www.whyville.net Aug 2, 2001 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

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What's On!

Times Writer

Hello, Whyville!

This week??s column has lots of stuff about denizens of the water and the air, things like piranha fish and nuclear submarines, and acid rain, jetliners and skydivers. Terrestrial topics are covered too, in shows about the histories of primitive man, propaganda and plastic.

Also, you may all want to check out the Dateline NBC show -- I've suggested it because we Whyvillians have all sorts of opportunities to govern our community, and this show really gets into ideas about "who should be in and who should be out."

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

Friday, August 3
    Feeding Frenzy
    Dateline NBC Special: The Promised Land

Saturday, August 4
    Acid Rain
    Hype With John Stossel

Sunday, August 5
    The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells - Part I
    Planet Plastic: The Synthetic Century

Monday, August 6
    Ape Man: The Story of Human Evolution
    Blind Man's Bluff

Tuesday, August 7
    Iron Coffin

Wednesday, August 8
    Big Stuff: Wind

Thursday, August 9
    True Originals: Life on the Line

Friday, August 3

"Feeding Frenzy" (CNBC 8-10 p.m. E/P) We can't let too many weeks go by without looking at least one natural history show that reminds us how lucky we are to be living in our boring old homes rather than in the outdoor world of nature. The very names of the segments in this documentary may turn you off the idea of visiting - or maybe even viewing - the natural phenomena depicted: "Piranha!", "Fearsome Frogs" and "Sea Nasties".

"Dateline NBC Special: The Promised Land" (NBC, 10-11 p.m. E/P) Here's a social-science documentary which raises a difficult question: "Who should be allowed to come and live with us in this country and who should be excluded?" If you think you have all the answers already, you will probably be upset by this show, because it's about people who jump off leaky boats, swim to shore in America -- and end up in jail. Is it right that they should be locked up while they petition our officials for the right to stay here and get away from bad political and economic situations in the countries where they were born?

Saturday, August 4

"Acid Rain" (CNN, 1:30-2 p.m. ET, 11:30-noon PT) The main story on this edition of CNN's "Science & Technology Week" is acid rain -- which is taking very long to go away, maybe a 100 years. And new power plants could make it worse, unless regulated by tough emission controls.

"Hype With John Stossel" (ABC, 10-11 p.m. E/P) Researchers who study advertising and other forms of psychological manipulation were interviewed for this documentary, and their conclusion is that ''a whole lotta hype" doesn't always work (ask your parents about the attempt to replace Classic Coca Cola with "New Coke''. They'll groan.). But very often companies -- and individuals -- get away with exaggerated and false claims. Eye-opening examples of such tricks are exposed in this show.

Sunday, August 5

"The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells - Part I" (Hallmark Channel, 9-11 p.m. E/P, Rated TV-PG) This dramatic miniseries, airing on a channel which until last month was called Odyssey Channel, represent the first time pioneer science-fiction author Well's short stories have been filmed for television. What we see is Wells as an 80 year old man in 1946 examining his life and reliving the short stories which were set in 1895 London. In flashback scenes, he's seen as a young man who meets a young woman scientist at the top British tech school, the Imperial College of Science (can't top a place with a name like that). Their experiments at the College, using the available 19th century technology, involve showers of sparks, foaming potions, glowing crystals and attempts at electronic travel through time and space. You'll see Wells thinking up stuff he subsequently wrote about in his classics such as "The Invisible Man" and "The War of the Worlds".

"Planet Plastic: The Synthetic Century" (The Learning Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This documentary recounts the invention, evolution and spread into society of plastic. Senior citizens can remember a time before it existed -- but now it's absolutely everywhere around them (car bodies, computer technology), even on them (shirts, shoes and sunglasses) and even in them (heart and hearing repairs). Many people hate plastic -- but use lots of it and then throw it away at a rate that defies any sort of recycling solution. (It's not biodegradable unless you make it from corn instead of oil, and the show gets into to that.)

Monday. August 6

"Ape Man: The Story of Human Evolution" (A& E Network, 7-8 a.m. E/P) Yep, this is on early in the morning, so you may want to set your VCR to catch it, but hey, it??s "Planet Of the Apes" done right. I mean, the people come out ahead of the monkeys. (Whose side are you on at the end?) The program, part 1 of a miniseries that continues Tuesday and Wednesday (August 7 & 8) at 7 a.m., takes us from our ancestor-creatures in the dinosaur era to the beginning of human development -- when scientists think a woman in Africa 200,000 years ago gave birth to something smarter than any other mammal. Then we get to know something about those famous cave-dwelling painters in France. They're why I vote for people over chimps. (Those canvases we've all seen decorated by brush-wielding chimps and gorillas are too abstract for my taste.) The final episode covers the argument between folks who believe in the theory of evolution and those who think it contradicts Biblical teachings.

"Blind Man's Bluff" (History Channel, 9-11 p.m E/P) This is a documentary about hide and seek -- played underwater by teams numbering in the hundreds -- using submarines. When it involves Russians versus Americans, it can get risky -- there have been over 20 collisions down in the murk -- but neither side wanted things to escalate into nuclear war, so they kept it quiet. This documentary has some amazing footage of undersea disasters, rescues and even episodes of mutual gallantry worthy of Knights of Olde. Compare this documentary with the fictional U.S. - Russian encounter tomorrow (August 7) at 8 p.m. E/P.

Tuesday, August 7

"Iron Coffin" (CBS, 8-9 p.m. E/P) In this episode of the TV action series "JAG" ( fictional stories about military lawyers) a Russian submarine commander contacts a U.S. Navy lawyer about a mysterious explosion at sea which sank a Russian sub and killed over 100 men. (Does this sound like something out of the headlines, such as the sinking of the Russian ship Kursk?) What comes to light is that both sides in today's constant international undersea high-tech competition have secrets they want to keep from one another - and, as strange as it seems, they will even help one another keep those things secret. (These grownups are better at such stuff than any middleschooler you'll ever meet.)

Wednesday, August 8

"Big Stuff: Wind" (The Learning channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P) This is a documentary about machines that ride the wind or use the wind for power - airplanes and boats. The biggest plane existing so far is the 747, which can carry 600 people half way around the globe in 12 hours. An unusual aircraft also described is the Super Scooper, a firefighting plane that can swoop over oceans lakes or rivers located near a forest fire, suck up 6 tons of water, and drop it on the blaze. Then there's example of high tech boat technology, the 3-D-L sail, the largest and most advanced type used in premiere races like the Americas Cup.

Thursday, August 9

"True Originals: Life On the Line" (National Geographic Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This is a documentary about balance and velocity. We see how a tightrope walker rigs a wire and walks on it between the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Then an Air force Captain attempts a world parachuting record by bailing out of a jet travelling 614 miles an hour at an altitude 18.5 miles above he earth.



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