Skip navigation.
Home

Columns




Recurring Columns

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: PLANET OF THE 99% (ELYSIUM)

 

By Brian Lafferty

August 9, 2013 (San Diego) – Last August, I declared on Facebook that you will never see me post about politics and religion on social media.  That’s an easy rule for me to follow on Facebook and Twitter.  Not so much when reviewing movies (Gerrymandering, Client 9).  Writer and director Neill Blomkamp packs so many socio-political issues into his latest film, Elysium, that it demands discussion.  

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A LONG, LONG TIME (EUROPA REPORT)

 

By Brian Lafferty

August 8, 2013 (San Diego) – Every time I think about Europa Report, I can’t help but think of Elton John’s hit song, Rocket Man.  It tells about an astronaut who leaves his family for a lengthy and lonely trip to Mars.  The lyrics beautifully describe the feelings of isolation ("It's lonely out in space"), longing ("I miss the Earth so much, I miss my wife"), and career crossroads ("All this science, I don't understand, it's just my job five days a week.") 

RENO DISPATCH: NO MURDER CHARGES FILED IN THE CASE OF MISSING AMERICAN AUBREY SACCO

 

August 8, 2013 (San Diego) – An update today from Nepal on a story I've been following for two years: Contrary to what a number of media reports suggested last week, lack of enough evidence has prevented police from filing murder charges against the three people identified as suspects in the alleged murder of American woman Aubrey Sacco, who went missing in 2010.

Nepal's Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) arrested the three suspects Friday in connection with the possible murder of Aubrey, an athlete, scholar and musician who as I reported for ESPN had gone missing from the Langtang area of the Rasuwa district of Nepal more than three years ago.

RENO DISPATCH: IS AMERICAN JOURNALISM CORRUPTED BY BIG PHARMA DOLLARS?

 

August 8, 2013 (San Diego) – There have been many breakthroughs recently in the study of adult (non-embryonic) stem cells. But the national media has all but ignored them. Most news outlets still seem to prefer perpetuating the tired notion that all adult stem cell researchers are cons and all patients who enroll in adult stem cell clinical trials are fools. That's no longer the case.

Yes, there are still unethical players in this sector who take advantage of ailing, desperate patients willing to try anything. And yes, this is a relatively new field about which there is still much to learn. But a number of reputable companies that specialize in this research, including Medistem and Cytori Therapeutics, already have FDA-approved trials under way or in the pipeline for a variety of health conditions.

SYLVIA'S SOAPBOX: THE ZIMMERMAN JURY DROPPED THE BALL

 

By Sylvia Hampton

August 6, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- I did not watch every minute of the George Zimmerman trial, but I did see the closing arguments and enough testimony to get the basic evidence against him and the arguments from the defense.  I was convinced the jury would take the hint from the judge and find him guilty of manslaughter. Most talking heads have missed an important key to why the verdict came down as “not guilty” and that was the fact that the most powerful personality on the six-women jury turned out to be wrong, biased, and she pressured and got a unanimous vote. The hold-outs caved to her pressure because they were intimidated, I believe.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: IS A PREMARITAL AGREEMENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

August 3, 2013 (San Diego) – A “premarital” (also called “prenuptial” or “antenuptial”) agreement is a contract entered into between prospective spouses in contemplation of marriage, or between domestic partners in contemplation of registering their partnership with the State. The agreement establishes property rights and financial responsibilities upon consummation of the marriage or registration of the partnership. A premarital agreement is typically intended to create conditions that will preserve a forthcoming marriage or registered domestic partnership.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: SUMMER THUNDERSTORMS - PRETTY, BUT DANGEROUS

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – We are in the monsoon season, where pop-up thunderstorms can quickly and unexpectedly bring flash floods no matter where you live, warns Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Though part of natures beauty, these storms can be very dangerous.

