Friday, December 28, 2018

CNN: "The Disappearing White House Briefing"



On Thursday, December 27, 2018 CNN aired “The Disappearing White House Briefing”. 

In the past few months, under Sarah Sanders, the briefings have become much less frequent and shorter.


The documentary also covered the controversy of Jim Acosta’s behavior and Trump’s excoriation of him as a terrible person, and the resulting litigation.

Earlier Kaitlin Collins had been banned from a Rose Garden event because Trump didn’t like the line of questioning she had posed earlier. 

Sean Spicer started out doing the briefings, and was embarrassed by having to exaggerate the Inauguration Day crowd the day after.
  
Trey Yingst, from OANN at the time, was one of the most successful in getting probing questions asked.  Trey now works for Fox News as a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem and often appears.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

John Fish series: "A Day in the Life of a Harvard Computer Science Student"


Harvard undergraduate student John Fish has a series of slick videos of his life at Harvard.  This one is called “A Day in the Life of a Harvard Computer Science Student”.

I would wonder how he can set up everything to film himself so professionally all day.  Life is planned out to the minute, even time to meditate.


The opening wakeup call is photogenic with its attention to little details, like making the bed, and pouring tea.

The math homework is already differential equations, which is pretty good for a freshman.

I wonder how far his dorm room is from the place where Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook on Feb. 4, 2004.

I certainly am impressed with the level of maturity of the best of today’s teens, compared to me as I started college in 1961.  Technology has widened the potential range of maturity of today’s “Gen Z” in the 16-24 age range.  The brain is supposed to be fully grown at age 25, as it has finished “pruning” and optimizing the skills it will need. That’s why if you are going to be good at music, chess, or coding, you need to start young, well before pruning.

I visited the campus in August, 2015 (picture).

In another video Fish says he grew up near Waterloo, Ontario.  I've noticed that "kids" who grow up in Canada are doing very well compared to most a lot of the US.  Look at actor Richard Harmon. Is having a better handle on inequality one of the reasons?
   
David Hogg will attend Harvard in the fall of 2019.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Tibees: sample examination videos (start with Applied Mathematics)



Tibees has an interesting series of examinations, both entrance and typical course final exams in university level physics and mathematics, making up a YouTube "TV Channel".
  
Here’s a typical exam in “applied mathematics” where she works some of the problems.  Most of the problems involving proving some assertion in a specialized engineering setting.
  

I’m not sure that these questions vary a whole lot from the normal “mathematics” paradigm (algebra, analysis, topology).  Maybe it includes a little number theory and branches on physics.

More and more, it seems like university programs for stronger undergraduates these days involve very big honors projects that get published with normal peer review processes.  For example, it appears (from LinkedIn) that Jack Andraka will spend another year at Stanford for finish a bio-engineering project for a EE Master’s.  I don’t know much about it other than it is supposed to have uses in medicine (cancer therapies).  He just finished a Truman Scholar project over the summer in Sierra Leone regarding anthropology and exposure to infectious disease (Ebola, or, in the past, HIV). 
    
We’re waiting to find out more about Taylor Wilson’s work with fusion at the University of Nevada in Reno (I passed through there in September, and visited Stanford briefly on the same trip).
     
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (a EE professor at CUNY, I think) has been supporting his “skin in the game” theory with multiple Twitter threads of theoretical statistics problems (mostly calculus problems) regarding transferrable asymmetric risk. Insurance underwriters, you have been warned.  And students, his tweets make good exam preparation material.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

CNN: "The Curious Case of the Killer Clown": closing the remaining cases from John Wayne Gacy



Jean Cesarez narrated CNN’s special documentary “The Curious Case of the Killer Clown”, link

This was an infamous serial murder case in John Wayne Gacy lured at least 33 young men or teen boys to his home near Chicago, then rapes, tortured and murdered them and buried them among crawl spaces in his house between 1972 and 1978. He was convicted of the murders in 1980 (one count of sodomy), and executed by lethal injection in May 1994.

