Monday, August 13, 2018

"Our Man in Tehran" starts on PBS Frontline


Monday night, Aug. 13, PBS Frontline aired the first part (two hours) of “Our Man in Tehran” (one link).

An New York Times reporter raised in the US goes to live and work in Tehran.  While he is there, Obama reaches the test an deal with Iran (which Trump has reneged on) and another Times journalist is released.

The reporter (Thomas Erdbrink) develops a relationship with a woman there.  She is very careful to wear the shawl inside even.


The woman reports that as a single woman she has been unable to rent an apartment because the landlady, who refuses to talk to her, claims she would run a brothel.

The journalist reports on how a fanatical minority lead the country, and point to the US as the enemy they need to have to justify their revolution. But of course, the Shah had oppressed the people. The hostage standoff in 1979 under Jimmy Carter is often mentioned, as is the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s. 

 (As an aside, Navy orion flier PO Keith Meinhold, who became famous for challenging the military ban on gays just before Clinton won, had spent much of his career hunting submarines in the Gulf of Hormuz.)

The city looks modern. 
    
Wikipedia attribution link for image by Siamax under CCSA 3.0 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

NBC Dateline "Hollywood Heat" covers one crime briefly, then moves to Mike Connelly police novels, and Blumhouse horror films



NBC Dateline aired an unusual (for it) episode at 10 PM Friday night, August 10, 2018, “Hollywood Heat”, as a kind of one hour film in three parts.  The direct link is not there yet.

The first half hour concerned the disappearance of Lesley Herring in February 2009 when she worked for a home security company in Los Angeles.  She and her husband Lyle, a college recruiter, lived in an upscale condo. Eventually, in typical Dateline fashion (although brief) the trail leads to him.  

Lyle supposedly owed some crime figures (maybe MS13?) money and have traveled south, and reportedly offered to let himself be shaved (just head and mustache, or maybe crotch too?) as collateral. Very bizarre, like in a soap opera. 
  
Eventually he is convicted without the body of second degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life.

Then Dateline turned its attention to cop Michael J. Connelly who became a best-selling novelist (which I haven’t so far).  He wrote about what he knew, with real places in LA, about his composite cop character Harry Bosch.  His writing is said to be inspired by “The Big Sleep” and to have inspired the film “Bullitt”.


Then the show interviews horror film producer Jason Blum, who works riding around in LA in a van with the shades up. Most of his films are made for less than $5 million. "Get Out" is one of his hits, and it combines horror with the modern dilemmas about race. 
  
Octavia Spencer, who stars in the upcoming show “Ma”. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

"A Mother's Mission" on Dateline: an actress tries to rescue her daughter from NXIVM, which had offered an "Executive Success Program"



On Monday, August 6, NBC Dateline aired “A Mother’s Mission”, one hour, about actress Catherine Oxenberg, and her effort to rescue her daughter India from a group called Nxivm, which is described as a multi-level marketing company .  Megyn Kelly reported.
  
Oxenberg had starred on “Dynasty” in the 1980s, and previously on “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana” in 1982.

She brought her daughter to the group thinking it would help her develop the sales techniques to operate her own business, in its “Executive Success Program”.  But gradually India found herself coerced by various practices within the group, as with the founder Keith Raniere.

The efforts to extract her daughter and possibly deprogram so far have not been successful, and the mother-daughter relationship appears estranged.


Smallville actress Allison Mack was in the group.  The practices included tattoos.

I have always been skeptical of any group predicated on how to manipulate people into tribal belonging.   


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Don Lemon responds to Trump's personally insulting tweet after Lemon's interview of LeBron James




Don Lemon has a ten-minute reply to the insulting tweet that Donald Trump sent on Friday regarding Lemon’s interview with LeBron James.

Lemon felt it necessary to respond, as a journalist. Chris Cuomo led in to his remarks at the end of Chris’s show.


LeBron James is producing a series on basketball, “Shut Up and Dribble” for Showtime, to premier in October.  The series will deal in part with the pressure on athletes to become active in political and social causes and remain politically correct. 
  
James opened a school for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio.  James has said that service should be expected of everyone.


Sunday, August 05, 2018

CNN 2000s: financial crises, mainly 2008: How evil capitalists like "me" caused them



CNN’s “The 2000’s” continued tonight with a presentation of the financial crises in the decade. Here’s the basic link
  
In  2001, maybe shortly after 9/11 as I recall, Enron started to unfold, leading to bankruptcy and collapse.  In fact, I recall an ABC Nightline program on Enron on Dec. 12, and I was told of my own layoff on Dec. 13.

Later some other companies (MCI WorldComm) were found to have cooked the books and collapsed. I had a friend who had returned to MCI to work in 1994 and moved to Colorado with them. 