EARTHTALK®: SEA LEVEL RISES NOT LETTING UP ANYTIME SOON

 

July 29, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Hurricane Sandy brought more sea water onto shorelines than I’d ever witnessed before and many communities near where I live are now being required to raise their homes up. What is the prognosis for sea level rise in the years immediately ahead?

-- Scott P., Fairfield, CT



Since sea level measurements were first recorded, in 1870, global averages have risen almost eight inches. The annual rate of rise has been 0.13 inches over the past 20 years, which is close to twice the average from the previous 80 years. Future estimates for sea levels vary according to region but most Earth scientists agree that sea levels are expected to rise at a greater pace than during the last 50 years.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: DAD, THE BURGERS ARE BURNING, AND SO IS THE HOUSE!

 

“July has been dedicated National Grilling Safety Month…”

July 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Dad, the burgers are burning, and so is the house!” Not something one wants to hear. While gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires than their charcoal counterparts, all grills pose a risk for fires and burns, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

BIRD TALK: NESTS - HOMES FOR BIRDS

 

By Greg Dunne

July 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Bird nests can be hard to observe. We usually just stumble across them out in nature. One place you can always see a large variety of Egret and Heron nests is in the Eucalyptus trees at Lindo Lake.

“Large” fledgling Egrets and Herons are leaving the nest at this time of the year. I say large because the Snowy and Great Egret babies getting ready to leave the nest are as big as their parents. It always looks a little odd to see Mother Egret feeding a bird nearly her own size in a very crowded nest.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: FILNER - MAYOR BEHAVING BADLY

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

July 19, 2013 (San Diego) – Just when you thought the current sex scandal involving San Diego Mayor Bob Filner couldn’t get any weirder, it did. On July 17 KGTV Channel 10 broke the news that Filner had been booked to be the keynote speaker at the National Military Women Veterans’ Association of America’s gala event in San Diego August 30-31. They had originally planned to give him a “Lifetime of Leadership” award honoring his work on behalf of veterans in general and military veterans in particular. But with allegations that Filner routinely harassed women, including his staff members, in the workplace and at community events, the group decided to rescind the award but keep him on as a speaker. “He is now the keynote speaker for these injustices,” said the group’s official statement.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: ROCK THE BOAT (A HIJACKING)

 

By Brian Lafferty

July 12, 2013 (San Diego) – A Hijacking is a straightforward hostage movie that is as simply constructed and acted as its title.  Somali pirates take over a Danish cargo ship.  The captors demand millions of dollars in exchange.  No one-liners, no fancy style, no John McClane heroics or Hans Gruber villainy.  Not even a note of music to underscore the tension.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: MONSTERS BRAWL (PACIFIC RIM)

 

 

By Brian Lafferty

July 12, 2013 (San Diego) – The scariest story I’ve ever read was Stephen King’s The Mist.  Made into a 2007 Frank Darabont film I’m too frightened to see, it told of a band of New England survivors trapped in a grocery story by a dense fog and a horde of horrific creatures from another dimension.  At the end, the remaining survivors encounter a monster so humongous, that it would make a blue whale – the largest animal in Earth’s existence – look like a trout.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: EMERGENCY EDITION

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 11, 2013 (San Diego) – Before a wildfire strikes:

  • Know where your gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to use them.
  • Become familiar with your community’s disaster-preparedness plans and create a family plan.
  • Plan several escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place.
  • Put together an emergency kit.
  • Ensure you follow your local fire code and adhere to its brush compliance program

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: HIGH FIVE, SILVER! AWAY! (THE LONE RANGER)

 

By Brian Lafferty

July 3, 2013 (San Diego) – When I first learned of The Lone Ranger’s budget, I asked myself, “What studio in their right mind would spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a movie based on a property that originated as a long-running radio show, and later a low-budget 1950s kids TV show?”  In the 1930s and 1940s, Monogram Pictures and Republic Pictures rolled out hundreds of low-budget B-movies, a significant chunk of them westerns.  A cursory glance through the Internet Movie Database and a little arithmetic tells me The Lone Ranger cost a ton more than all these companies’ movies put together.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: DOG GONE IT! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? 4TH OF JULY SAFETY FOR PETS

