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Why I Love PBS Reason #655: Frontline Ebola


 Today it was announced that the CDC has requested copies of Frontline: Ebola to combat misinformation in West Africa.

 Americans need to watch it too.

I recently posted on my Facebook page “Okay, people. Seriously. Of the lists of diseases you should be scared of, Ebola isn’t even on it. And the top 5 that terrify me I have a greater chance of getting from liberal upper middle class white American people (or, “anti-vaccers”) than someone coming from another country.

So can we freak out about measles or whooping cough than Ebola?


You will not believe the comments I got.  I got one from a woman who is a college professor who said that it wasn’t known how it spread!!


The World Health Organization has as the #1 way to prevent Ebola “Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Ebola or a deceased patient by wearing gloves, goggles, and masks”

Simple, right?

Then why is there all this fear?

I have been asked more times than I want to count about my refugee clients bringing Ebola to the USA.

It is actually the most common question right now. Usually the most common question is if they are here legally.  My answer to that is usually “I am not sure.  Let me ask Homeland Security, since they are the ones who gave them their travel documents.”

(Americans are woefully uninformed, or misinformed, about a lot of things.  Refugees/asylees/immigrants are one of the biggest topics I think.)

First: We don’t get many refugees from West Africa.

Second: Refugees get a health screening before they come to the US.  Then they get a health screening (and vaccinations!) once they come to the US.  I have less fear of getting a disease from my refugees than I do from that upper middle class liberal white professor I mentioned earlier. She is an anti-vaccer and think that if she quarantines her kid once she starts showing symptoms of measles, then she has protected the community.  She couldn’t care less about all the kids too young to be vaccinated that she has infected in the two weeks that she was contagious and non-symptomatic.  After all, her kid’s immune system is strong enough to fight off measles, but not strong enough to deal with a vaccine!

Sorry. That is a whole other topic.  My point is, Ebola is really hard to get. But other, much more common things, are really easy to get.

Third: We get clients from Congo and Uganda all the time, and no one has ever asked if they were bringing Ebola.


Ebola is scary.  In Africa.

Ebola is not going to spread in America.  Why? Because this is an Africa MSF hospital:

images They have too little money, too few resources and too few people who care and way too many patients.

This is an Ebola hospital in America:


They have a heck of a lot of money, one patient at a time and everyone cares.

Think of what would happen if we cared as much about other diseases, ones that we were actually in danger of?


Ebola is easy to not catch.  But what about heart disease?


Ebola is hard to spread.  But what about measles?

So rather than panic, why don’t we all get educated?  Watch the Frontline episode.  

Put your energy into something productive.  

Donate to Doctors Without Borders/MSF who are at the frontline of this epidemic, and usually all other epidemics as well.

Donate to the Red Cross who are there after the epidemics when the food crisis hits.

Donate to the Peace Corps Ebola Fund The idea is simple — put money directly in the hands of the people who need it most to cover the gaps of the international Ebola relief effort.

Donate to PBS so you can stay informed, rather than let rumor and misinformation win.  Those two are bigger killers than Ebola ever will be.



Member Spotlight: KMBH

Wanna buy some PBS?  

No, seriously.  We always hear about how public broadcasting is owned by its members, especially during pledge drive season.  But KMBH, serving the south Texas Rio Grande Valley, was literally up for sale earlier this year.  By whom?  

This guy.

Okay, not really.  Actually, the station was owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, at least until they sold it to MB Revolution LLC a few months ago for $8.5 million.  

It’s unclear at this point whether the new owners will retain KMBH as a PBS affiliate or convert it to a commercial outlet.  If they choose the more profitable option, PBS will go dark for the communities of McAllen, Brownsville, and Harlingen, TX as well as viewers across the border in Matamoros.  No Big Bird.  No Ken Burns.  No Nerd Walks or Story Hours or Downton Abbey Tea Parties.  

Ordinarily, I like to use Member Spotlight posts to bring attention and support to a station in the way of pledges and membership.  But KMBH needs a far more basic type of your support.  If you strongly believe that quality public media should be available for everyone, contact the Board of Directors and let them know.  Now more than ever, the Rio Grande Valley needs to Be More.



