Sunday, October 30, 2011

The First Amendment =Is= Our Permit

Someone on Facebook sent me an image of this sign - speaks for itself as something to be shown to every cop menacing every Occupy Wall Street demonstrator in the United States.







Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Into the Mind of a Conservative Bully

Here’s an insight into the mind of a conservative bully – or maybe a glimpse of an oft-used game plan favored by unprincipled conservatives in their debates, online and otherwise, with the progressives at hand.

A Facebook “friend” – not really a friend, not even online let alone in person – takes issue with one of my many comments decrying the out-of-control police attack on peaceful Occupy demonstrators out in Oakland, California.   They got just what they deserved, he says, appropriate for anyone who defies the authorities and breaks the law.

Interesting, I replied.  So how is it that the Mayor of Oakland – Jean Quan – issued this statement in the aftermath of the police vicious attack on the Occupy Oakland people:

October 27th, 9pm -- I am deeply saddened about the outcome on Tuesday. It was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened. Today I visited Scott Olsen [brave former Marine who served in Iraq, shot in the head by the cops] and his parents because I was concerned about his recovery. And I hope we will keep them all in our prayers.
We have started an investigation into the use of force, including tear gas, on Tuesday. I cannot change the past, but I want to work with you to ensure that this remains peaceful moving forward.

And what was the response of my “friend”?

Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.   After two reminders and three days.

He’s disappeared from the argument, slunk back into the shadows from which he first emerged.

How many times have you seen this hit-and-run behavior, or been treated to it yourself?

A conservative makes a point that’s flagrantly wrong; someone calls him or her on it, and presents the facts; the conservative exits right, with no further word.

The modus operandi of the conservative bully, puncturing rational dialog, bringing down  a discussion, whenever possible.  It would almost be funny, if it weren’t so sad.  And it shows, if ever we needed a reason, that comments emanating from these partisans are probably best ignored.



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NCIS 9.6: Too Good to be True

NCIS 9.6 was a too good to be true story - not the episode, but the story presented in the episode, which was in fact a little hackneyed and even predictable. Ducky's in love.  This provides a good occasion for DiNozzo to sing a few bars of Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E.'s in Love," with a D instead of a C.  But because this is a television series, not real life, you just know that that head-over-heels love can't last.  And so it goes with poor Ducky, with the twist that his love turns out to be the killer the team is hunting, which is also a standard television move.

But the show did have Cheryl Ladd, from the original Charlie's Angels, playing the killer.  And it did have one of Gibbs' best rejoinders of the season, given when DiNozzo says he's fallen off the ladder of trust.   "Not a ladder," Gibbs laconically comments,  "more like a step stool."

In other words, the writing was excellent as always, even though the story was disappointing.   I admit, I'm a romantic.  I like to see our major characters find the happiness they deserve.  I understand why, in this line of work, that often doesn't happen.  But making Ducky's love the killer in this one was just too much.

Gibbs once again plays the comforter at the end of the episode, which, as I've been saying, has been a good leavener for the show.  This time the recipient, of course, is Ducky.

But why can't at least one of our major characters find some continuing happiness in life outside of work?  In Ducky's case, it's because the source of that happiness turned out to be his and the team's work.  To which I crankily say - give the man a break.

See also NCIS 9.1: Unpacking Partial Amnesia ... NCIS 9.2: Lying to Yourself ... NCIS 9.3: McGee's Grandmother ... NCIS 9.4: Turkey Vulture as Explained by DiNozzo ... NCIS 9.5: Behrooz's Mother

And see also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne ... NCIS 8.5: Dead DJ, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball ... NCIS 8.6: The Written Woman ... NCIS 8.7: "James Bond Movie Directed by Fellini" ... NCIS 8.8: Ziva's Father ... NCIS 8.9: Leon's Story ... NCIS 8.10: DiNozzo In and Out ... NCIS 8.11: "The Sister Went Viral" ... Bob Newhart on NCIS 8.12 ... NCIS 8.13: The Wife or the Girlfriend ... NCIS 8.14: Kate ... NCIS 8.15: McGee and DiNozzo's Badges ... NCIS 8.16: Computer Games ... NCIS 8.17: Budget Cuts ... NCIS 8.18: Gibbs vs. the Kid ... NCIS 8.19: The Deadly Book ... NCIS 8.20: CIRay ... NCIS 8.21: Mask and Eye ... NCIS 8.22: "I'd Rather Have a Lead" ... NCIS 8.23: Answers and Questions ... NCIS Season 8 Finale

