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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 12/28/20

Good morning! MORE MOVIES, FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES It’s been a while since a focus on movies and TV. But as we all sit on our couches looking for more entertainment to fill our evenings, there is a decided focus on foreign films, documentaries and nostalgia. Here are some recommendations from a variety of experts:

  • Martine Singer suggests the French police series, Spiral, which is “like The Wire in its realism and grit; the Paris where it takes place is not the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysee, but the 19th arrondisement and the banlieues and the cities (or housing projects), where the marginalized Arabs and Africans live. It is terrific. Also, a great primer on how the French law, police and criminal justice systems work—so unlike ours. And features an amazing woman protagonist.

  • Tehran is an Israeli film, in which the bulk of the action happens in Tehran. Intricate, exotic and suspenseful, this is a great bit of escapism in a country opaque to us but very real and vibrant.

  • On the documentary front, there have been a number of retrospectives on classic musical groups. Last week we watched one recommended by many friends, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, on HBO. It is a fascinating story of a musical family, a retrospective on an era, and the story of a group that remade itself repeatedly (with, arguably, three different incarnations), and produced a vast library of hits. The story is bittersweet, with several of the brothers Gibb suffering premature death. Most interestingly, Barry Gibb says their greatest thrill was not their performing, but their music writing. It’s amazing the number of tunes the brothers wrote for other performers. Mike Sfregola recommends another documentary, set in the same era, called Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President, which he describes as a great stroll down memory lane.

  • Mike also recommends Collective, a Romanian documentary about a 2015 nightclub fire and its aftermath. This also is on Obama’s list of best TV from 2020. Obama keeps good company.

  • Jim Schreier suggests In Search of Chopin, on Prime Video. I’m part way through; it’s a lovely documentary, with a Ken Burns feel and great commentary on the music throughout. To think that this genius died of tuberculosis at only age 39, having produced so much great work…


From Adam Torson:

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, ‘I was wrong.’"

-- Sydney J. Harris, Pieces of Eight (1982)


From Ron Bahar’s Facebook post, accompanying a picture of him being vaccinated. It is worth quoting in its entirety, as it’s beautiful on many levels:

“Kiss me, I’ve been vaccinated! Well, maybe kiss me in 5 weeks. Today I was fortunate enough to receive the first of two injections of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The mood at the hospital was actually festive; I had simultaneous feelings of joy, relief, and guilt, and I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t shed a tear or two on the drive home. 2020 has sucked in so many ways; there is the human suffering and loss of life, and the simpler longing for family and friends, in-person concerts and sporting events, and traveling…but then there is science. I believe in science. I believe that Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and fellow Nebraskan Warren Buffett are national treasures, primarily because they decided to give away the bulk of their fortunes to make the world a better place through science, including vaccine development and surveillance. I believe that ER physicians like my cousin and ER nurses like my friend are incredibly brave, and that we will never be able to repay them for their courage. I believe in Dolly Parton (yes, Dolly Parton) for being awesome and donating $1 million toward the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and I don’t believe in pseudoscience. I love sports, but athletes aren’t my heroes. My real heroes are nerds, like Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin, who created the Pfizer vaccine that will literally save millions of lives. So…um…thanks guys.”


We lack in this country serious education at the secondary school level regarding the distinction between assertions of opinion and statements of objectively provable facts. We also lack education on critical thinking skills. How else can one defend these absurd statements running wild on the Internet these days:

  • The election must have been a fraud because Biden won fewer counties than did Obama or Clinton. Huh? That’s not the point. The point is that he won more votes in those fewer counties (generally those counties with large urban areas) and lost in those that were sparsely populated.

  • The election must have been a fraud because “more people voted than were on the voter rolls.” The argument goes like this: 75 million people voted for Trump. There were only 140 million eligible voters. So Biden couldn’t have had 80 million votes. It’s nuts. There’s no basis for the eligible voter number AND in order to reach their conclusion, ALL Trump votes are stipulated to be valid and ALL “disputed” or “fraudulent” votes had to come from the Biden column. Seriously, nutty.

Have a great day, Glenn

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