Holly Post: Day of the Girl

Pretty Boss Shows was filled with squee yesterday when the Nobel Peace Prize was announced.  Seventeen year old Malala Yousafzai shares the prize with Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.  When I was seventeen, mostly I just watched cartoons.  (Hell, mostly I just watch cartoons NOW.)  

Malala and Kailash both work toward a goal of preserving childhood for education instead of religious or political oppression or labor.  Appropriately enough, today is United Nations Day of the Girl. It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.

Day of the Girl

Ooh!  Girls’ Day!  Mani-pedis and chick flicks for everyone!  Or…not. Cerridwen is spending the day manning a Planned Parenthood booth at Tucson Meet Yourself.  Earlier this week we attended a TedX mixer and met with Girl Scouts representatives about girls, STEM, and refugees.  And tomorrow Pretty Boss Shows will have a presence at Tucson AIDSwalk.  

Sesame Workshop has their furry fingers in this movement too.  In Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Egypt, they feature strong female characters who value education and equality.  And here in America, they remind girls that there is more to life than Nicholas Sparks novels and pumpkin spice   lattes.  

Spend some time with your favorite girl today and remind her that her potential is unlimited.  Then do it tomorrow too.  


Why I Love PBS Reason #56: The Act Of Killing


 Normally, I don’t watch stuff like this.

I work with refugees. It is completely possible that I have clients whose family members are being depicted in this film.

I don’t read the news about ISIS, about Al-Shabab, about… a lot of things.  I don’t need to, I am remarkably well informed without the news.  I wish I wasn’t.


Yeah, I am totally interspersing this post with pictures of cute things. You’re welcome.

So, normally, I would not watch The Act Of Killing, just on general principles.  And I really don’t wanna.  Mostly the second.

But I keep hearing about this movie, on NPR, in the community, so it aired tonight on PBS and well…


 Here’s the thing.  The reason I broke my own rules.

Too many people think stuff like this happens in secret.  Too many people are shocked that ISIS is doing what they are doing on YouTube and in public.  But most of these regimes, that is what they do.  It isn’t in secret.  Everyone knows who did what.  And a lot of the perpetrators are not monsters. They are normal people doing what they think needs to be done.  Or normal people doing to them before they get done to.

 Puppy break!


We like to pretend that these are monsters.  That these are evil men, without a soul, without humanity.  But they aren’t.

They are people, normal people, who did horrible things.  And far too often, such as the people in this film, they are never brought to justice.  There is a reason that they depict themselves as heroes.  Because normal people do not do evil things.  Normal people defend their homes, their families, against evil people.  

We live in a world that is so polarized.  It is us or them.  Most of the time, that is political.  My views are right and yours are wrong.  But there are people who want to take that a step further.  My views are right and I will force you to follow them or else.  

In too many places, too many times, that is taken even further.  My views are right and I will force you to follow them or you will die.  Either way, you won’t be able to follow yours anymore.

I hate to use the old slippery slope argument, but it is true.  It isn’t that far a leap from “do what I say” to “or else I will burn your house down.”

Then when the ashes cool, you remember yourself as the hero in the story


 So, no, I don’t normally watch stuff like this.  

But sometimes, we need to be reminded of what can happen when we forget to be better than we are.



When Inspiration Strikes

For the last…while… I have had the worst case of writer’s block.  Nothing was inspiring me, nothing was interesting me.  Every time I would try to write a post, it just wouldn’t work.

I started and stopped several shows.  Heck, I couldn’t even watch The Roosevelts (not only are FDR and Teddy #2 and #3 on my favorite presidents list, but I have the biggest fangirl crush on Ken Burns)!

I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  

Then, today, I rode my bike to work.  I haven’t ridden my bike in…well, as long as I haven’t been able to blog.

Now, the floodgates are open.  I would like to pretend this will make me a better writer, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.  Luckily, my love of PBS counteracts my inability to use the English language properly. (As does Holly, when she edits these posts.)

 So, I apologize for the hiatus, but sometimes we just need our bike



Holly Post: Women Who Kill

Cerr and I had tickets to the premier of Season 2 of Makers a couple weeks ago, but due to work commitments, neither of us could make it.  It honestly didn’t hold much appeal for me.  It was about women in space.  Eh… Yes, the femmy STEMmy struggle is real, but every child can name Sally Ride and Judy Resnick, and the real nerds can even name Valentina Tereshkova.  We have successfully achieved a generation that doesn’t understand why women astronauts are a big deal.  Yay us!

