Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

I offer ongoing commentary about Occupy Wall Street, September 27 through November 23, 2011.  The commentary first appeared in 15 blog posts - dates, titles, and links to the text of the blog posts are listed below.  Main themes include Occupy Wall Street as a resurgence of direct democracy, police violation of the First Amendment in their violence against protesters and the press, failure of the Obama administration to protect the rights of Occupy citizens attacked by munipalities, and much more.  The audio podcast is about 55 minutes in length.  It is intended as both analysis and eyewitness to one of the most important revolutions in human history.  Further chronicles will appear here in subsequent months.


audio podcast: Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1


  1. Sept 27, 2011 NYC Police Disgrace Themselves in Brutal Treatment of Wall Street Protesters
  2. Oct 6, 2011 Advice to President Obama: Join Occupy Wall Street
  3. Oct 16, 2011 Occupy Wall Street, Direct Democracy, Social Media: A Thumbnail History of Media and Politics Since Ancient Athens
  4. Oct 21, 2011 Obama Should Call in National Guard to Restrain NYPD in Occupy Wall Street
  5. Oct 26, 2011 No Expiration Date on First Amendment
  6. Oct 29, 2011 Into the Mind of a Conservative Bully
  7. Nov 2, 2011 Bank of America Bends to Will of the People
  8. Nov 10, 2011 Open Letter to Governor Jerry Brown
  9. Nov 13, 2011 Lame CBS Broadcasts Only First Hour of Republican Foreign Policy Debate
  10. Nov 15, 2011 Mayor Bloomberg's Poor Understanding of the First Amendment
  11. Nov 16, 2011 Violation of First Amendment to Cover Up Violation of First Amendment
  12. Nov 20, 2011 What OWS Has Shown Us about Bloomberg, Jerry Brown, Obama
  13. Nov 20, 2011 Jay Carney (and Obama) Have It All Wrong about Police and OWS
  14. Nov 20, 2011 Failure of Budget Super-Committee Shows Further Decay of Representative Democracy
  15. Nov 23, 2011 First Amendment Trampling Bloomberg Caves: NYPD Ordered to Let Press Do Its Job
My television interviews about OWS ... with Chuck Scarborough on NY Nightly News ... on FOX 5 NY ...

Relevant movie ... Tiffany Shlain's Connected moive

Blog posts since the audio podcast  (to appear in Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 2) -

  16.  Nov 25, 2011: Cairo and New York: A Tale of Two Related Cities
  17.  Nov 26, 2011: LA Woman Could Be Charged with 'Battery" for Pepper Spray - How About 
         UC-Davis Cops?
  18.  Nov 27, 2011: The Pike Pepper Spray Meme:  Pros and Cons
  19.  Dec 3, 2011:  A Progressive Libertarian in the Occupy Wall Street Age
  20.  Dec 9, 2011: More Lies from Mayor "I Have an Army" Bloomberg about OWS and the Press


transcript vidcast of OWS Chron 1 - thanks to Claude Almansi

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Walking Dead 2.7: Rick's Way vs. Shane's Way

I've been letting the searing, superb Walking Dead mid-season finale - 2.7 - settle in.   It was as powerful a presentation of two opposing ways to deal with a potentially deadly situation as ever I've seen on television.

On the one hand, Rick wants to cooperate in any way he can with Herschel, including not only protecting the walkers in the barn - whom Herschel considers not dead but sick (and therefore potentially curable) people - but bringing new walkers into the barn when they turn up.  Rick is not happy about this at all.  But he thinks he has no other choice.  Lori and Carl want to stay on the farm.  Lori is pregnant.  Taking his family back out into the insane world out there is not acceptable to Rick.

On the other hand, Shane might want to stay, but certainly not with walkers in the barn.  The very possibility of that is not only unacceptable, but insane to Shane's way of thinking.  Shane's conversation with Lori only intensifies Shane's convictions that the walkers must be destroyed.  Shane thinks he's the father of Lori's baby - which she does not really deny as a physical possibility - and he already has something of a fatherly relationship with Carl.  Shane risked his own life and sacrificed Otis to save Karl.

