www.whyville.net Jan 1, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

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There's some heavy-duty stuff on TV this week, much of it related to science and technology -- which can be used for good or bad purposes.

And don't you dare miss the final episode of my favorite show, Junkyard Wars!

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

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

Thursday, October 10

"Frontline: Missile Wars" (PBS, 9-10 pm E/P) Increasingly, science and technology are becoming political issues -- think of stem cell research, teaching of evolution in schools, not to speak of sex education. This documentary is about how missile technology is influenced not by research results but by political considerations. Through interviews with staunch proponents, skeptical scientists, military and intelligence experts you will see how America's planned -- but unproven -- multibillion dollar new national missile defense system is supposed to fit into a military strategy after 9/11.

Friday, October 11

"Bacteria" (The Learning Channel, 8:30-9 am E/P) This early-morning science documentary is aimed at the younger half of our citizens -- up to 6th graders -- but it's useful for older kids interested in bacteria, viruses and allergies. It focuses on salmonella, the flu and bad effects of dog dander and wasp stings. It's something worth taping and eventually taking to class.

"20/20: Reunion With Castro" (ABC, 10-11 pm E/P) This edition of ABC's main newsmagazine is devoted to an interview with Fidel Castro conducted by Barbara Walters. Twenty-five years ago, she traveled to Havana, Cuba to do an interview with this mystery man who rarely talked to the press. The interview lasted three and a half hours and in its way made some history, for it gave a very inside view of what Castro was like and what he was thinking after the U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of his country. It was a strong, forceful Castro who argued for hours as he pounded the table about his revolution and she pounded the table about freedom. But that was then. This is now. This past Sunday she returned to Havana and found a city that had changed little since her last visit, but a man who has. He now wants normal relations with the U.S. There's a useful website about this man at http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/DailyNews/2020_castro021009.html and even a quiz, at http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/Quiz/2020Castro_quiz.html

Note: Castro isn't alone in wanting normal ties with the U.S. "CBS 60 Minutes" is airing a report Sunday, October 13 at 7-8 pm E/P about Republican Party leaders who want to end U.S. government prohibitions on doing business with Castro.

Saturday, October 12

"Hispanic Heritage Awards" (NBC, 7-8 p.m. E/P -- check local listings) Telecast from the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., this annual program honors outstanding Hispanic Americans in education, literature, leadership, the arts and sports. It's a good opportunity to find out about writer Julia Alvarez, now a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and the author of "How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" and "In The Time Of Butterflies" (which was made into a movie with Salma Hayek). For information on the other award winners, log on to http://www.HispanicHeritageawards.org.

Sunday, October 13

"Nuclear Terrorism: Blinding Horizons" (MSNBC Cable Network, 8-9 pm E/P) This is a documentary about the secret world of nuclear materials smuggling and various terrorists' efforts to acquire nuclear weapon technology. Pretty scary stuff. A lot depends on whether certain nuclear engineers around the world can stay honest and not sell their secrets and equipment to the highest bidder.

"Bang Bang You're Dead" (Showtime, 8-10 pm E/P, repeating October 13, 8-10 pm E/P) This movie is rated TVPG due to language and violence content. It is based on William Mastrosimone's one-act play of the same name which has been performed by high school groups nationwide and which he was inspired to write when his son's school had been shut down for a day following an anonymous death threat made by a student. The play and film story is about a high school teacher who wants to send a message to students and the community by mounting a one-act play that dramatizes the results of a ten massacre. The teacher also wants to reach one particular student who has become a social outcast and is developing violent behavior. It is accompanied by an excellent website http://sho.com/bbyd/indexframe.cfm containing resources for dealing with teen violence.

Immediately following the movie, Showtime will air a 20-minute panel discussion entitled "Preventing School Violence," which will feature high-lights from a Town Hall meeting held October 10 at the National Education Association facility in Washington, DC. Hosted by noted journalist Linda Ellerbee, the panel will include William Mastrosimone (writer/executive producer), Nick Smith (a student present at a school shooting in Oregon) and Dr. William S. Pollack (a Harvard psychologist who has written books on bullying).

Monday, October 14

"Viva Villa" (Turner Classic Movies, midnight - 2 am ET, 9-11 pm PT) This classic by adventure-movie master director Howard Hawks fictionalizes a few characters and events but still gives a pretty good idea what the Mexican Revolution early in the 1900's was all about. It's available on video. We now know that Pancho Villa, military leader of one of the factions, was partially subsidized by funds paid him in exchange for exclusive rights to newsreel coverage of his battles. This kind of deal, weird at the time but now common in wars, is the subject of the forthcoming "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself" with Antonio Banderas ("Spy Kids"). Have fun and learn something by watching both versions of the Villa saga.

Tuesday, October 15

"Scientific American Frontiers: Make Up Your Mind!" (PBS, 9-10 pm E/P) The documentary about the human brain and the formation of our personalities has a catchy and accurate title. It reconstructs a 150 year old accident that caused a railroad worker named Phineas Gage to lose his sense of self. We also watch children gradually develop their reasoning powers. And we see a brain scan of host Alan Alda's brain as he struggles to make decisions while feeling cheated. Further info at http://www.pbs.org/saf/1302.

Wednesday, October 16

"Ice Warriors" (The Learning Channel, 9-10 pm E/P) This is the last documentary in the "Junkyard Wars" series. Teams compete for the series' final Trophy by creating ice hockey-playing machines capable of maneuvering on the ice, taking body hits from the opposing machines and handling an outsized "puck" (actually a big truck tire). You know I like this series, and if you do too and want to go on enjoying it plus share the experience with friends you can log on http://school.discovery.com/networks/junkyardwars. It has information you can pass along to your science teacher about making aspects of "Junkyard Wars" into a class project. And if you don't want to stop watching high-energy host Karyn Bryant, check out her website http://www.karynbryant.com for pictures and information on her future TV appearances.

Thursday, October 17

"Who Counts? Election Reform In America" (PBS, 10-11 pm E/P -- check local listings) This documentary examines the 2000 presidential election, including voting discrepancies in Florida (lots of technology glitches involved) and comes up with some ideas to correct them. It's rated TV-PG. You may wonder why the topic of voting can have a parental warning slapped on it. In this program the matter is dealt with edgy humor as well as hardball talk about politics.


Thursday, October 10
    Frontline: Missile Wars

Friday, October 11
    20/20: Reunion With Castro

Saturday, October 12
    Hispanic Heritage Awards

Sunday, September 13
    Nuclear Terrorism: Blinding Horizons
    Bang Bang You're Dead

Monday, October 14
    Viva Villa

Tuesday, October 15
    Scientific American Frontiers: Make Up Your Mind!

Wednesday, October 16
    Junkyard Wars: Ice Warriors

Thursday, October 17
    Who Counts? Election Reform In America


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