The documentary focused on solving eight more missing people, some from Minnesota. 


I remember the cases in the news in 1978, my last year of living in New York City. It isn’t curious, it is one of the most horrific of all time, although Andrew Cunanan’s in 1987 was more tantalizing to report on.

Gacy had been married to women twice.
  
The documentary had been delayed for two weeks after the death of George H. W. Bush. The clown idea is interesting as it appears in several of Stephen King's novels (like "IT" (1986), which became a TV Miniseries and then a film.) 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Reid Ewing returns to "Modern Family" but seems to vanish from Twitter and then Instagram



I watched a couple more episodes of “Modern Family”, for a reason.

On Wed. Nov. 28, the mockumentary sitcom aired “Kids These Days”, directed by James R. Bagdonas. In the opening scene, Dylan (Reid Ewing) has breakfast with Haley in a diner as she asks for his counsel.  The episode shifts quickly to the football field where Cam (Eric Stonestreet) admonishes the high school team to act more manly.


You can imagine where that goes.  The school administration’s social justice warriors advise Cam, of all people, that he criticized a protected class.  White cis gay men aren’t protected anymore, but gender fluid and trans is protected indeed. 

Well, maybe Cam couldn’t help the Washington Redskins (sorry about the name) right now with two quarterbacks with broken legs, which may never look the same again.

The episode concludes when Dylan volunteers in a hospital doing visitations, it appears.

On Wednesday Dec. 12, the episode is called “Stuck in the Moment” (directed by Fred Savage). 

Dylan drives a panel truck with Haley in one scene, and plays Santa, coming down the chimney (it helps that he is lean).

Reid Ewing has gone back to playing some episodes in “Modern”.   He recently turned 30 (in early November), but what is remarkable is that his two wonderful Twitter feeds disappeared.  There was wonderful stuff there about Danganronpa and manga, about his own graphic novel project, about dogs and sometimes cats, about dressing in costumes, about life in Salt Lake, about English and Russian literature (Chekhov plays), and various moral aphorisms.

He had a smaller account on Instagram, with some poolside pictures which disappeared but then there was new stuff, some of it about working.  Then that all disappeared.

The YouTube stuff is largely there (including the interesting graphic novel “The Winchester Half-Tragedy”) but the “It’s Free” series went private and disappeared (filmed in 2012, it is politically very relevant to some problems in Tech today). 

I don’t see an agent on imdbpro, but maybe it takes time for them to appear when they are added.
   
So, I wonder, is the recent misbehavior of tech companies, banning people for no good reason, causing other “liberals” and “libertarians” to leave?  Other “liberal” friends of mine have stopped posting on Twitter, maybe out of protest.

This has implications for how people reach each other.  Maybe the “establishment” (of studios, agents, guilds, etc) in Hollywood and other fields doesn’t like to see “celebrities” so open to talking to the public in social media.   Lost cost amateur speakers with no comparable overhead have become competition  for attention, eroding people making a living, maybe.  Maybe Hollywood wants to push localism and personal right-sizing, and the idea of “social credit”.  That sounds a little Marxist, like China, or like the social justice warrior problem.
   
Is that what is going on?  Look at how Cam gets into trouble in the Nov. 28 episode again.

Update: Dec. 21

Instagram now shows an "Official Reid Ewing" site with one image (as of now).  It would be disturbing if media companies or agents restricted what their own actors or clients do with their own social media accounts "unreasonably". I can imagine some reasons. I've talked about this issue with respect to the conventional workplace on other blogs in the past, under Blogger or Wordpress labels "conflict of interest". 

Monday, December 17, 2018

"Economic Invincibility" describes his fiction projects: Morgan Freeman should be ready to do an O'Neill cylinder sci-fi project



“Economic Invincibility” seemed to identify himself as “Martin Goldberg”, living in Florida, with a liberal arts degree and a stable job, probably in tech, about age 25. The video was called “Facts About Martin Goldberg” on Dec. 16. 