So who's right?  Although I had sympathy for Rick's approach, I have to side with Shane.  The very process of taking the two new walkers back from the water to the barn shows how dangerous they are - all that has happen is Rick or Herschel get too close to one of them, get bitten, and game over.

And although I felt bad for the walkers, and Herschel, when Shane opened the barn and started shooting the zombies in the head as they staggered out the door, he made the right decision.  Even Maggie nodded that it was ok for Glenn to join in the shooting.

And the heart-breaking denouement shows Rick pretty much agrees.  Everyone is stunned when Sophia dead-walks out of the barn (I hadn't figured she was in the barn, but thought she'd be found a walker in the drugstore), but Rick has the sense and the self-control to shoot her in the head, before she bites any of his family and people he feels responsible for.  He chose not to try to put Sophia in a harness and back in the barn.

It was a horrifying but instructive scene.   If Shane had been convinced by Rick, and tried peaceful coexistence with the walkers in the barn, what would have happened when Carol discovered her daughter?  Would she have been able to live with her daughter in the barn?  How about the others?

I suppose Rick's original point of view - Herschel's - could be vindicated if it turns out there is some way out there, now or in the future, to bring the walkers back to full human life.  But unless and until that happens, I think you have to give credit to Shane for doing the right thing.  And even if a cure is discovered, Shane made the best decision with the information he had at the time.





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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 ...

Boardwalk Empire 2.10: Double Shot

Boardwalk Empire 2.10 last night was all about the ending - shocking, slightly signaled, somewhat justified, and altogether what makes Boardwalk Empire such fine, pull-no-punches television.

The slight signaling occurred when Angela was unusually affectionate to Jimmy when he was about to leave for out of town business - this was a tip-off, in television narration, that something unusual would soon happen with Angela.  I thought Angela would be leaving Jimmy, which she did, but not in the everyday sense of the term.

The somewhat justified part of the ending concerns Manny Horvitz.  An assassin whom Manny knows was sent by Jimmy almost killed Manny last week.  He thus has every reason to want to return the favor, but not with the "almost," to Jimmy.   His showing up at Jimmy's house was no surprise.  Neither was his finding Angela sleeping peacefully in bed.

But Louise walking out of the shower, and receiving Manny's gunshot before he realizes that his target is not Jimmy - that was jolting indeed, to us as well as Manny.  So was his shooting Angela - stunning to us - and firing more bullets into both of them, to make sure they were dead.

He did this, presumably, to make sure Angela didn't go to the police about Manny shooting her lover.  There was no need to kill Angela to keep this from Jimmy, whose man Mickey who went to Philadelphia will no doubt reveal what he told Manny.  Or, if he doesn't, Jimmy will realize that anyway - even if weasel Mickey denies it.  Or, if Manny killed Mickey, that would tell Jimmy the same.

But Munya aka Manny is one butcher not to mess with.  And Jimmy brought this on himself - if you're going to aim at the prince, or even someone who has specials on assholes (Mickey's way with words), you better make sure you kill him.

So in less than a minute, Boardwalk Empire has been changed forever.   Who will take care of Jimmy's son?  (Speaking of whom - where was he during the shooting?  I guess Angela had him staying with friends, to give her and Louise the house to themselves - but this could have been made a little more clear.)  Jimmy's mother could have a bigger role - always welcome - but the Commodore may be recovering, and her attentions required there.   And that's just the family side.  What this will do to Jimmy professionally - what he'll do about Manny, and for that matter Lucky and Al, unhappy about the stall in the liquor flow, should make for riveting viewing.   Could an re-alliance of necessity with Nucky be in the works?



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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, November 27, 2011

Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ...

Gellar's status is finally established in Dexter 6.9.

Travis is on the floor of Gellar's Church.

Dexter leans over him, ascertians that Travis is still alive.  Dexter hears a noise - like a generator kicking on.

Dexter goes down into the cellar below, opens a freezer, and finds ... Gellar.  Or, to be more precise, Gellar's body.  Gellar, dead, in the cellar.  The generator or whatever made the noise presumably kicked on automatically.

