www.whyville.net Aug 15, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

Users' Rating
Rate this article

Many of this week's programs are about money -- what else are people thinking about these days? -- and technology that has military applications (also much on people's minds). But there's also a heartening show on Wednesday about a place on this troubled globe where people are much more interested in cooperating to grow tea and spices than in fighting with neighbors who happen to practice different religions.

Watch the shows and tell me what you think. Email me, the new MediaWiz of Whyville!

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

Thursday, August 15

"Liberty Ships" (History Channel, 10-11 pm E/P) It's amazing what engineers -- in this case naval engineers -- can do when they put their minds to it. During WWII, supply ships were being sunk faster than anybody thought they could be replaced. But in this documentary you'll see how designers and builders figured a way, in a matter of months, to replace these ships and go on for 4 years to build more ocean-going shipping capacity than been built in the whole of prior human history.

Friday, August 16

"Gold" (History Channel, 2-5 pm, E/P) This is a marathon broadcast consisting of four documentaries on the topic of gold -- the segment titles tell all: "The Gold Wars'', "Gold Fever", "The Stuff Of Dreams" and "Cold Hard Cash". Something to think about is how the quest for gold powerfully motivated early scientists and explorers -- and how the absence of news about gold on the moon -- or on Mars, for that matter -- seems to have slowed down modern science and exploration related to these realms.

Saturday, August 17

"High Tech House" (National Geographic Channel, 8-9 pm E/P) This is a documentary a series called "The Human Edge" -- but it's really about things, not people. For instance, we can outfit where we live to can check fingerprints of those coming in or monitor the heartbeats of coronary at-risk people. For mobility we can look forward to passenger train that fly (on a thin layer of air) and we can look forward to having video screens that can be folded up and stuck in our pocket.

Sunday, August 18

"Christy: Return To Cutter's Gap" (Hallmark Channel, 2-4 pm E/P) This is a movie about an epidemic -- and the problem of figuring out how it started and what to do about it. Whyville people know about these things from the Why-Pox. But in 1913, folks in backwoods Tennessee were so superstitious that they thought that a new arrival in town ("Christy", the main character) could bring on illnesses. Based on the popular Catherine Marshall novel for younger readers, the story goes on to reveal that the actual cause of the epidemic was the local brackish water and squalid living conditions. (The movie was filmed in British Columbia and North Carolina only last year!)

"60 Minutes" (CBS, 7-8 pm E/P) The main story in this newsmagazine program asks whether the the rise in consumption of fast food -- marketed mostly to children -- directly parallels the rise in childhood obesity, which has doubled over the last 20 years. Is there a connection with wide availability of fast food in school cafeterias? The second story is about white farmers being expelled from their farms in Zimbabwe. There is also a commentary by anchorman Mike Wallace about the death penalty.

"Kermit's Swamp Years" (STARZ! Family Cable Network, 6:30-8 pm E/P) If you're lucky enough to have a cable service that carries this network, you'll enjoy this 'never-before-told' story of how the world's most famous frog left the swamp where he was born (one of a thousand siblings). It's full of the edgy humor you expect from a Kermit story (among other things, he's nabbed by a human who sells him to something called a 'high school').

Monday, August 19

"Mail Call" (History Channel, 8-8:30 pm E/P) This is an episode of a documentary series about military technology which answers questions sent in by viewers. Tonight, you, and the people who wrote in, will learn "how did Civil War cannoneers aimed their artillery (they were good at trigonometry), how does night vision technology work (you've seen it at work on the tv news from Afghanistan) and how do you clear a minefield (lots of courage, several ancient and several futuristic techniques).

Tuesday, August 20

"Secrets Of Making Money" (PBS, 8-10 pm E/P in most places -- check local listings) This episode of the "Nova" documentary is, quite literally, about making money -- printing it and coining it. An accompanying website http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/moolah/anatomy.html gets quite detailed about it -- also explaining the methods the U.S. mint uses to thwart counterfeiters. You'll also learn the history of money (how did they decide that a piece of paper was the same as a solid gold coin?). There's a related program on Thursday, August 22 about cash -- how people in Argentina are trying to live without it!

"Axes, Swords and Knives" (History Channel, 10-11 pm E/P) Did I get your attention with the title of this documentary? Well, even though children shouldn't be playing around with these things, I think it's quite alright for them to know about the technology that evolved for making them. People started with stone (obsidian, was a good choice) and got somewhat better results with bronze (that's copper and tin combined), then iron and finally steel (do you know the difference between the two?).

Wednesday, August 21

"Hidden India" (PBS, 8-9 pm in some locations, 10-11 pm in others -- check newspaper listings) This documentary about the Indian State of Kerala visits mountain ranges where tea and spices have been cultivated and traded for centuries, tropical lowlands where spectacular boat races and elephant parades are held. And -- this is really important to know about in this era of ethnic strife in many countries -- you'll see Kerala's Hindu, Moslem, Jewish and Christian communities live together in harmony. Really interesting details about these communities is available at http://www.pbs.org/hiddenindia

"The Real Eve" (Discovery Channel, 9-10 pm E/P) This documentary explores the theory that the origin of entire human race can be traced, using genetic science, to a woman who lived in eastern Africa over 150,000 years ago.

Thursday, August 22

"Argentina: The Empty Wallet" (PBS, 8-9 pm E/P) If I had to put a school-related label on it, I would say this documentary is an instant course in "financial literacy". Be warned that the story is scary. Financial melt-downs can drive people to violence (as in riots). That's what's been going on in Argentina since last December when the government there revealed it couldn't pay $155 billion in public debt (yes, that's a "b"). Suddenly all the paper money in the country became almost worthless - and now the people are having to barter (trading things for other things) to survive.


Thursday, August 15
    Liberty Ships

Friday, August 16

Saturday, August 17
    High Tech House

Sunday, August 18
    Christy: Return To Cutter's Gap
    60 Minutes
    Kermit's Swamp Years

Monday, August 19
    Mail Call

Tuesday, August 20/a>
Secrets Of Making Money
    Axes, Swords and Knives

Wednesday, August 21
    Hidden India
    The Real Eve

Thursday, August 22
    Argentina: The Empty Wallet


  Back to front page