And see also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Expiration Date on First Amendment

I'm in Brussels, to give a Keynote Address about Marshall McLuhan tomorrow.  I've been enjoying the conference on the Philosophy of McLuhan, as well as this wonderful city.   But I've been following with grave concern the police aggression against Occupy protesters in Oakland and Atlanta, and wanted to offer - to police everywhere in the United States - the following point:

There's no limit in the First Amendment on the amount of time people can peaceably assemble - no time after which the First Amendment doesn't apply.   An assemblage can be an hour, a day, a year.  So when right-wingers tell you, the Occupy protesters have made their point, they should go home, and the police should make them do that, by force, those right-wingers are only displaying an ignorance of the law.

And that's ok.  People are entitled to be ignorant of the law.  But police and law-enforcement are not.  And when police break the law, or based on ignorance of the law deprive citizens of their rights, that's a serious form of crime.  It's a crime that we the taxpayers are paying for.   No person with a conservative philosophy, no American, should be happy about that.

I call upon police everywhere to respect the law.  Don't follow an illegal order by your commander.  You know what the First Amendment says and doesn't say.

And I again urge Obama to considering calling in the National Guard to protect Americans being forcibly deprived of their rights, just as Eisenhower did bravely for people in the South being deprived of their rights by authorities in the 1950s.


Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boardwalk Empire 2.5: Richard's Story


Lot of beating and worse afoot on Boardwalk Empire 2.5 Sunday evening, along with a tender, sadly beautiful story about Richard.

Let’s talk about Richard first – last night was his best episode.  He goes off into the woods on Memorial Day with lunch, a knife, and a rifle, well dressed to the point of putting on a cap.  It’s all preparation for him to take his own life – which he almost does, except for the intervention of a dog.  Richard has taken off his mask, left it next to him, and the dog takes it and runs away with it, the way dogs are wont to do.  This breaks Richard’s suicide rhythm.  He runs after the dog, finds not only his mask and the dog, but two men in the woods.  They’re both sage, and one of them tells Richard the woods are to live in, not to do something else.  Richard takes this to heart.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is smacked in the forehead by an arrogant Indian war veteran, one of the party of elders who have been backing the Commodore, and are concerned that he’s out of commission.  They have no faith in Jimmy, and the smack in the forehead is to teach Jimmy a lesson about respect.   Jimmy gets a lesson alright, but not the one the cane-wielder intended.   Before the night is over, Richard (back from the woods) and Jimmy (lectured about being strong by his mother) scalp the obnoxious Indian killer. Good riddance.

And in another great sequence of scenes, Eli comes to Nucky’s house to apologize.  Nucky is so furious at Eli he can’t even bring himself to pretend to accept the apology – who can blame him – and the two are soon at each other’s throats, literally.  Eli, being stronger, has the upper hand, but exits when Margaret points a rifle at him.  He apparently didn’t notice that it wasn’t loaded, though Nucky did, and counsels Margaret to make sure it’s loaded next time she points it at someone, with no praise for saving his life.  Why not?  He's likely too embarrassed and shaken up.

But the evening isn’t quite yet finished for Eli.  Back home – out in the shed – he receives a visit from yet another player in the anti-Nucky brigade, also concerned about the Commodore’s condition.  That encounter ends with Eli bashing in his caller’s face – at last he’ll no longer have to worry about the Commodore – and Eli burying the body in an unmarked grave.

All of this conspiracy is reminiscent of what the Roman Senators did to Julius Caesar, and the internecine, destructive aftermath.  But I have a feeling Nucky’s going to come out of this a little better than did Caesar.



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


The Walking Dead 2.2: The Nature of Vet


A fine, intense as always, yet in parts endearing The Walking Dead 2.2 Sunday night, with most of the action centering around an old country doctor – actually a veterinarian, much to Lori’s distress – doing his utmost to save Rick and Lori’s son.

Carl was accidentally shot in last week’s episode, by a hunter on the other side of a beautiful buck Carl was wondrously approaching in the forest.  Lori hoped that when the doc said he was a “vet” he meant veteran, but no such luck.  She’s of course desperate that Carl pull through, and good manners towards the doc are the last thing on her mind.