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 1, 2013 (San Diego) – If your pets could talk, chances are they “wouldn’t” give you a “lick in,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Dogs can develop heat stroke and sunburn in the hot weather, but one danger to dogs that's frequently overlooked is the potential for paw pad injuries and burns from walking a dog on hot pavement or sand. Walk the dog in the early morning or evening to avoid paw pad burns. Avoid walking the dog in the heat of the day, when the sun beats down, heating the pavement and sand. Walk the dog on the grass; it’s cooler for you and them. Are you taking your dog hiking? Would you like to hike barefoot in the heat on rocky terrain? Maybe your dog wouldn’t either! Make sure you have water for your dog while hiking and do so during a cool hour and “watch those paws!”

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: 4TH OF JULY SAFETY

 

July 1, 2013 (San Diego) – With warm weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before you and your family celebrate, make sure everyone knows about 4th of July safety, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. If not handled properly, fireworks, barbeques and heat can be dangerous and cause injuries to kids and adults. The best advice: “Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals,” says Chief DiGiovanna.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: THE HEAT IS ON

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

June 28, 2013 (San Diego) – The Heat is on and looks like it will be with us for a while!

If you work or play outside, you should know about heat stress safety tips. Heat stress is caused by over exposure to hot climates. You might not think it is possible, but you can suffer from heat related injuries inside as well as outside. Heat stress occurs when your bodies core temperature rises above normal.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: BLOODLUST (BYZANTIUM)

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 28, 2013 (San Diego) – Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is cinema’s best answer to the Twilight series since Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire masterpiece Let the Right One In (not counting Matt Reeves’ equally crafted American remake Let Me In).  It takes the now all-too-familiar forbidden vampire-mortal love story and breathes into it an intoxicating mix of realism, atmosphere, and wicked sexiness.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: HIGH COURT ON RIGHTS: 1 WIN, 1 LOSS, 2 DRAWS

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

Columnist's elation over marriage equality rulings is tempered by dismay over high court's ruling on Voting Rights Act

June 26, 2013 (San Diego)--The sun is shining this Wednesday, June 26 and it’s a beautiful, if rather hot, day in San Diego. I sent my husband Charles off to work this morning after we both got up early to watch MS-NBC broadcast news of the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on two cases involving the rights of same-sex couples to marry each other. It was a personal story to us because Charles and I are legally married.

RENO DISPATCH: THE SAD DEATH OF ONE OF AMERICA'S LAST REAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

Originally posted Wednesday, June 19 at the Reno Dispatch

June 25, 2013 (San Diego) – The news of Michael Hastings' death comes as a total shock. Michael, 33, who was killed early Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, was among the last of a disappearing breed of fearless investigative reporters. A friend and former colleague, he and I worked together often when we were fellow writers at Newsweek.

I'll never forget our marathon phone conversations about politics, war, civilian casualties and General David Patraeus. Michael was probably the general's most outspoken critic, as you can see in this article he wrote for Rolling Stone. Michael ripped the general in that story, and in others. I haven't exactly gone easy on Patraeus, either, but I've typically left it to my sources to evaluate him in stories such as this one for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Michael had no time for that. It just wasn't his style. He called it the way he saw it, and I admired him for it.

BIRD TALK: THE WESTERN BLUEBIRD

 

 

By Greg Dunne

June 22, 2013 (Alpine)--“I'm a bluebird, I'm a bluebird I'm a bluebird, yeah, yeah, yeah,” to quote Paul McCartney. Just last week our “children” left the nest here in Alpine, our Western Bluebird children, that is. We enjoyed their company for about three weeks.

