Category Archives: observation

Modern Family’s ‘Connection Lost’ Episode as Allegory

No doubt, there are hundreds of posts this morning in which bloggers are trying to explain the top 10 this or that’s about the episode of Modern Family that aired last night (“Connection Lost,” Season 6, Episode 16).

For that reason, I haven’t read any blog posts regarding the show. If this sounds like I’m borrowing the observation of others, I’m actually not (this time, at least).

I did read one review and it was insightful (unlike this post, perhaps). It’s written by Gwen Ihnat at AV Club. She calls the episode, “A gimmicky but successful storytelling experiment.”

What you’re about to read is my observation of the show as an allegory (or parable, if you prefer).

SPOILER ALERT: I include some spoilers in this post, but I could tell you everything that happens and it wouldn’t matter.

Here are several things I won’t be writing about in this post

1. How in real life, Apple technology never works as seamlessly as portrayed on the episode. Duh, that’s why it’s called Hollywood. Also, remember ABC is owned by Disney and the show is filled with queens and princesses who all have magical powers. Claire’s power is getting Apple products to work seamlessly. There will be a ride at Disney World next year. And yes,  my use of the word queen was a shout out to Cam.

2. How it turned out to be, as the show-runner promised, NOT a “product placement” show. However, it was an entirely new paradigm: It wasn’t products placed in a TV show, it was a TV show placed inside of products.

3. How the show should be required watching for so-called usability experts who sit people in front of screens and monitor their interactions with a software interface or application or website. The show is a spot-on reflection of how no one interacts with only one application or website at a time. Layered distractions make it impossible to measure how one person interacts with one application, website, et al.

4. How actress Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy) is brilliant. (Became a fan when she was on Boston Legal.)

5. How any mention of the show’s use of “social media” is a total miss of the point. Facebook gets a few seconds as an extra in the show. It’s about family media, not social media.

The parable of the lost connection

No, here is the observation I want to share: The episode is an allegory (or parable, if you prefer).

The truth it reveals is a good old fashion cautionary moral: Don’t let facts get in the way of truth.

Claire (representing, say, an NSA analyst, reporter, police detective or you and me) is able to piece together a trail of irrefutable facts from the types of digital flotsam and jetsam we all throw off the boat wherever we sail around online. We voluntarily allow digital devices to track our movements and private companies, the ability to monitor everything we buy and every website we visit. Not enough for the trackers? Let’s post photos and reviews and updates.  (Like on those mayhem ads.)

Yet Cliare’s (did I mention she represents a CIA analyst or you and me?) pieces these facts together and comes up with a conclusion that is impossible-to-be-anything-but-the-TRUTH…but (spoiler) it’s not.

Here is the moral of the episode: Don’t believe that facts equal truth. And come up with better passwords.w

(Photo: AVClub.com)

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Writing by Talking Instead of Typing

(What you’re about to read was dictated by me into a machine.)

Through the years, I’ve purchased numerous iterations of dictation software from the company now called Nuance. For some reason, dictating has never worked for me. Perhaps it’s because I was born after the Don Draper era. When I graduated from college, I could type 80 words a minute, which is probably faster than I can think. I can probably type faster than that now, but as anyone who has read this blog knows, the faster I type the more goofy things I say. And one of my rules of blogging is to not work over the text as much as I would if this were, say,  a final edit of something  that was going to be read by more than 12 people.  (I love you, but you’re the only one reading this.)

In other words, a lot of what you see on this blog is  more like a first draft  than any kind of finished writing.  Bottomline: I’ve always been able to type fast, so I never really learned how to dictate.

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The Pundit’s Worst Fear: When Facts Don’t Support the Narrative

All week, anyone who follows the news has been carpet-bombed with punditry informing them that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat was because he supported immigration reform. Yet now, polls on both the right and left are revealing that immigration reform was far down on the list of issues that influenced the election’s outcome. Reporting on a poll conducted by Americans for a Conservative Direction, Politico says, “Only 22 percent of Virginia residents who voted for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, cited immigration as the primary reason for their vote. About 77 percent cited other factors, such as the Republican leader’s focus on national politics instead of local issues.” (Tip O’Niell was, is, and will always be correct.)

I doubt, however, that such polls will change the narrative related to why Cantor lost. That the hubris and national aspirations of Cantor were the likely causes of his defeat, don’t fit nicely into a bigger narrative that works for pundits and analysts. Those are too nuanced and local…and personal, and don’t fit nicely into a national debate over one issue.

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Even if You are a Baseball Hater, Enjoy This Photo

It makes me happy when I see a photo like the one above from the White House Tumblr account.

I mean, what’s not to love about the President of the United States giving some Little Leaguers a memory of a lifetime?

However, I know lots of people — including several of my friends — can’t stand baseball. Even a wonderful photo like this isn’t going to make them feel any different about their negative opinions on baseball.

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