Review | Nosedive (Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1)

An uncomfortable watch.

Nosedive, the first episode of the third season of Black Mirror, pushed (shipped?) last night by Netflix, fits into an emerging science fiction genre one might call, “dystopian social media fiction.” While it’s billed as a satire, it’s not “the Onion” parody type of satire, but the Jonathan Swift stinging satire that’s uncomfortable to watch.

You can easily connect the dots from Cory Doctorow’s 2003 novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (with its reputation-based currency, whuffie) to Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle (my review) to Nosedive.

While I’ll skip any possible spoilers, I do recommend watching Nosedive. A bit long and didactic (as this genre can easily slide into), there’s a discomforting truth captured in the episode.

(Update: I have now seen all of the episodes and can’t recommend the others.)

Bizarro World Election

This election has nothing to do with political science. It’s now pure science fiction.

216px-classicbizarroA well-worn science fiction genre involves an alternate or parallel universe. According to the last person to edit the article on Wikipedia, a parallel universe is a hypothetical self-contained reality co-existing with one’s own–a universe where the very laws of nature are different – for example, Apple before Steve Jobs passed away.

My parallel universe point-of-reference is Bizarro World, the Superman spinoff DC comics that I read in the late 60s and 70s. Then, as now, I enjoyed satire. I especially enjoyed the self-directed satire of Bizarro World which gave the creators and fans of Superman the chance to make fun of themselves while staying true to the core story.

Of course, the core story of Superman was parallel universe fiction, as well. For example, in Superman, they have telephone booths.

There is so much about Donald Trump and the current Presidential election we are enduring that makes me think of Bizarro World. That Donald Trump is a role model for entrepreneurship is straight out of Bizarro World. Only in Bizarro World is serial bankruptcy a business model to be admired. Only in Bizarro World is using 3,500 lawsuits and countless threats of more lawsuits something that business owners do. (Supporting tort reform and fighting against nuisance lawsuits is what business owners have done in the real world for as long as I can recall.)

Last night’s second presidential debate was pure Bizarro World. I can’t even begin to list the things said and the strategy used by Trump that surpass explanation. But equally strange were the post-debate talking heads who started scoring the exchange as if there were no context to the debate — as if what was said during the debate actually matters.

The pundits who are still discussing this election as if it’s about what someone says in a debate are living in a parallel universe.

This election has nothing to do with political science. It’s now pure science fiction.

For my Nashville Walking and Biking Friends

Bookmark this on your iPhone so you’ll be a tap away from complaining at all times.

I used to complain about stuff in my head. Then someone on the Nashville Walking & Biking Email Group sent this list out and I tried calling someone up and telling them about the issue. Amazingly, it worked. P.S. Here’s the link to that email group. I’m one of the people who manages it, so contact me if you feel the need to complain about the list. Call these people to complain about everything else.

Report a sidewalk or bike lane maintenance issue

If you encounter a sidewalk or bike lane in need of maintenance, please let Metro Public Works know by calling (615) 862-8750 or filing a report online at https://www.nashville.gov/Public-Works/Forms/Request-Customer-Service.aspx

Report a greenway or trail maintenance issue

Please share greenway maintenance requests with the parks department by calling Metro Parks at (615) 862-8400 or emailing MetroParks@nashville.gov

Report issues with temporarily closed sidewalks and bikeways

Please report any issues with sidewalk and bike lane closures due to construction or special events to the Metro Public Works Permit Office by calling (615) 862-8782 or emailing pwpermits@nashville.gov

Report signs or overgrown vegetation blocking public right of way

Please report any signs or vegetation blocking sidewalks or bike lanes to Metro Public Works know by calling (615) 862-8750 or filing a report online at https://www.nashville.gov/Public-Works/Forms/Request-Customer-Service.aspx

Report an aggressive driver

If you are harassed or endangered by an aggressive driver while walking or biking, please file a report with Metro Nashville Police Department’s Aggressive Driving Unit online at https://www.nashville.gov/Police-Department/Online-Services/Report-Aggressive-Driver.aspx