Rick almost loses it, as does Lori, but they hold it together so the doc can work.  Rick’s blood type is the same as his son’s – a piece of luck – but Carl’s condition is still critical, and requires Shane to go off (with the hunter who shot Carl, who feels terrible about this, and volunteers) to find proper medical supplies.

Shane has one his best episodes in the whole series so far, not only thinking more clearly than Rick (understandable), but getting him to focus.  Shane’s foray with the hunter to get supplies runs into zombies.  No surprise, it’s getting dark, but Carl’s life hanging in the balance makes this encounter – not decided at the time the episode ends – all the more harrowing.

Meanwhile, back at the convoy, T-Dog’s developing a fierce infection from his wound, which he could die from, just as surely as from the zombies.  He appreciates this irony, and, fortunately gets antibiotics (part of Daryl’s stash) pretty much in the nick of time.  Antibiotics may be no good against the zombie-generating plague – nothing is, so far – but they can at least dispatch a bad old-fashioned infection.

So far this season, there seems to be a little more emphasis on the human than the zombie – though Andrea nearly narrowly escapes succumbing to one (she was deprived of her weapon last week, because she tried to end her life last season).  I’m liking this slightly more human tilt a lot, so far.




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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...



Monday, October 24, 2011

Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals?

Two plus two equals Dexter 6.4 tonight - he discovers two numbers in the doomsday killer's corpses, and then realizes that he's likely dealing with two killers not one - but the deeper story is not mathematical or scientific, but the struggle in Dexter's mind between science and religion.

When Harrison's appendix ruptures and he's rushed into surgery, Dexter - under Sam's general influence - asks even God for help.  And Harrison pulls through like a "champ," according to the doctor, Dexter thanks God.  And although he denies to Sam any meaning in Dexter's use of the phrase, saying he's still a man of science, it's clear that Dexter's atheistic insistence is beginning to crack.

And good thing, too.   Professor Gellar - the "middle-aged professor," as Dexter calls him (thanks, Dex, makes me feel like a suspect) - is moving into high gear.  He claims a third victim - in faith, two plus can equal three - and Dexter's understanding of faith, not just the literal Old and New Testaments, but the workings of a sick mind that twists faith and uses it to kill, may be the best weapon Dexter has against the murderous pair.

Travis, the acolyte who looks like McGee from NCIS, is clearly a true, twisted believer.  He goes out with and sleeps with a brunette, and very much enjoys it.  But Gellar has other ideas, and make her the third victim (you could see this coming), and Travis not only goes along with this but enjoys the locust culmination of the ritual.

A fine season, in which Debra not only gets off a lot of great, fucking lines, but actually uses one in a press conference after Laguerta tells her to be "herself".  Laguerta's pleased with this gaff, everyone else is askance, but Captain Matthews gets lots of compliments about Debra's "telling it like it is," and tells her to keep up the "fucking" good work.

That's what I'm takin' about - Thom Yorke would have been proud.

See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ... Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ... Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ... 4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3: Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ... Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2: Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1: First Place to Dexter




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The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Good Day Street Talk - on Fox-NY - discusses Occupy Wall Street

Tai Hernandez interviews Nicole Gelinas, Jed Morey, me, Basil Smikle, Thomas Borelli - we're on a panel - about Occupy Wall Street on Fox-NY's Good Day Street Talk this morning (interview taped last Thursday). Best blend of thoughts about social media, direct democracy, politics, the First Amendment, and the Occupy protests I've been able to present on television thus far ...




Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama Should Call in National Guard to Restrain NYPD in Occupy Wall Street

Consider the following -
  • Professor and author Cornel West was just hauled off in a police paddy wagon up in an Occupy Harlem protest - see photos
  • Professor and author Naomi Wolf was led off in hand cuffs earlier this week when she was walking on a street deemed off-limits - a public street - by the NYPD - see article
  • a woman seeking to close her Citibank account as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest was arrested - see video
Obama finally announced the end of the US occupation of Iraq today.  Now he should send some of our National Guard to New York City to restrain our out-of-control NYPD.  Clearly Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly either can't or don't want to restrain the NYPD.

