Archive for aaron sorkin

Things I’ve Read

Posted in reading list with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by cueball

A weekly listing of things I’ve read or seen on internet.

  • These Employees Won’t Have To Go To Work On Thanksgiving – As a former retail worker this hits close to home.  Companies are going to find out that opening on Thanksgiving is a bad idea.  One, it doesn’t increase sales for that week because it just lets the people who are going to shop first thing on the morning on Black Friday sleep in and do the rest of their shopping later.  Second, its just going to piss other potential shoppers off because you are invading your workers and your shoppers holiday.
  • The inside story of how new MLS team LAFC went from dream to reality – As a soccer purist, I would love promotion and relegation to be a part of the MLS.  As someone who just missed out on the NASL glory days, lived through the years in the wilderness with no top flight soccer league, watched as a MLS contracted wonderful to watch teams that were horribly business manged, what Henry Nguyen says here (“They were like, ‘Wait a second: First of all, there’s no relegation? All right, you got me!'” Nguyen, 41, said with a laugh.) should not be forgotten.  The people putting up the money to buy a team and build stadiums want as much of ROI guarantee as they can get and the possibility of going from hosting the LA Galaxy to the Carolina Rail Hawks is not something they want in the equation.
  • The 100 Best Beers in the World – Judging beer is a completely subjective concept and I usually look at lists like this with a cringe, but the sheer size of this list and the number and breadth of the contributors from the craft beer world makes it a good one.
  • FIFA: Qatar 2022 winter World Cup likely, Jan-Feb or Nov-Dec ‘options’ – I can’t decide if I think the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022 or not. On one hand you have the heat, the slave labor, and the sense that the whole way it was chosen was one of the dirtiest processes in the history of international sport.  On the other hand, FIFA and its leaders are full of DGAF.
  • Finding Marlowe – How many interesting stories like this are out there?  So much of history is obscured or lost simply because of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.  I don’t want political correctness in history, I just want truth.  I want to know the full history no matter how ugly it may be.  Also, the history of Los Angeles seems to be filled with fixer guys like this through out its history and more then any other city in the United States.
  • Are You Genetically Programmed to Hate Hoppy Beer? – Its amazing how much of our genetic code was written when humans were hunter-gatherers trying to survive to the age or 35.  This is the most plausible explanation as to why we like the taste of things we do and how much of that comes not from our genetic affinity for something, but because of how we learn from others around us.
  • What Is An Ending? ‘Serial’ And The Ongoing Story Of Wanting Too Much – One of the more interesting things I read this week, but the link on NPR is broken.  In this blog post on Monkey See, Linda Holmes writes about our expectations of fiction is that it will always find “closure.”  She is writing about a new true crime podcast from This American LIfe called “Serial” and how some people have voiced the idea that they will be disappointed if there is not some type of satisfying ending. That is what people mean when they say closure and they want closure out of their fiction and their stories because it is a concept that doesn’t exist in real life.  In real life relationships and situations stop with no warning and often with little to any satisfaction.  If the link worked you would love reading it.
  • How Your Brain Decides Without You – This is a really interesting read on how two people can watch the same event, read the same book, see the same facts, and come away with diametrically opposed views on what they just experienced.
  • ‘Sports Night’: An oral history, starring Aaron Sorkin and his cast – an oral history of one of my favorite shows of all time  I love Aaron Sorkin and I even have a soft spot for Newsroom, which is not anywhere close to peak Sorkin.
  • Sea of Crises – Speaking of closure, I think I like this because it doesn’t resolve anything at the end.  It just kind of ends with the anticipation of something ending or beginning, you don’t know which.  This is the most interesting article on Sumo wrestling you will read all year.  It also touches on Japanese literature and a little post World War II history.
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I Just Decided To

Posted in life with tags , , , on February 16, 2013 by cueball

When you begin to realize your life has gone in a direction diametrically opposed to that which you imagined it going, you have to make a choice between simply accepting the path you are on or you can get off and do something different.

This isn’t some, “If you don’t like your life, stop everything, move to your dream spot, and start working at your dream job,” touchy feely find-your-bliss idiocy.  In the real world, you still have bills and responsibilities.  However, you do need to decide what you want and that is the simplest and most profound act.

The title of the first episode of The Newsroom is “We Just Decided To.”  It is lifted from a speech Charlie gives Will about why the great newsmen (it is Sorkin so it is always men) did great news.  It is a deceptively statement, almost childlike.  However, it is the necessary first step in changing anything.

