conversation with a Washington Blade reporter at a DC Center asylum seekers meeting in April of this year.  At the time, it had been thought that the liquid had contained methanol, or wood alcohol, which you learn in Chemistry 101 is very poisonous and quickly leads to blindness and death.  But I believe drug mules have actually consumed methanol accidentally and died in crossing.

Cruz would have feared repercussions for his family in Mexico from the drug lords. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

CNN: "After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed": a screenwriting lesson?


On Saturday, July 22, CNN aired a special report, “After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed”, link here.  (Odd that MSN carries it).



Screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny had apparently hired Mark Fuhtman as a consultant when writing a screenplay and novel about female police officers. An odd thing for a screenwriter to do. 

CNN carried O.J/'s parole hearing from Nevada, and it seems it took a predictable course. "I've done my time," he insisted. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"The Russian Spies Living Next Door" starts CNN's "Declassified" Season 2; the photo of Mikhail Semenko


CNN’s series “Declassified” resumed with Season 2 July 2, with “The Russian Spies Living Next Door”, with a presentation, with Leon Panetta, of how Russians placed ordinary people, often young adults, speaking fluent English in American society as spies.  Many were (traditionally) married couples.  The basic link is here.  Some of these cases built the Fox-Amblin-Dreamworks series “The Americans” set in the 1980s.



One particular spy who caught my eye was Mikhail Semenko.  He was a student at Seton Hall University in E Orange NJ and then worked as a travel agent in Arlington VA until his arrest in the summer of 2010.  I think I recall seeing him, as he is quite striking.  Here’s one story in Arlington Now and the Houston Chronicle has the story with beach picture..   Semenko would be caught making a drop in a northern Virginia park. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ABC Nightline: "Gay Purges" in Chechnya


ABC Nightline, in the after midnight show early 7/20/2017, reported on “Gay Purges” in Chechnya.
     
The broadcast visited a safehouse in the outskirts of Moscow, where vigilante violence has increased since 2013 throughout much of Russia, but most of all in Chechnya. 

“Militias” that seemed connected to the government, according to one person in the safehouse. There were stories of torture and electrocution. 

The president of the region denied the existence of gays in this Muslim autonomous area.  He said families should take matters into their own hands.

27 of the over 100 people in the safe house have been able to leave Russia.

Vladimir Putin seems to deny the problem, and his attitude over the Magnitsky Act could be a contributing factor.


The Tsarnaev brothers came from Chechnya.  

Nightline did not have a link the story yet. 

Update: The link resolves if you forward it to Twitter, here

Monday, July 17, 2017

CNN: "The 90s" and Bubba Bill Clinton


CNN has started its series “The 90s” with the same theme music suggesting historical sweep. The main link is here.

The best part of the Pilot was the scenes showing excerpts from David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, as it showed how television changed in the 1990s.  In 1992, George H. W. Bush tried to put down “The Simpsons” as he was losing the White House to the post-Persian Gulf War recession.

Bill Clinton, Bubba himself, the comeback kid, became the subject of the second episode. The episode brushed off his attempt to lift the ban on gays in the military, which became a major story right after he took office in 1993, facing the outcry from Colin Powell, Sam Nunn, and Charles Moskos, who would come up with “don’t ask don’t tell”.



But the episode veered off into the Whitewater scandal, and makes Clinton look as feckless as Trump today. Clinton would lose the midterms in 1004, but then preside over a booming economy in the second half of the decade as it approached Y2K, with the dot-com boom and bust.

Update:

A subsequent episode about the Internet portrayed Bill Gates and Microsoft as trying to rule the world.  It also said that it was porn sites that introduced the idea of credit cards on the web..

Sunday, July 16, 2017

NBC Today show presents problem of gifted teens developing schizophrenia



NBC Today Show Sunday morning had an important report on middle illness among gifted kids, with the story of Joey Hudy, who earned a visit with President Obama with a science fair invention at age 14.

The main link for the video (no embed) is here.


Other videos on YouTube show his earlier science fair awards.  Science fair awards have been important for other young adults often discussed in these blogs, so this is a very disturbing story. 

The report was probably shown in part because of GOP threats to cut mental health care coverage in many policies, especially bare bones, in the current health care debate.

