www.whyville.net Feb 27, 2003 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

Media Menu

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These listings cover television programs up to Thursday, March 6th.

Greetings, TV viewers!

Get to your TVs right away and make sure you record Thursday night's PBS special, "A Class Divided". For anyone interested in going into psychology or the biological sciences, you'll want to know about this unique experiment. Anyone who just wants to see what happens when you mess with the reality of third-graders, well, you can watch this too. What do you think this shows us about discrimination? Any ideas how we can apply it to Whyville? Hmm....

Then, Sunday night at 9pm, set your TV for the Discovery Channel, where you'll find Building the Great Pyramid, a documentary on Egyptian architecture on a grand scale. Bring your ideas and questions about the making of big buildings to this week's Media Hour.

Want some clams? Watch the shows-of-the-week, then talk about them with me and other citizens (including other city workers, if they're available) in the House of Illusions Geek Speak. We usually meet on Wednesdays at 6:30pm Whyville Time.

If you come and really take part in the meeting, you'll get up to 50 clams from City Hall... you like that?

To sum up: tune to the show, show up to the chat, chat up your thoughts, and know you get clams!

My apologies to those of you who joined the MediaHour this past week. Bigfoot arrived very late, and I usually rely on him to take down the names of the participants, so rather than unfairly paying just those individuals whom Monsieur Bill saw in the final ten minutes of the Hour, we'll have to call it a wash this week. So sorry, but thanks for coming!

Everyone is welcome to email me what you and your parents think -- you can get clams for that, too. Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!

And now... the Media Menu!

Thursday, February 27

"Ancient ER" (The Learning Channel, 10-11 pm E/P) The title of this medical science documentary is obviously a reference to the popular TV drama "E.R", which takes place in a modern hospital emergency room. Now that we have your attention, I will reveal that what you're really going to get from this program is a detailed description of the amazingly advanced treatments of ancient Egypt and ancient India. Extraordinary surgical procedures, artificial limbs and even plastic surgeries were among recorded procedures -- recorded in fascinating medical textbooks at that time, which are being studied anew today. You will be amazed at how similar these practices are to modern medicine.

Media Menu Exclusive! "A Class Divided" (PBS 9-10 pm E/P, TV rated PG for some harsh language) This is an unusual 'reality TV' broadcast, presenting an excellent example of psychology experimentation. The situation: on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in April 1968, third graders from the small, all-white town of Riceville, Iowa, came to teacher Jane Elliot's class confused and upset. They recently had made King their "Hero of the Month" and they couldn't understand why someone would kill him. The procedure: Elliott divided her class by eye color. On the first day, the brown-eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer, neater, and better than those with blue eyes. Throughout the day, Elliot praised them and allowed them privileges such as a taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, the blue-eyed children had to wear collars around their necks and their behavior and performance were criticized and ridiculed by Elliott. On the second day, the roles were reversed and the brown-eyed children were made to feel inferior while the blue eyes were designated the dominant group. On both days, children who were labelled inferior acted like genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work. In contrast, the "superior" students -- students who had been sweet and tolerant before the exercise -- became mean-spirited and seemed to like discriminating against the "inferior" group. "I watched what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in a space of fifteen minutes," said Elliott. She repeated the exercise with the next year's classes. The third time, in 1970, cameras were present. In 1985, Frontline filmed a final segment, the mini-reunion of that 1970 third-grade class. As young adults, Elliott's former students talk about the impact Elliott's lesson in bigotry has had on their lives and attitudes. Then Frontline's cameras follow Jane Elliott as she teaches the same lesson to employees of the Iowa prison system. Their reactions to the blue-eye, brown-eye exercise are similar to those of the children. "After you do this exercise, when the debriefing starts, when the pain is over and they're all back together, you create instant cousins," says Elliott. ''They found out how to hurt one another and they found out how it feels to be hurt in that way and they refuse to hurt one another in that way again." The accompanying website http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided includes a link that allows you to to view the whole program on streaming video.

Friday, February 28

"Menuhin's Children" (Ovation Network, 5-6 pm ET, 2-3 pm PT) This is a music-education documentary about the late Yehudi Menuhin who made his musical debut at the age of eight and went on to make his name practically synonymous with the violin, In his later decades became an inspiration to young musicians through his teaching, including a project to teaching twelve seven-year old children how to play the violin. Throughout this film, the children and their parents share their feelings about music and offer their personal thoughts on the experience of working so closely with such an acclaimed musician. The children begin to excel because of their passion, honesty and dedication. Unfortunately, Menuhin passed away halfway through the project and was unable to see the culmination of his unique vision. Through a pensive interview with Menuhin and thougthtful memorials from the children, this moving film documents the suddenness of Menuhin's death and serves as testimony to his musical legacy. Further information at http://www.menuhin-foundation.com.