Then in the mid subprime mortgages were used to help brokers make money, and enable people without steady large incomes to afford higher home prices than they could have according to ordinary due diligence.  The house of cards would fall, first with Bear Sterns in March 2008, and then many brokerages starting on Sunday September 15, finally leading to the collapse of AIG, which had engineered the over-securitization with credit default swaps.

Anderson Cooper had been covering Hurricane Rita and wading on Sept 14 and had to hurry home for the Black Sunday, which I watched on my basement computer.  Mother hadn’t a clue.


Under Paulsen (said to be a Democrat at heart) at Treasury, George W. Bush decided to do the bailouts. (Fannie Mae had been taken under in early September.) Congress refused to pass it the first time, but did so the second with more pressure from John McCain. So the banks were bailed out, while works suffered unprecedented layoffs and portfolio shrinkage. 

I came out of this pretty well in a few months.  I have refused jobs selling mortgages to consumers.  Maybe I made some adjustments in August to my own and mother’s porfolios seeing the end coming,  What, selling short?

I was the evil capitalist.  But I punished the bad behavior of others.

Wasn’t it an autistic doctor who started a hedge fund who made the market collapse? He liked numbers and games more than he liked patients. (“The good doctor”?)

Fox News says that chasing a 6% yield caused everything to collapse in 2008.
   
Finally the episode covers the lives that Bernie Madoff ruined.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Devon Franklin appears on ABC GMA with Robin Roberts: is this an example to follow for self-help?



Devon Franklin on ABC’s Good Morning America Wednesday, August 1, played motivational speaker with survivors with audience exercises with Robin Roberts.


Franklin is author of “The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success”.

Now I get prodded as to why I don’t try to do this as an author!

My own physician was underwhelmed by the story of Robin Roberts, but a bone marrow transplant, even to prevent a future cancer, is not trivial.  I grew up at a time when such sharing of body tissues from relatives to save others’ lives was not possible yet, so I’ve never bought on to this.
  
Franklin’s self-help and motivation reminds me of the forced love sessions from Ask Rayceen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Separated Children at the Border" on PBS Frontline




Tonight PBS Frontline aired the very strong documentary “SeparatedChildren at the Border” with correspondent Martin Smith.

The film traced the history of illegal migration from Central America back to Obama’s first term.
   
It also shows real footage of migrants on trains in Central America, where kids have to jump on.  
   
Gangs even control the trains, and many kids die trying to get on.
    
In 2014, the increase of migration was quite marked, and the Obama administration even briefly contemplated some family separation, but rejected it. But the film explains how the Flores Settlement was interpreted to mean that many families would have to be released.  The Obama administration was well aware that Central America could become our Syria, and that the nation faced a growing moral crisis.  


I just was in south Texas myself at the end of May.  By no means were all ranchers or people in the area are hostile; many volunteer with religious charities to help. But one rancher in the documentary said flat out that the U.S. cannot take care of everyone in the world.

During the campaign, some on the right complained that Obama’s DACA policy would encourage more illegal migration.

The later part of the documentary shows the children in the detention centers (CBS video ), and documents the inability of the Trump administration to follow court orders to reunite the families.  Workers actually lost track of many babies.

The documentary contemplated the view that Trump and Sessions deliberately separated the children as political pawns to warn other migrants contemplated illegal entry that they would lose their kids to prison-like conditions if they attempted to enter illegally, under zero tolerance.
   
In the last scene, a family is reunited in Virginia.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

CNN 2000s: The Internet grows from Web 1.0 to 2.0



CNN continued the series “The 2000’s” Sunday night, with a short history of the Internet.

This piece on CNN, about how everything changed in 2006 as Facebook moved toward public use, with a picture of a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, who had launched it from his dorm room on Feb. 4, 2004. 

As 2000 starts, the dot-com bubble is full boil, but it will crash. I can remember working with consultants at ING-ReliaStar in Minneapolis who thought their employers were heaven.

The crash started well before 9/11, but larger companies would aggregate and dominate the Internet ten years later.


Google thrived as a search engine in the beginning because it seemed to give better results.

The documentary explores the evolution of Web 2.0, based on user-generated content rather than people speaking directly on their own sites.  It traces Friendster and Myspace as predecessors of Facebook.  Myspace became a favorite target of Dr. Phil.

Web 2.0 is coming under pressure because of erosion of Section 230, as with the recent Backpage "FOSTA" law (not covered in the documentary).

There is discussion of whether new technology (radio, television, now the Internet, smartphones and social media) harm kids.  We seem to get through the predictions.  But pediatricians insist small children should not watch screens.

The Internet also fed into the sharing economy: using your own car to work for Uber or Lyft, or to rent out to Airbnb -- because you can't make enough in wages no, unless you have connections or are very gifted. 
     
