www.whyville.net Jul 4, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

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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!

Thursday, July 4

"Inside The Pentagon" (National Geographic Channel, 8-10pm ET, 5-7pm PT) This is a documentary examination of an American institution -- as well as a building covering 29 acres -- which was built beginning September 11, 1941 and after decades of service, was again visited by fate on September 11, 2001 when it was subjected to a terrorist attack. In offices and special areas along its 17 miles of halls, you will meet the people who plan America's defense and the projection of its power around the globe, sometimes at the risk of their lives.

"Rediscovering George Washington" (PBS, 9:30-10pm E/P) This unusual documentary will have a strange effect on contemporary viewers. The way historian Richard Brookheiser describes this warrior, politician and man of suprising charisma -- all based on eyewitness accounts -- you'll wish the "Father Of Our Country" would come back and lead the U.S. today. Washington was not perfect -- you might even say he was a slow learner. But, boy, did he get his act together finally. And, if he has not been possessed of a profoundly democratic sensibility, those of us living in the U.S. would probably be living in a military dictatorship. Watch and see how he faced down the bad guys in fine Mel Gibson/Harrison Ford style when the nation was first born. And he was no prude -- customarily serving voters gallons of rum on their way to vote for him on election day!

Friday, July 5

"NOW With Bill Moyers" (PBS, 9-10pm E/P) This news magazine reports on an emerging scientific and business crisis involving water. Who owns it? Who should control it? Multinational corporations are buying up the supplies of clean water and shutting out poor people -- and even whole poor nations. This is causing outbreaks of protest all over the world. Noreena Hertz, a Cambridge University scholar and author of "The Silent Takeover" reports on the case of Bolivia.

Saturday, July 6

"Revolutionary War Authors" (C-SPAN2, 8am to 8pm ET, 5am-5pm PT) This is a special author-interview marathon about America's War Of Independence. The name of the broadcast series is a little misleading -- the folks you see discussing their books were not actually around during that war -- but they have written some peppy accounts of what happened by consulting diaries and other eyewitness accounts of the struggle. I suggest you log on to www.booktv.org to see a line-up of the stories. Take special note of Gail Buckley's appearance at 10:25 ET, discussing her "American Patriots: The Story Of Blacks In The Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm", and Ray Raphael's 5:20pm ET presentation of his "A People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight For Independence".

"America's Most Endangered 2002" (History Channel, 10-11pm E/P) If you live in one of the following places -- NJ, CA, DC, OK, MD, MT, ND, SD, MN or IN -- and are also lucky enough to live in a part that's quaint or sort of funky and you like it that way, take a look at this documentary. It's about historic sites in those states that are in danger of falling down or being bulldozed. The National Trust For Historic Preservation keeps an eye on such places and sounds the alarm when there's a threat we may lose them. For details about these locations log on http://www.nthp.org/11Most/2002/index.html.

Sunday, July 7

"60 Minutes" (CBS, 7-8pm E/P) The lead report in this newsmagazine describes the technological and political errors that have caused so may crashes of the American MV-22 Osprey military aircraft. The second segment investigates weight-loss clinics in Durham, NC, which have become so popular that the dieters who flock there refer to the town as the "Lourdes Of Lard".

"Into The Amazon: First Contact" (Travel Channel, 8-9pm E/P) This is a documentary about a tribe of Amazonian Indians almost unknown to the outside world. The Korubu people have maintained their traditional lifestyles, isolated deep in the Brazilian rainforest, but settlers are moving into the area and the tribe's existence is now threatened.

Monday, July 8

"Building The Impossible: Mummy Security System" (The Learning Channel, 9-10pm E/P) Here's an absolutely fabulous version of a survivor show. The twist this time is to figure out how to keep those who survive after you are dead -- and buried while wearing a fortune in gold jewelry -- from ever robbing your grave. Tricks for doing this are sort of public knowledge because the ancient Egyptians made a big effort (like pyramids) to do this kind of thing. But in this TV program you'll see trained commandos and security specialists attempt to break into a tomb designed and built for the show to replicate pyramid tunnel mazes, spring-loaded doors, passages to nowhere and deadly traps to guard a treasure-filled burial location. (The physics of getting tons of desert sand to flow down inside a pyramid, flooding and sealing a burial chamber, are explained.)

Tuesday, July 9

''Science Times" (National Geographic Channel, 9-10pm E/P) This science newsmagazine is produced in conjunction with New York Times Television. Reports include "Biology Of Deception", about the brain activity when we tell lies -- detectable by infrared sensors and other technology called ''brain fingerprinting". Also, "The Perfect Train", about transport technology which operates with no engine -- pushed by using magnetic levitation. The last segment is "Wave Dancing", a California-style physics class with champion surfers Daize Shayne and Joel Tudor shown 'inside the curl' demonstrating the physics of riding the waves.

"Hybrid" (PBS, 10-11pm E/P) Here's a documentary about a raging scientific controversy over genetically modified food and the enigmatic, rather odd, man who pioneered the development of ''hybrid" corn in the 1930's. By using traditional seed selection and propagation techniques (shown with clever animation) dating back centuries, Milford Beeghly and others who used these methods found themselves himself accused of 'playing god' because their seeds turned out to be more productive than those generally in use. There's a fascinating collection of websites at www.pbs.org/pov.hybrid about him and the question whether 'hybrid' is the same as 'genetically modified'. Cases cited are "Ontario corn", "Ohio corn" and popcorn.

Wednesday, July 10

"World's Best Places To Go Back In Time" (Travel Channel, 10-11pm E/P) This documentary uses a clever approach to explain what life was like in places like ancient Rome, Egypt and Peru. In it, you'll begin in the present time with the way these places are today and "travel back" via TV techniques to learn what these civilizations contributed to the modern world.

"Electric Nation" (PBS, 10-11pm E/P) Can you imaging a time when electricity did not come to your door from the power company? (Californians nowadays have some idea of what it's like, almost) This documentary describes the technology for generating and distributing electricity from the time it was first available in cities back in the 1880's. But, in the countryside, it was not available because private companies decided they couldn't make money stringing wires through thinly populated rural areas. It took some visionary engineers and civil servants to create publicly operated programs in the 1930's like the Tennessee Valley Authority to finally get power to everyone.

Thursday, July 11

"John Le Carre: The Secret Centre" (Ovation Network, 10-11pm ET, 7-8pm PT) Interested in spies? Real spies? In this author interview program the author of classics such as "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" talks about his double life as a spy and writer. His real name is David Cornwell and he began writing spy thrillers while serving as a real life British spy in Berlin during the Cold War. You'll never again look at all those travelogue shows about Germany's restored capitol in the same way. Cornwell explains that the skulduggery is still going on there behind the glossy new exteriors that have replaced the drab facades of the 1960's.


Thursday, July 4 -- Independence Day, USA!
    Inside the Pentagon
    Rediscovering George Washington

Friday, July 5
    NOW With Bill Moyers

Saturday, July 6
    Revolutionary War Authors
    America's Most Endangered 2002

Sunday, July 7
    60 Minutes
    Into The Amazon: First Contact

Monday, July 8
    Building The Impossible: Mummy Security System

Tuesday, July 9
    Science Times

Wednesday, July 10
    World's Best Places To Go Back In Time
    Electric Nation

Thursday, July 11
    John Le Carre: The Secret Centre


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