What this means for Dexter is that he's been about as wrong as he's ever been.  As I mentioned last week,  it was more difficult than it might have been for Dexter to see the truth about Travis, since Dexter had first suspected Travis, and then came to believe that he had wrongly suspected Travis.  It's hard to double back to where you started.

Has Dexter ever been this wrong?   Not about someone who didn't really matter to him.

Is Dexter losing it?   Well, it's certainly clear that all of business about God - what brother Sam has brought him to see, or Dexter thinks he sees - hasn't done his incisive hunting and killing instinct much good.  He drove all the way to Nebraska, and though he was right to not kill Jonah, Dexter handled the whole matter not with his usual aplomb, and attracted Debra's suspicions for no good reason.  And Dexter did this in response to Sam's death.

I don't think Travis will be much of a threat to Dexter, even though Travis now literally has the upper hand.   I'm much more concerned about Deb finding out something really irreversible about her brother.

See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real?

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



The Pike Pepper Spray Meme: Pros and Cons

As the Huffington Post noted last week, John Pike's pepper spraying of UC Davis students has become a massive meme of Internet ridicule.   Jeanne Moos's CNN piece yesterday had some truly funny examples, my favorite probably being Pike as the cause of John Boehner's tears.

But I admit to having mixed emotions about this meme.  On the one hand, Pike's act of casual depravity - pepper spraying non-violent students like "he was watering a garden," as Sharon Osbourne aptly put it  - is deserving of all the cleansing ridicule the creative among us can bestow upon it.  Humor is a good way of diffusing cultural pain, of sublimating the fury we feel at Pike's nonchalant cruelty, as per Freud.

On the other hand, maybe we don't want our anger sublimated all that much.   Pike assaulted those students, plain and simple.  He committed a crime that warrants not only conviction and punishment - as in jail - but maximum publicity in its raw form, to serve as a warning and reminder to other police officers to control themselves when they are attempting to control groups of people.  All of that is no laughing matter.

Still, there is a healing quality in humor, in laughing at Pike's vent from hell aimed at everything from Mount Rushmore to the Beatles to Bambi.  My other favorite is Pike showing up in prehistoric cave art - Pike as the demon of authoritarian violence which has beset our species from the beginning - and here's a shout-out to James McGrath's contribution (James' comment on my blog post here yesterday got me thinking about this).



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Saturday, November 26, 2011

LA Woman Could Be Charged with 'Battery" for Pepper Spray - How About UC-Davis Cops?

I just heard that the woman who pepper sprayed shoppers in Los Angeles to get an edge on bargains could be charged with "battery".  Seems right.

And what about the UC-Davis police who pepper sprayed non-violent students week before last?

No such justice.

At least, not so far.   The two cops who pepper sprayed the students, and the head of their UC-Davis police unit, have suspended with pay, pending investigation.

Are students in California worth less as human beings than shoppers, or are cops out there somewhere above the law?

If anything, the cops should be charged with a crime worse than what was brought  against the pepper sprayer of shoppers.  Police are (a) paid by taxpayers to (b) protect not attack law-abiding citizens.

If anyone should be suspended - without, not with,  pay - it should be the officers who stood around, watched the two pepper-spraying cops, and did nothing.

I'd like to think that most police in America wouldn't stand by when their colleagues were breaking the law, and certainly wouldn't break the law by assaulting peaceful protesters themselves.   We do every good police officer a disservice by going easy on the rotten apples in uniform.

Governor Jerry Brown of California, is there any reason you're not saying this?   How about you, President Obama?



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1



Friday, November 25, 2011

Cairo and New York City: A Tale of Two Related Cities

With tensions on the rise in Cairo about the upcoming elections, with people out in Tahrir Square menaced by police and authorities, it is all to easy to smugly say thank goodness we don't have it that bad here in New York City, in the United States.

I admit to thinking something like that when the Arab Spring emerged some ten months ago.  But I don't believe that now -  not with cops in NYC arresting and roughing up protesters and members of the press, and cops out in California pepper-spraying and beating innocent students on campuses.

Hundreds of Egyptians died for freedom in the Arab Spring earlier this year, and more than 40 have been killed in the past week.  So far, that has not happened in the United States.   But although local authorities have made some moves to restrain the police here - as in Bloomberg's belated order that the NYPD must let the press do its job - there is still no Federal or across-the-board recognition from any part of the government in the United States that police here having been going much too too far in brutal attempts to control Occupiers.