The film also presents Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, which would be followed by his illness (an unusual form of pancreatic cancer) escalated, leading to a liver transplant.  Still he carried on, after returning, almost until his passing in October 2011.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

"Secrets of Pleasant Grove", Utah, on Dateline: the MacNeil "big family" case


The Dateline episode on Friday, July 28, 2018, “Secrets in Pleasant Grove” certainly makes us question the old Mormon implementation of “family values”.  The basic link is here

“Pleasant Grove” refers to a town in Utah (formerly "Battle Creek"), about 30 miles south of Salt Lake;  there is a town by that name in California and a neighborhood in SE Dallas where I used to own a condo in the 1980s.

Martin MacNeil has been both a doctor and lawyer, and had fathered four children and adopted four more (apparently from overseas, including Ukraine) in his marriage to Michele.  That seems to comport with traditional LDS family values centered around procreation as activity that socializes men into responsible lives that can take care of others in a more general sense.

  
It seems as though MacNeil got into an affair, and then demanded that his wife, at age 50, have a facelift.  Then in a mysterious sequence she died in her bathtub. It was said to be from a heart attack, and MacNeil claimed to have done CPR – yet she vomited water when the EMT came.

The episode traces his previous fraud convictions and eventually he is convicted of murder.
  
Normally if you were a doctor and lawyer, you’d wonder how you could have time for eight kids.
  
By Don LaVange - Flickr: Looking West, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Thursday, July 26, 2018

"The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived": Ted Williams, on PBS American Masters



PBS American Masters aired a biography of Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams, “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”, link, on July 25, 2018, narrated by Jon Hamm.

Williams batted left-handed;  Fenway Park in Boston actually favored right handed hitters. He used a slightly lighter bat than usual and emphasized bat speed.


His career was interrupted twice by war.  He bargained with the Navy and got to enlist after the 1942 season, and was kept out of combat.  But he was recalled, this time as a fighter pilot, for the Korean War and almost crashed once, taking a riskier course to avoid the type of injury that could have ended his career. He returned to hitting well immediately on each return.


His .406 batting average in 1941 was the highest ever.

On hist last at bat, on September 28, 1960, in Boston, against Baltimore, he hit a home run. 

He would develop cardiomyopathy later in life and die in Florida in 2002 after having a pacemaker in 2000.

Photo link; Wikipedia attribution to Lipofsky  under CCSA 3.0 , 2002 photo of a honor event.  I have personally visited Fenway once, in 1975 (home game with Chicago White Sox). 

Friday, July 20, 2018

CNN: "The Trump Show" isn't as original as "The Truman Show"


The Trump Show” aired tonight on CNN, sounds like a takeoff of the movie “The Truman Show”. 

But it was an examination of how Trump’s presidency has influenced television series. 
  
For example, Homeland, where there is a Russian plot against the White House, was compared to the Russian hack before the election.

  
A lot of attention was focused on the suspension of RoseannBarr, as a “business decision”, after her racist metaphorical Tweet concerning Obama. New York Times has a big article on how companies draw the line, and this is starting to affect conduct that tech companies will tolerate on their platforms.Roseann now claims she was tired because she admitted she had voted for Donald Trump. Yet originally she was "hired" because her conservative credentials would appeal to a certain blue collar base. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

CNN's "The 2000's": a hasty summary of Bush-Gore, then 9/11 and Iraq



CNN has started its series “The 2000’s” which means 2000-2009.

After the mandatory intro based on television in the era (they neglected “Smallville” and “Everwood”, two of my favorite comfort foods during much of the decade), they hastily summarized the 2000 chad election (Bush v Gore), 9/11, and the war in Iraq.  It takes a lot more than an hour to do justice to these topics in a history show.

It did do justice to "Sex in the City" and the Fox series "24" (Kiefer Sutherland) which I watched on Tuesday nights. "Lost" get mentioned. 

At the end, the show intimates that winning the peace in Iraq would be difficult.  Indeed, ISIS proved that. 

  
The show did not go into a supplementary CNN article explaining that Al Qaeda cancelled a cyanide subway attack in New York, which might have happened the same time the war in Iraq started (in March 2003) in order to discredit the theory that Saddam Hussein really did have WMD’s. This plot is much less known than the anthrax attacks at the end of 2001 (which ABC Nightline had warned could happen in 1999 special).  

Sunday, July 08, 2018

CNN footage of ongoing rescue in Thailand of boys trapped by water in a mountain cave



I thought I would give a CNN video link from the rescue effort of the boys’ soccer team in a cave in Thailand.
  
  
British Navy seals are accompanying Thai seals, and the Pentagon is said to be giving some technical assistance.

As of now, four of the boys have been pulled out.  It is expected that the rescue will resume as soon as oxygen tanks are refilled.

