Category Archives: Opinion

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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Frog in Hot Water

boiled frogDo you know the story about the frog in hot water? A frog in a pot of cold water sits happy and content while the water is slowly brought to a boil. This happens so slowly that the frog doesn’t notice… until it’s too late and frog legs are on the appetizer menu.

As with most such tales it may not bear close scrutiny, but as a metaphor for the human condition it fits a certain behavior rather well. We can sometimes remain blissfully unaware of small — but dangerous — changes around us… until it’s too late.

I’m reminded of that frog as I watch this election cycle.

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Imagine

remember

When we work together.

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Unto The Breach

Iowa Caucus

Here we go again…

Here we go again! Political mechanics (rather than celestial mechanics, quantum mechanics, or auto mechanics) brings the Silly Season of a presidential election around once more. Tonight, in Iowa, the results of the first of the Primaries will give us the first clues whether He Who Must Not Be Named gets traction.

The social mechanics, along with technology, seems to make this election cycle unlike any seen in American politics. Despite a common assertion, the world (society, really) does evolve and change!

So no one knows what will happen tonight!

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Guns Я Us

President ObamaI have a great deal of respect for President Obama’s intelligence, character, and commitment, yet I’m not thrilled by his leadership or public speaking abilities (and I consider the latter an important part of the former). That said, he thoroughly impressed me at last night’s Guns in America town hall event on CNN!

Now already, in Philadelphia, we have news-worthy gun fire. In this case, despite numerous rounds fired, everyone (that is to say, both guys) lived. (Which, ironically, makes it kind of like TV.) To raise the public fervor ante, the shooter did it in the name of the Islamic State.

What was that curse about interesting times?

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Dark Days

blackSo now we have 12/2 to go along with 9/11. And while the death and injury this time isn’t of the magnitude it was 14 years ago, the hysteria seems to be greater. Only five days after the tragedy, the leading Republican candidate engages in a form of hate speech not seen in mainstream American politics since Joe McCarthy.

To say that I’m appalled doesn’t begin to describe it. That people cheer on and support this blustering carnival barker speaks directly to the decline of real American values and principles. Trump is a childish clown seeing how much he can get away with.

It’s the people who follow him that scare the crap out of me. The ignorance and lack of critical thought is — as I have long said — very dangerous.

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