Sunday, October 21, 2018

"Far West Texas": a penultimate episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" on CNN

Tonight, CNN presented one of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” last episodes, Far West Texas
Bourdain focused on the southern part of the region, especially the St. Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, with the border going right down the middle as they have a picnic. No wall.
Over Thank  But it managed to warm back up to 70 two days later.
sgiving 1979, I went on a bus trip backpacking hike in Big Bend with the Sierra Club, and spent the first night at 6500 feet in Laguna Meadows, and a low of 15F.

I’ve also driven through Guadalupe Mountains National Park, with the highest point on Texas (8700), which I have never climbed.

The broadcast also focused on the town of Marfa and on ranching.

In my novel “Angel’s Brother”, the young character has had an epiphany on a hike with a friend on Guadalupe.  Later in the novel, the character “Bill” reintegrates himself as he “waltzes across Texas” (the western part) before he meets up to take off on a space voyage at the end of the novel.
There is an astronomy exhibit near Midland, farther north than in the program, at Meteor Crater.

On a flight from Dallas to San Francisco in September, I did fly over the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle (far north of where Bourdain filmed). 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

ABC 20-20: How a boy of 11 was charged as an adult with murder in PA

ABC 20-20 aired a disturbing segment Friday night, “My Son Is Not a Monster”.

The story concerns Jordan Brown, in Wampum, PA, north of Pittsburgh. When father Chris Brown’s fiancée Kenzie Houk was murdered in Feb. 2009 by a shotgun while 8-1/2 months pregnant, the son Jordan at age 11 was charged with the murder at age 11.  The ABC story is here

The charge – the arrest at 3:30 AM – seemed to depend on circumstantial evidence surrounding the weapon.

The case was eventually moved back to juvenile court, and Jordan was convicted in a bench trial. But eventually the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction over unconvincing evidence. 

A different suspect has never been found.

Friday, October 19, 2018

O'Rourke looks sharp in Texas senatorial debate on CNN

Congressman Beto O’Rourke did a town hall on CNN Thursday night.  O’Rourke, from El Paso, is tall and thin and looks younger than 46, although not quite as young as David Hogg.  But the young people might win this seat. The debate was held in McAllen, TX, on the border.  

O’Rourke argued for pragmatic solutions to immigration and health care issues

The Houston Chronicle has endorsed him. 
Ted Cruz refused to appear.  But Cruz has argued that Democratic tax and carbon plans would hurt jobs in the Texas energy sector.
Texas has its own grid interconnection and would be in a position for national leadership on power grid security, no matter which party is in power.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"How Tech Companies Are Fighting Screen Addiction" on Lisa Ling's "This Is Life"

Allen Kim, for CNN, writes “How Tech Companies Are Fighting Screen Addiction” for Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” series on CNN Sunday nights.

The show featured a basketball player who got so hooked that he dropped out of school and sports.  But he did know how to code and perform in games.  Extreme gaming addiction is common. 

The episode stressed the way social media sites are programmed to become addictive by feeding the reward centers of likes or dislikes.

But this problem may be more serious, ironically, for people who use social media for social purposes.  It wouldn’t matter much for researchers and professionals.

The episode also showed a California teacher doing grade school math lessons with yarn, and no electronics. 

South Korea has rehab camps for screen-addicted teens.

Cathleen O'Crady weighs in on this problem on Ars Technica, here

Monday, October 15, 2018

"EI" discusses tech companies' deplatforming of sites due to activist public pressure after Charlottesville

“Economic Invincibility” offers a particularly telling discussion, “My Future on YouTube”.

He posted this in August 2017, shortly after the Charlottesville riots and the sequence where several white supremacist sites were deplatformed not just by social media but by domain registrars and conventional webhosts.

He mentions that he does not need the YouTube channel for a living.

He expresses a concern that some essentially left-wing activists would pressure YouTube to deplaform his channel as somehow indirectly harmful to some minorities.

He also talks about the possibility of writing a book.