The story may provide a lesson on boys’ learning water – swimming and diving skills – and on what society expects in the way of people stepping up when children are in trouble.

A recent tweet by former Navy Seal Kristin Beck (who transitioned to female after her career) seems meaningful here.

Update: July 11

The boys and coach are all rescued now and doing well.  But the pumps failed just after the last rescue.  This was a very close call (Guardian story). 
   
Picture from Wikipedia near the site in northern Thailand.
By Georgina Rose - University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

PBS News Hour: "How a New Aristocracy's Segregation Puts Stress on Society", with Matthew Stewart



A recent PBS Newshour with Julie Woodruff (June 29) reatures an interview by Paul Solman with writer Matthew Stewart.  The segment is called “How a New Aristocracy’s Segregation Puts Stress on Society”.


The theory is that it isn’t the top 0.1% or even top 1% that matters; it’s more the top 10%, below the top 0.1 –  families and individuals with net assets of at least $1.2 million.  That probably includes assets managed in inherited trusts (which is my situation).

Such persons or families tend to live in gated communities (which are slowly becoming armed and gated) or relatively secure modern urban high-rises. They tend to be able to send their kids to better public schools, or private schools.  All of this is familiar. But what’s a little more provocative is that Stewart points out that people still tend to marry within their economic class (even if more often across racial lines). He covers how this is a carryover of the way royal families have behaved in Europe for centuries, and quotes a PBS comedy about someone not marrying within his class.  That sounds like the musical “My Fair Lady”.

Stewart notes that people in the 90-99%-ile feel they have a lot to lose because of one mistake, so they tend to become retentive and defensive, often not sharing in the risks that lower income people face -- and this sounds like Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Skin in the Game" book. So, by behaving "responsibly" as an individual and making measured choices and "doing no wrong", you are actually contributing to the pressure of people less well off than you. 
  
It even affects social behavior and dating.  In gay discos today, I find myself being approached by minority women when I am “watching”.  Some people believe that “body fascism,” especially in the white male gay community and apparent on various YouTube videos, could contribute to a political climate that eventually facilitates real political fascism (Umair Haque implied that recently).
 
Stewart also notes that poorer education and cognitive skill development below the top 10% leads to lower literacy, and more vulnerability to fake news campaigns spawning political divisions.

  
Stewart’s June 1, 2018 article is “When the Poor Turn Against the Poor” and is available here

Monday, July 02, 2018

"Days of our Lives": Sonny is blackmailed into a gay marriage he doesn't want; could the soap break the ice on gay players in Major League Baseball with Paul?



Days of our Lives” now has the preposterous situation where Leo tries to blackmail Sonny into marrying him in order to make a fake “sexual harassment” lawsuit go away.  Sonny even “accepts”.
The writers have concocted a plot in the gay world where an entire company (Titan, named after Saturn’s most interesting moon) goes under in the same way that the Weinstein Company in the film world did because of a sexual harassment scandal.

Of course, Weinstein’s problems have reached multiple criminal charges.

But the idea of blackmailing someone into gay marriage does seem to make a mockery of it.  

Conservative reviewers (and maybe “The Washington Times”, which used to put the word “marriage” in quotes when referring to same-sex unions) will have fun with this one.

It’s no laughing matter now, since the Supreme Court is likely to move even more to the right.

Right now, “Days” has become the most gay-centered soap ever, outdoing the sitcom “Modern Family” even if with a grimmer plot.  And the actors Freddie Smith (Sonny) and the returned Chandler Massey (Will) have habits of suddenly molting their body hair, to later return.  (This might happen to Casey Moss, playing the reformed character JJ, who is straight).

  
The best plot direction for DOOL would be to have Paul (a Japanese American, played by Christopher Sean) recover from his shoulder injuries (like Stephen Strasburg right now) and return to Major League Baseball and pitch a complete game no-hitter as an openly gay pitcher.  (It can even be against the Nationals.)  Let him hit a home run in the game, too.  The film “Alone in the Game” will create more attention to gays in sports.   Right now, MLB, despite its non-discrimination policy and LGBTQ nights in every city, seems to have no openly gay players (note the video, however).  “Days” should try to change that, at least in fiction, so it happens in real life. 
   
I hope I've given the writers of the soap some real ideas.  No, I don't work for them. 

Update:

Leo is gone.  Looks like Sonny killed him accidentally in a fight. Now they have to dispose of the body. 

Update: Aug 6 (AM)

I have to wonder if Will is transitioning, based on appearances.  Is that going to be the next plot twist? Maybe the amnesia recovery has triggered a new identity. Is that why Chandler Massey, now 27, has rejoined the show?  He has indeed changed. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

"The Difference Between the U.S. and Canada" on "United Shades of America"


W Kamau Bell’s “United Shades of America” presented “The Difference Between U.S. and Canada” Sunday night on CNN, as here
  
Several big points were covered.  Canada has single-payor health insurance (which Bernie Sanders hypes) so everyone is used to it and it isn’t controversial (except for the waiting lists).
  