Earlier this week, we also saw the inspiring lecture that former Marine Shamar Thomas delivered to the NYPD - "you're supposed to protect us, not attack us," he said.  Here's the video.  (He was not arrested - Bloomberg still has a clever sense of public relations - he doesn't want a video of the NYPD taking into custody a former Marine.  But professors and authors and other law-abiding citizens are apparently fair game to arrest on camera.)

It is becoming more clear, every day, that what we most in New York City need protection from is our own police.

(I taped an interview and talked about some of these issues Thursday (Oct 20) morning - part of a panel discussion broadcast on Good Day Street Talk, Fox-NY-Channel 5, Saturday, October 22, 6-6:30am - here's the video.)


-Paul Levinson, PhD
Professor of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University




Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Boardwalk Empire 2.4: Nearly Flagrante Delicto

HBO's Boardwalk Empire put up one of its most powerful scenes - sensual and psychological - in episode 2.4.  It involved two characters who are major but not the most absolutely central to the series.  And the scene in effect came in two parts.

The characters are Gillian (Jimmy's mother, played by Gretchen Mol) and the Commodore (Jimmy's father, played by Dabney Coleman).

In part one, Gillian starts seducing the Commodore with a 1920s exotic strip tease that leaves her naked and the Commodore breathless.   Gillian never looked better - we see her waist up from the front and all the way down the back - indeed, the only scenes I recall as seductive as this were Atia's (played by Polly Walker) completely nude scenes in HBO's Rome.   But the result of Gillian's temptations is not the greatest for the Commodore, who has a stroke.   We learn later that men in his condition apparently can't take this much excitement.

In part two of this story within a story, which comes much later in this episode, Gillian talks to the Commodore, immobile in his bed.  The talk is her reminiscence of the first time the two made love, which turns out to be a harsh and cruel tale of the Commodore plying Gillian (both were 20+ years younger - Gillian was just 13) with alcohol and starting to rape her when she's passed out.  But Gillian woke up, and has always remembered the incident with understandable revulsion and horror.   Which raises the question: did Gillian deliberately try to seduce the Commodore to  provoke a seizure?

I'm not sure, but I do find it just-desert O'Henry-esque (you can't escape your fate) that the Commodore is now pretty much back where he started last year, an invalid in bed in serious condition.  And this is one of the things - actually, three, the scene and the questions and the cycles - that makes the series so good, and this episode especially. It also featured Chalky's flaws as a father (he's insecure when his daughter brings home a well-educated young suitor), and the gang back in New York.   Any scene with Lucky, Lansky, Bugsy, and Rothstein is always one of my favorite scenes on this show.

So far, Season Two of Boardwalk Empire is even better than Season One, which is saying a lot, because Season One was fine indeed.

See also Boardwalk Empire 2.1: Politics in an Age Before YouTube  ... Boardwalk Empire 2.2: The Woman Behind the Throne ... Boardwalk Empire 2.3: Frankenstein and Victrola

And see also Boardwalk Emipre on HBO ... Boardwalk Empire 1.2: Lines and Centers Power ... Boardwalk Empire 1.10: Arnold Rothstein, Media Theorist  ... Season One Finale of Boardwalk Empire



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The Plot to Save Socrates





"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials

Person of Interest is really beginning to come into its own, and I'm beginning to really enjoy it.  In tonight's episode 1. 5 we find that -
  • Once again, Reese is fallible - that is, he's not a superhero who can always get the better of any number of bad guys whatever the fight.  A few episodes ago, he got knocked through a window or a door (he did pretty quickly recover).  Tonight he arrives just as a judge's son is being kidnapped, does his best to stop a team of cold killers, but gets stopped by a shot of something in the shoulder.  This makes him more appealing as a character - he's only human, albeit one knows how to shoot, punch, etc. with usually devastating impact.
  • Reese is grateful for the job Finch has given him.  He was none too happy about it at first, and he's gradually warmed up to it over the past few episodes.  I like evolutions of characters in a given season.
  • Reese and Finch may have an ally they can call upon in some future episode - Judge Samuel Gates (played by David Costabile, who had very memorable runs in both Breaking Bad and Damages).   Makes me hope that we indeed see more of the judge in Person of Interest.
About the only thread that I don't like much in this series is the local cop story.   Detective Fusco (played by Kevin Chapman, who was outstanding in Brotherhood) is a bore.   And Detective Carter (played by Taraji Henson) is alright.  But their stories don't really add much to the central Reese and Finch story, other than the constant danger that Reese and Finch, especially Reese, will be discovered and arrested.   But until this becomes a serious factor in the series, Carter's role is little more than a distraction from the main plot line.  I'd say the writers need to correct this, sooner not later.

