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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Emergence: Acting students in feature film


Watch my students in this 30 minute film from Darkwater Productions and Casting Call Entertainment!



The Emergence

http://vimeo.com/22432925?ab
The Emergence from Zachary Mami on Vimeo.

Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You

Add one more achievement to the digital revolution: It has made it fashionable to 
be rude.


YOU are at a party and the person in front of you is not really listening to you. Yes, she is murmuring occasional assent to your remarks, or nodding at appropriate junctures, but for the most part she is looking beyond you, scanning in search of something or someone more compelling.


Here’s the funny part: If she is looking over your shoulder at a room full of potentially more interesting people, she is ill-mannered. If, however, she is not looking over your shoulder, but into a smartphone in her hand, she is not only well within modern social norms, but is also a wired, well-put-together person.



William Powers, the author of “Hamlet’s BlackBerry,” a book about getting control of your digital life, appeared on a panel at South by Southwest and wrote that he came away thinking he had witnessed “a gigantic competition to see who can be more absent from the people and conversations happening right around them. Everyone in Austin was gazing into their little devices — a bit desperately, too, as if their lives depended on not missing the next tweet.”
In a phone conversation a few weeks afterward, Mr. Powers said that he is far from being a Luddite, but that he doesn’t “buy into the idea that digital natives can do both screen and eye contact.”
“They are not fully present because we are not built that way,” he said.
Where other people saw freedom — from the desktop, from social convention, from the boring guy in front of them — Mr. Powers saw “a kind of imprisonment.”
“There is a great deal of conformity under way, actually,” he added.
And therein lies the real problem. When someone you are trying to talk to ends up getting busy on a phone, the most natural response is not to scold, but to emulate. It’s mutually assured distraction.

50 Years Ago Today: The Bay of Pigs


Fifty years ago Sunday, a brigade of around 1,500 CIA-trained soldiers stormed the beach in Cuba's Bay of Pigs. It was the opening phase of a secret mission to overthrow Fidel Castro and, President John F. Kennedy hoped, halt the spread of communism throughout the world.
Things did not go as planned.
"I think the thing that you have to keep in mind when you ask yourself, 'How did this ever happen?' is the extraordinary fear of communism in the late 50s and early 60s," writer Jim Rasenberger tells NPR's Noah Adams.
In his new book, The Brilliant Disaster, Rasenberger suggests the debacle marked the start of the Vietnam era — before which, "it would have been a fairly skeptical or cynical American who doubted he lived in a country run by competent men, engaged in worthwhile enterprises."
The Bay of Pigs changed that.
"Not only did it appear immoral to many people," Rasenberger says, "but it was also incompetent."

Distilling the Wisdom of C.E.O.’s


Interviews with more than 70 leaders for the Corner Office columns have shown some traits that successful executives share and look for when hiring. 

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III



The pope used his Palm Sunday sermon in St. Peter’s Square to warn that technology cannot replace God, and have increased the potential for evil and the temptation to feel like gods. He also said that technology has and will provide great good and help God to do his work on earth, but he cautioned that before we feel all powerful or too comforted by technology be mindful of the destruction in Japan and elsewhere at the hands of nature, things out of our control. Prayer remains the primary tool and hope for men and women of all faiths and backgrounds.

South of the Mason-Dixon Line is Dixie. We have taken that for granted all of our lives, leaning about it in movies, books and in school. Few people realize that surveying for the Mason-Dixon Line started at a tiny house on the southern edge of Philadelphia. The house is long gone, but its location was recently discovered by group of Pennsylvania college students paging through centuries-old property records. State officials approved a historical marker for the site last month. The finding comes as the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The Mason-Dixon Line has become synonymous with the divide between North and South, but that obscures its true origin. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon began their survey a century earlier to settle a border dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. The 250th anniversary of the Mason-Dixon Line is in 2013.

Air traffic controllers are being required to take more time off between shifts. Stress levels are high, shifts long, down time long and crisis status may come at any time. After a series of highly publicized incidents of controllers falling asleep during overnight shifts, the new rules will give them at least nine hours off. Until now, they've had eight. But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells Fox News Sunday "controllers will not be paid to take naps."

Libya’s government troops are using cluster bombs to maximize damage and instill terror as they move toward a crushing blow against rebels, who only two weeks ago were emboldened and empowered by air support and the international no-fly zone. The rebels up their trust in the US and our allies, only to see their dream being shattered by bombardment and skirmishes, snipers and a mercenary war machine.

Meanwhile in the US media politics and the budget dominate Sunday morning news..

Potential presidential candidate Donald Trump says  he's a better businessman than fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney. Trump told CNN's "State of the Union" that he has a "much, much bigger net worth" than Romney, who's a former venture capitalist with a record of turning around failing companies. Romney invested $40 million of his own money in his 2008 White House bid.

Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told CBS news it is important to get a handle on future borrowing, so there may be cuts and controls on spending needed before Republicans can join in the needed step of raising the debt ceiling. If the US exceeds that ceiling the nation will go into default on its debts, touching off an international economic crisis that will impact every American and most of the world.  President Obama says that Ryan voted for two wars that were not finances or paid for, for a prescription card program that was unfunded and for other programs that also were not funded…causing more debt than any plan that Obama has done. Ryan’s response is that “there is plenty of time for him to be campaigning later.” Ryan says the Democrats and the president are solely responsible for any lack of progress on budgets or the deficit, not his proposed budget and programs passed by the House of Representatives. If our leaders are not leading than things do not get done. “We can’t wait, we have to act now” Ryan says.

On tax cuts for the wealthy he says he opposed tax increases, although those increases are actually the end of a temporary cut put in place by the Bush Administration. He says they are an increase. He believes that we need to get rid of loopholes at all levels. He admits that will impact the middle class, but he says most of all it will give the wealthy fewer ways out of paying taxes. He says he does not believe the wealthy would just put their money and investments overseas finding ways to not fall under US law, as they have in the past.

Ryan believes in debt caps, program cost caps and controls on entitlement programs. On the debt limit he says there are things Treasury can do to get more time, so he is not aiming at the May 16th deadline, less than one month from today.

“We will  not simply rubber stamp a debt increase without significant controls on spending” says Ryan, the author of  the budget proposal that severely cuts social services, asks that Medicare become a personal insurance voucher and Medicaid be changed to grants to the states, and actually lowers taxes on the very wealthy.

Conservative Democrat Virginia Senator Mark Warner is part of the Gang of Six who has been working in a bipartisan way for six months to find solutions. He says it is dangerous to roll the dice on the debt limit, because you could scare the bond markets and the world economy will go into panic, which would dramatically turn the clock back on any recovery and cause deep recession here in the US and elsewhere.  Ryan’s proposal could “literally light the match” to burn down the country’s economy.

If you fail to raise the debt limit by May 16th you are rolling the dice with the world economy. There are those in the house who say they will not raise the debt limit. “My only hope is that cooler heads will prevail.”

Ryan, Warner says, is saying “no new revenues of any kind” and walling off the budget forcing a political agenda rather than economic realities.

“We are closer to a bipartisan solution than Ryan may admit” because “we cannot afford not to.”

“The facts are that we are spending at an all time  high (in percent) but our revenues are at an all time low (in revenues)…but can we cut back 25% in our investment in education and 20% on our investment in alternative energy and hope to have a future where we are free of an economic straightjacket.

The bipartisan group is putting everything on the table. “We will make everybody mad” but will have “a program that will work and is a way out.”

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II



What are Americans thinking about the budget debate in Washington DC? The answer will not surprise you…anger at both sides. Andy Kohut is the president of the Pew Research Center. His non-profit corporation has been polling on the issues of the federal budget. Most of the poll respondents, regardless of political affiliation, gave poor marks to Congress and the White House on the federal budget negotiations. When asked to list one word that describes how they feel the most commonly used was “Ridiculous” , followed by “Disgusting.” In all 84%, or between 8 and 9 out of ten responses were worlds with a negative connotation. The attitude is “fie on both,” with both sides, says Kohut, with Democrats and Republicans, the Tea Party and Obama blamed for not compromising. The Tea Party is most often blamed by Democrats, independents and some moderate Republicans, with Obama and Democrats to blame by Republicans and other independents.

So according to Pew Trust research Jobs and rising prices are a priority over the deficit in polls. The wars we are fighting barely show up, despite their impact on the budget. Libya, while important morally, finds opposition if it means making sacrifices at home. People say we should raise taxes and cut programs. But 64%, between six and seven out of tem Americans say they are opposed to raising taxes when asked only about taxes. When you test specific programs to be cut the public wants cuts but not in areas that impact their particular demographic, income or life style.

The president’s approval is slipping, but could be related to Libya, but could also reflect disillusionment from his own party by those who expected him to tow the line and resist all cuts. These are Gallop numbers, not Pew, so less reliable, however the president of the Pew Trust says his data, still too early to release due to their methodology, confirm the trend.

Reactions to the Medicare Voucher Concept in Paul Ryan’s Republican House Budget by Pew Trust respondents say that most Americans oppose it, not wanting to see any change in Medicare. It is a Dead on Arrival proposal in a budget which was endorsed by all but four of the Republicans in the US House of Representatives, and could hurt them come election time.

Economist, actor, attorney, Republican and commentator Ben Stein says that the US will never go broke. Our economy may change, as it has in the past, but we have weathered past crisis situations and survived, coming out sooner. If something cannot go on forever it will stop. Republicans will need to agree to raise taxes on the wealthy, we will need to cut programs and Social Security and Medicare will have to be changed. We need to protect and take care of the least of our brothers and sisters and not leave them to fend on their own, but we also need to rethink what the basics are for all Americans and get away from excess and inequality, Trickle down does not work, but neither does voodoo economics.  We need to take it on the chin, bite out tongue and live through it, as we have before.