The White House has publicly denounced what riot police are now doing in Egypt.  Will a mainstream, old-media reporter ask President Obama why he doesn't do the same about out-of-control police in New York and California?

In the global village that Marshall McLuhan foresaw in the 1960s and which has come into reality this past year, Cairo and New York City and every place in which people have come out in the streets for freedom and economic justice are more alike than apart.   It would be good if in the coming days and months this shared global community was not beset by violence from the authorities who represent the interests of an older world order which is cracking.



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Amendment Trampling Bloomberg Caves: NYPD Ordered to Let Press Do Its Job

Progress: The New York Times reports that NYPD has been ordered to keep its hands of the press, and not prevent reporters from covering news as it did when the cops evacuated Zuccotti Park.  In that shameful event, not only were the protesters unconstitutionally evicted (in violaton of the freedom to peaceably assemble clause of the First Amendment), and the media kept from covering the story (in violation of the freedom of press provision), but reporters were manhandled and arrested.

Bloomberg not only knew all about this, but the press was kept from Zuccotti that morning at his order.  His first statement after the clearing said everything that happened in the Zuccotti eviction was his responsibility and no one else's.  "Make no mistake," that statement said, "the final decision to act was mine."  And when people and the media began complaining about the press being prevented from covering the eviction, Bloomberg hid behind the excuse of all totalitarian governments, saying it was for reporters' own safety - "to protect members of the press".

Fortunately, Bloomberg listened to reason when, according to the NY Times, "A coalition of news organizations ... sent a letter complaining about the treatment ."  That's all to the good.

But Bloomberg should be impeached.   There's no guarantee he won't do something like that again.  New York City deserves a Mayor who has a less steep learning curve where the First Amendment is involved.  The city that never sleeps needs a Mayor who gets First Amendment right the first time around.


my interview of NY Night News about Bloomberg, OWS, the press


Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Homeland 1.8: Surprises

I last reviewed Homeland, Showtime's new domestic terrorist/spy series, after I'd previewed the first three episodes.  I figured it was time to check in with a review again, especially in view of the excellent twists and surprises we've seen in the last few episodes of this thoughtful series.

The surprises begin when Carrie, seeing her investigation of Brody cut off, decides to pursue him personally.   This turns out to be literally, when she sleeps with him in the car in episode 1.6.  This progresses in 1.7 to the best episode in the series.

Carrie takes Brody to her cabin.  The two make love - and Carrie really enjoys it.  In the afterglow of the next early morning, she slips up and apologizes to Brody for not having his favorite tea in the boondocks, Yukon Gold.  This triggers Brody's realization that Carrie has been spying on him, and a no-holds-barred conversation (for Carrie) in which she confronts Brody about his being a terrorist.

Brody's explanation and behavior seemed believable - to Carrie and well as me - and the confirmation that Walker was checking out the premises near the airfield certainly confirm that Walker is up to no good.  Brody, it seems, was also set up by Nazir - to believe Brody had killed Walker.  And the secret Brody was keeping was not that he is on a mission of terror here in the homeland, but that he killed a fellow POW.

One part of Brody's explanation which struck me as a little week at the time - in episode 1.7 - is that he adopted Islam as the only mode of spiritual comfort available to him.   And at some point it also occurred to me that Brody as well as Walker could be here on a terrorist mission.

And that's pretty much the big reveal at the end of 1.8 - which was a good smack in the face, even though I somewhat saw it coming.  Brody, apparently, was still lied to by Nazir, who managed to not only turn Walker but Brody, too.  And that's why Brody's been praying with the Koran.

Carrie's job has now gotten much more difficult.  Having doubted Brody - falsely, she thinks - and feeling bad about that, she will be that much more resistant to seeing that Brody is a terrorist, after all.   Perhaps Saul, unencumbered by such guilt and now fully focused on this case, can be of help.  I suppose there's also still a chance that Brody may be some kind of triple agent - playing Nazir, not following him - but his comfort with the Koran, which he takes in private, argues strongly against that.