Of course, Goldberg could be a pen name. He says he was brought up as an evangelical Christian, so last names don’t mean anything.


He mentioned three books he is working on:  a sci-fi novel, a medieval fantasy, and a children’s book.  He said he writes out longhand first before typing onto a laptop.  He also says he has little or no debt and low overhead, and is very careful to take any on.  Yup, that means being careful about making the jump for marriage and children.  He admits that this is not good for population demographics and the economy – not exactly MGTOW, but being cautious.

He also mentioned keeping a private diary, which I do myself (noting my dreams every night).  Its contents never go online, but probably have suggested a couple incidents in my novel.  A major theme in my last sonata came to me in a dream.

I had written a long comment on his “Clean Your Room” (aka “Skin in the Game”) post the day before, and challenged him to take a look at the bannings of conservatives from platforms like Patreon, which I have blogged about before.  I think he read it, but instead decided to talk about his life and maybe plans as a writer. He mentioned some favorite authors –I think Arthur C. Clarke, and some Russians. (How about Chekhov, which Reid Ewing likes.)  No mention of manga or Danganronpa (Ewing, again.)

Is there some kind of message here?  I have a novel, a screenplay (based on my “do ask do tell” series books, with a setting on an O’Neill Cylinder) and a sonata to get delivered to the public, all in 2019.
  
Does his novel happened on an O’Neill Cylinder?  Morgan Freeman has been interested in producing Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendez-Vous with Rama” for years.  Maybe a film, maybe more like a SciFi channel series.  Imagine building the cylinder with CGI.  Or maybe a real model in that movie studio in Baton Rouge LA or maybe Austin TX. 
 
Picture: Model railroad worlds are like O'Neill cylinders.  But you have to get the artificial gravity right. Once you jump off the surface, there is no gravity at all. How would you play baseball? 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Timcast: "Lefty Millennial Media Companies Are Collapsing"



I think that “Timcast” (Tim Pool) “counts” as a quasi-cable program (on YouTube), and a very recent post from this weekend is good to mention now. “Lefty Millennial Media Companies Are Collapsing, Investors Pull Out.”
  
  
I will talk to my own account manager (Wells Fargo) soon about this.  My assets are not doing as well this year, even given volatility under Trump and China.
  
Pool analyzes a Washington Post story by Renae Merle and Thomas Heath, “New media hit stumbling block, scaring away some investors”.   Too much reliance on big social media is part of the problem, as these companies have their own content monitoring problems and privacy scandals.
   
Pool thinks that even Vox (a generally moderate site) has gone overboard to characterize (without enough evidence other than “associations”) some controversial pundits as “alt-right” and have encouraged a climate where “social justice warriors” scare tech companies into deplatforming them. 
  
Let me add, it is very disturbing people deplatformed for off-platform behavior (even Patreon’s “manifest observable behavior”) which generally can’t be proved but is often rumored. (De-platforming a convicted criminal would be OK, for example, because there is due process). 

Monday, December 10, 2018

CNN Heroes 2018 emphasizes homebuilding skills, helping immigrants, trafficking victims; and finally introducing kids overseas to baseball



Anderson Cooper hosted “CNN Heroes” Sunday December 10, 2018. 
  
The winner was Ricardo Pun-Chong, a doctor in Peru who started shelters for homeless families. This idea comports with issues in providing shelter for migrants.
  
A similar project was Like Mickelson, who quit a high-paying jobs to make (with carpentry) beds for kids who sleep on floors, operated from Idaho, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”.  I thought I had mentioned this on one of my blogs but can’t find it now.
  
Chris Stout builds tiny houses for homeless veterans.  I’m not fond myself of living in a tiny space. But there is a lot of emphasis on practical skills in this year’s winners.
  
