Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frontline: The Battle for Haiti

Frontline: Battle For Haiti

Can Haiti be rebuilt without the rule of law? A year after the earthquake, a powerful look at the violence threatenin the country's stability .. and future.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

On the night of the earthquake that devastated Haiti last January, something happened in Port au Prince, the capital city, which would threaten the effectiveness of international aid efforts and undermine the country's political stability: 4,500 of the country's most violent criminals escaped from Haiti's overcrowded National Penitentiary.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of the quake -- and in the aftermath of Haitian presidential elections that threatened further crisis -- FRONTLINE presents Battle for Haiti. FRONTLINE producer Dan Reed films with the beleaguered special police units tasked with apprehending the escaped gangsters. At the same time, Reed captures the daily lives of the despairing inhabitants of the slums and tent cities who are often terrorized by these gangsters.

National Geographic - Population 7 Billion

"Before the 20th century, no human had lived through a doubling of the human population, but there are people alive today who have seen it triple. Sometime in late 2011, according to the UN Population Division, there will be seven billion of us.

With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there will likely be two billion more mouths to feed, mostly in poor countries. There will be billions more people wanting and deserving to boost themselves out of poverty. If they follow the path blazed by wealthy countries—clearing forests, burning coal and oil, freely scattering fertilizers and pesticides—they too will be stepping hard on the planet’s natural resources. How exactly is this going to work?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BBC - How Earth Made Us

How Earth Made Us
Presented by Professor Iain Stewart describing untold stories of history. Our planet has amazing power, and yet that's rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilization to the modern industrial age. It reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camera work, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history.

Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. Visiting some of the most iconic places on Earth, How Earth Made Us overturns preconceptions about our civilizations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.

1. Deep Earth
2. Water
3. Wind
4. Fire
5. Human Planet

BBC - Earth The Power of the Planet

BBC Earth The Power of the Planet

Dr Iain Stewart tells the story of how Earth works and how, over the course of 4.6 billion years, it came to be the remarkable place it is today.

1. Volcano
2. Atmosphere
3. Ice
4. Oceans
5. Rare Earth

BBC - The Story of India with Michael Wood

The Story of India is a BBC TV documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, about the 10,000-year history of the Indian subcontinent in six episodes.

Episode 1 - "Beginnings"

Travels through the subcontinent, tracing the richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes. Through ancient manuscripts and oral tales Wood charts the first human migrations out of Africa. He travels from the tropical backwaters of South India through lost ancient cities in Pakistan to the vibrant landscapes of the Ganges plain, also attempts to re-create soma, an ancient drink recorded in the Rig Veda.

Episode 2 - "The Power of Ideas"

Episode moves on to the revolutionary years after 500BC - the Age of the Buddha and Mahavira. Travelling by rail to the ancient cities of the Ganges plain, by army convoy through Northern Iraq, and down Pakistan's Khyber Pass, how Alexander the Great’s invasion of India inspired its first major empire in the form of the Maurya kingdom.

Episode 3 - "Spice Routes and Silk Roads"

Episode traces India in the days of the Roman Empire. In Kerala the spice trade opened India to the world, whilst gold and silk bazaars in the ancient city of Madurai were a delight for visiting Greek traders. The Kushan Empire of Northern India that opened up the Silk Route and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World.

Episode 4 - "Ages of Gold"

The achievements of the country’s golden age, including how India discovered zero, calculated the circumference of the Earth and wrote the world’s first sex guide, the Kama Sutra. In the south, the giant temple of Tanjore built by emperor Rajaraja Chola and traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago are shown. Michael Wood calls Tamil Nadu, "The only surviving 'Classical Civilization' in the world that’s the last living classical Indian language older than any modern European language.

Episode 5 - "The Meeting of Two Oceans"

Charts the coming of Islam to the subcontinent and one of the greatest ages of world civilisation: visits Sufi shrines in Old Delhi, desert fortresses in Rajasthan and the cities of Lahore and Agra, theory on the design of the Taj Mahal.

Episode 6 - "Freedom and Liberation"

South India a global corporation came to control much of the subcontinent, and explores the magical culture of Lucknow, discovering the enigmatic Briton who helped found the freedom movement. He traces the Amritsar massacre, the rise of Gandhi and Nehru, and the events that led to the Partition of India in 1947.