This is quite a disturbing soliloquy.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lesley Stahl interviews Donald Trump on CBS 60 Minutes

Lesley Stahl interviewed President Donald Trump on CBS “60 Minutes” tonight.
The full transcript is here
A critical part of the interview concerned Kim Jong Un.  Trump called his “love” for him a figure of speech (after the big "love letters"). He admits he had to manipulate Kim because of the threat of war, on South Korea and possibly even the US homeland sooner than we thought (I’ve talked about his EMP threat before).
Stahl challenged Trump on climate change, with a metaphor of icebergs breaking off of Greenland.
Trump still rationalizes his denial and is concerned about US job loss and personal sacrifice.

The media is offended by Trump's "rogue actors" theory on the assassination of the Saudi Post journalist. 
Remember how Lesley Stahl at one time interviewed Mark Zuckerberg “The Toddler CEO”, when Mark asked, “Is that a question?”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Are Baby Boomers the Problem?" "EI" lays it on the line and talks about hypocrisy and sacrifice

Are Baby Boomers the Problem?

“EI” (Economic Invincibility) lays it on the line, and scolds some baby boomers for not being willing to make sacrifices when it comes to retirement and social security, given the demographic problem of their living much longer than did previous generations.

He mentions the Vietnam War and acknowledges that some made sacrifices and returned maimed and not appreciated, but then notes that many boomers didn’t serve in the military (like the student deferment system)  He vacillates or waffles somewhat between recommending just that boomers support Social Security reform for future retirees and insisting that they make some sacrifices now, living less independent with or near their kids.

I was born in 1943 (slightly pre-boomer technically).  I’ve gotten a decent pension since 2002 and Social Security since 2005.  I’ve been writing, a lot of it for free.  If I “had to”, I would have to raise money like other people.  This might be fairer to existing political advocacy because I would have to “play ball”.  EI, while conservative himself, is actually making a comment that could help progressivism on the Left.

I also insist that I view my FICA taxes over the years as an “annuity premium” even though legally it is not (Flemming v. Nestor, 1960).

EI says both of his parents are baby boomers.  For a young man who discusses heterosexuality so explicitly in other videos, his personal appearance is lean and immaculate and would appeal to most gay men. Of maybe he believes that even in the heterosexual world, the male should be conspicuous with beauty, as it is with many birds (like cardinals).

Monday, October 08, 2018

PBS: "Where Did Viruses Come From?"

Where Did Viruses Come From?” from PBS Digital and PBS Eons.

Most of us have viral DNA, even templated by retroviral RNA, in our genomes.

The video examines whether viruses came before cellular life, and it isn’t clear.

And because viruses don’t produce energy, there is a good question as to whether they are really alive. An RNA or DNA strand wrapped in protein. The video examines some very large viruses, actually larger than some bacteria.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Lisa Ling covers "Gender Fluidity" on "This Is Life"

Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” series covered “Gender Fluidity”, season 5, episode 3.

The Advocate has a summary presenting EJ Johnson (son of Magic Johnson), here. 

The episode young adults who view themselves as “agender” (with no gender) was well as transgender (woman to man in one case) but “gender flux”.  I had covered gender-neutral pronouns on the LGBT blog Sept. 9.

There was a 42-year old man, already balding, who liked to experiment with women’s clothes and considered himself fluid, and his wife was OK with it. They have a daughter.
At age 75, I can say I would never have considered an intimate relationship with a self-declared fluid person. I’m too much into the cherry picking and upward affiliation.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

"Modern Family", Season 10, Episode 2, brings back Reid Ewing as Dylan

Reid Ewing, who I believe turns 30 in November, appears in Season 10, Episode 2 of ABC's “Modern Family”, called “Kiss and Tell”.

I haven’t followed the series recently.  But he appears to revisit his old relation with Haley at about 19:00 into the episode, link

It’s interesting that his appearance has hardly changed in all these years.

Yet, he offers a shocking chapter in the new book “(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health”, edited by Kelly Jensem, on p. 95, “I underwent cosmetic surgery for my body dysmorphia and I wish I hadn’t” back in 2008, when he was 19 and thought he had to in order to make it as an actor.  The piece is graphic and shocking, yet you can’t see any evidence of it on television episodes or his own Twitter pictures. I’ll di a review of the book later. 

 Note that around six years ago he did a video “Imagine Me Naked”, still on YouTube.

