www.whyville.net Apr 11, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

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What do you think of Cyberchase? How about Alpha Male, ladies? Do you all think this show has a fair account of the events at Columbine?

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, April 12

"Nursing: Pediatrics" (Discovery Channel, 9-9:30am E/P) Yes, this is another morning show that might require a VCR for capture and later viewing. But this look-behind-the-scenes documentary about a specialized health care profession should be viewed as a possible vocational planning aid. You'll learn that an important aspect of these nurses' work, whether male or female, is providing emotional support for both patients and worried parents. Are you up to thinking about that kind of work?

"Cyberchase: Castleblanca" (PBS, 5-5:30pm ET, 2-2:30pm -- but be sure to check local TV listings or you might miss the show) In this high-energy animated math and science program a bad-guy hacker tries to transfer a good-guy scientist's intelligence to a newly-built robot. This takes place in some castles where the cyber-kid heroes of the series must sort through piles of data (marbles, actually) and analyze the results by using graphing skills in order to save the day.

"Now -- With Bill Moyers" (PBS, 9-10pm E/P) The main report in this newsmagazine is how corporate execs manipulate things to get themselves millions in salary, plus 'performance bonuses' even though the businesses they're supposed to be taking care of are going broke. I hope you don't behave this way when you run your virtual-businesses here at Whyville, or -- more importantly, legally speaking -- when you go to work at a somebody else's business.

Saturday, April 13

"Hands On History: Brewing" (History Channel, 7:30-8pm E/P) Despite the name of this history-of-technology program I am going to say that, considering most of your ages, you should not do any "hands on" with the stuff shown in this episode. But you will learn some science principles -- distillation, fermentation, and certainly some history -- if you watch. Washington, Jefferson and Samuel Adams (this one is not news) made their own home brew. You'll see how, and that it's still done the same way today -- except in tanker-truck batches.

"Alpha Male" (The Learning Channel, 10-11pm E/P) Despite the toy action-figure type of title for this natural science documentary, it's really more about today's woman. Gone are the days (referred to in the program) when men ruled by brute strength and turbo-charged testosterone. Today, women determine what they want and who they're going to get it from. And both genders pursue survival and dominance by cunning and manipulation. (In a way, nerds have become the new alpha male!)

Sunday, April 14

"Superstructures of America: Reach For The Sky" (The Learning Channel, 10-11pm E/P) The title of this technology documentary should be 'reaching for the city limits', because what we learn about is how to engineer something that covers acres and encloses millions of cubic feet (NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center), the world's largest steel dome (Superdome in New Orleans) and structures to cover Paris, New York and Venice, Italy (or slightly shrunken versions of those places -- sited in Las Vegas, of course).

"Small Soldiers" (ABC, 7-9pm E/P) This movie about combining extreme high-tech and toys suggests that it sometimes might be a bad idea -- such as when people in the movie put military microchips into plastic toy combat figures. They might (and do, in the movie) declare war on their fellow toys. Rated PG-13. Available on video. (Note: On Wednesday, April 17, I recommend a movie and website on this science-ethics topic.)

Monday, April 15

"Columbine: Understanding Why" (A&E Network, 10-11pm E/P) This documentary in the "Investigative Reports" series follows a special team of mental health experts called the Threat Assessment Group, led by a forensic psychiatrist, aided by psychologists and an ex-FBI profiler, to Littleton, Colorado. Their goal is to compile a report on what turned 2 Columbine high students there into paranoid mass murders and use it to educate parents, teachers and students on how to see the warning signs and intervene appropriately to stop such tragedies before they take place somewhere else. Further info at www.AandE.com.

Tuesday, April 16

"The Shape Of Life" (PBS, 9-11 p.m. E/P) This is a broadcast of the final 2 episodes of a natural science series about the design of animals -- namely how their anatomical structure determines whether they survive or evolve. The theme of these 2 shows is bio-engineering. The first,"The Survival Game", is about animals called mollusks (that's Latin for 'soft') developed hard exteriors. The second , "The Ultimate Animal" is, suprisingly, not about humans or lions but about echinoderms -- animals such as sea urchins which have no head, eyes or centralized brains. Thanks to use of time-lapse photography, we see these animals competing for dominance, fighting for food and hunting down prey just like humans or lions on the Serengeti. For more info log on http://www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife.

Wednesday, April 17

"Forbidden Planet" (Turner Classic Movies, 8-10pm ET, 5-7pm PT) I have previously recommended this sci-fi movie about technology gone off course and don't want to let a second chance go by to point you towards this classic. It's based on Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" (which you will notice clearly if you ever have to read the play for schoolwork). And even though it was made when your parents were still babies, it has high-tech gizmos in it that today's scientists have only just begun to develop for real -- such as robots that provide companionship. Watch the movie, which is also available in video stores, and compare it to the images at www.robodex.org which is the site of this spring's super-cool robotics exhibition in Japan. That exhibit, dedicated to ''realizing a society where humans and robots cohabit with each other", and the movie have similar themes. But to me, the movie is more clear-headed about the consequences of such stuff.

Thursday, April 18

"Modern Meat" (PBS, 9-10pm E/P) How much do you know about the beef you're eating? The latest mechanized production methods and recent changes in the government's inspection process have given far greater control to meat companies when it comes to letting you know what you're eating. This "Frontline" documentary acknowledges that fast production and lax inspection have made meat more available and less expensive. But you'll learn from interviews in the show with the author of the book "Fast Food Nation", that there are other costs -- serious ones -- than just the 59 cents you pay at the counter. Log on to an informative website at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat.

"Fire And Ice" (History Channel, 10-11pm E/P) By coincidence, here's a documentary about refrigeration, a big matter to consider when thinking about meat (see above). The science of changing the weather -- making it cool when it's hot or hot when it's cold -- is a big deal. There wouldn't be anybody dwelling in big cities in Florida, Texas or California today if it weren't for air conditioning. The program also gets into heating technology -- essential for space travel.


Friday, April 12
    Nursing: Pediatrics
    Cyberchase: Castleblanca
    Now -- With Bill Moyers

Saturday, April 13
    Hand on History: Brewing
    Alpha Male

Sunday, April 14
    Superstructures of America: Reach for the Sky
    Small Soldiers

Monday, April 15
    Columbine: Understanding Why

Tuesday, April 16
    The Shape of Life

Wednesday, April 17
    Forbidden Planet

Thursday, April 18
    Modern Meat
    Fire and Ice


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