Category Archives: Various and Sundry

You Too Can Die of Dysentery!

Nowadays, there are so many different types of timewasters online, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a classic.

I had been reminded that one of the quintessential games of my generation, The Oregon Trail, was available to play for free online.

It seems just and right to play it on a site dedicated to Oregon tourism.

Enjoy and, remember, trade to get food and always get help crossing the river.

Netflix Says “Game On”

Evidently, this month had gotten away from me –at least in term of blog updates– so this is most definitely old news, but remember how I noted that Netflix was getting into podcasts?

Well, apparently they’re getting into video games as well.

Shall we play a Netflix game? (Photo: the 1983 film WarGames)

Per the Vox/Recode article, they’re looking to start with games based on their existing properties (e.g. Stranger Things) and their hire of a former Oculus executive may bode a move towards virtual reality and interactive media (mainly my non-groundbreaking speculation, not the article’s assertion).

Meanwhile, not just a few people are wondering about this move into video games. This is an area where I’m not ready to speculate, but I am very interested in what happens next.

When Did Those American Colonists Stop Sounding Like Brits?

One of my favorite bits of acting training has been learning accents, not in the least because it dovetails nicely with some of the linguistic anthropology I studied back in the day. Really, it’s those times where deciding to study anthropology and theater really pay off.

“Get ’em lads, or they’ll remove the letter ‘u’ from no end of words.”

Despite such ardor, I couldn’t tell you when us treasonous colonials gave up our British accents, but Matt Soniak and the ever-intriguing site Mental Floss are here to fill that need (at least on a basic Internet level).

What if Your Dream Job isn’t the Right Job?

Not for the first time and not for the last, my dayjob is undergoing a re-organization. That means that, not only have I had many conversations with people who are changing jobs or looking for new ones, but it’s an opportune time to examine what the heck I’m doing — and invariably here in the U.S., that seems to bring up questions of “the dream job.”

Our culture is suffused with notions of finding our dream jobs, like the podcast whence this graphic came from. And hey, I like dreams, but are dream jobs always a good idea?

I’ve written about this multiple times on this site, but I believe it’s important to remember that just one job probably won’t capture all the meaning you need in your life. I talk about this a lot more in a post from three years ago on the concept of “ikigai” and one’s “reason for being.”

My conclusion there, something reinforced over the past few years, has been that no one job can satisfy one’s need for meaning — and in fact one’s dream job will have tasks that are less than dreamy (e.g., running an audio theater troupe is wonderful, but not 24/7 delightful).

I’ve also mentioned that one should avoid the trap of trying to turn any hobby or interest into a monetized “side hustle” (a term I dislike on multiple levels). And I still need to explore further the idea of having multiple interests and eschewing the notion of “one true calling.” I mean, I haven’t subscribed to the notion of “one true calling” for some time, but maybe it’s the circles I’ve been in, I haven’t seen too many people pushing back on that notion.

So Rainesford Stauffer’s article for Refinery 29 this past November came across my computer screen at just the right time. A good chunk of it is looking at the work of Dr. Erin Cech, a sociologist studying the place of passion in work, finding work, and defining job satisfaction. What I really like is how much it goes into our society’s concept of work, jobs, and “dream jobs.”

“When paying bills or being fairly compensated are presented as luxuries in the American workforce, rather than fixtures, it’s worth looking at where the urge to make our jobs into more than just work comes from in the first place. It wasn’t always this way.”

Understanding some of the structural and societal pressures to “love your job” is important as we all are beginning to ask more what we want from work in, what I can only hope can soon be the post-Pandemic times.


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, 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…