I hope this is a sign his acting career is resuming (he presented a rainbow over LA on Twitter recently, about the same time I was in San Francisco). But he has a manga animated film he is producing and editing (“The Winchester Half-Tragedy”).  I wish my own “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” (set in an O’Neill Cylinder but not animated) were as far along.
Much of the episode today presented Mitch and Cam.  I guess Jesse Tyler Ferguson is holding up pretty well at 42.  Can I say the same for Ryan Seacrest on “Live with Kelly and Ryan”. He won’t wear socks.

Monday, October 01, 2018

"Manifest": new series on NBC presumes an airline is "abducted" and disappears for over five years, and then lands

I watched, online, the Pilot for "Manifest", the science fiction drama created by Jeff Rake for NBC, which had premiered Sept. 24 while I was in California. 

The premise is that in April 2013, a flight from Jamaica for NYC dematerializes in the air and reappears and lands in November 2018. The passengers experience severe turbulence and the lights go off, and laptops fall to the floor – and then it all returns to normal.  The first sign of “trouble” is that air traffic control sends them to Newburgh, and the people are met by security on the tarmac.
Much of the story is seen through police officer Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), who volunteered to accept denied boarding. In the meantime, her fiancé married someone else. She was traveling with her brother Ben (Josh Dallas).

Michaela learns that her mother has died. But soon she starts hearing voices that lead her to prevent a child from being struck by a bus, and later to rescue two abducted kids.
Michaela’s nephew Cal (Jack Messina) will be eligible for a new treatment for cancer, yet the researchers are reluctant to start because his time period is “out of protocol” because of the “abduction”.
At the end, the plane blows itself up.  It doesn’t want to release its secrets.  The premise of the show does remind me of "The 4400". 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

"The Good Doctor" starts Season 2 as Shaun helps the homeless

The Good Doctor” Season 2 resumed Monday Sept. 24, with an episode called “Hello”. I was out of town and the timing conflicts with PBS POV and NBC “Manifest” which I will have to catch up with. 

But I did watch this episode through my cable provider.  Shaun visits skid row to give medical treatment, and becomes very determined to help one man who shows signs of a brain tumor, after a colleague (Neil, played by Nicholas Gonzalez) first suspects meningitis. The man has forgotten who he was and after leaving home when his wife forced him to leave because of sudden domestic abuse.  At the end he is reunited with his wife.

Shaun faces social pressure to spend time with his mentor Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff).
The doctors also do a piggyback heart transplant.  I’ve never heard of that before.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

CNN Heroes releases preview of work by woman for victims of sex trafficking

CNN has provided a preview of its “CNN Heroes” awards, with a short clip on Susan Munsey’s efforts to help victims of sex trafficking, CNN story here.  The story is by Allie Togan.

Among her efforts includes setting up a shelter in San Diego.

Munsey has worked on a “We Do Better” bill in California.
But the clip did not mentioned the controversial FOSTA/SESTA law regarding downstream liability on the Internet early this year.  But Susan does mention the idea that a lot of trafficking is facilitated through the Internet. No one starts out wanting to do sex for money, she says. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

AC360: how an impromptu confrontation between an individual voter and Jeff Flake changed everything today in the Kavanaugh confirmation mess

The confrontation between Ana Maria Achila and Jeff Flake at the Capitol shortly after 9 AM today, which I saw live on CNN, seems to have changed the course of the confirmation hearings on Brett Cavanaugh.

As most visitors know, Jeff Flake spearheaded an effort to delay the vote until the FBI did an investigation on Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. President Trump agreed to allow the investigation, and Mitch McConnell has no practical choice but to allow it if he wants the confirmation.

Anderson Cooper interviewed Ana tonight on AC360.
She reminds me of Ana Navarro.

Ford Fischer and News2Share also have a video of a protest that resulted in 70 arrests today, here

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Alternative Influencer: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube"

Here’s a good broadcast by Tim Pool, Timcast, 30 minutes:

Alternative Influencer: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube

The video has a research chart that links “influencers” together.   I wonder if I belong on it.  Milo Yiannopolous is near the bottom.  Tim is in the middle.

Tim says he is not a "conservative" although many of his broadcasts tear apart illogical thinking on the far Left.  He is very liberal on social issues like gay marriage, but more from a libertarian idea of equality before the law. He believes some common sense needs to prevail in health care, climate change. etc.  