John Adams - Book, Miniseries, National Park

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams is a 2001 biography of Founding Father and second U.S. President John Adams written by popular historian David McCullough. It won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize (for "Biography or Autobiography"). "Much about John Adams's life will come as a surprise to many readers. His courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits that few would have dared and that few readers will ever forget.

It is a life encompassing a huge arc -- Adams lived longer than any president. The story ranges from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam, from the Court of St. James's, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation, to the raw, half-finished Capital by the Potomac, where Adams was the first President to occupy the White House."

John Adams Mini Series

John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of President John Adams's political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John Adams. Kirk Ellis wrote the screenplay based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first fifty years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO. As of 2009, the show has won more Emmy awards than any other miniseries, and four Golden Globe awards.

Adams National Historical Park, Quincy Massachusetts

"Adams National Historical Park was the home of two American presidents and subsequent generations of their descendants from 1720 to 1927.  The family's experience represented, shaped, and mirrored significant events in the social, cultural, political, and intellectual history of the nation.  The purpose of the park is to preserve and protect the grounds, homes, and personal property of four generations of the Adams family and to use these resources to interpret the history they represent and to educate and inspire current and future generations.

John Adams, 1735-1826, Second President of the United States
Called the Atlas of Independence, Adams was a force that led us toward the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a diplomat, Adams made peace with Great Britain and established the foundations of our foreign relations; as first vice-president, Adams helped forge the fledgling government; as second President, Adams kept us out of war and ensured the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next; as a respected lawyer, he crafted the Massachusetts Constitution, the longest-lived constitution in continuous use in the world today, and a model for the federal Constitution. As a person, Adams displayed a passion for learning and the outdoors, a love of family, and an enduring sense of humor.

Abigail Adams, 1744-1818 
Abigail Adams brought more intellect and ability to the position of United States First Lady than any other woman. President Harry Truman once noted that Abigail Adams "would have been a better President than her husband."

John Quincy Adams, 1767-1848, Sixth President of the United States
No American who ever entered the presidency was better prepared to fill that office than John Quincy Adams. Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Adams died thinking his career a failure, but it was only so by the impossibly high standards that he set for himself.

Access by Public Transportation To the Visitor Center via the MBTA Subway:

From Boston: Take the Red Line train to the Quincy Center Station. Turn right upon exiting the train and at the top of the stairs, turn left and exit the station to Hancock Street. Walk across Hancock Street to 1250 Hancock Street. The National Park Service Visitor Center is located in the Galleria at President's place.

PBS Napoleon

NAPOLEON premiered on PBS in November 2000, narrated by David Mccullough.

1. To Destiny

Episode I recounts the story of Napoleon's extraordinary rise from Corsican obscurity to the victories in Italy that made him a hero to the French people and convinced him that he was destined for greatness. It also tells of his love for Josephine Beauharnais, a woman of extravagant habits and tastes, who did not at first return his passionate affection.

2. Mastering Luck

Episode II charts Napoleon's ascent to absolute power, from victorious General to first Consul to Emperor of France. It describes his extraordinary achievements – from the Napoleonic Code and the Bank of France, to bridges, roads, and canals – as well as the tyrannical nature of his rule and the violent opposition of most of Europe.

3. The Summit of Ambition

Episode III witnesses Napoleon conquer most of Europe in a series of brilliant triumphs, including his legendary victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. To sustain his rule, he must keep fighting. But when he invades Spain, he has begun to reach too far.

4. The End

Episode IV describes Napoleon's downfall, including the invasion and subsequent retreat from Russia, and his final battles, in which all of Europe is arrayed against him. Exiled to Elba, he returns to France after just ten months, only to be defeated for the last time at Waterloo. Napoleon spends his final days exiled on an island far out in the Atlantic, where he writes his memoirs and reinvents his legend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bill Bryson - At Home: A Short History of Private Life

AT HOME: A Short History of Private Life 

Random House

[Houses aren't refuges from history. They are where history ends up.]

"Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home." The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture."

At Bryson's House, 'Home' Is Where The History Is
NPR Morning Edition, October 5, 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sandman - Vertigo Comics

The Sandman is a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. Beginning with issue #47, it was placed under the imprint Vertigo. It chronicles the adventures of Dream of The Endless, who rules over the world of dreams, in 75 issues. It was published from 1989 until 1996. Gaiman's contract stipulated that the series would end when he left it.

