Category Archives: Culture

NPR Throughline – The Forgotten War

I just listened to the recent NPR Throughline podcast called The Forgotten War (S1:E03).

It’s an excellent summary of North Korea’s geopolitical history and how it relates to today’s news. I don’t think there’s anything that I would call new (if you’re interested in the topic), but it’s an excellent introduction that presents a reasonably serious overview of the topic without being heavy handed or simply propaganda.

I’m going to listen to the other podcasts this week, but so far I’m impressed at their choices of topics and this first episode (for me, third episode overall).

The Second Computer I Ever Used

In a continuation of the theme, The 8-Bit Guy’s “Commodore History Part 3 – The Commodore 64” is great technical breakdown of the second computer I ever used. It’s really interesting to understand the technical reasons for the various features and limitations of a computer that you used as a child. The 8-Bit Guy’s channel in general is quite good, it’s particularly interesting if you have a technical background but aren’t really familiar with the specs and conventions of late 1970s to mid-1980s home computing.

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The First Computer I Ever Used

My elementary school had a number of Apple II, Apple II+, and Apple IIe computers in the early 1980s. This was my first exposure to computers in general and I’ve only started to appreciate how fortunate I was to have a few teachers who were quite interested in computers even though there wasn’t really any computer class offered until I was in high school.

In my search for interesting info on the Apple II, I came across this really interesting video from the 8-Bit Guy walking through a restoration of an Apple II+.

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The History of English Podcast

I’ve always been fascinated by languages in general and as a semi-competent English and an even less competent French speaker, I’ve always found the evolution of our mother tongue particularly interesting.

After reading Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf translation again over the Christmas holiday this year, I came across The History of English Podcast by Kevin Stroud.  It’s a wonderful examination not only of the history and linguistics involved, but also the cultural and political context.

I recommend it to anybody.

FDT

Aside from their political analysis, I really enjoy FiveThirtyEight’s other coverage.  Their roots are in statistical analysis of sports and they tend to cover a lot of obscure topics from a statistical perspective.  This article by Allison McCann is a great example of a side project, looking at the relationship between hip-hop and politics from a data perspective.

She includes some cool interactive graphics as well as a searchable database for political references in rap and hip-hop lyrics.  Plus the article showcases a pretty cool video which is easily my favourite political song of the 2016 campaign thus far.

Louis’ Scientology Movie

I just finished watching My Scientology Movie by Louis Theroux and BBC Films.  Unfortunately I was unable to get tickets when it was here at Hot Docs this year so I was really looking forward to seeing it.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Louis, I think he has a fascinating technique and he has made a number of films which I have found incredibly compelling.  But I also find some of his work a bit contrived and there are occasions where I’ve felt that he’s soft peddled a situation.  But I’m probably being unfair…

For whatever mistakes I may have felt he’s made in the past, he’s taken a very unconventional approach, and in doing so he manages to bait the “Church” into helping him make an even more damning film then he would ever have created if they had simply co-operated. Continue reading

Where The Author Pleads With His American Cousins Not to Vote for the Demagogue

This morning I was unfortunate enough to come across the latest abomination Donald Trump has laid on us.

I’ve been thinking about what to say all day and I’m still not certain, but I think it’s important that everybody speaks out when people in positions of leadership act in intolerable ways.

I don’t agree with almost anything that Trump stands for other than perhaps his seemingly enlightened views on homosexuality, but it is my belief that there is a qualitative difference from many of his absurd views about the economy or the international order and publically documented sexually aggressive and misogynistic behaviour.

I even understand on some level his instinct to lash out and attack his victims, I don’t always hold some of his mealy mouthed answers against him either, there is some truth to the fact that when he talks he is not as polished as a professional communicator.  You can’t do a retake on live television or on a debate stage.  I can disagree strongly, but understand.

As a former teenage boy I even understand the concept “locker room banter”, but he crosses a line that can never be rationalized when he jokes about forcing himself sexually on women.

Donald John Trump must not be elected.

This might have been tolerable in 1966, I don’t know.  I wasn’t alive then and I’m fairly happy that I wasn’t if this was normal, but it doesn’t matter because this is 2016.  I’m glad to be part of a generation of men to whom this sort of behaviour is abhorrent.  It’s not acceptable for this sort of behavior to be normative.

If you don’t agree that he is disqualified from the leadership of the Land of Liberty after hearing this audio then you need to listen to it with your daughter or mother or sister or best friend.