Tim was at a "Mythconpanel in Milwaukee Saturday at the Pabst Theater that was canceled because of threats. 

Check out the Vox story on YouTube and the reactionary right. Here's a bio of Jordan Peterson and the irony of some of his threatened lawsuits. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

HLN "True Crime" describes Williams Brothers hate crime spree in 1999, 2001

On Tuesday, September 18, 2010, HLN “True Crime” covered the spree in 1999 of the white supremacist Williams brothers (Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams), who killed a gay couple – Gary Matson and Winfried Mowder, near Sacramento, Advocate story

In 2001 they set fire to synagogues and an abortion clinic.  Another story describes their rearing by an ultrafundamentalist sects. 

But in some ways their spree reminds one of Andrew Cunanan in 1987.
Their crimes were also depicted in the “Not in Our Town” series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Armenia, on Bourdain's final Parts Unknown episodes

Sunday night, CNN aired “Armenia” on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown final episode series.

The former Soviet Republic is known for its own tragic history with the Genocide, and now some strains with Turkey. Most Armenians weren’t born there.

But the most interesting observation is that chess is taught in the schools as an essential “life skill”.  I guess you need to play rook and pawn endings well, or understand the nuances of openings like the Archangelsk Ruy Lopez (a couple thousand miles to the north).
By anonymous German traveler - Published by the American red cross, it was first published in the United States prior to January 1, 1923. [Aus: Politisches Archiv des deutschen Auswärtigen Amtes. Bestand: Konstantinopel 169.] , Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dayton, Ohio, "Left Behind, America", on PBS Frontline and Pro Publica

PBS Frontline, on Sept 11, aired another episode of “Left Behind America” focusing on Dayton, Ohio, link.

Alec Macgillis from Pro Publica narrates.

The broadcast showed multiple shots of dilapidated homes in the city, compared to the nice downtown, with broad boulevards almost empty.

The computer manufacturer NCR (which at one time was in the mainframe business) has left for Georgia.

The broadcast emphasized that the reason for economic depression is low wages that don’t pay enough to live on and stay out of debt. Yet some companies, especially a box company, say they have trouble finding workers who aren’t opioid or drug addicts.  There are jobs in newer companies that deal with imports.  Trump’s protectionism doesn’t seem to have worked very well.

The slide in wages seems to have gotten much worse after the “bailouts” of banks following the 2008 financial crisis. But globalization and technology have made many jobs less valuable.

The documentary showed a large food pantry, which needed many volunteers to operate and distribute food, with some attention to needs like diabetes. This one of the largest food security charities I’ve ever seen in the media.  In the DC area, Food and Friends does this for HIV and cancer patients. Arlington Food Assistance and Mt Olivet Methodist Church’s community assistance look much smaller by comparison.

Wright-Patterson Air Force base is nearby.

This episode should be appreciated in connection with a long New York Times "booklet" story today by Nelson D. Schwartz: "The Recovery that Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz". 

Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Mutual Office Building by Greg Hume, under CCSA 3.0 

Sunday, September 09, 2018

"The Mysterious Case of George Padapoulos" on CNN

The Mysterious Case of George Padapopoulos” on CNN Saturday night.

It seems so easy for young adults who helped Donald Trump to get into trouble innocently.  George, who at 31 has no furrows, was stopped at the airport returning from Europe and taken into custody for lying to the FBI about earlier dealings with the Russians for Trump.

He spent two weeks in jail.  He is the first to go to jail over the Mueller probe.
George Stephanopoulos interviewed him with his wife Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Dateline: "The Match": evidence from hypnosis, and a possibly troubling plea bargain

Dateline NBC carried the ratings Friday night with “The Match”, a two hour episode in which victim Brittani Marcell was put under hypnosis to identify her attacked in a shovel attack, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

The prosecutors used DNA evidence from the blood to indict the attacker before his identity was known, so his name could be added later.  ABC News has a detailed story

But what seems disturbing at the end is the plea bargain with Justin Hansen. He plead no contest to reduce his maximum sentence so he could some day see his four children. He got 18 years, the maximum, from the judge. He would not admit guilt. So what seems a little disturbing is the use of forensic hypnosis.  Is this a reliable tool?