Former Congressman Tony Hall, now 69, has joined hundreds of religious leaders -- and thousands of supporters -- to protest budget cuts that they say will unfairly affect the poor.  Hall has been fasting since March 28th and says he'll continue a water and juice diet at least through Easter. Hall, who runs the Alliance to End Hunger, fasted for 22 days in 1993 to protest similar spending cuts. For him, how the budget is cut is a moral issue. But House Speaker John Boehner says spending too much and leaving the next generation in debt is also a moral concern.

Here in Nevada teachers say Gov. Brian Sandoval's plan to overhaul Nevada's public schools would put their jobs at the whim of a principal or the mercy of a difficult group of students. In a profession that requires not only a college degree but continuing education and training, they feel that to put their careers in the hands of the whim of a principal would forever change the profession for the worse. Lawmakers yesterday considered AB555, which would eliminate tenure for teachers and promote performance pay.




Built by a Newspaper publisher in 1902, a 21, 0000 square foot mansion hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Elbert Einstein. Presidents and Kings But the it was an 18 million dollar home with too high a cost of maintenance and repair, even for a major real estate developer who could get the work done wholesale. He will build a community of five multi-million dollar homes on the land. The building known as Lands End was, up until this weekend, located on a point of land along the Long Island Golden Coast. It was the symbol of the Roaring 20’s Party House. You will find it described in detail in “Great Gatsby", written by a very young author named F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Hundreds of spectators have bid farewell and good luck to scores of auto-rickshaw riders taking off for the ride of a lifetime from India's southern tip to its northeastern edge. Keeping limbs intact will likely be a very real challenge for the 180 people from 19 countries who on Sunday started the more than 3,000-mile (5,000-kilometer) ride for charity. The two-week journey in a 150CC, four-gear, three-wheeled auto-rickshaw will take the drivers through India's highways, back lanes, mountains and valleys. The run kicked off in Cochin in the southernmost state in Kerala and will end two weeks later in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya in the northeast.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in southern Syria, waving flags and shouting "We Want Freedom!" Witnesses reached by telephone say tens of thousands are marching in Daraa, an agricultural city that's become the epicenter of Syria's protest movement. Some shouted, "The people want to topple the regime," the rallying cry of protests that ousted the longtime leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. The witness accounts can't be independently confirmed because Syria has placed tight restrictions on media outlets and expelled foreign journalists. Today's demonstration comes a day after President Bashar Assad promised to end nearly 50 years of emergency rule in an effort to quell a month-long uprising. More than 200 people have been killed as security forces tried to crush protests over the past four weeks.

An Israeli mob figure who lives in Southern California has pleaded guilty to spearheading an extortion scheme targeting two Israeli-born businessmen in Las Vegas. Moshe Barmuha and four other defendants were charged in a six-count indictment last year with attempting to extort thousands of dollars from the businessmen who ran mall kiosks.

A 2-year-old Las Vegas boy was seriously injured when his family's pit bull bit his face and neck. The Las Vegas Sun reports the boy was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center's trauma center with non-life threatening injuries after the attack Friday afternoon. The boy was listed in critical but stable condition. Police say they're investigating to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

41 years ago today, April 17, 1970 the entire world watched Apollo 13 land safely in the Pacific, after an historic and almost tragic flight. The manned space flight was captured in the motion picture “Apollo 13” and again in Tom Hank’s “From Earth to the Moon.” It was a major accident that robbed the astronauts of their moon landing, and came near to taking their lives. Many men took big gambles and dice were rolled to make the impossible happen, the safe return of three astronauts from outer space. NASA billed the mission as a “successful failure.”

Language is fascinating. Notice how rhetoric from the right includes war terms: battle, war, target practice…

Language as it turns out, may have been around since the advent of early man. Scientist now theorize that from the beginning man set himself (or herself) aside from the animals by making very complex series of sounds with very specific meaning, intonations, subtext and emotional underpinnings. These sounds may not have been much different than the basic sounds that make up our language today. The almost universal nature of intonations and inflections may not be a coincidence.


Habits are hard to break, and new habits hard to form. America's problems with obeisity, along with related medical problems from high blood pressure and diabetes, to heart problems and how much room people have on airline seats (is that medical or does it just seem that way?) could be mediated with something as simple as exercise and eating right. But in a society of fast good, meat and potatoes, breads and pasta and increasing work demands that ask for 70 hours a week put only pay for 40, how can we change our habits? Or are we simply expendable?