But the overall theme of trying to stop murders before they happen remains compelling, and with Reese and Finch continuing to develop in unexpected ways, Person of Interest has a lot of potential.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch



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The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NCIS 9.5: Behrooz's Mother

I first became aware of actress Shohreh Aghdashloo when I saw her on 24 for most of its 4th season a few years ago, playing Behrooz's mother, caught up in a major terrorist plot by her husband that endangered her son and put her on Jack Bauer's radar.  She gave such a powerful performance in that role, I've always thought of her since then as Behrooz's mother, including in a smaller stint last year on FlashFoward.

Tonight Shohreh Aghdashloo turns in another memorable performance as another mother caught up in a terrorist plot, in this case on NCIS 9.5 not only involving her husband of 30 years but one of her sons.  The stakes, it turns out, are high indeed, putting half of Norfolk Harbor at imminent, deadly risk.

Her performance also brings out a great hour from Cote de Pablo as Ziva, who, as we know, has deep and deadly family issues of her own.   DiNozzo manages to be the butt of significant humor, literally, with an apparent detergent stain on his pants giving CGIS (Coast Guard) Special Agent Abigail Borin (Diane Neal of Law & Order fame) a chance to rub his rear (of his pants, that is) in an attempt to remove the stain (that's the funny part) with no success, which then gives Abby the opportunity via chemical analysis to discover evidence of the terrorist plot (the significant part).


The team would like to see Gibbs and Borin get together romantically, but Gibbs is keeping his own counsel on this, and tells Ziva near the end that the team is his family.  Another tender moment from Gibbs at the end of an episode, which has become something of an endearing signature of NCIS this year.


Also worthy of note in this episode is the SecNav backing Gibbs not Leon in one call, and another scene near the end which hints at some kind of problem Secretary of the Navy Jarvis may be facing.  All of which more than hints of a continuingly interesting season of NCIS this year.


Hey, I'll be overseas next week - no, not as part of any world intrigue that I know of, but rather to give Keynote Addresses about Marshall McLuhan in Brussels and Copenhagen.  Depending on the availability of the current season of NCIS in Europe, it may be two weeks before I get a chance to see and put up a review of the next episode - which looks like a good one - but I'll see you then if not sooner.
 
See also NCIS 9.1: Unpacking Partial Amnesia ... NCIS 9.2: Lying to Yourself ... NCIS 9.3: McGee's Grandmother ... NCIS 9.4: Turkey Vulture as Explained by DiNozzo

And see also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne ... NCIS 8.5: Dead DJ, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball ... NCIS 8.6: The Written Woman ... NCIS 8.7: "James Bond Movie Directed by Fellini" ... NCIS 8.8: Ziva's Father ... NCIS 8.9: Leon's Story ... NCIS 8.10: DiNozzo In and Out ... NCIS 8.11: "The Sister Went Viral" ... Bob Newhart on NCIS 8.12 ... NCIS 8.13: The Wife or the Girlfriend ... NCIS 8.14: Kate ... NCIS 8.15: McGee and DiNozzo's Badges ... NCIS 8.16: Computer Games ... NCIS 8.17: Budget Cuts ... NCIS 8.18: Gibbs vs. the Kid ... NCIS 8.19: The Deadly Book ... NCIS 8.20: CIRay ... NCIS 8.21: Mask and Eye ... NCIS 8.22: "I'd Rather Have a Lead" ... NCIS 8.23: Answers and Questions ... NCIS Season 8 Finale

And see also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

House 8.3: Dr. Adams and Thirteen

Hey, Dr. Adams - the best thing about House 8.1 in prison, and someone whom I hoped we'd see more of (played by Odette Yustman) - is back on House 8.3, coming to work for nothing in Princeton Plainsboro, in search of a job offer.   She did the right thing in House 8.1, backing House's diagnosis, but of course was sent packing by her narrow-minded, by-the-book superior.