He covered the influx of young American men during the late 1960s because of the draft, including a writer and shop owner who settled in Toronto for life.

He also covered undocumented immigrants crossing the Canadian border from the U.S., a lot in Manitoba.


I’ve touched foot in every province except Prince Edward Island (and not in Yukon or NWT); I crossed “illegally” into Saskatchewan over back farm roads in 1997, well before 9/11-mandated tightening. Now you need a passport.

Bell mentioned Canada’s hospitality to returning flights, which stopped in Gander Newfoundland (I’ve stopped there) right after 9/11. 

Bourdain had recently covered Newfoundland. Toronto, however, is hardly a "part unknown". 

Remember “Blame Canada” from The Simpsons.
    
Many young actors come from Canada, especially Ryan Gosling and Richard Harmon (“The Greatest of All Time” as per Timo Descamps, cannot run for president.)  I think Gregory Smith ("Everwood") has dual citizenship.  Ontario’ school systems seem to prepare youth for film and acting careers (film is one of Toronto’s biggest industries, as it is in Vancouver also).  I find it interesting that young Canadians seem to have the political awareness that Americans need, and are much less susceptible to demagoguery.  
   
By Kenny Louie from Vancouver, Canada - York after sunset, CC BY 2.0, Link

Update: July 1

Bell presented an episode on Hawaii.  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Family Secrets": NJ doctor in opioid scandal arrested for murder of wife (ABC 20-20)



The June 22 episode of ABC 2020, “Family Secrets”, gave the bizarre narrative of Dr. James Kauffman, who had recently committed suicide in prison after a much belated arrest in Atlantic City for the hired murder of his wife five years before.

All of this was related to an “opioid” business which has become a national scandal in the past few years. 

The wife April had been a popular Jersey Shore talk show host. 

  
It’s interesting that most of the murders on 20-20 and Dateline involve complicated domestic disputes.  Relatively few involve foreign interests (no one has covered the 2008 cases of Kanika Powell and Sean Green (see Jan. 24, 2015 on this blog), which seem to have gone cold; there’s a reddit on it now. )  It’s about time that Dateline, 2020, 48 Hours, or CNN Presents covers this case.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"Reverie": an alternate reality app is rather like a dream layer from "Inception" (NBC Series)


I checked out “Reverie” on NBC tonight, the fourth episode called “Blue Is the Coldest Color”.

The series is created by Mickey Fiscer and David Schulner.

Sara Shahi plays Mara Kint, a former hostage negotiator who takes a new job deprogramming people lost inside a virtual reality game called “Reverie” developed by Onira-Tech.

One could say that the virtual reality world is a bit like the dreams in a movie like “Inception” (2010).

The characters seem to move between layers of reality just as in that movie.


The clients seem to be more lost and unrecoverable than what we call gamer addiction.

Gradually Mara finds her work brings back a tragedy of her own past.

Tonight, a young man who is an expectant father and parent doesn’t want to leave his “dream”.
  
At one point the idea of teleportation between the virtual reality and real reality is mentioned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

ABC Nightline: Stephanopoulos interviews Trump right after Singapore summit



The two previous episodes of ABC “Nightline” have dealt with Donald Trump’s meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. The highlight of the episodes is the interview by George Stephanopoulos with Donald Trump, here .

Trump, needless to say, has drawn a lot of “constructive” criticism, such as this piece by Rick Wilson in the Daily Beast.

   
My take: we may have evaded a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula and conceivably at least an EMP threat to the homeland USA.  At least for now.  But true, this is bad karma: Un is the world’s most brutal dictator, and it looks silly for Trump to have to indulge him, as to how much he “loves” his own people, whose understanding of life is a lot more collective than ours.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"The Two Faces of Kim Jong Un", by Fareed Zakaria, airs on CNN in advance of the Singapore summit


The Two Faces of Kim Jong Un: A Fareed Zakaria Special” aired Sunday night on CNN at 8 PM EDT, best link now. 

I could have put this on mu “cf” blog, which isolates films on existential threats of American freedoms.

Were Kim Jong Un really able to fire nuclear weapons to the continental US (or Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, etc) that would be appropriate, and he may be very close to actually being able to reach eventhe US East Coast (and there may be an EMP threat).  We don’t know whether he really destroyed anything last week in front of journalists.


The film covered the history of the Kim family, and the earlier attempts to develop nuclear weapons, which was interrupted by a deal that Jimmy Carter brokered in 1994 under the Clinton administration.