We have a birdhouse sitting on the railing going down steps leading to the front door of our house. It was put there some time ago just for yard décor; we thought it was too close to everyday foot traffic to be a choice place to set up raising baby birds.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE RUNNING DEAD (WORLD WAR Z)

 

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 21, 2013 (San Diego) – After a long and troubled production history going back to 2007 – none of which needs to be rehashed here – World War Z is finally here.  It’s a simple pulpy globetrotting zombie flick starring Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former member of the United Nations called into action to combat a worldwide zombie pandemic.  Such a simple plot, yet it serves a movie so confounding that I may never know if it’s good or bad.  If I were to look at it from every respect, it would be split right down the middle at 50%.  I can make strong arguments from both sides.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: BLAND EDUCATION (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY)

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 21, 2013 (San Diego) – There’s always a first for everything.  Monsters University is the first Pixar film I disapprove of (I should note that I still haven’t seen Cars 2).  Has Pixar gotten complacent since Toy Story 3?  It sure seems so.  Since 1995 they could be counted on to turn out a high-quality product.  Now they’re dangerously close to being indistinguishable from DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, and Sony Pictures Animation.

RENO DISPATCH: THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT CARE ABOUT OUR DISABLED VETERANS...BUT WE THE PEOPLE DO!!

 

Originally posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at The Reno Dispatch

June 18, 2013 (San Diego) – Marine Corps Capt. Sarah Bettencourt, 29, was just days away from being designated a naval aviator when she developed a rare neurological disorder in 2008. Despite her disability, she bravely continued to serve in the Marines until symptoms ended her career in 2012. Sarah, who retired with a 100 percent disability rating, now struggles at home with day-to-day tasks due to severe problems with her central nervous system.

And of course she is not alone. More than 2.2 million American veterans like Sarah were seriously injured at some point while serving in the military, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Among the center's troubling findings: Veterans who suffered major service-related injuries are less likely in later life to be in overall good health or to hold full-time jobs.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: VACATION SAFETY TIPS - DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM!

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

June 17, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s summer time, and time for a vacation! Many of us may be ready for or planning a vacation for the summer months.  Here are some safety tips to help make your vacation safe and enjoyable says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Vacation safety actually begins while you are still at home and begins with planning for safety!

EARTHTALK®: DROUGHT LESSONS FROM THE DUST BOWL



 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 17, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s? -- Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA

Indeed we are embroiled in what many consider the worst drought in the U.S. since the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s that rendered some 50 million acres of farmland barely usable. Back then, drought conditions combined with poor soil management practices to force some 2.5 million Americans away from the Great Plains, only wreaking further havoc on an already devastated Great Depression economy. The lack of native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep the soil in place meant large swaths of formerly productive agricultural land turned to dust and blew away in so-called “black rollers.”

While we have learned a lot about maintaining soil quality since, drought conditions today are nevertheless taking a heavy toll on agricultural productivity, fresh water supplies and the economy—especially as the effects of global warming start to kick in more seriously.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT TYPES OF WILLS ARE AVAILABLE?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

June 18, 2013 (San Diego County) – There are several types of wills available in California. It is important you choose the type best suited to your needs and make sure you comply with all the drafting requirements for the will type chosen. An improperly drafted will may not be admitted to probate, may result in a will contest and may result in your assets not being distributed pursuant to your wishes. This article discusses the various will types.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: HEAVY METAL (MAN OF STEEL)

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 14, 2013 (San Diego) – The original Superman was entertaining in the moment, but terribly flawed upon further reflection, especially the ending.  As much fun as I had watching it, the ending was one giant mass of plot holes.  I remember liking the somewhat turgid Superman Returns when I saw it in theaters seven years ago.  Today I can’t remember a single thing about it.  Other than that, I had limited exposure to the silly Superman II

EARTHTALK®: TOXIC INGREDIENTS IN CLEANING SUPPLIES



By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I'm concerned about toxic ingredients in my cleaning supplies, especially now that I have young children. Where can I find safer alternatives?             -- Betsy E., Hartford, CT

It is true that many household cleaners contain potentially toxic substances, so parents especially should make an effort to keep them out of the reach of children or, better yet, replace them with safer alternatives.

Syndicate content