I can remember we played around with hypnosis in the dorm at KU in grad school around 1967.  
By Asaavedra32 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, September 06, 2018

"What Happens at the Edge of the Universe?" PBS

What Happens at the Edge of the Universe? 

PBS Digital Studios explains “proper distance” and cosmic distance.  But essentially the expansion fo space (faster than light) makes it impossible to make any progress toward getting toward any observablr edge.  There will ways be galaxies that we could never get any information from.

Here’s a supplementary piece on the geometry of space from the University of Texas. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Timcast assesses Milo Yiannopoulos

“Activist Journalists Day Milo Is Gone but Keep Writing About Him”.  The latest Timcast looks at whether tech-company deplatforming of "conservatives" really "works". That's appropriate given the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings of Facebook and Twitter executives on CSPAN today (Fox and CNN were taken up with Kavanaugh). 

Tim Pool discusses Milo Yiannopoulos, post Twitter.

Yup, Milo has kept his Facebook followers and gets tens of thousands of shares just for making a breakfast yogurt dish.

And Pool says that journalists normally hang out on Twitter, not Facebook.

Pool also says he never saw Milo target Leslie Jones, which supposedly got him banned from Twitter in 2016.  Milo denies he targeted her in his book.

And, by the way, even though his language is colorful, and maybe narcissistic (Why ___ hates me) his book really is not that radical.  It pretty much says what my own three “Do Ask, Do Tell” books say, and not so far from the “Skin in the Game” theory of Nicholas Taleb.
Frankly, on most things, Pool,  Fischer, Milo, EI, and myself, aren’t so far apart. We all think the radical Left is slouching toward not only Marxism but maybe even Stalinism or Maoism.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

NBC Washington does special on DC "Mansion Murders" as trial of Wint begins

Tonight NBCWashington (NBC4) aired, at 6:28 PM, a 32-minute special report on the Mansion Murders in Washington DC in May 2015.  The primary link is here. This broadcast occurred during the normal local news. 

Jury selection for the trial is beginning now and the trial of Daron Wint, who has plead not guilty, is expected to last at least two months.

Much of the panel discussion focused on whether the evidence that could indicate an accomplice was properly processed.  There was also a lot of discussion of the defendant’s likely motives. 
This would make a good update report for NBC Dateline. ABC2020 and Dateline have done reports in the past.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

EI critiques John McCain, discussed the feminization of American men

I thought I would cover a couple more videos from EI, “Economic Invincibility”, that seem especially provocative.

The most recent one, today, is “Don’t Be Like John McCain”. 

EI wears red white and blue and speaks into his oversized mike. He interprets John McCain’s bipartisanship as obstructionism for his not getting what he wanted: someone like Trump won the presidency, when McCain could not.  OK, agreed, McCain made a foolish choice of Sarah Palin.

EI also accuses McCain of war mongering or military intervensionism, and seems comfortable that Trump is avoiding getting into wars.  Now, I know that Trump was close to a dangerous bloody nose attack on North Korea in February, and some private talk from some of his supporters convinced him to take a diplomatic course after all.  Of course, the situation now in North Korea is certainly tenuous, as Singapore is unraveling.  I am well aware of the criticism of Trump’s behavior, and of an emphatic concern about Trump’s authoritarian talk about other people and especially the press, and his denial of facts.  I’m aware of the baby balloons and the “Poopiepants” nickname on Facebook.  And what I care about it that Congress can get its act together and do its job (fix DACA, fix the family separation issue, fix the legal immigration issues, and fix Obamacare).  The Republican Party could fix these constructively if it did its math first.

EI ventures into talking about James Stockdale, who was Perot’s running mate in 1992 if I remember right.  Perot, who founded EDS and ran it almost as a military operation until the early 1980s (and rescued his own people from Iran), as certainly interesting.  Stockdale supposedly disfigured himself when a POW.

The other video I want to mention dates from December 2017, and it sounds like George Gilder’s “Sexual Suicide” (or even like my own “Do Ask Do Tell II” book from 2002, post 9/11). It’s “Why Modern Men Are so Effeminate”.