I had covered Susan Munsey’s work helping the victims of sex trafficking here on Sept. 29.  Brisa D’Angulo was presented as having survived one of these situations.
  
Florence Phillip, 87, helps provide immigrants with instruction in English as a second language, in Nevada.  She had been in the Peace Corps.
  
   
Max Bobholz, 18 and a freshman in college, seems to have the same kind of “young people will win” zeal as David Hogg and Tyler Linfesty. (I hope they have met, at least online.)  A baseball player (I think a pitcher) he delivered baseball equipment to kids in Kenya.  Maybe he will be with the Nationals in a few years?  Chicago Clubs player David Bote had worked in Kenya on a similar charity;  Bote beat the Nationals with a walk-off grand-slam in August at Wrigley on an ESPN Sunday night game.  Michigan state representative, Jewell Jones, 23, having grown up in Detroit’s inner city and already been a policeman, might well have deserved to be on the list (met him at a libertarian forum on free speech).

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

"The Good Doctor" Season 2: "Empathy" and "Quarantine" episodes



I haven’t watched Season 2 of “The Good Doctor” after the “Hello” introduction, because of conflict with NBC’s “Manifest”, which in turn waited for some PBS POV films.
  
Last night the winter finale, “Quarantine” played, but in the DC area it was pre-empted (until 1:30 ASM) by Redskins football (a loss and another quarterback with another broken leg). So I watched Episodes 9 and 10 today on ABC. 

Episode 9 was called “Empathy”.  Because of the way Shaun’s brain works, his empathy is distant and intellectual.  He is “different” but not “special” and socially equal.  Yet, he still seems like a benevolent extraterrestrial, with more moral integrity than humans.

But as the episode begins, Shaun (Freddie Highmore) tells his mentor, Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff), who is undergoing radiation for a brain tumor, that he (Glassman) must surrender his driver’s license.  That is indeed possible: a doctor can inform a state DMV that a patient is no longer fit to drive. Later in the episode, Shaun finally gets his own driver’s license and has trouble applying strict rules in practice when driving his girl friend.

The episode also features a male-female transgender patient who looks make. But the self-medication has created a life-threatening crisis, which creates more dilemmas in the plot that the Left will not like.  Physically, the only change that happens in the course of the episode is that his chest hair melts away. 
    
The pre-Christmas finale, “Quarantine” (the same as the title of a 2008 horror film (cf blog, Oct. 11, 2008) is a wild melee with a cliff-hanger at the end to return in 2019.


A couple of patients show up in the emergency room, having been on a long international flight. Shaun quickly figures out that they may have a contagious disease, and soon the entire emergency room and much of the hospital is quarantined and locked down.  One person is knocked out with a needle to keep him from leaving. The disease (despite starting with a psoriatic rash) turns out to be a kind of SARS (although the type of virus, a corona virus, that can cause it usually just causes laryngitis or mild bronchitis). Soon of the male doctors gets it and dies. There is also a young man waiting for a bone marrow transplant for leukemia, and the quarantine threatens him with the inability to do it after the whole body radiation to knock out his current immune system was done (on camera).

At the same time, there is another patient with a bowel obstruction. Shaun gives him a saline enema, which works for a while, but then the patient vomits over another patient.  On to graphic surgery, with part of the hospital cut off by quarantine.

The episode also shows that Shaun becomes distracted by a malfunctioning fluorescent light that no one else can hear – right out of a David Lynch movie.

They teach screenwriters to create dire situations with rooting interests!
  
I think that the writers should give Shaun a cat at home.  Maybe a bobcat should befriend him and want to look after him. Cats actually do this.

