Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Pinned into a chair by a fall that screwed up my left knee and made my eyes water with pain, I began to explore alternatives to Netflix which -- like everything else -- has turned to sensationalist repetition.  Hulu turned out to be the same thing except smaller, cheaper, older.  Britbox somehow pulled me into a weird trap where it might only have been the cheese bait.  I never did get to HBO et al, because I found  It's what I thought Britbox was -- BBC content, meaning the whole Commonwealth --like Aussies.

I'd already seen many of these films and series.  I seek out "procedurals", meaning cop shows but not the kind with shooting and explosions.  Most of the victims are quietly knifed or poisoned and, anyway, not all the cases are murder.  In fact, many of them are simply atypical and bizaare, a challenge to the written law.  The great difficulty of keeping justice aligned with law and order is the real subject of the show.  "Crownies" is 22 episodes long and connected to another series that is much shorter.

There are two levels here.  One is the law of Australia which is derived from English Common Law and not that different from US law, though the differences are often troubling.  The other is the "law" of social decisions among young educated professionals who are very attractive but hardly experienced.  "Crownies" is the nickname for these people when they work for Crown prosecutors, which are guided by "old hands," in this case an alcoholic horse-race addict who is nonetheless capable of seeing to the  human kernel of many matters (a cliché); a capable but limited man nearing retirement; and a steely movie star-type-woman, more Swedish than Aussie, who is gay and pregnant with twins.  These things, played off against each other, offer many serious questions and silly dilemmas.

The young characters are, to my taste, much more attractive and far smarter than any on US shows.  The repartée is a big part of the pleasure.  The writers make the most beautiful young woman into the most brilliant as well, and give her a gangster for a father, which seems a great advantage since he is very rich and also, when a convict gets fresh with her, an effective threat.  Her boyfriend, stupid but hunky, works for her father but the implications are mostly left to your imagination.  Several of the men are moochers, who get others to do their work, except one man ends up doing everyone else's work.  All is sex, drunkenness, and fixated on being brilliant by remembering every case ever tried and using clever strategy.  A very Christian fussbudget keeps these people under control.  Sort of.

The New Society created by the invention of antibiotics and the Pill is the norm here.  And there's much play of the idea of "gay" but no recognition of AIDS, which may have been earlier or possibly have been deliberately left out.  The same goes for the cyber revolution and the new society it has created, though computers are there and "smart phones" are the hinges of every plot.  It's as though the writers haven't quite digested two new and very deep changes in the world of wealth and connectivity.  Neither have they come to grips with China or the Arab countries and controversies.  It's pleasant to have a rest from those for nearly an hour.

But I rarely miss Rachel Maddow in the evening.  I'm not even entirely pursuing the facts as much as the perspective given by history.  She doesn't deal with the New Society of sex or cyber possibility either, but I suspect people on her staff do.  After all, both are germaine to our current terrifying crisis.  Trump is dependent for his self-image on the idea that he is an irresistible sexual stallion who can do anything he wants, and probably enchained himself by violating sexual propriety in a commercial way. 

Pride in the former and guilt from the latter are both outmoded now, but not to the American public.  The beer-swilling boys down at the bar still believe it is a sign of superiority to grab women by the pussy and they both are terrified that their mama might find out they've done.  In contrast, Putin, whether or not it is true, derives much of his power from an assumed asceticism, though it may only mean he has total control over what gets out.  (He just loses track of his shirt and assumes riding a bear is attractive.)

The other contributor to the New Society, the realm of the Internet and the possibilities of cyber coding, is probably more dangerous.  In fact, more dangerous than nuclear threats.  An atomic bomb can seriously mess up the planet, but it is easy to shut down the cyber grid across the continent, thus grounding all airplanes and preventing all distance communication, to say nothing of the controls of municipal water systems and the ability of service stations to pump gas.  People will die but infrastructure will endure.

This morning Maddow tells us that Trump's administration fired Cory Louie, chief information security officer for the White House’s Executive Office of the President, whose job was to protect Donald Trump and other top White House people from getting hacked.  Not only that, Trump eliminated his office.  This is the act of a man who can't use a computer nor even an improved SmartPhone because he can't understand them.  Not in theory, but which button to push.  He's easy in terms of planting bugs because he doesn't understand them either.  Trump Tower is not just a communications tower (that's why it's so tall, so it can send messages to Moscow) but also probably riddled with hearing devices that record.  He's not smart enough to understand that such transmissions are perceptible and noticed by all the transmission towers and satellites along the way.  In short, he is vulnerable -- possibly mortally.  The Secret Service that accompanies him with the Atomic Trigger ("the football") probably should also have a cyber-expert along, one that can detect threats.

Watching BBC shows instead of American commercial mush (I thought PBS was public until they sold Big Bird) is not being a traitor.  But selling out the US in violation of oath and patriotism, not for the greater good of anything but one's theoretical bank account (which some studies show are in the red) is treason.  

In another context, he would be shot.  I don't mean vaccinated or photographed.  Aside from the frivolity of "Crownies", one of the finest serious all-time movies is "Breaker Morant," about a war criminal who faced a firing squad.  It's from a society before the one in which Trump grew up at post-war military school.  But the concept of conscience may be at the core of a Newer New Society that Trump triggers, one that accepts sex, understands computers, and has contempt for traitors.

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