Category Archives: Opinion

Texting Subtext

Recent politics makes us, perhaps, overly aware of just how differently from us people can see the world. Recent politics also makes us very aware of how fraught it can be interacting with people who see the world differently. (Although it isn’t the differences that divide us so much as our tribalism.)

Setting politics aside for a moment, I recently stumbled over a difference that I found both bemusing and enlightening. It explains something that’s puzzled me (and caused a degree of head-shaking) for quite a while. What’s cool is how it switches my worldview, because now I understand it’s not a mistake or laziness, but a valid choice.

I’m talking about periods and lower case in text messages!

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Breaking Wrong

For years friends have been urging me towards the TV show Breaking Bad. They tell me about how the writing is so good, and the drama so engaging. The problem I have is that it stars, not just a meth dealer, but a meth maker. For me that’s a deal breaker that no writing is good enough to overcome. Nothing is worth inviting a meth maker into my life on a regular basis.

I see a parallel in how people accept Trump even when they do see him for the idiot and creep that he is. In this case, it’s certainly not good writing (or good governing) they seek, it’s getting their way that makes them support an ignorant, incompetent, greedy, narcissistic racist.

I gotta ask: Have we gotten too willing to embrace human failure?

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Got Time?

For the last week or so, on a physics blog I follow, I’ve been part of a debate about the nature of time. It’s been interesting and fun, but the conversation has reached that point where folks are mainly maintaining their positions, and it seems that the matter has stalled.

Some of the on-going assertions bemused me so much, that I was about to tender one more rebuttal comment… When I remembered what a wiser person, “back in the day” (before the web), said about online debates: State your view. Support it further if you need to address points raised. But once you’ve covered it well enough, just stop. After that, you’re just wasting your time; it’s rare that anyone changes their mind on the internet. Including yours.

Fair enough. I can natter on about it to myself on my own blog, though…

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Bitter Irony

One of my very early posts here (God is an Iron) was about irony. It featured a pretty decent definition of the word by the dear departed, and much missed, George Carlin: “Irony is ‘a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.’”

The POTUS Putin America First…

It’s a good definition to keep in mind when considering how, for so long, a key gun rights Second Amendment argument is the vital importance of being able to stand up to a corrupt, tyrannical government…

Yet most of those folks seem to be supporting the current regime…

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Protest Signs #1

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Barr and Bee

Roseanne Barr is still generating the occasional headline with her antics in reaction to the cancellation of her ABC show, so I thought that, rather than just delete this post (which has been sitting in my Drafts folder), I’d set it free to roam the web. “Better out than in,” I believe the saying goes (and, yes, I’m well aware of what that then compares this post to; I stand by that comparison).

One thing I found interesting about it all was the contrast between Barr’s transgression and one made by Samantha Bee on her TBS show. There were some similarities in that both involved personal insults made by popular entertainment figures from their chosen platforms. There are also differences in content, as well as in how Barr and Bee handled themselves after.

Currently we’re in a very reactive, very polarized environment, and the Barr and Bee fracas put it all on mini-display.

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Free Will: Compatibilism

Lately I’ve been reading about compatibilism with regard to free will. While I’ve considered free will before, especially in the context of determinism, I’ve never explored compatibilism, and I decided it was time I got around to checking it out.

What triggered my renewed interest was, firstly, the movie Arrival (and the short story on which it’s based), and secondly, the HBO series, Westworld. Both have thoughtful science fiction with themes concerning free will (or its lack).

When one of my favorite physics bloggers, Sabine Hossenfelder, wrote a post about free will, it inspired me to write one, too. Monkey see, monkey do!

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I Don’t Like Dinosaurs

I should probably start by hastening to add: I don’t dislike dinosaurs, either! It’s an ambiguity of English that when one says, “I don’t like X,” it can mean one has negative feelings about the ‘X’ in question, or it can mean just that one has no positive feelings for it — that one is neutral (or perhaps not interested enough to have an opinion).

It’s an easy jump from “don’t like” to “dislike,” so the phrase, “I don’t like X,” is usually taken that way. But I have wiring in my brain that makes me see it more literally — as failing to have a liking for ‘X’ — so I often have to clarify what I mean.

And what I mean is that I have zero interest in dinosaurs.

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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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