Search

Complete Sentences

In the cacophony that is the presidential campaign I have not seen any discussion how candidate Trump seems unable to formulate complete sentences and coherent paragraphs. His speeches and now his debate responses are more like a poetry slam than political discourse. It is interesting to transcribe the words and see how disorganized the communications are. Language is a function of thought and I have to conclude that such disorganization is a reflection not just of Mr. Trump’

Accountability

The continuing and tragedy of questionable police shootings has generated much noise and consumed many hours of cable TV news bandwidth. I have learned to click past the expert-of-the-moment who seems to enjoy the sound of his or her own voice. Things have to change! Fire the rascals! March! Shout! Book another guest! There is something missing from this all, a solution. I would prefer to listen to how the issues of 1) police officer selection, training, and supervision and 2

True Detective

This HBO series started last year starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey as a couple of detectives in bayou country investigating serial killings despite their own psychoses. Season 2 is set in southern California in the corrupt industrial enclave mirroring City of Industry. Three cops from different agencies with huge amounts of personal baggage are assigned to a grisly murder linked to a major corruption case and some multi-billion dollar transit scam. The cops a

Police Killings…

…or media-speak, “officer-involved shootings.” But these don’t include choking, taser, or blunt force trauma deaths. In any event, deaths and serious injuries as the result of law enforcement actions have occupied a huge amount of air time and bandwidth. To be sure, any death involving government officials is concerning, but I have to object to the level and direction of commentary and protest. The harangue is that deadly force used by police is a national and federal governm

Game of Thrones Oh My

I saw the first episode of the first season of Game of Thrones As of this writing I have finished Episode 8 of Season 2. Or is it Episode 7? At this point it doesn’t matter. I am in the middle of a raging river being carried downstream. Take your pick, excellent writing, incredibly imaginative plotting, compelling characters, stunning settings and sets (Ireland, Malta, Morocco, Iceland, Scotland, Croatia) and amazing costuming. The un-costuming is great too. Are there no over

Storm in the Desert

I note with some concern a series of stories about the Nevada rancher locked in a struggle with the U.S. Government over his payments for grazing rights. According to the stories he hasn’t paid rent on the Bureau of Land Management lands on which he has been raising cattle, cattle he sells for a profit. The Government has gotten court orders to seize his cattle and have picked up some 300 head. But the rancher is defiant and – this is the scary part – has attracted militia me

Crimea and Czechoslovakia

The crisis in Ukraine over Crimea has launched news producers into warp drive to find analysts, commenters, commentators, talking heads, and anyone with or without knowledge of events to be interviewed. You know you are wasting your time when the interviewee says, “I only know what I see in the news.” Some of the producers will find historians to find some sort of parallel in the past and the easiest one to pick on is the Sudetenland Crisis of 1938. To recap, in 1938 Adolph H

Rokuuuuu!

I looked back and realized that I did not finish my adventure with my new Roku box. To replay, I ordered a Roku 3 to replace the Roku so I could get more channels particularly PBS. I can get all the programming that is not carried on my local station (which I still support). I also discovered that there are many more channels available than are offered in the online Roku menu, not all free, but lots more stuff. For example, Al Jazeera is available if you have the right code.

I don’t know, Roku?

I often consider what normal features of daily life would be incomprehensible 20 or even 10 years ago – smart phones, tablets, online shopping, etc. DVD players were the coming thing 10 years ago and now are on their way to the electronics recycling center. One thing we now can no longer do without is streaming TV. I have Roku, the little set top box that allows online access to venerable Netflix and behemoth Amazon. (Be nice, they are watching.) It allows streaming of dozens

How are you listening?

Rather than get into a TLDR situation, I’m going to break things up. How to listen to audio books and podcasts. Most listening these days is private rather than public or communal. Everyone is plugged into their own thing through their portable devices. As I mentioned, this is a loss. It’s possible to play the audio book (or podcast or music or news) through a speaker system so that more than one person can share the experience at once. The devices plug into speakers and ther

What are you listening to?

As posted here before, I have begun to explore audio books in addition to hard copy books and e-books. In the past month or two I have tried several audio history books, one about Winston Churchill. Kudos to the actor who reads the narrative for his ability to get into character for Churchill, Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, and French, British, and American soldiers and politicians. No wonder audio books retail for more than the hard cover versions. There is a lot of talent goin

Silliness Within the Sadness

The recent tragedy in Tucson didn’t bring an end to the silliness that has inspired my posts recently. First the Sheriff of Pima County blamed the shootings on the degradation of political discourse. Apparently he is more politician than law enforcement officer and couldn’t see the event as another deranged person bent on destruction. Predictably the media picked up the scent and went bonkers on the sheriff’s idea. Never mind that there is no evidence to support that. It’s al

On the air

Hot on the heels of the radio interview I appeared on KCTS Channel 9, our local PBS station. They are having a pledge drive and aired the documentary I did about Snoqualmie Falls. During the pledge breaks, as green-tee-shirted staff from Parks and Rec manned the phones, the host asked me quick questions about the story. Turn me on about history and I just keep on going. I didn’t cause the show to go over too much. #writing #history #television #video #media

Video Lynchings

The recent kerfuffle over the dismissal of a civil servant who was framed by a doctored video underscores something I’ve believed for a long time: you can’t always trust the camera lens for the whole picture. In this last case someone boogered with the tape intending to embarrass the NAACP and ended up embarrassing the Obama White House. Here in Seattle we are in the middle of a couple of controversies over video taped police actions. Ever since the Rodney King thing salaciou

What are you going to wear?

Steve Sadis, the producer and my co-writer for The Power of Snoqualmie Falls informs me that the video has been nominated for an Emmy. The awards are June 5, 2010 at the Snoqualmie Casino. 6/7/2010 Alas, the Academy found Morocco to be more compelling than Snoqualmie Falls. But being nominated isn’t so bad. Like they say on the north side of Chicago, wait til next year. #history #television #movies #criticism #video #media

History on Television

I will rant a bit on history as it appears on cable. I say cable since the broadcast stations don’t feature much in the way of documentary material except PBS. Now that I have been writing history somewhat professionally for about ten years I think I’m in a position to comment on this genre. There is some good, lots of mediocre and some poor content. The viewer has to remember that programs are generated by producers who seek to generate a profit from selling something, anyth

A series I missed the first time around

Thanks to Netflix I found Over There, a 2005 series produced by Steven Bochco about the war in Iraq. I gave the pilot episode a try and I was hooked. As with all good war dramas we follow an infantry squad –technically a “fire team” I think — five guys. De rigueur for war dramas we see the hard-bitten good sergeant, the cynical LA black man, the college dropout, the religious marksman, and the Arab American who translates. Add to that two women who drive them around or fix th