2 Broke Girls, S4E15 “And the Fat Cat”: A TV Review

fatcatwhatever

There were a lot of great things in this episode. First and foremost, the A-plot, which involved Max and Caroline trying to blackmail venture capitalist Owen Charles Boyd after his cat impregnates theirs. The fact that I could wrap it up in a single sentence underscores its simplicity. Once you’ve established the premise you’re free to concentrate on jokes and the absurdity that spins out of it, and the former has some wins [the latter I’ll get to].

While we’re staying positive, it was nice to see them back up the fact that the two girls live in a bad neighbourhood. They’re always going on about how horrible their life is in their enormous apartment, so having honest to goodness evidence that what lies outside of it is women screaming [which, let’s face it, is pretty uncomfortable] and men running away [presumably from some recently committed crime] and garbage literally everywhere is nice. It’s the closest the 2 Broke Girls has come to “showing vs. telling” in a long time, even if it is undercut by the fact that they still reference stuff off-screen. I guess that’s my cue to get into a little bit of criticism.

chestnut

Those legs. Yikes.

Remember Chestnut? He’s been around since the first season but didn’t make an appearance until he absolutely needed to, for the Victoria’s Secret models to fawn over when they visited [S4E6]. On a similar note, we haven’t seen Nancy, their cat, since early last season, in “And the It Hole” [S3E8]. I totally understand that it’s hard to have live animals on set, but if it’s that difficult why bother “casting” them at all? To have a pet not appear for 30 episodes, or more than an entire season of the show, feels especially strange when one of the minor conflicts between Max and Caroline is how the latter is not a fan of said pet, while the former is.

To restate the first paragraph, I really do like the premise of the episode. I do. My problem is that someone in the writers’ room came up with it and they then had to sort of create a status quo out of thin air to support the narrative. Up to this point most of us had honestly forgotten that Nancy even existed. Except for me, of course, because- Continue reading

Explaining American Politics To Non-Americans – Part I: Why We’re ****ed

It’s been my ambition for some time now to dedicate a series to explaining American politics to our substantial audience of non-Americans. While this blog is comprised 50% of Canadians (our frosty neighbors north of the wall), the simple fact of the matter is that the land-the-free has long been the front line of culture war. What happens here affects the rest of the globe.

With the already hotly contested primaries underway and prospects for the 2016 election being widely debated, what better time could there be than now to explain just why it is that we the people are fundamentally screwed.

Let me break it down here.

I. The Person Who Wins Isn’t Always The Person Who Gets Elected

In spite of our praise for democracy, the American republic does not have a one-man-one-vote policy. Every four years, there’s a decent chance that the candidate with the most votes will still lose to his opponent.

See, we have something called the “electoral college”- a staggeringly complex system that not even this succinct TED video can completely cover. At its simplest, the system boils down to states having “points” assigned to them on the basis of their populations and number of congressmen and senators.

This system means that a political candidate doesn’t necessarily have to get a massive number of people to vote for him- just a majority. So long as he or she gets that majority, no matter how slim, they still takes away as many “points” as if they had won a landslide.

What that means is that a person can get elected president in spite of his or her opponent getting more actual votes. Just look at this image below:

While the majority of votes cast in this example are blue, red still wins by virtue of this system. While supposedly protecting states with smaller populations (preventing them from being drowned out by heavily populated states), the result is that a person’s vote can very well be rendered utterly pointless. Plenty of folks simply don’t even bother voting, especially in states dominated by one party. Alternatively, states with greater electoral power (more points, that is) and a habit of swinging between parties (Ohio and Florida, most famously) get disproportionate amounts of attention.

In spite of being viciously despised by folks on both sides of the political spectrum, there’s really very little hope for any reform on this point. While part of that can be blamed on tradition, plenty of it also boils down to a little thing called- Continue reading

Aaron Sorkin and Flash Boys: The Difficulty with Bringing Asian Heroes to the Big Screen

Asian Superheroes. The perfect intersection of two of my passions: racial diversity, in particular the representation of those who look like me, and the stars of my favourite medium, ie. comic books. It was just earlier today that I picked up the second issue of Silk, which [as briefly mentioned in another post] features Marvel’s newest hero, a Korean-American who received her powers from the same spider that bit Peter Parker.

okay

Similar to Spider-Man she has enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, and a danger detection system [aka. her self-coined “Silk-Sense”] as well as her very own ability to shangchicreate biological webs from her fingertips. Other favourites from the same publisher include Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu, an Avenger at the time of this writing. He primarily relies on his master of martial arts, an ability which didn’t keep him from participating in an intergalatic war to save the universe. Another is Amadeus Cho, a teenager who attained the title of “7th Smartest Man in the World” and frequently took down superhuman assailants with only his intelligence and whatever else was available. Yes, at one point one of those superhuman assailants was the Hulk. The Hulk.

amadeus

Each of these heroes is wildly different from the next, but share a few key similarities [besides their belonging to Marvel and being of East Asian descent]. The first is the quality that makes them heroes, the self-sacrificial desire to protect the innocent and defeat those who would do them harm. The second is that I would love to see any and all of them make it to the big screen one day, to fight alongside the White, square-jawed Chrises of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The third is that every one of them is a work of fiction.