See also Homeland on Showtime


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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, November 22, 2011

NCIS 9.10: Almost One Agent Short

We're "one agent short" - that's what McGee says to DiNozzo, who's sidelined in tonight's episode 9.10 of NCIS, for the very good reason that his father (DiNozzo, Sr.) is the chief suspect in the case at hand.

Robert Wagner is back playing Sr, as bon vivant and altogether excellent as ever.  But the evidence against him is impressive - finger prints on the bottle murder weapon, an angry argument caught on video with the victim, and no memory of what happened during the crucial hours.

The key to the whudunnit resides in Morgan Hunt (played by David Rees Snell of The Shield fame), the helpful exec who is quick to volunteer the incriminating tape.  But with Abby hard at work, the attempt to frame Sr won't stick - she finds that he was given a roofie  (and he, irrepressible, is almost flattered about that) and that his finger prints were only on the middle not the neck of the bottle.  But that was the part the murderer would have grasped, swinging the deadly bottle. As Abby points out, it's "conveniently wiped clean".  Good to see her play such a crucial role again.

Junior breaks the rest of the case, discovering the woman who drugged Sr, which leads the team to Hunt (she was working for him, but didn't quite know she was framing someone for murder).  The moral of this part of the story is the team indeed needs DiNozzo, which is no great revelation - we already knew this - but you can't see it too many times.

Gibbs once again plays the emotionally stabilizing role, not only stopping Sr. being taken away when Abby steps up with some of the further evidence, but arranging for the DiNozzos to spend their first Thanksgiving together in who knows how long.   Junior needs you as a father, Gibbs tells Sr., not your money, bringing home the point that NCIS is as much about family this year as fighting bad guys.

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 ... NCIS 9.6: Too Good to be True ... NCIS 9.7: "You Were My Shannon, Leroy" ... NCIS 9.8: Intersections with Reality ... NCIS 9.9: Twists and History

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 ...


The Walking Dead 2.6: Secrets Told

Well, the secrets finally started hitting the fan in The Walking Dead 2.6.

At least one has been more than a year in coming.   Lori at last reveals to Rick that she and Shane were sleeping together when Rick was presumed dead.   Rick says he knew, and he's not too upset about it.  This shows how well Rick has adopted to the crazed new world in which he and our heroes now live.

Lori also reveals that she's pregnant - actually, admits she's pregnant, after Rick confronts her about the abortion pills that Glenn brought back for her from the pharmacy in town on a new trip he and Maggie made.   Lori took some of the pills then chucked them out.

Glenn indeed was the sparkplug of most of the revelations.  Last week, he was the only one who knew about Lori's state and the walkers in the barn.   Now Dale knows about both - Glenn told him - and so does Maggie.  She of course already knew about the walkers - she calls one of them mom.  And Hershel makes the case that they're not dead or even monsters - but sick.   We might say he's naive, and we - and our band - know better.   But it got me thinking  - what if someone could come up a cure?  That would go against what the scientist at the CDC indicated last season - but why accept what he said as the absolute last word?

Glenn's a good character.  He always comes back, as he says in last Sunday's episode.   That's about the closest to confidence to be found in this stricken world - that, and Rick's impassioned attempt to convince Lori that having the new baby is the way to go.  And, for that matter, Andrea and Shane in the car.  Flickers of life for the future.

And The Walking Dead will be back next week, for its last episode for this part of the 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 ...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boardwalk Empire 2.9: Ireland, Radio, Polio

Another powerful, wrenching, historically brilliant Boardwalk Empire last night - 2.9 - in which Nucky Thompson goes to Ireland to seek a booze supply in return for his Thompson guns (the name is pure coincidence, as Nucky says).

The Irish part of this story is straight-up fine and tough international intrigue. When John McGarrigle refuses to make the deal with Nucky - even after Nucky impresses the rest of the Irish rebellion leaders with the power of his guns - and McGarrigle tells Owen he must stay in Ireland, rather than return to America with Nucky (and return to Margaret, which Nucky doesn't yet know), the result is somewhat predictable but still satisfying.  Owen, also without Nucky's knowledge, arranges for McGarrigle's assassination.  His successor will make the deal.

