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.