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.