But the most punch-in-gut development happens back in Atlantic City ("AC," as Jimmy at one point calls it).  Margaret's  daughter is striken with polio.  Like many of the historical touches in Boardwalk Empire, this shows us how very far we've come from that time, which is so much like ours in many other ways.  But imagine what it must have been like to live in a world, before polio vaccine rid us of this disease, where you get a little flu-like fever, but end up paralyzed for life.  Americans of all classes were hit by this virus, including Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, who mostly kept his paralysis from public view during his four terms as US President.

FDR addressed and unified the nation via his "fireside" chats on radio, a medium which again makes a major appearance on Boardwalk Empire, even bigger than a few weeks ago.  We now actually hear the radio broadcast of the Jack Dempsey fight.  Jimmy listens to and enjoys it - after Al Capone, no student of the media, says listening to radio is like "reading a book," and goes to the fight in person.   Radio also attracts the medical staff away from Margaret's daughter, which allows Margaret to cuddle in bed with her, against the doctor's strong orders.  Polio is highly contagious (but, fortunately, as the doctor didn't say or didn't know, more than 95% of the people who contract the illness suffer no debilitating consequences).  Margaret's action is both a commendable act of love and courage but a bit reckless in that she could be endangering her son.

The radio broadcast of the Dempsey fight also closes out the episode, a very nice touch.  And, apropos of Yiddish culture not radio, I was very glad to see that Manny Horvitz aka Munya survived the attempt to take him out in Philadelphia.  This will spell trouble for Jimmy, but Munya has the best pronunciation of "toochis" these days on television (kudos to actor William Forsythe).


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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, November 20, 2011

Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real?

The battle continues in Dexter 6.8 tonight - the battle in our minds about whether Professor Gellar is real, or an evil sector in Travis' mind?

The victim tonight - the slain whore of  Babylon is Travis's sister Lisa - up's the ante about Gellar, who killed her.  But was the killer the flesh-and-blood Gellar, whom Dexter thinks is Travis's physical, palpable dark passenger, or Travis, taken over mentally by the dark passenger within who is Gellar?

Here's what we knew before tonight's episode.  Gellar was Travis's professor, and dropped out of sight a few years ago (because Travis killed him?).  We never see Gellar without Travis in some kind of attendance.  I can't recall a single scene with Gellar present and Travis nowhere to be seen or heard.  This certainly suggests Gellar is an evil figment.

But against this we have Dexter's continuing view that Gellar and Travis are two different people.  Dexter's not infallable, but his perception over the years has been pretty impressive.

And what did we see and learn tonight?  Travis knows his sister was talking to the cops - he sees the gun on Debra as he bicycles by his sister in the house.  We see Travis chained to the floor after Lisa's killing - presumably by Gellar, to keep Travis from interfering or (as Gelllar volunteers) to keep Travis from running away.  But surely Travis could have chained himself to the floor ....

At this point, I'd say the scale is tipping towards Gellar as deadly figment.

And there's also Debra.  Although she doesn't know half as much as Dexter about Gellar and Travis, she's focusing on Travis as the killer.  She even delivers the best line of the night to this effect - "I'll fuck Masuka if this [Travis] isn't our guy." (Poor Masuka, he just never gets much respect.) Is Debra just three or four weeks behind Dexter on this case, or is she seeing some deeper truth that for some reason Dexter is missing?

Meanwhile, just for good measure, Deb's beginning to catch Dexter in some medium-serious lies about Nebraska.   And ... LaGuerta's trying to close up a one of Deb's cases - of a blond found dead and naked on the floor - and she's talking on the phone to someone about that.  Likely that's Matthews.

The rest of this season will bear some careful viewing.

See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska

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



Failure of Budget Super-Committee Shows Further Decay of Representative Democracy

The bipartisan bozos in Washington - the super-committee tasked this summer with working out a new budget by the day before Thanksgiving - are reported to be on the verge of announcing failure to reach agreement on a new budget.   This is after Congress and the President failed to reach agreement on a new budget this summer, and instead created the super-committee to come up with a budget, with a back-up of draconian cuts to major arteries of government, ranging from the military to human services., is a new budget was not agreed upon and approved by Congress.

