“40,000: Number of cows tested a year for mad cow disease out of 34 million cows slaughtered a year in the U.S.
In Japan: All cows over 20 months old are tested.
In Europe: All cows over 30 months old are tested.”—San Jose Mercury News, via Chris
“I think both campaigns are silly to go after the youth vote…because they don’t vote. But certainly now, kids don’t have any sort of attention span. They’re like strippers, if it’s not happening in the last five minutes…I mean…Look at the KONY thing, they were all about killing KONY. And then “The Hunger Games” came out, and they’re like fuck it, I’m at the mall.”—Bill Maher
Starting a blogging project that I’ve wanted to do for some time: ranking and reviewing my top ten television shows. I couldn’t narrow it all the way down to ten without doing an injustice to a few shows, so I’ve also included three “Honorable Mentions.”
Here are a hand full of well received shows I simply haven’t seen, so they won’t appear on my list: The Office, Battlestar Galactica, Justified, 24, The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation, The West Wing.
And here we go.
Honorable Mentions:These rank among my favorite shows, but for various reasons, were left out of the top ten.
Game of Thrones, HBO
Game of Thrones could very well jump to the top five of my list over time, but being so young (only one full season), it couldn’t make the real list. The first season though, was nearly flawless. Impeccably casted and well acted, this fantasy epic has enormous potential and seemingly endless material being based on George R.R. Martin’s thousand plus page novels.
Community doesn’t have a laugh track, and for good reason. The show is far too fast, witty, and smart to need to tell viewers when to laugh. Viewers are treated to an ensemble cast of misfits who hilariously act out a constant stream of pop culture references that not everyone will understand. What I like most about this comedy is that even those addicted to pop culture will miss some of the jokes in the script, but the writers simply don’t care. Ratings be damned, this show will do as it pleases.
30 Rock, NBC
Jack Donaghy alone was enough to bring 30 Rock to a level of greatness, but subordinate Liz Lemon is excellent as well. Alec Bladwin’s representation of Donaghy: a, right wing, Reagan loving, Obama bashing, alpha male is tremendous. 30 Rock has displayed a strong ensemble cast over six seasons great seasons of television.
Coming up at #10, a series that evolved from the 90s into the 00s, following a strong female lead who deals with life in high school and college, all while frequently saving the world from being sucked into various hell dimension scenarios.
We've been reading different takes on digital social networks and how/if they impact solitude, loneliness, and offline socializing. Here is a mash-up of the conversations we've been following.
Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.
New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.
We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.
Articles about American alienation may well feel true to those who long for simpler, happier times, but they’re built on fables and fantasies. In fact, there’s zero evidence that we’re more detached or lonely than ever.
The New Yorker:
M.I.T. psychologist Sherry Turkle, takes issue with the basic promises of digital connection. She thinks that togetherness, far from being strengthened by technology, has been crowded out by “the half-light of virtual community.”
But it is clear that social interaction matters. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years.
The New Yorker:
Klinenberg’s research suggests that our usual perceptions about life alone get things backward. Far from being a mark of social abandonment, the solo life tends to be a path for moving ahead, for taking control of one’s circumstances. And, rather than consigning individuals to suffer in their solitude, aloneness may come at a cost to the community. The single life is inherently self-interested: it calls for vigilance on matters of self-preservation both large (financial autonomy) and small (dish detergent), and, in many cases, it frees the solitary from the sorts of daily interaction that help craft a sense of shared responsibility.
The Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community Survey — a nationally representative survey of 2,512 American adults conducted in 2008 that was the first to examine how the Internet and cellphones affect our core social networks — shows that Web use can lead to more social life, rather than to less. “Social Isolation and New Technology,” written by the Rutgers University communications scholar Keith Hampton, reveals that heavy users are more likely than others to have large and diverse social networks; more likely to visit parks, cafes and restaurants; and more likely to meet diverse people with different perspectives and beliefs.
The New Yorker:
Given our digital habits, the question isn’t whether we should use technology to ease our loneliness. It’s how.
Ah, key question. So, where do we stand? I'll quote Michael.
What do I think about social media? For my personal use it’s a bit of a time suck and I have to remind myself to step away from it, head outdoors and wrap my mind around something more substantive than the flurry of information I find myself in. For professional use it’s integral to the FJP’s ability to build audiences and engage with them. I can’t think of how we would be able to accomplish what we do without it. Societally, I’m a big believer in tools and platforms that allow people to connect, organize and share information. Social media increases the speed with which people can do so more than any other tool in history. This is great. My fear with it though is that people will increasingly build information silos around themselves and only hear and expose themselves to information that they want to hear, and from a partisan perspective from which they’d like to hear it. (http://bit.ly/HsAnMN)
So yes, the power is in our hands, social media users. How do you choose to use your social networks? I think the key point is to continually check ourselves and reflect on just that.