The deal gradually leaked, partly under GOP hostility in the US, and by 2006 the Kim Song Il had tested a nuke with plutonium fuel.  Without help from the Soviets and Chinese at first, North Korea developed its prototype weapons over a period of years.

The show explains how the Kim family has imposed a pseudo-religious cult (almost based on Christianity) on a communist regime. Kim has tried to make Pyongyang a showpiece for the 11% of the population picked by the state to live there.  He needs more money to keep up his promises to his own elites, or he could get thrown out of power.  That is one reason for the summit.
  
Zakaria insists that Kim Jong Un is rational (however Janus-faced), as is his family, which has kept up this bizarre charade for 70 years, through the Korean War, with a narrow miss in the 1990s.
  
Picture: By Women's International Democratic Federation(Life time: N/A) - Original publication: "We Accuse", 1951, East BerlinImmediate source: Twitter, PD-US, Link

Saturday, June 09, 2018

"Father Knows Best" (1955) looks at "The Art of Salesmanship"



The Art of Salesmanship” (1955) gives us pause to think about “sales culture” today.


What? “A man’s son is an extension of himself?”

Dad is so proud to have a salesman in the family, and challenges the son to sell some junk, and the son doesn’t have what it takes and winds up washing dishes.  Manual labor?

I’ve never seen manipulating others to get them to buy things as a virtue.

OK, this is a “Father Knows Best” episode, with Robert Young and Jane Wyatt (Screen Gems, Columbia).

Friday, June 08, 2018

"Remembering Anthony Bourdain" on CNN



Friday night, CNN present an hour-long “Remembering AnthonyBourdain”. 

I can recall a pastor that I know calling him an outstanding journalist.

Bourdain was found unresponsive in a hotel room in France Friday morning. It has been definitively reported as a suicide.

I had not been aware that Bourdain, 61, had started out as a chef.  But it makes sense – the centerpieces of his episodes was the sharing of homemade meals, often in remote jungle locations or on river boats.

  
Bourdain was quite concerned about the political implications of his journeys.  When he visited the Congo, he discussed colonialism.  In Russia, he mentioned the 2013 anti-gay “propaganda” law.

One physical oddity -- Bourdain had tattooed his arms in the past couple of years.  Commentary says he had been a smoker.
   
Bourdain also found interesting location in the US – his own native New Jersey, and Brooklyn, as well as the Louisiana bayous and the California valleys.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

"Brain Secrets with Dr. Michael Merzenich": how your own momentum can keep your brain intact as you age



Maria Shriver (whose dad died of Alzehimer’s) hosted “Brain Secrets with Dr. Michael Merzenich” today on many PBS stations
    
This sort of personal advice program punctuated with appeals to funds tends to irritate me, but many of the ten tips sounded important.

Merzenich seems to accept that physics says that the brain determines consciousness, so if it changes, you change.  But, as a paradox, you can control how your brain changes.  The presentation often mentions “brain plasticity”.


My going on a 10 day trip with many destinations and some risks of so much driving and so much attention to the minutia of keeping track of things when traveling, may be my own way to stay sharp.

I do believe that momentum can keep seniors active much longer.  Once you start the multiple medicare visits and treating every pain, the game is over.

He recommends acts of kindness as good for the resilience of the brain.There was mention of specific functional issues, like being able to remember names of things or certain words, even though you remember identities. 



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

ABC cancels Roseanne over questionable tweet(s); she blames Ambien


ABC cancelled “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr issued a tweet(s) offensive to many people. ABC7Chicago has a story
  
The cancellation will cost many show staffers their jobs, as pointed out on MSNBC this morning


ABCNews has a bizarre story to the effect that Roseanne blames Ambien.

From my perspective, the tweet was possibly an attack just on extremism, not on Muslims or any race per se.

But private companies can control what visible employees or associates or other stakeholders can say on social media. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

CNN documentary "1968": the most pivotal year of my own lifetime



Sunday night May 28 CNN aired the first two parts of the 4-part 4-hour documentary “1968: The Year that Changed America” from Playtime and Tom Hanks (best link). 

  
The documentary seemed to expand from the “1968” episode of CNN’s “The Sixties”. It emphasized tha 1968 was a pivotal year in which the country almost came apart.
  
The first episode is called “Winter” and focused on the Tet Offensive in Vietnam at the end of January.  I went into the Army personally on Feb. 8.  The episode said that white people went out of the way to avoid redress of racial grievance out of desire to remain segregated and not even have to see blacks.  In the Army it was different.  Blacks were more likely to wind up in infantry and become casualties in Vietnam but were much more respected within the ranks or in Basic Training. The episode ends with LBJ’s announcement that he will not run – the lowest day of my tenure in Special Training.
   