The upshot: at a time when our and the world's economy are in serious crisis - at a time, in other words, in which government is more needed than ever -  our representative government in the United States is incapable of performing.

Part of it is their own fault.  The Senate is tied up because it has imposed upon itself a de facto requirement of 60 votes to pass controversial legislation.  Constitutional scholar Lyle Denniston quotes Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon, not on the super-committee) as noting that the Constitution "only specifies a 'supermajority' for a limited list of Senate actions.  Some of them are: ratification of treaties, conviction of a President in an impeachment trial, overriding presidential vetoes, approving constitutional amendments ..."  Nowhere does the Constitution say that 60 votes are required for difficult or controversial legislation - indeed, I would argue that, the more pressing the need for some kind of legislation, the more illogical and counterproductive it is to require 60 votes. In addition to that requirement being extra-Constitutional.

But there is a deeper factor at work here, that goes beyond our elected representatives shooting themselves in their own feet.   Representative democracy may well be floundering because we finally have the means, in the digital age, to govern ourselves, to discuss and vote upon pressing issues, directly.

If budgets were put to a direct majority up-or-down vote of the American people, surely one would soon get 50% of the vote plus one.  Surely, in other words, a new budget would be soon be adopted.

The digital revolution - social media, or what I call "new new media" - have given us the means to do this.  Occupy Wall Street and the the Arab Spring are the leading expression of this.  Unsurprisingly, representative governments and dictatorships are alike in opposing these developments.   But the tide of history is turning.   The representative governments and the dictatorships will continue to decay, and the people will emerge triumphant, one hopes will less bloodshed overseas and less police brutality in the US, than we've seen so far.



Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Jay Carney (and Obama) Have It All Wrong about Police and OWS

So did you catch this statement the other from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney?
Speaking November 15 aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “The president’s position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues.”
Carney was seeking to debunk questions about whether the Federal government is in some way coordinating the police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street protests across the country this past week.  (We already know that the Mayors of New York, Oakland, and 16 other American cities coordinated their unconstitutional attacks on the protesters.)

But Carney's statement also says something quite important - crucial - that he likely did not intend.  And that is:  allowing municipalities to make their own decisions regarding the protesters is not an expression of innocence, but an admission of guilt, when what the cities are doing is pepper-spraying the protesters, arresting and beating protesters as well as reporters, and (in the case of NYC) deliberately shutting off the eviction of Zuccotti Park from the press.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the right to peaceably assemble.   The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble," and the Fourteenth Amendment extends that restriction to all levels of government, including municipalities.

So in leaving decisions about how to respond to OWS protests to municipalities, the Obama administration is plainly shirking its responsibility to make sure no local government violates the First Amendment rights of citizens - by allowing them to be attacked by police, and by preventing the media from fully reporting these violations to the people.

This is not only shameful but an admission of an inability to govern by the Obama administration.   I hope Obama and his advisers wake up to this disgrace and outrage before he's voted out of office.


Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

What OWS Has Shown Us about Bloomberg, Jerry Brown, Obama

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC:  Trampled on the First Amendment freedom of peaceable assembly rights of Occupy Wall Street protesters  in Zuccotti Park; trampled on First Amendment freedom of press rights of all New Yorkers and Americans by banning media from his forced eviction of Zuccotti Park protesters; has supported police beating of protesters, roughing up of journalists, arrest of protesters and journalists; conspired with 17 other mayors to launch nation-wide clearing of OWS sites in cities across America.   I would not vote for him if I lived in NYC (where I work);  I will never vote for him for any other offices; I would like to see a Federal investigation into his OWS conduct.

Governor Jerry Brown of California:  Has remained silent as police in cities and campuses in California have shot rubber bullets at protesters (one point blank at the head on an Iraq War veteran that put him in the hospital in critical condition) and people with camera phones, used pepper spray on students at UC-Davis, and beat students at Berkeley.  I once admired his vision and had an impressive, hour-long conversation with him at  Fordham University when I was Chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies several years ago.   I no longer admire him, to say the least, and unless he moves very quickly now to protect the people in his state from police brutality I will speak out against him if he runs for any office again.