Report people who park illegally in bike lanes and sidewalks

You can report drivers who are illegally parked on sidewalks and in bike lanes to the Metro Police Department non emergency line at (615) 862-8600 or online at https://www.nashville.gov/Police-Department/Contact-Us.aspx

Request traffic enforcement

If you have concerns about speeding or other traffic violations, you can request an enforcement operation. For more information, visit http://www.nashville.gov/Services/Frequently-Asked-Question-Center/FAQ-Details/ID/198/How-Do-I-Request-Police-Radar-or-Traffic-Enforcement-Near-My-Home

Report Issues with Public Transit

If you have questions or concerns about transit connections, placement of bus stops, or issues around accessibility.
http://www.nashvillemta.org/Nashville-MTA-customer-comments.asp

Being Presidential

The way a leader talks.

Last night’s Presidential Debate (the first of three) will be memorable for many reasons. For one, it’s an endorsement of the concept of preparation.

I’ve been wrong so many times about Donald Trump in the past year, I’ll skip any guess of what will be memorable about his showing, other than his continuous sniffling which he today says had something to do with his microphone.

For me, there was a paragraph that when seen in transcript form is so perfect, you realize that even the grammar was rehearsed by Clinton. But when it came to establishing which of the candidates are presidential, it slammed the book on that question for me.

Here’s the quote:

Words matter when you run for president, and they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them. It is essential that America’s word be good. And so I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and some worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I’ve talked with a number of them. But I want to — on behalf of myself, and I think on behalf of a majority of the American people — say that our word is good.

That’s what preparation is all about.

This clip from the debate should start with the quote a 1:29 into the video.

Photo: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The sun constantly paints new stories on the exterior of the new Museum of African American History and Culture on the Capital Mall.

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I took this photo of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in June. During previous trips to D.C. during the past few years, I had seen the building at different phases of its construction and had been curious about how the exterior panels would work when finished. This weekend (September 24, 2016), the museum is opening officially, and I’m happy to see that the photo is used by lots of news sites in their coverage. (Almost all of my photography on Flickr is licensed using Creative Commons 4.0 so that anyone can use them for any purpose if they attribute the source.)

I’m passionate about photography, but purely as a hobby. Primarily, I am intrigued by the ways sunlight creates an interplay between nature and the man-made. Having such an interest makes the new museum a place for two types of reflection: The metaphor type a visitor can have by sitting and watching its patterns change caused by the non-metaphor kind of reflection of the sun’s dance on the building’s exterior.

In Smithsonian magazine, before construction on the museum began, architect David Adjaye described the bronze mesh that enables the reflection:

“(It is) a really complicated part of the building, where we’ve really been sort of inventing a new material, a bronze-coated alloy and devising a new a new way of applying it. Essentially, we are looking towards the guild traditions of the South. The freed slaves would move into professional guilds, including the ironworking guild. There were very skilled African-American casters— a lot of the early architecture of Louisiana and the South was built by black people. So what we wanted to do was somehow acknowledge that important beginning of transition from the agrarian to the professional class, and to reference this powerful casting tradition.”

Like any great art, the building (powered by the sun) will reveal different stories to different people who see it.

About the photo

While in D.C., I had a couple of hours free between meetings and other commitments, so I grabbed a Captial Bikeshare bike about an hour before sunset and did what superstar photographer Bob Schatz calls “chasing light.” (My “training” as an amateur photographer consists of marveling — and staring — at the incredible work of Bob and other photographers whose work has appeared in Hammock publications or other projects during the past 25 years.)

I had scouted the area earlier in the day and guessed that a good place to shoot a photo would be from the sidewalk on the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue. I got very lucky. Had I taken the photo from any other angle or location, the wall would have looked flat. Thirty feet up or down the Pennsylvania Ave. sidewalk, the light didn’t work like this — it was monochromatic.

As I said, when I posted the shot on my Flickr account, I granted permission for anyone to use the photo for any reason, with attribution. It’s been fun to see that over 20 websites have used the photo in their coverage of the opening of the museum. Here’s a Google image search of my photo with each photo representing a place it is being used on the web.

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(Oh, and one more thing: Shot with an iPhone 6)