Pop Culture

 What Nuisance?

  1. Netflix considers an accidental click or a movie you ditched after 5 minutes to be perfectly valid sources for recommendations.
  2. The Netflix equivalent of bad one night stands you want to forget. You had fun watching Naked Zombie Apocalypse but you’d rather not base future suggestions on it.

Let’s fix this mess.

Log in to your Netflix account, I recommend doing this on your computer or results may vary. As soon as you are logged in, follow the link to “Your Account”. Once there, look near the bottom for “Viewing activity”.

Here is the history, take out anything you don’t want affecting future recommendations.

The bad news is that even with a clean and shiny viewing history Netflix has a bit of “WTF” built right into their algorithm…

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This post is about violent video games. Well, one violent video game in particular and why Moms need to stretch their imaginations a bit on the subject.

Like it or not there seems to be a difficulty/danger/fighting itch that (many to most ) guys need to scratch from time to time. Every man I know understands this and knows it comforts and strengthens boys. The mothers I know TO A PERSON, do not. They aren’t being mean, they just really don’t get it. Boys have a natural mission: To protect and defend, To hunt with the hunters, and to stand up to individuals who pose a threat.  Mothers who hate this model of masculinity aren’t wrong to want a better world than this for their children, but they should know that they are treating their boys they way we treat neutered pets. As if perfect safety were an option for them,  as if we get to choose whether they will ever face danger. We do not. Boys know at a DNA level that they may face danger and hostility and that they will face challenges where their response might determine the success or failure of the most important endeavors of their lives. Depriving a boy of the way he learns to feel strong is not kindness, it is closer to shame projected onto another person.

Play is how young mammals get strong in the ways they NEED to get strong. To deprive an animal of the play it needs to grow up is not showing concern for its well being. If anything it is like the mothers and fathers who punished children for touching themselves or being curious about sex. Was that a good approach? Did that make children grow up stronger and happier? This may not look like healthy play to you but what does the play of wolves, bears or tigers look like? It’s all about being ready, and feeling ready to deal with with what is coming for you. The odds are most men won’t feel ready anyway no matter they do, but taking away the developmental step of preparing for violence and conflict (in a peaceful healthy situation) is like outlawing fire drills because they bring up scary thoughts.
There is so much you need to actively do to help your son be a good man. Share your values deeply and articulately but don’t shut down the boy wisdom given to him by all his ancestors. Masculinity has to feel strong in order to feel safe and it needs to feel safe in order to be gentle…and that’s a tall order…it’s not easy to feel strong. If you come between him at that..what have you done?

 Why Team Fortress 2 is unusual and good 

My son is 14 and LOVES Team Fortress 2. I play it with him as often as I can.

 The multiplayer genre of guys running around a 3d map shooting each other is as common as dirt with loads of examples, Call of duty, Battlefield, Halo, and LOADS more. They tend to be extremely predictable.
Team Fortress 2 came out in 2007. Think about that for a minute. This is basically a TEN year old game and it has a thriving, (if whiny) community. This is unique in video gaming and the nearest thing to it in this context is probably Minecraft which went alpha in 2009 and grew by word of mouth from there.
The things that make TF2 so different from the other games are also very different from each other. 
1. High speed violent complicated story problem
There is a win or lose objective and winning requires bravery and luck but mostly strategy, practice, good choices, good timing and working with others. The strategy side of this is deep
and complex: Class plus loadout, plus team plus map. There are not very many maps and this is because each one is a chaotic chessboard a mile long and if you do not know the map you WILL lose.

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A talented and esteemed lecturer in early childhood education has resigned from teaching at Yale because an email she wrote suggesting a little flexibility about Halloween costumes resulted in an inferno of moral indignation and demands for her (and her husband) to be fired by the college. (Demands by the students of course).

Here is the intolerable message:

“This year, we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween,” she wrote. While noting that she did not wish to “trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community,” Christakis went on to question the imposition of “standards and motives” on others as well as the feasibility of agreeing on how to avoid offense. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” she asked. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Even -asking- the profoundly politically correct to consider being a little more relaxed results in a take no prisoners purge of the impure. Left wing. Read your history. You do this. Stop.

The Reign of Terror | The Great Purge | The Cultural Revolution | The Killing Fields

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CenturyLink (Paul Allen’s company) missed an awesome opportunity. They are going around talking up their high speed internet, etc. But they have created packages and prices EXACTLY like comcast. They could have arrived as a total hero, breezing into Seattle selling affordable internet with no strings attached and people would have LOVED THEM. They gave up a stellar opportunity to go into business and have people breaking down the door to give them money, while joyfully thumbing their nose at comcast. My God, the customer loyalty they would have had and the tidal wave of popular support from new markets.  Continue reading

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(Disclaimer: This is the opposite of news, most of these songs have been around a long time.) One of my favorite musicians of the last decade or so is Jonathan Coulton. His tunes are clever, infectiously catchy, piercingly beautiful at moments and funny. They are also beautiful snapshots of various pop genres.

For some reason he’s made a slew of songs about monsters, often from the monster’s point of view and these are some of his best work. They also seem to speak of the horror in ordinary life in a way that is chilling and witty.

Chiron Beta Prime –   https://youtu.be/B3DyxaCYlfg

The best new Christmas carol in many years.

Skullcrusher Mountain – https://youtu.be/9jn1Gf4AGdY

An evil scientist’s love ballad. “Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?”

 Still Alive – https://youtu.be/Y6ljFaKRTrI

This song accompanies the ending credits to the brilliant video game, Portal. Singing is GlaDOS, a passive/aggressive sociopathic computer who starts by seeming like a helpful guide promising cake as a reward and turns out to have already murdered everyone at this evil research corporation but you. Turns out you didn’t really manage to kill her.

RE: Your Brains –  https://youtu.be/v04H7_fFC90

Your office manager and most of the staff have turned into zombies.  They want to come in and he won’t stop talking in manager buzzwords.

I crush everything. – https://youtu.be/oJAlFyKHp_M

A sad introspective ballad about change, hope and loss sung by a giant squid.

 Blue Sunny Day –   https://youtu.be/PNuTEUUUZ4k

A vampire contemplates suicide

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