The second episode was called “Spring” and focused first on the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis and on the resulting riots, and then on candidacy of Robert Kennedy and his assassination in Los Angeles in June 1968.  Had be not been attacked, he might have won the nomination and handily defeated Nixon.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

ABC 20-20 examines crimes committed by people on ankle home monitoring


Friday, May 25, ABC 20-20 covered the problem of convicts, parolees, or arrested suspects on ankle monitoring committing crimes, on an episode titled “50 Murders Since 2012”, best link.
   
Some suspects figure out how to remove the devices.  Many companies do not respond immediately when there are violations, due to financial disincentives.

There was one particularly egregious case in upstate New York.


Monitoring is often used on celebrity defendants or convicts, like Martha Stewart, for part of her sentence in 2003, and now Harvey Weinstein.

Another report is here


Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Days of our Lives" now has a subplot of gay sexual harassment under false pretenses



Today, gay intrigue continued on “Days or our Lives”.  Leo has set up Freddie for a gay sexual harassment suit. First, Leo slept with him, then quit verbally, but didn’t give a written resignation letter.
  
Suddenly, Freddie is confronted with a process server with a complaint suing him for the sexual harassment.  Leo is snake just going after Sonny’s money.
  
Will and Paul are still researching scrapbooks, and Will these days keeps wearing very long-sleeved shirts, in May. 
  
  
Sonny, for now, has his chest hair back, but he has a good reason to lose it all now.
  
I can imagine what it must be like to be a writer working for a soap.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

PBS Frontine: "Weinstein"


On May 22, PBS re-aired its Frontline film “Weinstein”, originally March 2, 2018. 
The film emphasized Weinstein’s adventurousness in the early days of independent film, when he bucked the system and didn’t feel his company had to be numbers driven, even after separating from Miramax.
   
But gradually the little  scandals accumulated, not to erupt big time until 2017.  Weinstein would look so scruffy. (Just one of the brothers.) 
  
The film explained now non-disclosure agreements work, and they don’t stop prosecution for real crimes.

It’s a shame for emerging screenwriters to lose an important film company for a reason like this.

Update: May 25

Harvey Weinstein arrest and plea in NYC, report.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"Growing Hope": NBC Datelines presents cannabis-related products that offer treatment for children with disabilities, but the feds resist



On Sunday, May 20, NBC Dateline aired a special documentary on medical marijuana – actually more on medical use of related substances that have no mind-changing uses – called “Growing Hope”.

Three mothers in Virginia presented the success of compounds related to THC on treating children with severe disabilities. 
  
  
Much of the material deals with a particular cannibas-related oil grown in Georgia.
  
The federal government has been recalcitrant on the issue on any substance that comes from THC.  The political firewall seems hard to breach.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dylan makes a visit to Haley in a reprise of "Modern Family"



I haven’t kept up with “Modern Family” in recent years a lot, but episode 21 of this season, “The Escape”, features a return of Reid Ewing as Dylan to visit Haley, about three minutes before the end of the episode, link.

It was said to be the “peniultimate” episode.


But Andy (Adam Devine) visits first.
  
Reid’s interests in recent years (according to his own Twitter) have included Japanese manga (Danganronpa) and writing a graphic novel (“Apple Core”).  The movie would need investor $$, I would think. The idea, from what I see of it, though, sounds original and novel.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"United Shades" covers disability, probes whether it is a "group"; best and worst cities in US



W Kamau Bell’s “United Shades of America” covered disability tonight.
  
The best CNN link seems to be here

56.7 million people are “disabled” in the US.  The program explored the idea of whether disability should be an identity group.  Many people did not want to see it that way.
 \

The worst city in the country for access for disabled people (in wheelchairs) is Boston, and one of the best is Overland Park, KS, suburb of Kansas City (KU is 35 miles away in Lawrence).
 
The program emphasized that anyone can become disabled, especially through accident or violence perpetrated by another.
 
The program also noted than in some European countries there are euthanasia procedures for some people with extreme disability. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday morning: Getting up to another Royal wedding; Meghan's message with her volunteerism


Okay, we get up to the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Saturday morning, around 4 AM East Coast time.
  
Let’s review the royal wedding of 5 years ago of William and Kate (Aprl 2011), typical video
  
Kate, dressed with a gown that flows far behind her (Alfred Hitchcock had used that image of a glowing gown in “Strangers on a Train”) is led to the altar while Sir Hubert Parry’s triumphant hymn “O Jerusalem” in C Major, about 5 minutes, is sung to a triumphant close.
  
The Anglican pastor, before joining them, announces a purpose of marriage:  to repopulate the earth, to sanctify sexual intercourse, and to provide mutual assistance and support.  I was not destined to enjoy any of these.
  