But the report also highlights that the ages 17-25 or so are a period where some young adults, even very gifted ones, develop schizophrenia, for unknown reasons, possibly related to the final phase of the brain maturation and “pruning” which can lead to “ wiring” problems (as connections are “dropped” incorrectly) in the brain given certain genetics.  

Here are some more references on early adulthood schizophrenia: NIH, nbcdfw, Psychcentral, and Washington Post.

It sounds plausible that kids  who are involved in several diversified "real-world" activities (not just before screens) would have more resistance to this problem, given any genetic setup. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

CNN: "The First Son: The Life of Donald Trump, Jr."; the role of the Magnitsky Act??


On Friday, July 14, CNN aired “The First Son: The Life of Donald Trump, Jr.”  At 39, he looks very youthful.

Curiously, CNN does not have a good link on its own show yet.  But here is CNN’s latest on the whole matter of meetings with the Russians during the campaign to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, as if they needed to find more.

Donald Trump Jr. was a bit of a troublemaker sometimes in college.  As an adult, he has drawn controversy, or sometimes praise, on liking to “hunt and fish”.  I guess my own admiration goes to the Canadian zoologist who “whispered” an alpha male lion who let the man join the pride to film it. Higher mammals really are much like us in too many ways.



Donald Jr. seems to be in charge of the international businesses, while Eric runs the domestic.  And, no, this is not fake news.



Update: July 16 

Bill Browder, of Capital Hermitage Management, told Fareed Zakaria 9/16 that Putin wanted Trump in office to have a better change of overturning US laws seizing assets of individual Russians guilty of human rights abuses,  This in turn can destabilize Putin's hold on power in Russia. This concerns the Magnitsky Act, explained on Fox here

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fox airs MLB All Star Game from funky Marlins Park: essentially, its Astros 2, Nats 1


Last night, Fox carried the All Star Game for Major League Baseball, and it turned out to be a low scoring game, where power pitchers, each in for only an inning or two, could dominate power hitters.

The National league (the visiting team) won in 10 innings, 2-1, on a homer by Seattle’s Robinson Cano to right in the top of the frame (MLB report).


The Fox broadcast interviewed two outfielders, Brantley of the Astros and Bryce Harper of the Nationals, by mike as they stood in the outfield as innings began.  Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who won the “homerama” contest (and hit four balls over 500 feet) was interviewed.

Bryce Harper made a great catch of a blooper in right field.  Max Scherzer pitched a stellar first inning.  Strasburg, hit by a line drive Saturday but apparently OK, did not pitch.   Harper wore his uniform a bit open, to be "revealed" during the game. 

Nevertheless, the end result could be viewed as Astros 2, Nats 1. 

Wikipedia attribution link under CCSA 2.0  of Marlins Park “Bermuda Triangle” picture by Lundberg.

Friday, July 07, 2017

"Dying to Be Famous: The Versace Murders" of 1997, on ABC 20-20: about spree killer Andrew Cunanan


Tonight ABC 20-20 aired the retrospective report “Dying to Be Famous: the Versace Murders”, best link here.

The disturbing story concerns spree killer Andrew Cunanan, who killed two former lovers in Minneapolis in the spring of 1997, then another elderly sugar daddy in Chicago in May, and then drove to Miami Beach (through Philadelphia and New Jersey, where he killed a cemetery attendant to steal a car) and killed Gianni Versace, shooting him on the front door of his home in broad daylight.

 Cunanan would commit suicide in a houseboat when collared by police.
 


Cunanan had a high “IQ”, but also narcissistic personality disorder.  His is one of the most disturbing ever in the gay community, and this is very unusual.  Cunanan’s nihilism seemed to be like that of James Holmes in 2012.
 
John Walsh narrated the episode.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Dateline: "Into the Wild": a teenage pilot survives getting lost, a crash in the Big Horn Mountains


NBC Dateline presented “Into the Wild” on Sunday, a story of how McKenzie Morgan, a teenage girl (17) and private pilot survived losing her way in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, crashed, and survived.

A hiker with a lame horse happened to see her, by fortuitous coincidence.  They eventually got down back to civilization to a sheriff’s car.



She had misread a reading and gone the wrong way, finding the plane climbing higher (over 13000 feet) than it is designed to fly.

The flash link for the episode is here.