Sorry for the lack of links. This post format won't allow it. Here are links to the articles. (Note that both the NY Times piece and Slate piece are by Eric Klinenberg.)
Caught the opening scenes of this film while flipping through channels. A few things I noticed:
Charlie lives with all four of his grandparents, all of whom share a bed.
Charlie’s Grandpa Joe was eating “cabbage water” for dinner.
With Charlie’s first payday, he buys a loaf a bread, which Charlie’s mom describes as a “banquet.”
After giving his mom some of the leftover money, Charlie offers to buy his Grandpa Joe’s tobacco. Grandpa Joe initially refuses, saying he’ll give up smoking since money is clearly tight, and Charlie is able to provide family sustenance with his money. Charlie insists that he pays for his grandfather’s tobacco, and his grandfather eventually obliges. WTF?
On the announcement that three of the five tickets have been found, Charlie expresses his doubts of finding a ticket to his mother. She consoles him by telling him how there’s “100 billion people in this world…”
100 billion people is a lot of people.
Veruca Salt (“I Want It Now”) really gives Joffrey Baratheon of Game of Thrones a run for his money as the most annoying child character of all time.
This post contains spoilers and will only make sense to those who have seen the first season in its entirety.
As I finished the tenth and final episode of Game of Thrones Season One for the second time, I’ve concluded yet again that it is one of the finest single seasons of television that I’ve ever seen.
Having read the first book, I can attest to that the show’s accuracy and attention to detail are right on par with George R. R. Martin’s writing in A Song of Fire and Ice, save maybe a handful of small details. Often in the transition from novel to the screen, the details are dropped, and the significance of events suffers. Martin’s 800+ page novel allows him to give context to every character’s decision making and their internalized thoughts. The show must ask the actors to convey those internalized thoughts with a facial expression. As a young Rob Stark calls the banners of the north to fight for him and rescue his father Ned, the pre-battle scenes with Rob and his mother Catelyn convey so much emotion while saying so little. With Ned’s absence, Rob has become the Lord of Winterfell and must deal with his newfound role as battle commander. His mother must balance her role as a mother with the understanding that Rob must be strong and not undermine his role as a leader. Her role is a stark (no pun intended) contrast to Cersei Lannister, and her relationship with her son, Joffrey.
Cersei knows that Joffery is too young, and too much of a brat to be an effective ruler. I asked a couple friends a question: “If you are able to kill off one child in a television series, would it be Carl from The Walking Dead, or Joffery from Game of Thrones? As much as I would like to see Joffery die, he’s too well casted and too essential to the storyline of the series. Cersei and Jamie Lannister’s incestual child is every parent’s nightmare. Entitled, immature, and blood thirsty Joffrey’s first acts as king has defined his reign so far. One can only guess how long this might last before the kingdom turns on him.
There is no easy segue into the storylines of the Targaryens, Dothraki, or those who have sworn themselves, to The Wall. That is a testament to how well the story is able to make you feel like all of the storylines are already integrated. At no point during the first season does Daenerys Targaryen, or Khal Drogo share screen time with the Starks or Lannisters, yet every character’s actions in one story affect the realities of the characters in another. One of the character relationships that I missed the first time around was how intertwined the characters at The Wall are with the rest of the world. Ser Jorah Mormont, the guy who’s always with Daenerys Targaryen, was exiled and labeled as a traitor, but I’m still not sure why. His father is Lord Mormont of The Wall. Jorah was supposed to be the recipient of the Mormont sword, but “brought disgrace” to the family, so Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s bastard son ended up with it instead. Stark would later desert the wall to attempt to join his brother Rob, who is going to war against Joffrey. This after speaking with Maester Aemon (the blind man at The Wall), reveals that he is in fact, a Targaryen, and refused to intervene when Robert Baratheon was revolting against the Mad King Aerys Targaryen so that he wouldn’t desert his brothers at The Wall. Still following?
“When you play the game of thrones, you either win, or you die.” – Cersei Lannister
A lot of people were confused, and even upset at Ned Stark’s death at the end of season one. It was clear though, that Cersei warned him with her words. Ned Stark is an honorable man – that’s why Robert Baratheon made him Hand to the King. In this story, honor doesn’t get you anywhere. Why did Ned Stark die? It’s simple. He didn’t play the game. Clearly this sets the tone of the series and the understanding that no character is safe, not even the first person who appears in the title credits.
Endlessly complex, impeccably casted, and beautifully acted, Game of Thrones Season One is as close to flawless television as you will watch. Bring on Season Two.