So it is today, with a very similar schedule this morning in the Telegragh and carried live as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry marry. A very similar music program is offered, with music by Boyce and Parry.  The Telegragh has the full schedule for the festivities on Saturday morning.  
  
On Friday, May 18, ABDC 20-20 aired “Royal Wedding: Legacy and Love”, full video here
  
The complete music videos from Saturday morning’s service are not yet published, but the music does seem to be very similar to five years ago.  All the media outlets have major prospective commentary on YouTube now. 

  
What is most remarkable about Meghan is her attitude toward volunteerism, with her experience committed to working on Skid Row in Los Angeles as a teenager.  She saw her own safety as secondary to their needs, and let her faith carry her.  I have not willing to be that generous in more recent years with the personal risks I will take for others, allowing myself to wind up in their shoes by one act of wrongdoing by another.  Such is the problem with unearned inherited wealth.
But marriage, “till death do us part”, is supposed to make this possible.

Later: Video of the ceremony. "Stand By Me" was performed.

CNN has mentioned Meghan's work with World Vision, which has come under a cloud with some groups over supposed connections to anti-gay forces, especially in Uganda. World Vision has sponsored "30 hour fasts" in youth groups in many churches;  some churches have switched charities over the Uganda-homophobia issues and continued the fasts, during which the teens sometimes make films!
 
Picture (Wiki): 
By Herry Lawford from London, UK - Westminster Abbey, CC BY 2.0, Link  I walked past Buckingham Palace myself on a visit to London in Nov. 1982.  I might get there later this year. 



Friday, May 11, 2018

ABC 20-20: Southwest Flight 1380



Tonight ABC 20-20 covered the engine failure and emergency landing of a Southwest Flight 1380, video
  
CNN has an account (incident happened April 17, 2018) here
  
The ABC presentation gave some details as to how the incident unfolded and how the passengers tried to save one passenger’s life when she was struck by debris. There was also a lot of credit for the female pilot. 

  
The engine brokeup after a titanium blade failed in two places and the pieces of it wrecked the engine. Titanium is extremely strong and the failure is rather shocking.
  
By National Transportation Safety Board - https://www.ntsb.gov https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Pages/DCA18MA142.aspx, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Days of our Lives": Something about the reincarnated Will (as Chandler Massey now plays him) is disconcerting. Notice it yet?



Haven’t talked about the soaps for a while.

But right now, it seems as though “Days of our Lives” is in the middle of a scandal where someone can raise the dead at will.  And, in the case of Will, they may have amnesia for a long time – which raises philosophical questions about identity, consciousness and afterlife.

Right now, Will seems to be paired with Paul, and at the end of the episode Thursday they were in bed looking at a real-world scrapbook for clues as to how this Lazarus effect works.

Now Paul, of Japanese descent, was a baseball player and MLB pitcher who ruined his shoulder. But it would be a welcome plot development if Paul got back into MLB, and was an openly gay pitcher who tosses a no-hitter.  MLB says it is vigorous about no discrimination for sexual orientation.  Let’s see it happen.  It’s still conceivable that a gender fluid or trans person (female-to-male) could play at a major league level especially, say, as a relief pitcher.  Some day that will probably happen.
Sonny seems to be Leo’s boss, but there seems to be a relationship starting.  Now Freddie Smith is a little inconsistent as to appearance.  Sometimes he seems to have gained weight, and often his chest and arm hair disappears, only to show up again (gradually) a month later.


In fact, Will looks like, to put it generously, he must have competed in a swim meet or professional bicycle race and not remember it.  All the hair on his arms and legs is gone.  Maybe they did it with photoshop.  I wonder what the point is.  Maybe it’s a side effect of being raised from the dead? Or is Will starting transitioning? 
  
It’s a disconcerting, little mentioned topic, but white people (males) usually have more body hair than any other peoples, whose body hair follicles are wired to be more resistant to androgen.  One reason for the difference could be that generally (not always) Caucasians evolved in colder climates, with less sun and more clothing, so women could have developed the idea that body hair is more masculine, so hairy men would have more children in cold climates.  So maybe now there is some ritualistic interest in equalizing everyone for some sort of sacrifice for the sake of political correctness.  But with Will, particularly, the visual effect is disconcerting. He looks plucked. This is actor Chandler Massey, after all.
  
But body shaving (or waxing or laser treatment maybe) does happen behind the scenes in Hollywood.  Justin Timberlake, Jake Gyllenhaal, even Ashton Kutcher, and most of all, Steve Carrell (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”).  But lately it seems to happen a lot in the soaps.  You wonder if this could give the medical sanitation police some ideas, given all the scares about hospital bacteria (which itself could generate a soap opera subplot).  Somebody will come up with an anti-Minxodil cream for white men, for sanitation purposes.
  
The writers have a lot of ideas to work with.