Sep 08 2016

Star Trek Is Still There For You

This article (link below) about Star Trek and how it has lost some of its original charm (not the right word but I’m trying to get this post up quickly) is spot on. But ultimately, Star Trek is still there for you. And for your children.

The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003

The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Photo note: I don’t know any of these people; it’s a usable pic from Wikipedia. I kinda love it, though.)

Here’s one of the the many money shots from the Op-Ed in the New York Times by Thomas Vinciguerra (and you should read the whole thing because it’s good, isn’t that long and it’s about Star Trek and is therefore important):

Still, my inner 12-year-old worries that this unique creation has lost much of its wide-eyed charm. Executed on a shoestring, begun amid major social tumult, “Star Trek” triumphed in large part because it tackled such essential and eternal themes as prejudice, war, learning and love. Shortly before the series began, the associate producer Robert H. Justman pleaded for “shows where the story is the thing and the gimmicks are unnecessary.”

Fair enough. However, as a parent and huge Star Trek fan (I also prefer Trekker to Trekkie, but that’s a subject for another time), I can safely say that the original series is still there for you. And your kids.

My own children are not as into Star Trek as I am, mostly because I am so deeply into Star Trek that I own a TriCorder and went to a friend’s wedding dressed (vaguely) as Mr. Spock. (I took my ears off during the ceremony, out of respect, but I put them back on when I got up to sing a Ramones song. Trust me, it fit.) I spent many tortured minutes debating whether or not I should go as Spock (now known as Spock Prime, because of the new movies) or Mirror Universe Spock. I chose the latter, although my beard wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped. Also, I wear glasses, so it was never going to be perfect. (One last caveat — the wedding invitation did say costumes. It’s not like I just showed at somebody’s wedding wearing pointy ears.)


Clearly, I have deep feelings for Star Trek. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me reasonably well.

As such, I understand that many fans are disappointed with the direction the new Trek movies have taken. Personally, I like them, because they have managed to keep the essence of the characters mostly intact, and the characters are one of the reasons why I love the original series, or rather The Original Series. Of course the plots are another reason, as was the vision that Gene Roddenberry presented. Hell, it was the whole package. I loved it.

And I still do. I’m sharing it with my children. They get it. Are they going to feel the same way I do? I doubt it. And that’s fine.

Like the author of the New York Times Op-Ed, I didn’t go to the convention this past weekend. Why? I don’t know. One, I forgot. Two, I don’t love crowds. Three… that’s probably it. I could add “I’m cheap” and I imagine the tickets to the Con were not inexpensive.

You know what is, though? Watching The Original Series. Thanks to the wonders of streaming video, you can watch any episode of Star Trek whenever you like. You need a Netflix subscription, or Amazon Prime.


Is that a good way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek? It sure is. It’s also a good way to celebrate any other day. And that will never change.

Live Long and Prosper.

How the franchise lost its cult status — and why at least one Trekkie is in mourning.

Source: Who Stole My ‘Star Trek’? (New York Times)


Jun 17 2015

Childhood Obesity Meets Bad Parenting

What happens when childhood obesity meets bad parenting? You get overweight kids. And at least one bummed out blogger. (That would be me.)

Fat Boys on Vinyl

Check out the lede from this New York Times story:

Not only was the 16-year-old boy 60 pounds overweight, but a blood test showed he might have fatty liver disease. At last, his mother took him to a pediatric weight management clinic in New Haven. But she did not at all like the dietitian’s advice.
“I can’t believe you’re telling me I can’t buy Chips Ahoy! cookies,” said the mother, herself a nurse.

You “can’t believe” it? Lady, according to this story, your kid might have liver disease. And your response is that you “can’t believe” the dietitian is telling you that perhaps the cause is cookie-related? Read more »


Sep 18 2014

Dad Concerned Son’s E-Gaming Career May Not Last Forever

The headline “Dad Concerned Son’s E-Gaming Career May Not Last Forever” may sound like it belongs on The Onion, but it’s real. Here are some quotes from an article that was on the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times a few weeks back.

(Note: the photo below is from a a DOTA Championship back in 2005. Remember 2005? Good times, good times. OK, not really.)

English: The top three finalists in DotA Allst...

English: The top three finalists in DotA Allstars, from WCG 2005 (a computer gaming championship). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His obsession with video games was a sore point with Mr. Dager’s parents during his teenage years, as it was for the parents of many top gamers.

“I, and many players like me, sacrificed everything,” said Mr. Dager, who is almost a senior in college but is not attending school now. “We gave up on sports and friends and school just so we can play more.”

Mr. Dager’s income was meager last year, amounting to less than $20,000. But he estimates his income so far this year at more than $200,000.

He recently looked at a condominium to buy in Fort Wayne. His father, Joe Dager, said he was proud of his son’s success but uncertain about the longevity of his son’s career.

“There’s hardly a week that goes by when we don’t reiterate the fact that that’s all fine and good, but at some point you do have to make provisions to finish school,” his father said. “We say that, but I don’t know if Bill Gates’s parents are still saying that to him.”

(Note: emphasis added above.)

Quick comment: making money playing video games does not mean you are Bill Gates. It doesn’t even mean you’re a programmer, or know a thing about how to start a successful business, much less the multibillion dollar Microsoft. So let’s not get too crazy.

What I say to kids who tell me they want an e-gaming/e-sports career is the following: start really young, keep your expectations realistic, and don’t skip college unless you’ve got something tangible happening where you are making actual money. Not potential money. Actual money. And any money you make? Save it. Put it in the bank. Invest it in something low-risk. (Unless you have a trust fund or something. In that case, be a mensch and donate your winnings. That would be a nice thing to do.) Because the game that you happen to be a master of could easily disappear as quickly as it became popular. Maybe even faster.