The Sandman was one of Vertigo's flagship titles, and is available as a series of ten trade paperbacks. It has also been reprinted in a recolored four-volume Absolute hardcover edition with slipcase. Critically acclaimed, The Sandman was the only comic to ever win the World Fantasy Award, and is one of the few comic books ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list, along with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It was one of five comics to make Entertainment Weekly's "100 best reads from 1983 to 2008", ranking at 46. Norman Mailer described the series as "a comic book for intellectuals."

The Sandman's main character is Dream, the Lord of Dreams, who is essentially the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. The storylines primarily take place in the Dreaming, Morpheus's realm, and the waking world, with occasional visits to other domains, such as Hell, Faerie, Asgard, and the domains of the other Endless. 

The Sandman was initially published as a monthly serial, in 32-page comic books (with some exceptions to this pattern). As the series quickly increased in popularity, DC Comics began to reprint them in hardcover and paperback editions, each representing either a complete novel or a collection of related short stories.

DC first published "The Doll's House" storyline in a collection called simply The Sandman. Shortly thereafter, the first three volumes were published and named independently and also collected in an eponymous boxed set.

Seasons of Mists

The issues in the collection first appeared in 1990 and 1991. The collection first appeared in paperback and hardback in 1992. The title is the opening phrase of John Keats' "Ode to Autumn".

It introduces Endless siblings Destiny and Delirium, and features Thor, Odin and Loki from Norse mythology; Anubis and Bast from Egyptian mythology; Susanoo-no-mikoto from Japanese mythology; Lucifer and the Angels Duma and Remiel from Christianity; Shivering Jemmy, a Lord of Chaos with the body of a child and the mind of a monster; Kilderkin, a Lord of Order who takes the form of a cardboard box, and the fairies Cluracan and Nuala, who will play important roles in later stories. Season of Mists marks the introduction of the Norse gods for the first time in the series.

Season of Mists is the first appearance of one of the central themes of the series, that of rules and responsibilities and whether we can lay them down. The gathering of the Endless family which opens the book makes the second reference to the "prodigal", an Endless sibling who abandoned his realm and responsibilities. The family gathering leads to Dream deciding that he must return to the underworld to right a wrong he committed, an event which triggers a major plot arc throughout the series.

Morpheus leaves his realm to travel to the underworld, where he imprisoned his former lover Nada, to release her. Having previously departed the realm with it very angry with him (in the first collection, Preludes and Nocturnes), Morpheus is apprehensive about the task. He sets about it, wanting to do what is right, but prepared for a confrontation which he knows he may lose.

Vertigo - DC Comics

Vertigo is an imprint of the American comic-book publisher DC Comics. Its books are marketed to a late-teen and adult audience, and may contain graphic violence, substance abuse, frank (but not explicit) depictions of sexuality, profanity, and controversial subjects. Although many of its releases are in the horror and fantasy genres, it also publishes works dealing with crime, social satire, speculative fiction, and biography. Each issue's cover carries the advisory label "Suggested for mature readers" (regardless of a specific issue's content). As of 2010, Karen Berger is the executive editor of the imprint, and has overseen it since its inception in 1993.

Vertigo comics series have won the comics industry's Eisner Award, including the Best Continuing Series of various years (Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets and Fables). Several of its publications have been adapted to film, including Hellblazer, A History of Violence, Stardust, and V for Vendetta.


Long-running titles

Hellblazer (274 issues to date)
Swamp Thing Vol.2 (171 issues)
100 Bullets (100 issues)
Fables (100 issues to date)
Animal Man (89 issues)
Doom Patrol Vol.2 (87 issues)
The Sandman (75 issues)
The Books of Magic (75 issues plus sequel series)
Lucifer (75 issues)
Sandman Mystery Theatre (70 issues)
Shade, the Changing Man (70 issues)
Preacher (66 issues plus tie-ins)
Transmetropolitan (60 issues)
The Dreaming (60 issues)
Y: The Last Man (60 issues)
DMZ (comics) (60 issues)
The Invisibles (59 issues over three volumes)

"I'm not blessed, or merciful. I'm just me. I've got a job to do, and I do it. Listen: even as we're talking, I'm there for old and young, innocent and guilty, those who die together and those who die alone. I'm in cars and boats and planes; in hospitals and forests and abbatoirs. For some folks death is a release, and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, I'm there for all of them."
Death, talking about herself, in Dream Country.