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Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Recently, I’ve been spending time listening to interesting TEDtalks.  If you aren’t familiar with TED, here’s a description from their own website:

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.”

In TED’s blog, they recently had a list of 10 suggested lectures to listen to for the holidays.   One of the lectures I listened to was by Stefana Broadbent, titled, How the Internet enables intimacy.   Here is Broadbent’s bio: (more…)

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Last month, I watched part of Game 2 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees with a colleague.  While watching, it dawned on me that this was the first game of this year’s baseball post-season that I’d seen.  To me, that is a significant revelation regarding the plight of Major League Baseball and its trajectory for the future.  I’d consider myself one of baseball’s more hardcore fans, one who has unfailingly watched postseason baseball games for more than 30 years, even if my team, the Cincinnati Reds, are not in the postseason (which unfortunately has been the case most of the nineties and in the 2000’s).  I’m the type of fan who can still recite most of the uniform numbers of Reds players and their main rivals since the 80’s and also can mimic the batting stances of most of those players as well. (more…)

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The other day, I was watching a documentary on the 1979 baseball season on the MLB Network and the World Series winner of that season, the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Those Pirates were know for its team slogan and team song, the hit song by Sister Sledge, We are Family.   As they were recollecting that season and that team, several times, the man who played the team mascot- the Pittsburgh Parrot, Greg Brown, was interviewed and would comment on the intricacies of that team.   Now, Brown isn’t your typical mascot as he ultimately in later years become an announcer for the Pirates which is probably why he had the clout to be included in the list of people to comment on the team, but just hearing from a mascot for the first time, made me think, what is it really like to be a mascot, from someone who actually was a mascot? (more…)

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A few years ago, the book Freakonomics written by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner came out.  I found that book to be ground-breaking and fascinating, a book in many ways that has inspired me to take my natural analytical inclination and apply it to a diverse set of topics and document it in this very blog (examples such as Internet Freedom by Country and Corruption Rankings, Steroids and Game Theory, and Will Facebook improve or worsen High School Reunions).   For me, Freakonomics helped ignite curiosity and evaluation of both every day and unusual, rare events.

Now four years later, Levitt and Dubner have released their follow up book—the aptly named SuperFreakonimcs.  I just completed reading the book.  Here’s my review of the book.

Summary (more…)

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Last week while driving and listening to the NPR program Forum, I heard a discussion with the authors of the new book Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election (the archived program can be heard here).  Listening to inside stories and analysis of the presidential campaigns of Obama, Clinton, and McCain was compelling drama to me.   Rehashing parts of the campaign and reflecting on my heightened interest levels in the actual campaign vs the dwindling interest in the day to day political system after the election made me think of a pattern I’ve been seeing in myself, others, and the population at large.     That pattern is a greater interest in the buildup to the main event or events than the actual event itself—in other words, the behind the scenes parts of the equation more so than the actual show.

For me, my examples include the election, interest in the the offseason in professional sports and fantasy football, and the fascination with the jury process of a legal case, rather than the actual case itself.  I’ll delve into each one. (more…)

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