In E-Sports, Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money – NYTimes.com.

 


Aug 06 2014

Male CEO Opts Out

Via the New York Times, a story (really a personal blog post) from Max Schireson, the current CEO of MongoDB, who decided to step down from the position in order to spend more time with his family. In other words, he opted out.

DaddyTips—Thoughts on Dadding

The blog post is fairly straightforward and worth reading, but this is the line I decided to share:

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

I’ll take it a step further. People don’t ask women who are married to successful men “what do you do?” Men, at least this man (I’m referring to me), are always asked what they do. “Father” isn’t enough. SAHD WAHD is the real answer, but it requires explaining. I usually answer “writer”, “primary caregiver”, or both, depending on the situation.

At the risk of tooting my own horn (note: I don’t even own a horn), this is a topic I’ve been talking about for years. I wrote about it on ForbesWoman, AOL ParentDish, and anyplace else I had the opportunity. It’s a very important thing to point out. Every parent makes choices. The expectations, however, are drastically different for men and women. I’ll quote myself again: there is a magazine called ‘Working Mother’, but there will never be a magazine called ‘Working Father.’

In an ideal world, Schireson’s tale wouldn’t be a major story. He’s making a choice that working women (a really annoying term that we really should be past but we’re not) are expected to make every single day. Women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Men, on the other hand, tend to receive praise for opting out.

Obviously not everyone feels the same way. There were some seriously negative comments posted on the AOL article I wrote in 2009. A lot of people believe that men should go to work and women should stay home and focus on raising the kids. That is still the way things work in the majority of households in the United States, at least as far as I know.

To clarify, my points on this matter are the following:

Men do not have to be the primary bread-winner. They can be primary caregivers. I don’t know if that’s what Max Schireson’s role will be in his family; his children aren’t babies. Still, he made a choice, and it’s a valid one.

This should not be such a big deal. Think about the story for a moment. As you can see below, every media outlet from The Today Show on down covered what is essentially a personal decision made by a parent who happens to have a job. Why does this matter? Why, in the 21st century, are we still so stuck on traditional gender roles?

– None of what I say here should be construed as being disparaging to Mr. Schireson in any way. This should go without saying, but since the Interwebs is where nuance goes to die, I want to make it clear that I respect what this particular parent decided to do. I would also respect him if he stayed on as CEO because he saw it as a way to make a lot of money and secure his family’s future. In fact, I would feel the same way if a woman were to make either decision. These are personal matters. Not everything works for everybody else.

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to make this choice. This is important. Single parents generally need to work full-time (unless they have a lot of money socked away; if so, good for them). Again — nuance. Not all situations are the same.

Personally, I think it’s great that Mr. Schireson decided to pull back from what sounds like a hectic work schedule in order to be around for his kids. I think it’s great that he is in a financial position to do so. I wish him and his family nothing but the best.

And I really, truly wish that we didn’t have to talk about this topic any more. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.

via Why I am leaving the best job I ever had | Max Schireson’s blog, h/t the New York Times


Jun 26 2014

Google Exec Wants People To Watch Their Kids Graduate On Their Phones

Buried within a New York Times article about cloud storage for businesses is this rather odd quote from Amit Singh, the president of Google Enterprise.
Android logo
Android logo via Wikipedia

“You’ll be videoconferencing with someone, while editing a supply chain document with someone else in Hong Kong, while he watches his son graduate on his phone,” Mr. Singh said, noting, “you’ll need a lot of infrastructure to do that.”
(emphasis added)

No disrespect meant to Mr. Singh, but, um, what the hell? Is he actually comparing “editing a supply chain document” with a child’s graduation?

What Mr. Singh was attempting to explain, as far as I can tell, is how a businessperson (I’m going gender neutral here; apologies to Caesar and any other intelligent non-human creatures of the future) could make use of the Android operating system on multiple devices at once. But if his idea of quality parenting is not only working while your kid graduates but squeezing it in as if it were just another activity in the stream of a business day, I have to disagree. Strongly.

Google, Microsoft and Others Delve Deeper Into Cloud Storage for Businesses – NYTimes.com.


Jul 15 2013

New Language Began With Baby-Talk

Here is a fascinating article in The New York Times about a new language, Light Warlpiri, which is spoken by a relatively small group of Australian Aboriginal people. Everyone who speaks it is younger than 35 years old. And it began with baby-talk.

From the Times:

There are many dying languages in the world. But at least one has recently been born, created by children living in a remote village in northern Australia.
Carmel O’Shannessy, a linguist at the University of Michigan, has been studying the young people’s speech for more than a decade and has concluded that they speak neither a dialect nor the mixture of languages called a creole, but a new language with unique grammatical rules.

Here is a video, “Monster Story in Light Warlpiri Child39”, from Dr. Carmel O’Shannessy’s YouTube account.

So what’s this about baby-talk? Again, from the Times: Read more »


Dec 03 2012

A Different Way To Look At Autism

From the New York Times Magazine:

Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University (and a regular contributor to The Times), published a much-discussed paper last year that addressed the ways that autistic workers are being drawn into the modern economy. The autistic worker, Cowen wrote, has an unusually wide variation in his or her skills, with higher highs and lower lows. Yet today, he argued, it is increasingly a worker’s greatest skill, not his average skill level, that matters. As capitalism has grown more adept at disaggregating tasks, workers can focus on what they do best, and managers are challenged to make room for brilliant, if difficult, outliers. This march toward greater specialization, combined with the pressing need for expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so-called STEM workers, suggests that the prospects for autistic workers will be on the rise in the coming decades. If the market can forgive people’s weaknesses, then they will rise to the level of their natural gifts.

The Autism Advantage – NYTimes.com.