Category Archives: Various and Sundry

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Creativity and Flipping Perspectives

What better way to kick off the work week with a theory of creativity including why it doesn’t occur at work as much?

Do You Hear What Netflix Hears?

The podcast hills may soon be alive with the sound of Netflix. That’s what I’m gleaning from this Bloomberg article about the new Netflix executive in charge of podcasts.

N’Jeri Eaton (photo via Netflix)

N’Jeri Eaton comes to Netflix by way of Apple and NPR. An award-winning storyteller, she has roots in documentary filmmaking, something near and dear to many a DC filmmaker.

While that’s all cool, the big surprise from the article for me was that not only that Netflix has a number of podcasts already –many being deeper dives into their TV shows and films– but that they are building up publishing and social media presences. That growth as an overall media company is, I suppose, something one might expect, but I confess to still thinking of Netflix as the streaming enfant terrible vs. “another media conglomerate.”

I’m also, for obvious reasons, wondering if they’re going to start making moves into original audio fiction.

Google Uncomfortable with Reining in Cookie Monster

It could be the parts of the web where I roam, but I’ve been reading a lot more about privacy, whether it’s Apple’s recent efforts to make their iOS more inherently private (see pieces in Bloomberg and The Verge) or the growing rumblings of government regulation (see pieces in CNBC and in Recode/Vox).

Strangely, “G” is for cookie, according to the algorithm.

By virtue of simply being online, all of us have been inducted into one or more Big Data Mining ecosystems whereby not only the tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google mine away at our identities, but a lot of third-party marketers do too. Many of you probably know about “cookies” in general, but I would guess few of us understand their scope, and not unrelated revenue, to entities like Google.

So this article by Sara Morrison in Recode (Vox) was interesting.

And for those of you who have read this far, thanks for including me in your algorithm for today. I think.

Time Off for Productive Behavior

In offices across the land, someone’s co-worker is making a remark that ‘it’s hump day.’ Wednesday. Just two more days after this.

But what if the weekend was only one more day away?

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936). Note to younger readers: workers are not always this happy.

Joe Pinsker over at The Atlantic does a deep dive into the move by several companies to reduce working days (and hours) down to four, but keeping the pay that had been allocated for five: effectively giving their employees an immediate 20% raise and more time off.

However, not content to simply point to the data that suggest this move has boosted productivity –and not just for white collar jobs– Pinsker goes further into the why we currently have a societal notion of the 5-day, 40-hour workweek, how business leaders railed against what we have now, and how economists and others saw a future society would naturally start working less hours per week because of the benefits of automation and efficiency.

It’s well worth a read.

The Best Space Dad?

So it’s a day after the fact, but, hey, I don’t usually post on Sundays anyway — even Father’s Day.

But Father’s Day means it’s time for plenty of geeky dad memes, say of Jango Fett and his many clone offspring.

However, with quite a bit of regularity, someone writes an article about how Benjamin Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is one of the best ‘space dads’ around.

I have to agree: even before I was a dad, the relationship between Benjamin and his son, Jake, made quite the impression on me as I watched the series. “The Visitor” remains one of the most powerful episodes of Trek around — and not recommended for anyone trying to keep their eyes dry.

I learned later through interviews and documentaries that this relationship was one that both Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton, Benjamin and Jake Sisko respectively, most valued. Not only that, the relationship continued after the cameras stopped rolling.

So, for your reading pleasure, feel free to check out Angelica Jade Bastién’s piece in Vulture, Clint Worthington’s piece on StarTrek.com, Princess Weekes piece on The Mary Sue, and most recently, Eric Pesola’s piece on Heavy.

Here’s to all the father’s out there, starfaring or not.

If a Supersonic Airplane Doesn’t ‘Boom,’ is it really Supersonic?

So let’s say you’re thinking about traveling again, perhaps even flying. Perhaps you’re wondering what happened to the efforts to make a new supersonic passenger aircraft since I posted about it in November 2019.

Well, you’re in luck! Rebecca Heilweil over on Vox/Recode has an update on Boom, the company working on building new supersonic passenger jets which United is now very keen to start flying.

A big question, however, is not only if they can address the sonic boom through technological improvements, but if there’s a way to make supersonic travel environmentally friendly…

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Go A-viking… But Don’t Forget Your Helmet

I really should come up with a symbol/repeatable post that I put up when things get busy, like the prolific writer and de facto pop culture historian Mark Evanier does with his Cream of Mushroom Soup posts. And perhaps it should be Viking-themed.

But while I mull that over… and work on both a script and some audio editing, here’s a darn fine Danish PSA.

And no, Vikings didn’t wear helmets with horns. It could catch on something whilst pillaging.

The Rise and Fall of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Tomorrow, your kids may be binge-watching some cartoon on some streaming services. They may even do so whilst consuming copious amounts of Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs. But they will not be viewing a network broadcast slate of cartoons like generations of kids have. Why is that?

Charles Moss in The Saturday Evening Post has your answers in a article so perfectly titled, I just used it above. He also provides a whole lot more detail about the business forces that led to the animation domination of Saturday mornings, the migration to weekly afternoon, and the hang-wringing (in some quarters) all along the way.

Thanks to Netflix on disc (which, incidentally, still exists) and now streaming services, I have quite firmly gone away from almost all “Event TV,” though the threat of spoilers has led to accelerating some viewing.

But knowing that our kids will never know the ritualized weekend kick-off we did? A slight bummer.

Simply Told and Radiantly Illustrated: Appreciating the Work of Eric Carle

Generations of children may feel the world is a bit less colorful as children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle has died at the age of 91.

There’s a great piece by Emily Langer in the Washington Post, where I got the delightfully succinct phrase “simply told and radiantly illustrated from. There’s also a nice 2-minute piece by Neda Ulaby on NPR as well as a remembrance from the BBC.

Eric Carle and the denizens of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See?, the work with Bill Martin that lit a fire to do children’s books

In these remembrances, you’ll get a sense of not only his career, but his life leading up to a rather life-changing and ravenous caterpillar, including a childhood partially lived in Nazi Germany, depressingly confirmed by him in interviews to be rather devoid of color.

I don’t remember being particularly enamored of Eric Carle’s work growing up even though I recall I enjoyed it. It could be that I discounted its effects as I leaped from picture books to chapter books at a voracious pace. It’s more than likely that I failed to appreciate how much work can go into presenting something simply. For all our interest in magic as kids, we sometimes miss the wizards behind the curtains.

All this changed as a parent, where I got to see firsthand the impact of his books had on my children. And it wasn’t just the books that came into rotation. The animated adaptations were played again and again — and one of my kid’s first theater experiences was seeing a puppet adaptation of several of the stories with me and his children’s librarian grandmother. His face lit up seeing the larger-than-life –and more than a little colorful– caterpillar munch his way through all sorts of prop foods.

It’s nice to know that, in his lifetime, he got to see the joy and color he brought to the world, something delved into by Emma Brockes in a profile of Carle for The Guardian back in 2009.

Thanks for all the colorful memories.

James Bond Will Return… With Free Shipping

Last week, I mentioned the big news that was AT&T’s retreat from WarnerMedia (still to be approved). And, as many people have noticed, media consolidation continues apace.

This week’s revelation? Amazon is looking to buy MGM.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to increase our market share!”

Now, since MGM has been trying to sell itself for a while, this may not come as a surprise, but what this means for consolidation… well, who knows?