A new cold war of sorts is escalating in the Middle East, between the powers in control in Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates and the Axis led by Iran, including Syria and various political groups such as Hamas. The US is providing the nuclear umbrella protecting most of the Middle East from perceived Iranian political and military involvement, with most Middle Eastern powers assuming Iran already has nuclear weapons or is close having them and that the state is unpredictable and unstable. The Arab Spring and changes politically in the region brings an instability to the potential of the US Umbrella working on its own, so Saudi’s and other nations are working on becoming military powers in their own right and some say developing their r own nuclear umbrella. There is a basic religious divide between the two sides in their potential cold war, dating back to a split in the Muslim world after the death of the profit Mohammad. The two basic versions of the religion are entrenched in the two nations at the heart of this regional and potentially international cold war, and at the heart of unrest in Iran and Afghanistan.

Gold, oil, gas and other commodities, including food are all high, yet job creation is low and some Wall Street Analysts are predicting a retrenchment and slowing of the artificial growth we have seen in stock values. 50% of inflation is related to wages, with 9% national unemployment and as high as 17% in some cities in states expected to grow with government layoffs at all levels. However when all aspects are considered, we may be in the early stages of returning to normal and slow economic growth in the US. Meanwhile, rapid growth markets in Asia have slowed down with political pressured from strong and some would say totalitarian governments, the rapid rise in food and oil prices and a turn toward the conservative in international investments, after a period of rapid growth. Oil policies around the world are to be conservative in production, increasing prices based on increasing demand for the product. The cause ranges from political unrest to speculators perhaps overreaching on their expectations of profits. Natural gas is becoming competitive as oil prices rise, with other sources of energy still relatively high priced for the return (including nuclear).

The divide in Washington has at its heart the protection of “entitlements” (a term used if you want to see cuts and major changes), which are in effect the very safety net provided for the least of our citizens and for the average American, and over proposed major cuts in taxed for the wealthiest 3% of Americans and American business. It is becoming a Civil War of sorts fed by the fires of the Tea Party, and over the very basic issue of what government should or should not do.

The root of the Tea Party was a tax revolt, particularly among older Americans who feel that they have paid their part, despite transience to areas that did not benefit from those funds.

How many remember the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that “taxes are the price we pay for a free and democratic society.

Income taxes began with the Civil war and was only on the rich. Work War II expanded it to the middle class and blue collar, but did not tax the poor. Today we tax everyone, but allow massive tax cuts for the extreme wealthy. Originally taxation reached as high as 95% on net for the wealthy, today it is less than ten percent, in a nation with more million and billionaires than at any time in our history. Economist point to the increase in millionaires being in part due to the low taxation of the wealthy, who then can compound their income and assets, the opposite of “trickle” down as espoused by those who support increased tax cuts for the top three percent of Americans.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says Republicans are assuring the administration that they will pass an increase in the government's borrowing limit in time to prevent an unprecedented default on the nation's debt. Geithner tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that Republicans gavethis assurance to President Barack Obama at a White House meeting last Wednesday.  Geithner says Republican leaders told Obama that they recognized that they couldn't play around with the government's credit rating and he's confident Congress will act in time. Geithner has told congressional leaders that the U.S. will reach the current debt limit of $14.3 trillion no later than May 16. He has said he will have a few options he can use that would delay a possible government default until about July 8.


The death toll is at least 35 from the storm that swept the South and South Eastern parts of America, with at least 100 tornado's and winds outside of the tornado’s at hurricane velocities.
Rescuers are working to reach a miner caught in an Idaho cave-in more than a mile underground. They're awaiting the arrival of a remote-control digger that will allow them to tunnel more quickly and safely through unstable earth. Officials and family members say the roof of a tunnel at the
northern Idaho silver mine collapsed Friday as two brothers were working, trapping one of them.

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant has announced a plan to bring the crisis under control within six to nine months. But officials stress that the road map for ending the crisis is only a first step. They say conditions at the plant remain unstable, and it's unclear when the government will let evacuees go back.

Veterans of the Chernobyl cleanup operation are protesting cuts to benefits and pensions. About 2,000 protested today in Ukraine's capital, Kiev. Ukraine's president says it doesn't have the money to meet promises made to the tens of thousands of workers who were sent in to clean up the radioactive site after the nuclear explosion on April 26, 1986.

Wedding Fever is increasing in its magnitude as Britons anticipate a rare Royal Wedding. Commemorative London travel cards bearing the image of Prince William and Kate Middleton are going on sale this week. The 750,000 cards are the first limited edition version of the Oyster Card, which is used for electronic payment across London's bus and subway network. They feature a photo of the prince and Middleton and read: "To commemorate the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton 29 April 2011." The cards cost 10 pounds ($16), of which half is a deposit for the card and the rest is used to pay for travel. The cards can be topped up indefinitely. They will be available from Thursday in London subway stations. Shown is a press invite to the wedding, not the subway card.