Oakhurst in the blind

November 5, 2013 

There I was — twice at the Met, then heading down the hill.

"Gravity" is the only film I've ever seen in The Fresno Bee's "Critics Choice" movie listing scoring "A's" straight across the board. That's five out of five — with the Bee, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The San Francisco Chronicle all weighing in on a unique cinematic wonder.

Relax. If you haven't seen "Gravity" yet, there's no "spoiler alert" necessary here. But it shouldn't hurt to mention that the technical frontiers crossed in this stunning achievement four and a half years in production are simply breathtaking, combined with an incredibly paced digital soundtrack by Steven Price and brilliant performances by George Clooney and, most particularly, Sandra Bullock.

Viewing it at our Met Cinema on two separate occasions opening week, I couldn't help but yield to fierce temptation and travel down 41 for the full IMAX 3-D presentation at the Edwards 22 Stadium complex in Fresno, catching even more unanticipated subtleties with this third experience.

I had never before been exposed to "in the blind" phraseology — since confirmed by NASA as a haunting tag to astronaut communications cast into a vacuum offering only unconfirmed, perhaps non-existent reception — however hopefully transmitted.

Yes — Like writing a newspaper column.

Comparing notes with my Sierra Star colleagues, it's fascinating to learn that one thing — perhaps the only thing — we all share in common is puzzlement at how relatively little feedback we receive from readership no matter how hard we try to stir things up.

Along the same lines and to make my brother and sister writers feel better, it has been clearly established in the world of broadcasting that far fewer than one percent of listeners ever call their favorite Talk Radio host to voice opinions.

There seems to be a generic predisposition in our species for most of us to let others lead, perhaps even necessary as an evolutionary necessity for viable social organization until now.

Hey, you. It's time to wake up, look around and check in. Don't be afraid to think boldly, question everything and trust yourself. Most of all, keep an open mind.

Hopefully providing worthy example, my candidate for heroic move of the week is Greta Van Susteren of FOX News. Generalization for purposes of simplicity is dangerous at best — convenient conveyance taking precedence over challenging complexity.

In summarizing consequences of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, President Obama went on record stating, "If you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance. This law will only make it more secure and more affordable."

This was not a lie and remains as true as the sky is blue.

But retrospectively, he would have been better adding, "I'm not talking about maintaining rip-off "junk insurance" which isn't real insurance at all, guaranteeing corporate profits — not personal benefits — and I'm speaking on behalf of the government and myself, not insurance companies."

So when a small percentage (less than 5%) of our "insured" population holding trash contracts starting receiving cancellation notices in advance of further ACA implementation after the first of the year, predictable yowls and screams of feigned indignation exploded coast to coast.

With Walter Cronkite spinning in his grave like a dreidel on Dexedrine, even time honored CBS News ended up looking extraordinarily stupid when a junior producer passed along a completely unsubstantiated item to Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning" which reported that 56-year-old Dianne Barrette of Florida was going to pay "ten times as much" for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

That's where Greta comes in. Following up on the CBS story, Ms. Van Susteren interviewed Ms. Barrette on the air and discovered that the "10 Times" allegation was totally lacking in substance and, moreover, that the ACA offered considerable, cost-efficient benefit to Barrette once she actually understood the law. Fox executives quickly canceled future interviews with the Florida woman as a consequence of Greta's persistence in tracking down the truth.

The Republican Party was against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid way back in the day and is opposed to The Affordable Care Act in our times, even viciously so in radicalized circles. There is consistency in such contrariness. But it's time to catch up to the rest of mankind.

"The entire cost of medicine for people of all ages — all of it. Doctors, hospitals — from the time you're born to the time you die. All are included in a government program. What we are talking about doing, most of the countries of Europe did years ago. The British did it 30 years ago." – President John F. Kennedy in 1962 — unsuccessfully endorsing universal health care for all Americans.

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