The episode showed spectacular canyon country as well as bare peaks with no human traffic.

I visited the area in 1994.

Big Horn alpine scene, Wikipedia, John David Stutts, CCSA 3.0

Friday, June 30, 2017

CNN: AC360 hosts documentary "The Pulse of Orlando"


Anderson Cooper hosted the one hour documentary “The Pulse of Orlando” tonight.

The Orlando Sentinel has a story here and CNN has a major link here.

The broadcast focused on naming the victims and telling the stories of the survivors. One female said she was not proud of being a survivor.  Anderson became emotional during the readings and interviews.

There was some coverage of the outdoor area during the incident with the police cars.



Andersom interviewed the owner Barbara Poma.

Anderson also visited a large conservative church in Orlando, whose pastor said he had had little contact with the gay community before the attack.

Anderson also visited a local Metropolitan Community Church.

I visited the Pulse on Saturday, July 11, 2015 and left shortly before 2 AM, after being at a downtown outdoor festival.  So this could have happened to me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CNN: "The Russian Connection: Inside the Attack on Democracy"


Tonight, CNN aired a special report, “The Russian Connection: Inside the Attack on Democracy”, best link here.

The documentary started with an enactment of the cyber attack on Estonia in 2007, which forced Estonia to cut off all outside web traffic for some time.

The attack on the Democratic National Committee seems to have been launched largely by spear phishing, with an attack asking a Democratic National Committee to change a password, purportedly from gmail.



The eventual outcome was the leak of emails, and eventually also the leak of some of Hillary Clinton’s private email server content, which had started out as simply bad workplace judgement, something familiar to me from my own IT career.

The fake news attack favoring Trump was another beast.
 
James Clapper often spoke.

Friday, June 23, 2017

ABC 20-20: "What Happened to Otto?": We don't know, as there is no proof he did anything; tensions with North Korea at all time high


ABC 20-20 on Friday June 23 aired “What Happened to Otto”, a documentary with Bob Wodruff examining the life and death of Otto Warmbier, after he was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016 and, according to the best evidence, experienced some sort of suffocation shortly after imprisonment and lapsed into a coma.  The best link seems to be this.

Warmbier had toured the world after reaching his junior year at the University of Virginia.  While in China, he learned about a group Pioneer Tours that does guided tours to North Korea.

To its credit, it must be said that the tours are structured and pass through various places quickly. Pyongyang is made to look modern and inviting and tourists are put into a particular high-rise on an island.  The company will no longer accept tourists from the U.S. because of the tense political situation.
 


The fifth floor is blocked off, and is where the DPRK maintains surveillance on guests.  News people had gotten photos of the secret floor (rather out of “Being John Malkovich”). The North Koreans had a grainy photo of a somewhat tall person who had snuck down to the floor non stairs and removed a poster. But it is not possible to prove that the person is Warmbier, and it is possible that Warmbier’s tearful confession as coerced, according to ABC's broadcast.

Nevertheless some people have written that Warmbier was arrogant in believing he could flout the values of another culture, however authoritarian, and however venial is act.  But we aren’t sure he did anything.

The Trump administration did put more pressure on North Korea to release Warmbier than had Obama’s.  Does the death of ab American (three more right now are in prison) increase the tension between the US and North Korea?  The US has to consider the grisly possibility of a conventional or possibly WMD attack on South Korea in retaliation.  (That might include an EMP strike.)  The US can put more pressure on China and companies in China that do business with North Korea.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

CNN's Anthony Bourdain visits Antarctica, where ice sheets are melting


Anrhony Bourdain visited Antarctic and stayed in the McMurdo camp as his “Parts Unknown” episode Saturday night, link here.

The camp is one of the cleanest, most litter-communities on Earth, even better than Singapore.



He also visited the dry valleys near McMurdo.

He then flew over the volcano Mount Erebus, and later visited a compound on the South Pole.

He visited a study of penguins.  But the biggest concern is the thickness of ice sheets given climate change.

The sociology of the scientists who live together for months at a time in a closed environment is interesting, quasi-military.

Wikipedia dry valley picture

By NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team - NASA Image of the Day, Public Domain, Link

Friday, June 16, 2017

ABC Nightline interviews Chelsea Manning after her release from Leavenworth, based on Obama's commutation


ABC Nightline interviewed Chelsea Manning, 29, late Thursday night, best link here.