And Thirteen's back, too.   Together with Dr. Park, the two manage to help House find a cure for a patient suffering from crazy altruism (that's his most salient symptom).  Foreman is of course against a lot of this, realizing he's been played, and it turns out Park and House are playing Adams, too.  With House and his assistants, it's never unlikely to find a round of mutual scamming.

But Thirteen's reappearance may be only temporary, as was Cameron's last year, though I hope that's not the case in this case, for Thirteen.  And Taub and Chase are in the wings.  Both were mentioned as being ready to rejoin or reconstitute the team, if only House can get the money.  Which we know he likely will, sooner or later, even if he didn't quite get the nut tonight out of the cured irrational altruist.

But House did a get good haircut, and he's looking good, as is the prognosis for a fine Season 8.

See also House 8.2: Patient Lungs

And see also House and Cuddy on the Other Side in Season 7 Premiere ... House 7.2: House and Cuddy, Chapter 2 ... House 7.3: The Author and the White Lie ... House 7.9: The Vilda Chaya ... House 7.11: The Patient's Most Important Right ... House 7.14:  House, Death, and Cuddy ... House 7.16: Broken Hearts and their Repair ... House 7.17: Deadly Healthy Diet ... House 7.18: Thirteen Mysterious ... House 7.19: Rules ... House 7.20: Cuddy's Mother as Catalyst ... House Season 7 Finale: In Paradise

And see also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7 ... House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon ... House 6.9: Wilson ... House 6.10: Back in Business ... House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath  ... House 6.12: The Progression to Mensch ... House 6.13: Cuddy's Perspective ... House Meets Blogger in 6.14 ... House 6.15: About Taub ... House 6.16: Revealing Couples ... House 6.17: Socrates on Steroids ... House 6.18: Open Marriage




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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Walking Dead Back on AMC

AMC's gory but erudite horror-drama The Walking Dead was back on the air last night, with a second season premiere that picked up pretty much where the first one left off.

Indeed, the story introduced no new characters, which was fine, because there's a lot more to be told about the characters we know.   Most of the action centered around trying to find Sophia - Carol's young daughter - who walks off near a stream in a forest while Rick dispatches two menacing walkers.  This happens after a tip-top scene in which our band of survivors fend off and mostly elude a huge group of marchers aka walkers, as our group is one its way to Ft. Benning after the disappointment at the CDC in Atlanta.

But the most gut-wrenching moment comes at the very end, when Rick's son Carl gently approaches a buck with beautiful antlers, alive and almost shimmering in the forest.  It's a magical moment, showing Rick and Shane that there's still beautiful life in this world-  suddenly shattered by a rifle shot (likely from a human hunter) that goes through the deer and fells Carl.  The coming attractions indicate he's still alive, but this is the kind of moment, the awful juxtaposition of life and death, that makes The Walking Dead so powerful.

The other persuasive quality comes from the depth of the characters and the human relationships in this hell of a world.  The insane triangle - insane by normal standards - of Rick, Shane, and Lori is still very much in play, though there could be something good starting up between Shane and Andrea.   She's furious at Dale for forcing her to save her life as the price for saving his last season, and her fury is a good call on the part of the writers.

Looking again at the coming attractions, there are vehicles overhead somewhere down the road in this season, which spells some kind of ultimate hope for our people, and explains exactly why I'll keep watching.   The key to The Walking Dead's success, I've thought from the beginning, is life is putting up a good struggle indeed.

See also The Walking Dead 1.1-3:  Gone with the Wind, Zombie Style ... The Walking Dead Ends First Season



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Direct Democracy, Social Media: A Thumbnail History of Media and Politics Since Ancient Athens

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The role of social media in triggering and facilitating the now world-wide Occupy Wall Street protests - of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and kindred systems in getting word out about Occupations, and documenting them for the world to see and join - has been remarked upon so often as to almost seem a cliche.  But the link between social media and direct democracy is true and profound, and is the current culmination of an evolution of media and political expression that began in ancient times.

Back in the city state of Athens, in the time of Pericles, direct democracy arose, in part because of the new literacy that allowed citizens to be informed of public events and the views and actions of their leaders.   The words that these people read were handwritten, which meant that anyone who wanted to write and be read could do so.  Writing and publishing were just as about as easy, in other words, as reading.  