President Barack Obama of the United States:  Has also been silent about all of the above.  I voted for him in 2008, and wrote and spoke out in his favor many times (see the many posts in this blog).  His silence about the above attacks on Americans exercising their First Amendment rights are making me begin to wonder if I will able to vote for him again.



my interview on NY Night News about Bloomberg


Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Person of Interest 1.8: Widmore and Ben, At It Again

Hey, fans of Lost - and I was a devoted one, until those ruinous last few minutes of the finale - will be happy to know that Widmore and Ben were up to their old tricks on Person of Interest 1.8 the other night.

Well, not quite Widmore, but Alan Dale, who played Widmore so well in Lost, is back on the kill in Person of Interest.  This time, Dale as Ulrich Kohl is a former Eastern German agent, recently out of prison, and determined to end every member of his former team he holds responsible for the death of his beloved wife Anja, years ago.


Reese and Finch (Ben aka Michael Emerson), then, soon realize they are out to intervene with a perpetrator not a victim.  Kohl gets the drop on the usually almost invincible Reese - as I've said previous reviews, I like when heroes are not perfect, makes them more human and believable - and Reese and Finch have to work especially hard to finally get the drop on Kohl.


Two good twists in this episode - Anja is alive and well in NYC, and Kohl who feels betrayed by her turns out to be bluffing when he makes to kill her (and this provokes his suicide by Reese, which he is not happy about - where's Desmond and his time traveling when you need him).   And Carter and Fusco have a little more relevance than usual, almost closing in on Reese in the park, a few minutes after he shoots Kohl.


So Widmore again dies, if not by Ben then by his partner Reese (or whatever exactly Reese is to Finch - not quite his partner, but not quite his employee, either).  And we get some good flashback scenes - which seem to have a become a television staple since Lost - of how Reese got into the business.  But, hey, they're both J. J. Abrams' shows, and he's entitled.  It's not plagiarism to take from yourself.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch ... Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials ... Person of Interest 1.7: Meets Flashpoint and The Usual Suspects



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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 ...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man has been a great staple of science fiction since H. G. Wells' novel (1897) of the same through Hollow Man (the fine 2000 movie starring Kevin Bacon).   He - or another version of an invisible guy - returned tonight in Fringe (episode 4.7), which exells in bringing classic science fiction onto today's television screens.

The specifics of the story are less important than what they do to Olivia.  The invisible man - struggling to become visible, literally dying to do that - became that way due to a genetic condition, treated by a predecessor of Massive Dynamic, with Bell and Nina in residence.  This has two effects:

1. Olivia gets more in touch with the treatment Walter and Bell subjected her to.

2.  Even more importantly, this gets Olivia to go see Nina.   Which sets up the ending: Olivia is knocked out (white gas under her door), and injected with something that will remove her memories from the two hours.  In some sense, Nina is now a villain.

But to what purpose?  What did Olivia see, think, do, feel in the previous two hours that Nina, for whomever or whatever she may be working for, wants Olive (as Nina calls Olivia in their meeting) to forget?  We'll have to wait until January to find out more, but I'm thinking Nina may be working in concert with Walternate.

We haven't seen too much of the alternate universe in Fringe this Fall, but the coming attractions show it will be back in the action.

Both ours and the alternate universe have been changed by Peter's absence, and it's important to bear in mind in which ways the alternate universe has been changed and unchanged from what we knew of it last season (we've seen this season how much our universe has been changed by Peter's absence).  Since Peter "died" in the crossing on the iced-over lake, Walternate may hate our universe and Walter even more than in the reality in which Peter at least lived on our side.   From Walternate's point of view in this double-universe without Peter, Walter not only kidnapped Peter but killed him.

The resolution has to come down to Peter, now, who is the only witness (other than the Eternal Bald Obersvers) to what we the audience saw the first three seasons.  He gives Lincoln a new pair of glasses - to make him more attractive to Olivia? - but the metaphoric implications of this are huge.  What's going on in Fringe is how to improve everyone's vision, so they see the truth.  Somehow, that reality - ours and Peter's (who is also an invisible man) - has to become visible.

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 ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips

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 ...



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