Juju Chang consistently referred to Manning as female, only later mentioning that she had grown up in Oklahoma as Bradley and entered the Army as male, and then demanding treatment for her transition to female while in military prison.

She says she thinks she did the right thing.  NSA officials say there were legitimate channels for her to play whistleblower.



Yet, her 40 minute leak to Wikileaks became the film “Collateral Murder”, which I posted myself in April 2010.  No one has complained about my linking to this film, which is still available on YouTube.

Chelsea insisted, “I’m just me” and that she took life one day at a time.  She also called herself “a subject matter expert”.

She had a contact at Wikileaks named Nathaniel.
By Americasroof - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CNN airs from Congressional game at Nats Park while the real Nats beat the Mets in NYC


CNN broadcast AC360 tonight from Nationals Park where, in a 7-inning game, the Democrats, batting first as the visiting team with the Republicans in office everywhere, won 11-2.
Here’s a report on the game.   In the meantime, the Nationals were beating the Mets 8-3 at Citi Field in Queens, NYC.



CNN has some footage as well as a discussion between Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi here.

I don’t know if there were any homers or hard hit balls.  It would be interesting for Hollywood to have a game with actors.  Typically, fit younger men with the ability to act in demanding film would have the strength to hit “hanging” pitches over major league fences 330-400 feet or so.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Comey hearings


The Comey hearings go on right now on CNN and all major networks.



Last night, on CNN, Jeffrey Toobin and Alan Dershowitz had a disagreement as to whether Trump’s behavior with Comey amounts to criminal obstruction of justice.  Dershowitz says that Trump’s behavior was within his powers, but Congress can still try to impeach.  Toobin said this resembles Nixon.  There is confusion as to what is impeachable and what could lead to later criminal prosecution.

Comey called the president a liar several times.

Comey was criticized by Trump's attorney for "leaking" official information to a third party, a Columbia University Professor, after Comey saw Trump's speculative tweet about having tapes.

Here's the CNN link.

Many Senators this morning expressed dismay that Russians had so brazenly interfered with our elections.

Monday, June 05, 2017

"Live With Megyn Kelly": interview with Putin, an opioid company whistleblower, a woman who stops elephant poachers in Africa


Live With Megyn Kelly” premiered on NBC Sunday night at 7 PM, best link.

She interviewed Vladimir Putin, and the broadcast showed beautiful shots of St. Petersburg, Russia.  Putin denied interfering with the US, said he doesn’t care who is president, and says the US NSA interferes with other countries.
 


She then interviewed a whistleblower who uncovered “fraud” in the company that sells Fentanyl, an opioid that can be delivered under the tongue, but that is potentially fatal from accidental exposure, even to the skin.

She also interviewed a woman pursuing poaching of elephants in Kenya.  She showed a safari on a dirt road that became almost impassable, even to four-wheel drives, after an average thunderstorm. She also showed the sociable nature of the animals and the way they raise their young.  Elephants are the most intelligent animal that does not eat meat, and can recognize themselves as individuals in mirrors  Their intelligence is similar to that of carnivores (dogs, cats) or even superior, perhaps more like that of cetaceans.

Wikipedia attribution link for St. Petersburg at Christmas, by Alexander Savin frm Finland, under CCSA 2.0. My novel manuscript (“Angel’s Brother”) has an early sequence where a lead character visits St. Petersburg, then Lagoda, and “escapes” through Finland prompting an international incident.  Something like this could really happen.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

ABC Nightline shows police body cam footage from Orlando Pulse shooting


ABC Nightline Special: “Inside the Pulse Nightclub Terror”, link aired June 1 at 12:35 AM. It would be nice if it aired earlier.  Some of it had been previewed on ABC World News Tonight.

These are excerpt from “hours of body cam footage from Orlando nightclub shooting” on June 13, 2016, with Brian Ross.



The shots started right after last call.

Police could not help the victims at first until they knew where Mateen was. They could not

The broadcast replays Mateen’s invocation of the Islamic State and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. .

The broadcast does chronicle the risky conclusion of the rescue ending with Mateen’s death.

The broadcast mentioned another nightclub shooting the night before in Orlando.

I had visited the Pulse myself on a trip to Orlando in July 2015.