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  1. Guns Germs and Steel

    brian on 2005.07.16
    at 02:40 am

    If I make another PBS post, I may have to start a new category. I really enjoy watching PBS specials, but I get so hot and cold with it. It seems every other month they put on a bunch of shows I want to see… and then the next month it’s all British masterpiece mysteries… ugh.

    I tend to be more interested in their science, anthropology and nature shows. Some good travel and cooking shows, but I don’t TiVO those, just watch them if they’re on.

    Anyhow I enjoyed Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel. The first of the three episodes is showing this week. Here’s a snippet:

    Based on Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity’s journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century.

    Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.

    • Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet?
    • Why didn’t the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead?
    • Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East?
    • Why did farming never emerge in Australia?
    • And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

    Go forth and view.

    Posted in: Media · Science · Television

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  2. Nerd TV

    brian on 2005.07.16
    at 02:19 am

    In my previous post I mentioned watching PBS content on their website. This post will be about a much less depressing topic.

    Nerd TV. My favorite general tech pundit, Robert X. Cringely, is going to have an entire series only for viewing online, starting in September.

    Check it out. I’m excited. Now for something completely random:

    I believe RXC is the same person as Food Network’s Alton Brown. All it takes is one great wig. Prove me wrong.

    Posted in: Media · Technology

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  3. Private Warriors

    brian on 2005.07.16
    at 01:54 am

    I just finished watching an episode of PBS’s Frontline called Private Warriors. It details what’s going on with the Pentagon’s use of contractors in its wars.

    The US has traditionally used contractors to ferry cargo across the world to it, or provide provisions, etc. But never has the government used so many contractors in so many positions. In fact, contractors are the second largest force in Iraq.

    There are tens of thousands of contractors in US war zones right now. Many carrying guns. But none of those gun-toting people have accountability outside of being fired. None of them have the intelligence or communications that soldiers in their positions would have. If someone dies, who is responsible when someone dies? Or kills an Iraqi? And if one of those contractors who is doing a very important security detail decides he wants to go home… can. A soldier cannot just decide to leave his watchtower without repercussion.

    Most importantly however, is the fact that an Iraqi doesn’t know who is a US Soldier representing the citizens of the United States… and who is an unaccountable contractor.

    Clearly there is a place for contractors, but perhaps when we take a look at who we have in there and what they’re doing, that maybe we should reconsider exactly what’s going on over there.

    You can go to PBS’s website and watch the entire episode, free. Well, since PBS is partially funded by your tax dollars, you’ve already paid for it. It’s a great resource and I would hope more of their episodes get archived there.

    Come to think of it… since many in the government are trying to cut the funding of PBS, perhaps they’re doing to good of a job. Get this info before they shut ‘em down.

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Recent Events

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