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.