EI gives several reasons.  He starts out with diet (soy as well as meat), antibiotics in food, and water minerals, as reducing testosterone.  Maybe.  That’s the old saltpeter rumor from dorms in the 1960s. Then he correctly notes the lack of fathers in so many households.  Many men grow up not prepared to support a family and leave.  Yes, many boys don’t have male companionship growing up. But then he gets into cultural attacks on cis-male masculinity for its own sake.  Toward the end, he criticizes the Boy Scouts, in which he grew up, for having to admit women and trans (it doesn’t seem that cis gay men unnerve him). He also notes that modern culture wants to view all male bonding as with “David and Jonathan” in the Bible as homosexual, when it is platonic, and serves a spiritual but not specifically sexual aim.  He makes the interesting comment that the trend toward reducing the value of masculinity is dangerous if men do get caught in a geopolitical crisis and have to serve “like men” in the military.  That brings up the conscription issue, and whether women could be drafted, in my own mind, at least.  But don’t forget – Lady Valor (now a transgender woman) had been a Navy Seal. It would be interesting to hear him discuss  Trump on the transgender military ban now, and McCain's changing attitude at the end on repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell".   
Let’s also add, that in discos and bars, most gay men want to find other cis gay men as partners, not gender fluid or transgender people.  This hard fact is generating almost some civil war within he leadership of gay rights groups. 
One other thing -- "feminized men" (Patricia Sexton's concerns) seem more risk averse. What about the idea that American football has this terrible karma problem with concussions. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

ABC 20-20 "Behind the Closed Door" about an Alabama campus rape already brings out the conservative conspiracy theories

On Aug. 31, ABC 20-20 aired “Behind the Closed Door” (link requires cable subscription), about a rape of a young woman (“Savannah”) at an Alabama campus (Spanish Fort, near Mobile) after underage drinking.

ABC has a text summary of the episode here.   One of the most curious parts of the story is that the perpetrator made a secret plea agreement as a juvenile. It’s unclear why the Alabama prosecutor demand secrecy.  Cameron Harrison is said to have received considerable community support for his side of the story. As in the horrific hazing death case in Pennsylvania, the 21-year-old drinking age seems to be ignored.

It’s quite striking to me, that the “young people will win” campaign against gun violence has worked because the teens running it seem so disciplined (as to staying away from drugs and alcohol).
There is at least one story ((“The Human Frequency”) on YouTube claiming she is transgender.   But this video links to another video whose account was terminated.  Is this a conservative conspiracy theory about “actors”?  The heterosexual couple here says it has nothing against transgender people when out in the open, but they feel put off by gender fluidity and by feminine-looking men and masculine women.  

Friday, August 31, 2018

CBS: "Whistleblower" examines a for-profit university scam, and then a green fuels trading ruse

CBS has a series “Whistleblower”, with television judge Alex Ferrer, documenting how ordinary American workers catch employers in major frauds against the public or, often, the IRS. Of they wind up being fired and suing, and even going to trial.  The presentation style reminds one of "48 Hours".  "Blow the whistle, change the world". 

On Aug. 31, the episode presented the case of Heidi Weber, who had worked for a for-profit university Globe University, administering a medical training program, in Minnesota.
The best summary of the case seems to he here.  Note the non-disclosure agreement for her “severance” when she was “laid off”.

Then the episode described an amateur (maybe almost professional) pianist Alex “Sasha” Chepurko, who emigrated from Russia to the US, and went to work (in New Jersey) for a Caravan Trading, with a complicated scam involving green fuels. He eventually wears a wire. Sasha eventually helps set up a federal raid.  Sasha was only 21 when he helped with the sting (in 2011). Indeed, the young people did win. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"Economic Invincibility": another commentary channel sort of like Timcast: This video discusses Incels

Here’s another channel describing social patterns, “Economic Invincibility”.  It’s on Patreon, and is run by a young white man, slightly nerdy, with glasses, but clean cut,  who calls himself “Muh” or “EI”.  It’s a little bit like Timcasts.  The big microphone is interesting. 

I watched “The Incel Question”.  EI left his shirt open on a hairy chest, which seemed to be appropriate for the topic.

Then he went into a reasonable discussion of social skills, and some men not having any idea what women want.  He also talks about social pressure (in the straight world) where your relationship with women is supposed to define your life.  He says people should define who they are for themselves before they expect relationships. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

CNN: "A Deadly Haze" at Penn State; John McCain's passing

A Deadly Haze” started presentation on CNN Saturday night at 8 PM but stopped after 28 minutes (of one hour) when the death of John McCain was announced as breaking news.