All of that changed dramatically with the invention of the printing press, which had the wonderful result of spreading the written word to millions, but the anti-democratic effect of greatly reducing the ratio of published writers to readers.   Millions of people became accustomed to reading words written by a handful of others.   Unsurprisingly, when democracy slowly re-emerged in the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, it was not the direct democracy of Ancient Athens.  Instead, it was a representative kind of democracy, in which elected officials made all the decisions, and all the people could do was vote the representatives up or down.   This was almost exactly parallel to the transformation in information production and reception brought about by the printing press, in which all the people could do is read and agree or disagree with a book or manifesto or pamphlet, and in no way write or produce it, unless you were in the less than one-percent of the population fortunate to have a monarch's or a printer's (later publisher's) favor.

This inequality of producer and consumer - few producers and legion consumers - was not only continued but exacerbated by the advent of broadcast media, which reduced the number of producers (harder to get your views on radio and television than in newspapers, which at least has letters to the editors) while increasing the number of consumers.   People in representative democracies became better informed, but the information was created by fewer and fewer people.  In some countries, such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, this inequality was masterfully mined to do away with democracy altogether.

The introduction of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the first decade of the 21st century shifted that ratio back to a more even distribution of producer and consumer for the first time since the handwritten manuscript held sway in Ancient Athens.   These new media live online, but they were unlike other new media like Amazon and iTunes, which still run for the most part like traditional publishing media, with few producers and many consumers.   In contrast, any one can Tweet, post a status on Facebook, upload a video to YouTube - any consumer could become a producer.  That's why I say these new social media are not just new but "new new media".

People in the streets, demanding freedom and justice in the Arab Spring, and redress of economic grievances in the United States, Europe, and Asia, are the healthy and long-overdue political expression of the revolution in social or new new media.  The Occupy movements are expressing a dissatisfaction with others making decisions for us - with our elected representatives doing the bidding of banks rather than the people who elected them.

With means of expressing one's political views in almost everyone's pockets and hands, the age of mass media and representative democracy may well be in irreversible decline, replaced by the more equitable system of direct democracy in which the majority not only truly rules, but in which everyone's views can get a public hearing, and everyone can vote at any and all times.   Campaigns such as Dylan Ratigan's to "get the money out of politics" may be well meaning, but miss the point that it's representative democracy itself that must go or be transformed into a system of democracy that always moves to the people's views.

I talked about all of this a bit more and led a discussion after the 7:15pm screening of Tiffany Shlain's new movie Connected, at the Angelika Film Center in New York City this Wednesday, October 19.

I also discussed many of these issues on Good Day Street Talk, Fox-NY-5, on a panel taped on Thursday October 20 and broadcast Saturday October.   Video is here:



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan

Peter's back in Fringe 4.4 - first in 1950s reality-unsettling ectoplasm, and then, at last, in the flesh.

If the coming attractions for 4.5 are any indication, Peter remembers everything, but Olivia and Walter still do not.   In 4.4, though, it's clear that Olivia is aware that Peter has been trying to contact her, via the ectoplasm that fleshed out (or in) in Reiden Lake, in our current time.  This of course is the same Reiden Lake where Peter drowned as a boy as Walter was trying to take him back to our reality in the Fringe v2 we've been watching this season, and the same Reiden Lake that figured so crucially in Fringe v1 of Seasons 1-3.

Also of note is the Eternal Bald Observer who watches as Peter appears currently in the lake.  This suggests that Peter's return is part of the EBO plan to deal with the "bleeding" of Peter into Walter and Olivia's minds, which we saw the EBO concerned about in the first episode this season.   And this further suggests that what the EBOs have given, they can yank away - that is, pull Peter back out of our realities, again, if for some reason they deem that in their/ours/who-knows-whose best interests. And, to make matters even more fun, the EBOs don't necessarily all agree on the best courses of action, and to what extent their best interests are the same as ours - but this sort of multi-valent interest is clearly in our, the audience's, best interest (or at least, mine, as a viewer - I like this kind of stuff).

Speaking of Walter, he gets a vote a confidence from Olivia, who checks a box indicating that she does not want him returned to the wretched mental hospital.  Regarding Walter's sanity, I'm always reminded of one of my favorite lines from Marshall McLuhan, that "the only people who have proof of their sanity are those who have been discharged from mental institutions" (from Take Today: The Executive as Dropout - see also my Digital McLuhan for more on McLuhan).