Update: Jan 19, 2019

The second half of the season (after the "All-Star Break") continued with "Quarantine Part 2" on Jan. 12.  Not much was said about the virus.  But Dr. Murphy completes a C-section and saves the baby (with the help of a non-medical person in the secured area) and mother (after refusing to choose the mother first), after having a blackout caused by flickering lights. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

"Presidents Under Fire: The History of Impeachment" with Fareed Zakaria on CNN



Presidents Under Fire: The History of Impeachment”, hosted by Fareed Zakaria, aired on Sunday, December 2, 2018 on CNN (best url ).
  
Of course Zakaria stressed the history, with the impeachment of Andrew Johnson after the Civil War, and then the threat against Richard Nixon in 1974 (leading to his rather abrupt resignation on August 9, 1974), and then the silly trial of Bill Clinton given the Monica Lewinsky scandal (so well and explicitly written up in a book by Kenneth Starr).  Zakaria took a little time with Nixon, covering the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973.  That was during my own coming of age and I remember it well.
  
  
Zakaria stresses that once impeachment starts getting used as a partisan weapon, it loses its credibility when we really need it.  It’s like taking too many antacids and getting a rebound.  Zakaria also points out generally its only conduct while in office that can get him impeached (so the stuff about Putin before the election is a best a gray area).  It would be hard to get 67 votes from the Senate even if a Democratic House passed it.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Milo Yiannopoulos talks to his subscribers on a long video, says he really wants to fund a regular professionally produced channel



Milo Yiannopoulos recently delivered a two-hour “subscriber update” where he announced that he wants to have a real channel and a real show. 

There are some issues with his handling subscribers, and all the controversy that have happened.  But the is worth linking here.  He discusses his financial support and the controversies behind him, which are well known and need not be resummarized here.  I’ll let him speak for himself in the video.


I would say that the material in this video is not in itself offensive in any way “to speech codes”.  But he does have an operating business and revenue stream to stay online.

His website “Dangerous” is still up and the Magazine has some eye-catching headlines which may be a little more “sensational” than what I would do.  
   
His book publishing operation was successful with his own book and with Pam Geller’s book.

If you actually read his book or watch his videos, you find they are not nearly as extreme or reckless as everyone believes.  Some of his points, while hyperbolic, are similar to those in my own blogs. 

The radical Left is indeed “dangerous” and authoritarian on its own.   (Stalin and Hitler were essentially the same.)  My own model is “free” and supported by other assets, but I suppose that could become controversial.  I would certainly be willing to talk to him about how I work.   

Chadwick Moore appears in the video.
  
I was under the impression Milo operates from the Miami (lower Florida) area.

Update:  Dec. 3

Towlerload has an article about Milo's problems.  I was rather shocked at Vox's Carlos Maza for this tweet after Maza's wonderful video on David Hogg.  Deplatforming is a very slippery slope because the perception of what is "hate speech" is so much in the eye of the beholder.  Is a blog post with a gratuitous photo of a Confederate statue on Monument Ave in Richmond VA hate speech in the eyes of some people? 

Update: Dec 7

There is a rather disturbing Twitter thread about Milo and Patreon.  Some of the perks from the supposed membership do look a little silly if correct -- I can't imagine offering stuff like this. As Bernstein says there -- it's just sad.

Also, Milo's "Big Gay Army?"  Like "Big Gay Al" from Southpark? Patreon does (like Twitter) seems to be banning people for "association" with certain specific hate groups (that is, believed to believe in formal white supremacy).  It's about the person and his connections, not his content per se.

Update: Dec 8

There are stories to the effect that Milo was banned from Patreon one day after starting it because of his reported past association with Proud Boys (wiki). Mashable reports this here along with a letter.  It's disturbing that the email acknowledges that the action was taken for a past association and admits that Milo had disavowed the connection. While I am personally reluctant to characterize any group based on scattered news stories, the Wikipedia article is quite negative (and usually could be expected to be objective).  In the most extreme example imaginable, you would not allow someone who could be proven by credible evidence to have been a member of a true terror group as identified by FBI.  There is related material to the banning or Sargon on my main blog Dec. 8.