The film concerns the fraternity hazing death of student Tim Piazza at Penn State University in February 2017  after a gauntlet at a hazing party.

Tim (19) was served alcohol, underage, and consumed enough alcohol to get alcohol poisoning.  After he became ill he was neglected, and was severely injured in several falls.  Fraternity brothers thought he would be all right, but he died after surgery for severe skull fractures and brain swelling. 

 Had he lived, he might have remained in a vegetative state. This is a horrible tragedy from a "right of passage". 
Many fraternity brothers were indicted for involuntary manslaughter but plea bargained for lesser charges with little jail time.
This is Penn State’s second major scandal recently, as Jerry Sandusky spends probably the rest of his life in prison.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

"What Would You Do?": same-sex couple as parents in a restaurant

John Quiones, “What Would You Do?” on ABC examined a bar-restaurant situation in Orangeville, NY and near Louisville KY (Bardstown), where two gay dads are raising a daughter (link ).

Opinions were mixed, with many patrons angry that others would intervene when they saw gay dads without a mom.  Every child needs a mom, they claimed.

In New York State, a same-sex couple does not have to be married to adopt, but in Kentucky they do.
Kim Davis was briefly interviewed.
The episode also showed misuse of a phone by staff when it was being charged, and also controversy over a mom’s nursing a baby in public in a restaurant.

Friday, August 24, 2018

CBS News reports on how bitcoin mining affects a small town that houses it

CBS News This Morning (CBSN) with Erroll Barnett reporting, explores what happens when cryptocurrency mining becomes a major industry in a small town.

The town is Wenatchee, Washington, east of the Cascades.  A bitcoin data center consumers as much energy as 600 homes in a small building.

That is one of the downsides of a digital currency economy.  Some science fiction authors have proposed that bitcoin mining be done on cold planets or satellites (like Titan), which may very well be how alien civilizations would set up their financial systems.
I was in the area in 1990 and 1996.

CBS news will have a special on crypto currencies Sunday night at 8 PM (part of 60 minutes?)
By Jennifer Gottwald - Wenatchee, CC BY 2.0, Link

Thursday, August 23, 2018

OK, Timcast is like a TV series; Tim Pool could make friends with David Hogg

OK, I’ll treat “Timcast”, the YouTube channel, as like a TV program, with Tim Pool.  Maybe I should have done that with Logan Paul.

Today he uses the subjunctive mood for the title of a broadcast, “David Hogg Is a Sexist and Ableist White Male”. No, he doesn't really mean it.  

Okay, Tim was kidding.  He was quoting a tweet complaining about Hogg’s ego.  Well, also about Hogg’s supposed comments about Nancy Pelosi’s age.  (Pelosi: Democrats are capitalists.)
Pool does give some arguments why people in rural areas want to own larger weapons, including AR-15s. He says someone who grew up in a city doesn’t understand what it is like to be as self-reliant as a rancher in Montana.

Pool then describes himself as center-left, whereas I had perceived him as conservative, center-right, because he is always dissecting the tribalism of the far Left.  And sometimes he makes Cato-like arguments on the economy and markets. Pool also noted that Trump favored gay marriage before his presidency, which Obama hadn’t done. But – Trump surrounded himself with purported right-wing (or even alt-right) extremists.

As for David Hogg’s abeleism:  yes, he is cute, he is attractive, he is natty, he is clean-cut.  He calls himself skinny but he is obviously  much more athletic and physically strong than he looks.  That reminds me, the NFL is supposedly contemplating some sort of ending gun violence program. (By the way, the NFL kneeling controversy is just plain silly.) Let MLB baseball do it too.  Have a special occasion night (maybe at Marlins Part in Miami) and let Hogg throw out the first ball from a pitcher’s mound, with a ray gun. When the Nationals lost that 12-1 game last Sunday on a 2-hitter, some people joked that the Marlins already had signed Hogg to their rotation and was pitching in disguise.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Life After Death" on TheLipTV

TheLipTV offers an interview from the end of 2014, “Life After Death Proved by Scientists?”

