Category Archives: Pop Culture

Why a new Star Trek is a bad idea, even though a new Star Wars is fine. Science Fiction ≠ Fantasy.

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(note: no spoilers below! I haven’t even seen the new Star Wars movie yet.)

As mentioned in an earlier post, a few years ago my son came home from school saying Darth Vader was Luke’s father. The problem? He hadn’t seen Star Wars. Grade school playgrounds being the source of many hard truths. As good parents we soon watched all six movies. The kids loved it. Then this year my daughter came home from school asking about Spock. Who is Spock? Why are people talking about Spock? So we watched Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn, the best movie with the original cast. And this time my kids were, well, rather bored. Which was painful since I had always liked Star Trek better than Star Wars. Yes, the Star Wars movies are better made, with more kid appeal. But it’s more than that. With a new Star Trek TV series due in 2017 and the new Star Wars movie just out, time to take a stand. No more Star Trek. Continuing Star Trek betrays what it represents. Even though more Star Wars is fine.

Continue reading Why a new Star Trek is a bad idea, even though a new Star Wars is fine. Science Fiction ≠ Fantasy.

Science Fiction movie priorities should be movie first, science second. Because movies are hard.

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Hugo award winning science fiction author Greg Egan complained recently about science fiction movies, starting his post with the line “Why is almost every contemporary science fiction movie irredeemably stupid?” He digs into three movies: Her, Ex Machina and Interstellar. Regarding Her, he noted:

Continue reading Science Fiction movie priorities should be movie first, science second. Because movies are hard.

Time to accept Frozen’s greatness. And why not? John Lasseter modeled Elsa’s biggest scene.

FrozenWithKids So yes I’m late to the movie Frozen. On the left are the key characters: Olaf the snowman, Elsa the older sister and snow queen, and Anna the younger sister. And on the right, well, let’s just say each of my three kids identified their favorite movie character with exactly no help from me. So maybe Frozen is just a great fit to my kids, but after multiple viewings I think there’s more to it. Time to agree with the critics and give Frozen it’s due.

Continue reading Time to accept Frozen’s greatness. And why not? John Lasseter modeled Elsa’s biggest scene.

What Star Wars teaches us about being “wrong on the internet”

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Recently my son came home from kindergarten and told me: “Dad. Darth Vader is Luke’s father.” He had never watched Star Wars. So I asked how he knew. He said “they told me on the playground.” Hmmm….on the playground. Then I recalled the only Giants baseball game we went to this summer had a Star Wars theme. Clearly good parents instruct their kids on the difference between Yoda and Chewbacca. So even though common sense media says the recommended ages are 7-11, we watched all six Star Wars movies. One per Saturday over the next month and a half. I hadn’t seen them in a long time, so it was great fun. Though I doubt I’ll see them again. The unexpected surprise was discovering the internet consensus on Star Wars….is completely correct.

Continue reading What Star Wars teaches us about being “wrong on the internet”

This is my first Praxtime blog post on WordPress. Moved from Tumblr.

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Today Sunday, Nov 3, 2013, I moved my Praxtime blog from the Tumblr web site to here on WordPress at praxtime.com. The reason is simple enough. My posts run 600-1000 words, sometimes much more. WordPress is designed for the longer form, while Tumblr is optimized for microblogging. As part of the move I also set up a facebook page for Praxtime, which should be nice for my friends and family readers. Getting posts on twitter via @praxtime is unchanged. I plan to continue my current schedule of posting once a week, writing Sunday nights. But from now on the weekly posts will come out on Monday morning. Turns out scheduling posts to appear when people are awake is considered a best practice. Bottom line is you can get Praxtime in three ways:

I imported all my Tumblr posts to WordPress, and have deleted the original tumblr posts.

With some sympathy for Orson Scott Card

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Orson Scott Card’s best and most popular sci-fi novel Ender’s Game is being turned into a movie coming out in November. Harrison Ford is Colonel Graff. Ben Kingsley is Mazer Rackham. I’m a fan of the 1985 book, and am really looking forward to the movie. But some people are boycotting Ender’s Game because Card is against gay marriage. That’s fine. Card is wrong about gay marriage. With that said, it’s over the top to portray Card as some kind of evil Nazi. Though of course that’s what the internet is good at.

Continue reading With some sympathy for Orson Scott Card

Football, Boxing and head injuries

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Last year Tyler Cowen wrote a speculative piece about how football might go into long term decline due to head injuries. Then Ta-nehisi Coates, a lifelong football fanatic, started posting how he was losing his love of football as he learned more about brain trauma. This got me wondering. The right analogy here is probably boxing, which declined in no small part due to high profile athletes like Muhammad Ali developing brain troubles. Will football go the way of boxing? At first I thought it was going to happen, but after digging in a bit more am less sure.

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Advice on home stereo gear

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I wanted to talk about home stereo gear. Especially since this gives me an excuse to post the classic 1980’s Maxell advertisement above. Of course music gear is a matter of personal taste, so hard core music fans won’t need this advice. But for most people I’d argue your stereo gear options are simpler than you might think. In fact there are only two options. After talking about that, let’s also go over what gear you don’t need anymore.

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