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”. 

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.