Six Things that Deserve Your Attention
Allow me to apologize in advance if this is a little “meta,” but this week, for some reason, it’s simply impossible for me to decide on a single topic for this column. So, instead, I’m inclined to share a hodgepodge of the things that have occupied my attention in the past week or so — things that I believe are worthy of yours.
“The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas: I just started reading this book, and it’s hard to put down. I’d heard a lot about it, but didn’t know what to expect. It’s more than I bargained for. Writing from the perspective of 16-year-old Starr Carter, Thomas quickly draws the reader into a story about race, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Even at 464 pages, they practically turn themselves.
“Crime Stories,” on Amazon Prime Video: I think I’ve seen every episode of "Dateline," "48 Hours" and "Cold Case Files" twice. When I’m not watching the news, I’m watching true crime shows. But “Crime Stories” is a Canadian production, and many of the crimes profiled are Canadian — and, as a result, unfamiliar. Prime Video has eight seasons of the show available, and I’m slowly devouring it.
That Weather Channel storm-surge demo: Wow. The video, featuring Weather Channel meteorologist Erika Navarro, went viral as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Carolinas. Navarro stands, calmly explaining how storm surges work, as a roiling wall of water rises to nine feet behind her — floating cars, covering street signs and carrying away trash bins. The network says it hopes to use augmented-reality technology — like that used to create this segment — in 80 percent of its programming by 2020.
“American Vandal" (season one) on Netflix: Yeah, I know. The second season of the show was released last week. But after reading a lukewarm review in The New Yorker, I haven’t been able to bring myself to start it. I did, however, go back and begin watching the first season for a second time. And there is something about that season — which starts out as the pithiest of mockumentaries — that ends leaving you feel like you have learned something about the human condition. I don’t know if I’ll watch the second season; I don’t want it to ruin the charm of the first.
“How the Enlightenment Ends,” by Henry Kissinger for The Atlantic: The former Secretary of State expresses his concern that artificial intelligence might very well lead to the end of human civilization in this essay that The Atlantic published in June. And this isn’t some hot take from a 95-year-old, out-of-touch former statesman. Kissinger has researched the issue at great length — and has come to a startling (but not uncommon) conclusion. If we do not consider the role of ethics and “a guiding philosophy” in AI development, Kissinger writes, “before long we shall discover that we started too late.”
Brainpickings.org: Any time I’m looking to engage my brain or find myself seeking creativity, I like to turn to Brainpickings — a blog written and maintained by Maria Popova. It is thoughtful, analytical and consistently looks at creativity in meaningful new ways. And with more than 11 years’ worth of posts, you’re never going to run out of inspiration. I’d encourage you to check it out.
It’s possible that I could’ve written a complete column about any one of these six things, but I really wanted to share all of them with you. I’d encourage you to check out each of them and arrive at your own conclusions.
— Originally Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 09/20/18