Tonight’s episode, however, has me kinda worked up.  It hits a lot closer to home than near orbit.  Tonight’s episode was about women in comedy.  

When I was studying standup as a child (yeah, I studied it.  Consumed it, tore it apart, and stared at it under a microscope before I put the pieces back together) I don’t remember separating the artists or the reactions they got by gender.  But I was keenly aware that the gender gap existed.  When Joan Rivers left the Tonight Show to be the flagship brand on the fledgling Fox network, I knew it was a mistake.  I was only 14, but I knew that people weren’t ready to watch a woman every night.

The following year I would decide that it was time to step out of the lab and into the spotlight.  I started doing my own act in local talent shows and for whoever would listen.  And I hated it.  I continued trying to find my voice and my space on the stage for four years, and I was miserable.  It’s not that I didn’t love the laughs (when I got them.) I just hated being on the stage.  I didn’t know until literally eleven weeks ago that anybody else felt this way.

I turned 21 right around the time the bottom dropped out of the comedy industry.  Far more interested in making a living than fighting a losing battle, I put my comedy dreams away and turned to writing as a release from the crushing boredom of call center work.  It was incredibly liberating to realize that I could still make people laugh without having to stand in front of a brick wall and talk over the waitress.

Meanwhile, funny women continued to soldier on.  Kathy Griffin was pretty and talked like a sailor.  Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo (the person most people compared me to) managed to get laughs while being edgy.  And Sarah Silverman reinvented the whole thing.  I guess I find it comforting to see women being funny without being reduced to broadly drawn drag queen cartoons.  

Occasionally, someone offhandedly mentions that I should get back on stage.  Since I’m not currently working as a corporate trainer, I no longer have a captive audience, but I’m also no longer restricted to a corporate script.  Maybe I’ll hit an open mic night and see if I still hate it.  I’m not 15 anymore and I don’t have to be a novelty.  I don’t have to be Ugly Chick (Phyllis Diller), Obnoxious Hausfrau (Roseanne Barr), or Woman Who Inexplicably Has Rather a Lot of Indiscriminate Sex (Chelsea Handler.)  It’s 2014, and regardless of my plumbing, I can just be funny.  And like Amy Poehler, I don’t fucking care if you like it.



Member Spotlight Update: WGVU Nerd Walk

Check out WGVU’s Nerd Walk!

Hey Mr. Walenta…how can Pretty Boss Shows get one of those snazzy WGVU Nerd shirts?  #IamWGVU
 And don’t forget to register for KAET’s Nerd Walk on November 1st! 

Member Spotlight: WGVU

This is the first in a series of regular Member Station Spotlights, in which we shine a light on a PBS station somewhere out there in America, bringing quality public media to Viewers Like You.

And who gets to be the inaugural affiliate? Not Tucson’s own KUAT.  Not even official Friends of Pretty Boss Shows KAET in Phoenix.  Instead we decided to bring some focus to WGVU.


WGVU is a service of Grand Valley State University, and serves West and Southwestern Michigan with PBS and NPR programming, as well as community outreach services with WGVU Engage.  WVGU has even produced award winning documentaries like The Deadly Fuze: The Story of World War II’s Best Kept Secret, Defying Hitler, and Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah.     image

On September 24, WGVU will be staging its own first annual Nerd Walk, borrowing an awesome idea from KAET.  I’d love to see Member Stations all over hosting Nerd Walks, to let nerds of all stripes show their passion for public media.  And also so I can collect some awesome T-shirts.  


If you’re in Western Michigan, register and show up for the WGVU Nerd Walk.  You can also support WGVU with a pledge.  Because that would be Pretty Boss. 


Why I love PBS Reason # 101.4: Idea Channel

I am on vacation for the next week YAY!! and am home sick with a fever BOO!! that was kindly brought to be from India wait, what?


So I have been binging on Idea Channel, the YouTube channel from PBS Digital Studios.


Each video is around 15 minutes long, which is about all I can handle right now.




Also, in case anyone is wondering,



google images could not help me with that visual. If you find one, BY LAW you must share it with me

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