Category Archives: Opinion

Assassination Classroom

I want to tell you about Assassination Classroom, an amazing Japanese anime series I discovered, but it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, because I just don’t know that much about anime — it’s not something I’ve ever watched a lot of. In fact, the anime series (as is often the case) is based on the manga series, and I’ve never gotten into manga at all.

But I was so enthralled by this anime series that I have to give it a best effort. If you like anime, or even just animated storytelling, and especially if you like hard science fiction (the good kind), you have got to check this one out.

For one thing, it’s surprisingly deep! And it made me weep.

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Fresh Off the Boat

Last post I mentioned the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, a show I’m currently mini-binging[1] on Hulu. When I wrote that, I was still very much on the fence as to whether I even liked the show. In fact I was puzzled about why I liked it at all, since it’s a fairly standard sitcom in many regards.

Ever since I’ve been paying more attention to my reactions while watching, and I’ve come to realize that it’s not a matter of being undecided — it’s a matter of having developed a strong like/dislike for the show. As I wrote with Halt and Catch Fire, my feelings are mixed, not vague.

And it turns out to really tap into what attracts or repels me to sitcoms.

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So Much Television!

When I first started watching TV there were only the Big Three: CBS, NBC, and ABC. We had just a handful of shows we loved and followed, maybe a few others we watched with family members or friends. Often we just played outside.

There were various local channels, but they offered mostly re-runs, news, or sports — not much original content. It wasn’t until the Second Era, of cable TV, that original content offerings exploded into so many choices. We had to pick what we watched among all that new content.

Now the Third Era, streaming TV, with even more original content to choose among. On the other hand, also the chance to catch up on content we missed along the way!

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FTW: Netflix

My last post ended up with a misleading title (oops). When I started it, I planned to rag on more than just the Fargo TV series — figuring I didn’t have all that much to say about it — but the post become a total spleen vent about that one show (with a bit of shade for Hulu). Ah, well, better out than in.

This post, and at least two I’m planning after, will fall on the other side, my good side. To Yin the Yang of the previous two posts, these will be about shows I’ve really enjoyed (or even loved).

This post is about shows I’ve enjoyed that are produced by Netflix.

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Fargo and Other TV Fails

Last post I recorded my love/hate relationship with AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and despite major problems with computer gibberish throughout the show, still found it interesting, engaging, and ultimately a show I would recommend.

Today’s main entry, FX’s Fargo (based on the Coen brothers movie with the same name), is another critically acclaimed show that I missed when it aired and which I’d been looking forward to finally seeing now that I’ve joined the ranks of the video streamers.

Sadly, I disliked it from the first episode and reached my breaking point in episode eight, which I stopped watching followed by removing the show from my Watch List.

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Halt and Catch Fire

So I finally joined the streaming video generation. I joined Netflix back in November, Hulu in December, and it’s only now that I’m starting to come up for air. It’s true what they say: That shit is addictive!

After several months of my new addiction, I’ve now burned through a number of shows that either I missed when they aired or that are only available on streaming platforms. I never got to watch Burn Notice, for instance. Now I have. All seven seasons!

Another one I missed (and have now seen) was AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and I have very mixed feelings about this one. Kind of a love/hate thing…

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Feelings vs Intellect

xkcd #1901There’s really only one web comic I read anymore: xkcd. Randall Munroe continues to turn out thoughtful gems, and I really appreciate the ad-free nature of the site. I also find his What-If? series delightful; the first episode is one of my favorite interweb jewels!

But it’s his insight to the human condition and ability to nail a point with such brilliant brevity that I most relish. I value some of his comics as highly as I value favorite quotes; both are pithy petards against our myths and illusions.

And sometimes he even hoists my petard a bit!

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High Ground

questionsWhen did we change? When did we decide that torture was an okay idea? When did we begin to so tolerate the very presence of nationalism, racism, and gender politics? When did we decide to so forsake the values that defined us as a nation?

Why do we think popular or successful means — even defines — what is right? Why do we cling to clearly false beliefs rather than accepting demonstrated facts? Why do we confuse what we like with what is good?

Where is our moral high ground, the set of values espoused by the founders of the USA and which, until recently, have largely been at the center of our national identity. Where is one of the most important questions of all: Is it the right thing?

What is wrong with us that an obviously unqualified raging narcissistic reality TV show star has even a chance of being elected President of the country? How can we possibly be this foolish? What makes anyone think he can even begin to deliver?

Who will we elect, someone who — like her or not — is clearly qualified to run the country, or an ignorant human monster surfing a wave of hate, fear, and angry frustration? Perhaps more importantly, who are we as a people?

Who do we want to be?

Which way will we turn? Towards the Dark Side? Or towards the light?


Apple v. FBI

Apple v FBII was watching part of the Congressional hearing investigating the conflict between Apple and the FBI. Both sides have an arguable point of view, which I’ll touch on, but what really struck me was that this issue is a direct consequence of our digital media world. What’s at stake here has never been at stake before.

It’s also an example of a theme I’ve hammered on several times here: It was not ever thus. This is an example of a new thing. Never have we put so much of our lives in a digital vault that depends completely on digital encryption for security.

The outcome of this debate is crucial to our future!

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It Was Ever Thus

The ByrdsI’ve written about this before, the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun — that it was ever thus. The claim is usually made in the face of complaints about how “things are going to hell these days, and how much better it was back then.”

Some cite the ancient Greek[1] who said something about how things never really change (except he was just commenting about kids not respecting their elders). Others cite the famous passage in Ecclesiastes[2] (which also gave us a favorite tune by The Byrds[3]).

So what do I think is new under the sun?

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