Saturday, March 1

"Devil's Island" (Discovery Channel, 8-9 pm E/P) This unusual geography documentary explore the terrain of the prison colony which France built on the Salvation Islands off the South American coast. The most famous, Devil's Island, seems haunted by the spirits of the 80,000 former prisoners, most of whom died there before their terms were up. The full history of the place is interesting. In 1763, 12,000 Frenchmen were induced to accept offers of free land in the El Dorado of Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America. These 12,000 arrived expecting to scoop sacks of gold and diamonds from the ground. Unprepared for the tropical climate, only 2,000 survived the first year. These were saved by taking refuge on three islands about 10 miles from the mainland of Guiana -- Isle Royale, Isle St. Joseph and Devil's Island. By 1775, there were 1,300 whites and 8,000 African slaves in the colony. The slaves were emancipated in 1794, only to be re-enslaved when the fortunes of the colony dwindled. To increase the white minority, France began transporting thousands of political prisoners to the colony, which would henceforth be a penal settlement until 1946.

Sunday, March 2

"Building the Great Pyramid" (Discovery Channel, 9-10 pm E/P) This documentary special recreates the construction of the Great Pyramid, the only one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World to survive and perhaps the most extraordinary human monument on earth. Amazing special effects make it look like you are watching actual event back then. Egypt's Old Kingdom. reached its zenith 4,500 years ago when a period of prosperity and stability brought about by the absolute, centralized authority of the pharaohs coincided with breakthroughs in engineering and geometry. This made possible the erection of a succession of pyramids, culminating with the three great pyramids that still tower over the plain of Giza. Also surviving are exquisitely crafted portraits, a handful of elite officials and technicians -- the people who actually built the pyramids. For the ancient Egyptians, such portraiture was just another means to immortalize the dead; in fact, the Egyptian word for sculptor comes from the verb sanx, meaning "to make come alive." Portraits of the builders, done in remarkably lifelike styles, hauntingly convey their humanity. More cool stuff at http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/greatpyramid/faces/faces.html.

Monday, March 3

"1492 The Conquest of Paradise" (HBO, 5:30-8 pm ET, 8:30-11 pm PT) This historical movie is a rather critical portrayal of the arrival of the Spanish in the Western Hemisphere. One of the world's great actors, Gerard Depardieu, takes on the role of the world's most famous explorer, Christopher Columbus. Crossing the Atlantic in 1492, he discovered a Caribbean paradise which the colonists who followed him turned into a tropical disaster area. But was Columbus to blame? The movie is rated PG-14 because of violent content. Available in video stores. For historical details log on http://www.mariner.org/age/columbus.html. Which points out, among other things, that Columbus is probably the greatest "'dead reckoning navigator" (using no technical aids) who ever lived.

Tuesday, March 4

"Extreme Driving Quiz" (The Learning Channel, 10-11 pm E/P) Fasten your seatbelts and shift into high gear as you take THE EXTREME DRIVING QUIZ II, the one-hour special for TLC that puts YOU behind the wheel and shows you how to survive the most extreme driving conditions on and off the road Rated PG-14. This means that viewers under 14 should have an adult view the program with them -- which is a good idea because this is about safe driving -- and people of ALL ages should be looking at safe-driving tips whenever there's a chance on TV.

Wednesday, March 5

"Oksana Baiul: After the Glory" (A&E Network, 8-9 pm E/P) This documentary in the "Biography" series, describes events in the life of the 1994 Olympic ice skating champion who had it all -- fame, fortune, and success -- only to see it crumble. Baiul, who was orphaned at 13, shocked the world when she defeated Nancy Kerrigan at the Olympics, but became a substance abuser (alcohol) a when the pressure of being a celebrity became too hard to handle.

Thursday, March 6

"The Mackinac Bridge" (History Channel, 10-11 pm E/P) This is a technology documentary about the Mackinac Bridge, until recently the longest suspension bridge in the world. One of the top engineering marvels of the 20th century, the bridge spans the 4-mile wide straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan come together. The Mighty Mac connects the pastoral northern mainland of Michigan with the state's heavily forested Upper Peninsula and stands as a testament to the dreams, determination, and hard work of a small few who created a true masterpiece of modern engineering. Details at http://www.mackinacbridge.org/


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