Bradley Katsuyama is a real-life currently existing person. He is an Asian-Canadian and has been a doer of objectively heroic actions surrounding the investigation and consequent combating of algorithms that preyed on unwitting investors. While not the intellectual property of a company creating and producing recent years’ largest blockbusters he is the focus of the novel Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, a film adaptation of which Aaron Sorkin is set to write the screenplay for. Yet at this point Katsuyama is no closer to having his story told than Shang-Chi or any of the rest of them.

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Re: #DontStayInSchool: In Defense of the System

A few weeks ago my brother sent me the following video and asked if I could write about it on the blog. He challenged me to defend academia and promised that he would respond by commenting on why this video resonated so deeply with him. So, although I agree with many of the comments Dave from Boyinaband makes in his video, I’m going to offer you several reasons why our education system can be, and has often been, a good thing.


1. Our education system was designed to promote equality

In his video on the history of education, Salman Kahn explains how our contemporary education system was shaped by ideologies that valued class equality. According to Kahn, the Prussian education system, despite its faults, insisted on providing public education for all citizens. Meanwhile, even the “Committee of Ten”,  the group of educators who originally introduced standardized curriculum, were motivated by their belief that economic status should not prevent students from having access to “higher order” skills. Standardization of curriculum meant that every student would (ideally) have access to the kind of information that was once restricted to the elite.

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47 Traitors – A Torrid Tale of Tumidity

Sounds like the title of a really good or really awful thriller, doesn’t it?

Let me bring you up to speed on what happened.

With a hotly contested election still raging in Israel, embattled prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to make an impromptu visit to US Congress, in a desperate bid to show his voters that he can dictate US foreign policy better than his rivals can.

Which, in his defense, is probably true.

After (yet another) fear-mongering speech on the dangers of a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu received the kind of tearful, thunderous applause that’d normally be reserved by preteen girls for their favorite boy band.

Like this, but so much more so…

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Tumblr and SJWs: The Difference Between Having a Problem and Being One

So roughly two months ago Gordon said I would be “providing some cutting observations on the state of Tumblr”, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’ve done enough research to finally tackle this thing. In this case “this thing” refers to “the internet’s conceptions of Tumblr and its users, specifically those who have been deemed ‘social justice warriors'”. It’s going to be a long one, so sit back, buckle up, and do one other thing you would do when riding in a vehicle.

everybodyhatestumblrEverybody Hates Tumblr

I’m not going to pretend I know where you spend your time on the internet, but chances are that you’ve come across the general sentiment that Tumblr is “all that is wrong with the internet” or “a literal cancer” or some other hyperbole. It’s gotten to the point where just invoking the site’s name in relation to anything can be, and usually is, a damning condemnation.

As far as I can tell, there exists a much stronger bias towards it than even 4chan, with the latter being heralded as the primordial ooze that the vast majority of our memes come from, a primal, unadulterated place that has stood true to its roots. That’s a conversation for another time, but the point is that Tumblr has come to carry more negatie connotations than other social networking sites, with a lot of that having to do with it being the homeland of SJWs, or “Social Justice Warriors”-

What Is A Social Justice Warrior? [Wow, Google Image Search Has Not Been Kind To That Search Term]

This YouTube video is a pretty short, funny breakdown of what one is:

If you didn’t feel like watching it, here’s what the dude defines it as, providing three definitions that get more and more easy-to-understand:

  1. a derogatory term for people who advocate for socially marginalized groups
  2. a bad name for feminists
  3. a bad name for women-are-cool people

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Florida’s War on Context

Florida, one of the crazier states in the Union, has taken climate change denial to a whole new level.

Apparently, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott is responsible for an off-the-books ban on the terms “climate change” and “global warming” (among others) at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

I mentioned “others” because, according to some, DEP employees have also been pressured to avoid using the term “sustainability.”

That’s the last I’ll say about that one, because, if it’s true, the stupidity of it could very well give me a brain aneurysm. Continue reading