No Fringe on next week - World Series on Fox (I won't be watching, since Yankees won't be in it).  And I may not get a chance to watch Fringe in two weeks, either, since I'll be in Europe then, giving Keynote Address about - yes - Marshall McLuhan, in Brussels and Copenhagen.  But not to worry, I'll be DVRing and will post my review as early as possible in the week of October 31.

Hey, check out my essay The Return of 1950s Science Fiction in Fringe in this new anthology




See also Fringe Returns for Season 4: Almost with Peter
... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves ... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son

See also Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia ... Fringe 3.2: Bad Olivia and Peter ... Fringe 3.3: Our/Their Olivia on the Other Side ... Fringe 3.5: Back from Hiatus, Back from the Amber ... Fringe 3.7: Two Universes Still Nearing Collision ... Fringe 3.8: Long Voyages Home ... Fringe 3.10: The Return of the Eternal Bald Observers ... Flowers for Fringenon in Fringe 3.11 ... Fringe 3.12: The Wrong Coffee  ... Fringe 3.13: Alternate Fringe ... Fringe 3.14: Amber Here ... Fringe 3.15: Young Peter and Olivia ... Fringe 3.16: Walter and Yoko ... Fringe 3.17: Bell, Olivia, Lee, and the Cow ... Fringe 3.18: Clever Walternate ... Fringe 3.19 meets Inception, The Walking Dead, Tron ... Fringe 3.20: Countdown to Season 3 Finale 1 of 3 ... Fringe 3.21:  Ben Frankin, Rimbaldi, and the Future ... Fringe Season 3 Finale: Here's What Happened ... Death Not Death in Fringe 
 
See also reviews of Season 2: Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best


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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NCIS 9.4: Turkey Vulture as Explained by DiNozzo

The funniest NCIS of the new season, with a great head smack for DiNozzo (he says admiring words about the technique of the suspect - Gibbs administers the smack and comments laconically "he's a serial killer"), a great line from DiNozzo about a sexy older landlady who wouldn't mind getting Gibbs in bed (she's a "turkey vulture," DiNozzo helpfully explains, "20 years past a cougar - still likes to hunt, but too old to take down the prey"), and like that.

And this is sprinkled into a good mystery, in which it turns out that the Navy Lt Commander under the team's protection - thought to be the killer's intended victim -  turns out to be the killer.  But before we learn this, Ziva gets in some good moments - her best so far this season - serving as his bodyguard.


But the heart of episode 9.4 concerns Abby, who starts off eager to donate a kidney, and ends up learning she's been adopted.  Gibbs provides comforting words and arm at the end of the story, assuring Abby that she's doesn't have to face this unsettling revelation alone - that she has a family to support her, i.e., the NCIS team.

So this now makes something like the third episode in a row in which Gibbs serves as the team's nurturer - last week it was McGee, the week before DiNozzo, who got Gibbs' good treatment.  As I said in reviews of those past two episodes, I like this side of Gibbs.  We've seen it before - certainly to Ducky, and Ziva - but is this a new Gibbs, more expansive in his sensitivity?  Well, yeah, maybe - but then there was that spirited head smack.


See also NCIS 9.1: Unpacking Partial Amnesia ... NCIS 9.2: Lying to Yourself ... NCIS 9.3: McGee's Grandmother

And see also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne ... NCIS 8.5: Dead DJ, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball ... NCIS 8.6: The Written Woman ... NCIS 8.7: "James Bond Movie Directed by Fellini" ... NCIS 8.8: Ziva's Father ... NCIS 8.9: Leon's Story ... NCIS 8.10: DiNozzo In and Out ... NCIS 8.11: "The Sister Went Viral" ... Bob Newhart on NCIS 8.12 ... NCIS 8.13: The Wife or the Girlfriend ... NCIS 8.14: Kate ... NCIS 8.15: McGee and DiNozzo's Badges ... NCIS 8.16: Computer Games ... NCIS 8.17: Budget Cuts ... NCIS 8.18: Gibbs vs. the Kid ... NCIS 8.19: The Deadly Book ... NCIS 8.20: CIRay ... NCIS 8.21: Mask and Eye ... NCIS 8.22: "I'd Rather Have a Lead" ... NCIS 8.23: Answers and Questions ... NCIS Season 8 Finale

And see also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

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