The proof was the testimony from someone whose heart had been stopped without circulation for over eight minutes, as the person was able to describe everything in the operating room.

When people pass away from old age slowly as organs fail, there may be a long period of sub-consciousness, where the person reviews his/her life. This could continue for some time even after the heart stops.  We don’t know how time behaves at end of life, and it may seem to take indefinitely long to the person.  It may be relevant if loved ones stay with the person while unconscious or even after passing.  It would be interesting to wonder, also, about death by injection (capital punishment).
But it the brain is destroyed, like by immolation or direct shotgun blast, then there seems to be no opportunity for this kind of afterlife.

But we really don’t know if the soul (the container of information from a lifetime) is somehow retained in other dimensions or inside black holes.  Information is as essential to the universe as matter/energy.

Monday, August 20, 2018

"Twelve Minutes on Elm Street": castle doctrine case in Minnesota, on NBC Dateline

On Friday, August 17, NBC Dateline aired “Twelve Minutes on Elm Street”, about the killings of two teenagers by Byron David Smith in his home in Little Falls, MN on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. 

Little Falls is north of the Twin Cities and Princeton, on the way to the lake country up north;  I drove through it many times when I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003.
The two teenagers were an 18 year old girl and her 17 year old cousin.  They had broken into the home before.  The homeowner says he was terrified of repeat burglaries.

It is unclear from the broadcast why the teens did this, despite the mother’s commentary when interviewed. 
But the broadcast shows how Smith apparently made his home look empty by moving his van, and then waited for intruders, even talking to himself and recording himself. 
The case is said to be a test of the “castle doctrine”.  But under the law, Minnesota prosecutors were able to get a conviction for first degree murder.  Smith used gratuitous force, especially against the female.  He could have held them or wounded them and called police.
The case certainly can fit into the gun control debate, and particularly the question as to whether homeowners should have the absolute right to defend their property. In some states (like Florida), Smith probably would not have been convicted.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reason TV: Warren Farrell booed at University of Toronto as he explains "The Boy Crisis"

Reason TV is an online video series with excerpts on various social issues from a libertarian viewpoint.

John Stossel, known as a libertarian-included reporter who used to be on ABC 20-20 and who sometimes speaks at the Cato Institute, narrates this episode on “How Government Caused ‘The Boy Crisis’”.  This report came from CBS News. 

The episode starts out as women demonstrate at the University of Toronto when Warren Farrell, author of “The Boy Crisis”, appears. They call him a purveyor of hate speech.  And Farrell is less colorful than Milo Yiannopoulos, or even Charles Murray.  One young male says he can’t get in to the lecture.

Farrell is also the author of the 1993 book “The Myth of Male Power”, which I gave as a reference in my own first "Do Ask, Do Tell" book in 1997.   
He criticizes the way government welfare programs starting in the 1960s unintentionally encouraged single motherhood and divorce. It’s not that women need husbands – it’s that children need fathers, who will play rough-house with them so that the boys learn to give empathy to other people’s needs.
This does put lesbian couples (as parents) and men who never take part in raising children in a morally precarious position.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Back the Down Staircase": bizarre murder case in NC of a bisexual ex-Marine novelist on Dateline

The NBC 2-hour Dateline on Aug. 11, “Down the Back Staircase” presented the bizarre case or Michael Peterson , an ex-marine and novelist, who was tried for his wife’s murder when she fell down the stairs in their Durham, NC home in December 2001.

Peterson had demonstrated bisexuality, which was thought to be involved, setting up a possible love triangle   However it is extremely rare to have gay murder cases in the Datelines and 2020 series.
Peterson even admits homosexuality while serving with bravery in Vietnam, in the days it was “don’t”.  But his service was driven by the draft, and the military often did look the other way in combat.

After conviction, there was a bizarre theory that Kathleen had been struck by an owl at the window and fallen, and some strands of owl feather may have been found.  This is possible by unusual.

But the conviction was overturned because one of the investigative witnesses was found to have a compromised reputation.  Then Peterson took an Alford plea, a pseudo-admission of guilt in order to avoid another trial and limit of sentence to time served.
But it sounds as though real proof beyond a reasonable doubt on retrial would have been unlikely.

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”.