www.whyville.net Mar 14, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

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News for kids? Architectural goof-offs? Lost nuclear weapons? Pick your interest; as usual, I've got it all!

Watch the shows and let me know what you think. Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!

Click here for an index of this week's shows. And now, the Media Menu!

Friday, March 15

"NORAD: America's Eyes In The Sky" (Discovery Channel, 8-9pm E/P) This documentary is timely because of all the recent talk about missile threats to America and questions about an appropriate response. There are currently 1000 people working deep underground beneath Cheyenne Mountain in Wyoming monitoring electronically everything that happens in the air above Canada and America (thus the North American Air Defense acronym). Whatever happens there, they must figure out a military response -- or not -- within 3 minutes of noticing the event. (Want one of these jobs? Apply to the U.S. or Canadian Air Force)

"Around The World In 80 Days" (10:30pm - 1:30am ET, 7:30-10:30pm ET) This movie version of Jules Verne's classic novel won all sorts of Oscars when it was made in 1956 (don't balk at it being an "old" movie -- just pay attention to the great array of details of 19th century travel technologies). It contains a who's who of famous movie actors -- notably the Mexican comedian Cantinflas (real name Mario Moreno) who delightfully steals almost every scene he's in. Available on video. Read the book, too.

Saturday, March 16

"Roughing It" (Hallmark Channel, 8pm - midnight E/P) This is the premiere of a 4 hour miniseries based on Mark Twain's wickedly funny "autobiographical" book of his adventures in the West as a young man. Played by former "Dawson's Creek" heartthrob Robin Dunne, Twain survives robbery, floods, freezing, working on the railroad, gambling and eventually the perils being a newspaper reporter in a town where reader complaints were delivered by gunshot. Some of his story is actually true. All of it is funny. You'll want to read the book to get a repeat dose of Twain's outrageous sense of humor. (Series repeats Sunday March 17 from 4-8pm)

Sunday, March 17

"Journey Through The Valley of the Kings" (The Learning Channel, 9-10pm E/P) As this documentary's title hints, it involves use of maps -- but this time it's not about some guy walking around with a bit of old parchment and a shovel. Instead it's original mapping, done before your very eyes as Egyptologists Nicole Douek, Kate Spence and others use computer graphics to create a virtual 3-D version of the famous valley where King Tut's tomb is one of the 60 tombs lying under the desert. Their combination of geology, archaeology and technology reveals what it would have been like to live during the time these ancient tombs were constructed.

"Fly Away Home" (Disney Channel, 9:30-11:30pm E/P) This is a movie inspired by a real-life incident when a 13-year old girl and her father, drawn together by a family tragedy, team up to train a nest of abandoned baby geese how to migrate south for the winter. It's a superb combination of natural history film and family drama by the director and photographer who made "The Black Stallion". Both films available on video.

"The Human Edge: Living In Space" (10:30-11pm ET, 7:30 -8pm PT) Ok, let's get down to it. How do you take a shower in zero gravity? Or sleep, or get your dinner into your mouth? This tech-news report answers these questions, discreetly. It also shows what ergonomics (high-tech chair, table and equipment design) can do for the health of the average office worker.

Monday, March 18

"Archaeological Detectives" (Discovery Channel, 9:30-10am E/P) This documentary shows how archaeological and geological excavation techniques can be used to solve crimes. This time it involves carefully digging up a skeleton from a backyard to determine the victim's age, gender and cause of death. One has to sift and study with magnifying lenses everything that turns up -- to get the facts straight. (This is an interesting twist on the GeoDig activity starting this week in Whyville.)

"America's Lost Bombs: The True Story of Broken Arrows" (History Channel, 9-11pm E/P) Atomic bomb stockpiles are in the news again -- what to do with them, how to keep them safe when being transported or stored. Well, there have been accidents, called "Broken Arrows", but mercifully none resulted in detonation. In this documentary, scientists and military people who survived some narrow escapes from disaster express their concerns about atomic safety in the 21st century.

Tuesday, March 19

"Scientific American Frontier: On The Ball" (PBS, 10-11pm E/P) This is a documentary about how science and technology are changing sports. It gets pretty technical -- describing ways of improving your basketball free-throw by 22% percent, controlling your left-brain-right brain interaction as you swing a golf club, measuring the sound a bat impact makes so fielders can predict where the ball will fly and how to double the length of time you can stay submerged under water.

Wednesday, March 20

"The Eiffel Tower" (History Channel, 10-11pm E/P) It's interesting to learn that this famous structure was really thought up as a stunt -- a temporary structure put up to demonstrate how clever local engineers were on the occasion of the centenary of the French Revolution. But it seems to be lasting forever -- and is still really impressive. If you watched TV on January 1, 2000, you saw the tower sort of became the "poster child" for the whole planet's Millennium celebration. Learn about the designer, Gustav Eiffel at http://www.icivilengineer.com/Famous_Engineers/Eiffel

Thursday, March 21

"CNN's Student News: Sylvia Earle" (CNN, 4:30-5am ET, 1:30-2am PT) I guess we have to get used to having to use the VCR to capture really cool stuff -- in this case, a biography of Dr. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, leading expert on marine ecosystems, holder of the world's record for solo deep sea diving, and the first woman to be appointed Chief Scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If you can't catch the show, log on to http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2001/01/010201_sylvia.jhtml or her personal homepage http://literati.net/Earle where her excellent book for science-kids "Dive: My Adventures In the Deep" is described. (Note: This CNN news program for students, often taped by teachers to show in class, currently runs without ads. But they are thinking about putting some ads in -- to keep the program on the air. Some people think including ads in a TV show that's shown to students is a bad idea. What do you think? I wonder about ads in the newspapers that some teachers assign kids to read for social studies. Is it OK to assign any school reading or viewing, even National Geographic Magazine, with ads in it?)


Friday, March 15
    NORAD: America's Eyes In The Sky
    Around The World In 80 Days

Saturday, March 16
    Roughing It

Sunday, March 17
    Journey through the Valley of the Kings
    Fly Away Home
    The Human Edge: Living In Space

Monday, March 18
    Archaeological Detectives
    America's Lost Bombs: The True Story of Broken Arrows

Tuesday, March 19
    Scientific American Frontier: On The Ball

Wednesday, March 20
    The Eiffel Tower

Thursday, March 21
    CNN's Student News: Sylvia Earle


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