www.whyville.net Nov 22, 2001 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

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What's On!

Times Writer

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Friday, November 23
    Life 360: Bridges

Saturday, November 24
    The Fire Of His Genius: Robert Fulton And The American Dream

Sunday, November 25

Monday, November 26
    Probability and Odds
    Destination Earth: Journey into Roswell
    Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington

Tuesday, November 27
    Measure for Measure: Length
    History vs. Hollywood: The Alamo
    2001: Hal's Legacy

Wednesday, November 28
    The Mystery of the Alaskan Mummies

Thursday, November 29
    Space Tourists

Friday, November 23

"Bridges" (PBS, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This episode of the "Life 360" series presents two unusual views of bridges -- the San Francisco Bay Bridge, 65 years old, that is literally being taken apart and put together again in anticipation of "the big one" (the 'quake) while traffic continues to flow across it -- and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which provides the services of state police troopers to drive 'bridge-phobics' over the span.

Saturday, November 24

"The Fire Of His Genius: Robert Fulton And The American Dream" (C-SPAN, 8-9 p.m. ET 5-6 p.m. PT) This author-interview program in C-SPAN "Booknotes" series presents the story of the engineer who pioneered of steam-powered travel in the U.S.travel (as told by author Kirkpatrick Sale in a new book). Fulton, whose first career was art, also built the first steam battleship -- after starting out to build a submarine and also some torpedos before anyone had heard of such things.

"Buyology" (The Learning Channel, 9-11 p.m. E/P) Much in this documentary shows will not be news to savvy, clam-rich Whyillians, but for those still mastering the science of merchandising it may be instructional. There's some intriguing (some might say creepy) stuff about social scientists who use hidden cameras to track buying behavior -- they even put headmounted cameras on volunteers to track their eye movements during shopping. People called "retail anthroplogists" explain sales techniques used in malls (they studied bazaars in Turkey to advise mega-mall designers). People whose compulsive buying has gotten out of hand, so-called "shopaholics" are profiled. There's lots of stuff to chose from in this show -- guilty people, guilty pleasures - but hey, it's all scientific, according to the title.

Sunday, November 25

"Radar" (History Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This documentary show how one scientist's attempt to build a death ray led to the creation of radar. That, in turn had a big role in the Britain's winning the air war when Germany attacked during WWII and -- this is really interesting -- an equally big role in putting women into the front line of this famous "Battle Of Britain" because it was they who operated the radar equipment, guiding in the RAF counterattacks against the Luftwaffe (that's German for air-weapon).

Monday, November 26

"Probability And Odds" (Discovery Channel, 9:30-10 a.m.) Set your vcr to catch this animated documentary while you're in school. (You might even want to take the tape to school someday for the teacher to use.) The topic is how odds and reasoning affect risk-taking. See how some of the basic research behind this branch of math was done by an ordained minister who was interested in how the human mind makes decisions.

"Destination Earth: Journey Into Roswell" (Travel Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) Here's a travel documentary about a New Mexico town that's home to great Mexican cuisine, the International UFO Museum and one of the most intriguing mysteries of the 20th century. In 1947 a farmer there found the strange remains of an apparent spacecraft that had crash landed in the desert. The next day the public relations office of a nearby U.S. Airforce base issued a press release that a 'flying disc' had been recovered - and on the same day released another statement saying the previous statement wasn't true. For half a century Roswell -- and the world -- has been wondering which official statement to believe.

"Mr. Dreyfuss Goes To Washington" (History Channel, 9-l1 p.m. E/P) Here's a documentary about architects' and planners' attempts to create a city so beautiful and balanced that it would inspire and enlighten those who lived and worked there. That was the idea when George Washington got the Founding Fathers to buy some swampland upriver from his Mount Vernon estate to build the world's first national capital designed from scratch as a seat of government (interesting social and civil engineering problem!). The guide in this show is Richard Dreyfuss, currently star of a show about a college professor ("Max Bickford") on CBS Sundays, a job he probably got by playing a teacher in the movie "Mr Holland's Opus". In both those excellent productions he portrays a character with human faults, and in hosting this documentary about Washington he gets to point out certain human failings of the creators of the District of Columbia.

Tuesday, November 27

"Measure For Measure: Length" (Discovery Channel, 9:30 a.m. E/P) Here's another one of those computer-animated documentaries worth taping and looking at several times. This one's about the origins of inch, foot and meter standards plus an intriguing look at how this stuff has affected business though the ages -- and even interpersonal relations.

"History vs Hollywood: The Alamo" (History Channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P) There's a TV panel show where people get to do something that certain Whyvillians love to do -- which is pick apart a supposed factual account of something and leave it in tatters spread out in front of its unhappy creators. Thus, the experts on this show deconstruct the famous John Wayne movie, "The Alamo". It's about a military commander who disobeys orders during a battle between two groups most of whom were Mexican citizens, gets his side's fighters wiped out and provides the general he disobeyed a classic battle-cry for use in capturing the fighters who did the killing in the earlier battle. (The movie doesn't tell it exactly this way, but the truth would make a cool video strategy-game.)

"2001: Hal's Legacy" (PBS,9-10 p.m. E/P) This documentary looks at the way Artificial Intelligence was depicted in the Stanley Kubrick 1968 movie version of Arthur C. Clark's book "The Sentinel". The question is whether a scientist living today could create that red-eyed device with a mind of its own that has come to haunt the daydreams of any techie who has ever seen the movie.

Wednesday, November 28

"The Mystery Of The Alaskan Mummies" (Discovery Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This documentary examines new evidence of the migration of early humans from Asia to the Americas, specifically from Siberia over the Bering Straits. Aleut mummies discovered in Alaska may provide some answers to the question of whether folks like Montezuma and Geronimo were actually descendants of wayward Russians.

Thursday, November 29

"Space Tourists" (Travel Channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P) You know that they're serious about space tourism when U.S. hotel chains like Hilton and huge Japanese conglomerates like Shimizu begin to paying big money to design moon hotels and orbital space resorts. Even Virgin Atlantic airways intends to offer space tours by 2010. This documentary provides a look at the technology on the drawing boards for this commercial version of the Space Race.

"Hackers" (PBS, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This "Frontline" news documentary asks whether highly sensitive information can ever be secure - and shows how 'digital criminal" activity has already revealed certain weaknesses of the system.. An accompanying website, www.pbs.org/frontline/shows/hackers contains interviews with hackers and info on how to protect your computer against unwanted visitors.



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