Many in the news/media particularly those who take themselves far too seriously (which is most of them) took umbrage at this idea.  Their argument is that it isn’t that easy just to do the news the “right” way.  A news broadcast is too expensive and too much of an investment for the large multinational corporation that owns it to allow its staff to go off and offend people by trying to do news the right way.  You’ll lose ratings (and therefore money) by offending some people and talking over the heads of others.

They are right.  It is hard for people who like paying rent and buying food to do something that will piss off their corporate handlers.  The problems with this argument are this:  one, someone is going to be offended no matter what you do; two, it is OK for a multicam situation comedy to cater to the lowest common denominator but not for the vehicle that is supposed to help viewers be better citizens; third, why the hell should it be easy.

More importantly, however, nothing has ever changed until someone somewhere decided, “What we are doing and what is happening sucks and we can do better.  We know the difference between right and wrong and we must choose to do right, no matter the consequences.”

Yes, that is hard.  If you don’t understand that it will be hard and you will have to sacrifice when you embark on this journey, you are an idiot who deserves to get run over by the powers that be.

That is true whether you are trying to change the nature of television news or live a life of which you can be proud.  They both start with just simply deciding you can do better.

I have noticed things in my life are not the way they should be.  I have decided to do better.  What that means exactly is not clear even to me.  However, I have a good idea of where I want things to go and how to get there.  I know where I want to be in a year’s time.  It will be an interesting journey.

I’m going to disappoint some people by not doing the things they think I should do.  I have done two things that have gotten me to a place where I know I need to change my life:  follow my gut and do what others thought I should do.  The problem is, as related to my life, both have shit for brains.

Freedom and Responsibilty

Posted in society with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by cueball

Kris Kristofferson once wrote that, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”  That is a certain existential freedom that we have all felt, especially if you have been fired from a job.  However, freedom is a little more than that.  Freedom is also the ability to do what you want when you want.  That is a more literal definition, but again freedom is a little more than that.

Freedom is being able to do what you want when you want, but it is also the understanding that there is a responsibility that comes with that.  Freedom is the responsibility to not always do what you want when you want for the good of everyone else.

This is not about whether this drug or that drug should be legal or whether an individual can buy any gun they want.  Let’s say every drug and every gun is legal.  Does everyone understand that they then have a responsibility to use those rights in a manner that doesn’t harm their fellow citizen?  Somewhere along the way with all this talk about freedom in this country, we have lost the memory that freedom comes with the accountability to use it wisely.  Everyone remembers the basic definition of freedom, but forgets the part about not crushing your neighbor with your freedom.

Advanced Citizenship

This is one of my favorite quotes in all of the movies I have ever seen:

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.

That is just a part of a great passage written by Aaron Sorkin for President Andrew Shepherd in The American President.  I love this quote because it is the essence of what it should mean to be a citizen in this country and what governance should be in this country.

Yes, it is hard.  You will disagree with others about certain policies.  You will disagree with something the majority of the country and/or the majority of Congress has decided to do.  You should point out where you see the failings of the government’s policies and deeds.  We have the freedom and the responsibility to question the actions and policy of our government.  To think and say that our government may have made a mistake is not anti-American it is one of the most American things you can do.

If we have substantive issues of disagreement on policy, we should debate them.  However, we cannot allow those debates to degenerate into demagoguery or using the concept of freedom as an all-purpose cudgel to attack anyone who disagrees with you about anything.

It Is A Guarantee

The basis of all our rights is the First Amendment and the Right to Free Speech.  All the other rights flow from this ability to offend others and question the government without worry that you will be summarily put in jail.  However, even that right first among all others has restrictions. It is guaranteed not absolute.  You cannot intentionally and maliciously tell lies about another person in a public forum, nor can you scream, “Fire!” in a public place when there is no fire in order to insight panic or a riot.  Basically, you have the freedom to say what you want as long as there is no intent to do harm to others.  The right to free speech, like all the others, comes with the responsibility to use it wisely and do no harm to others.

This isn’t about guns or drugs or free speech.  This is about us.  This is about we as a country having real debates about issues and not sideshow screaming matches about ephemera to score political points.  This is about thinking through ideas and not holding fast to some talking point some lobbyist cooked up for a client.

This is about each of us taking the responsibility of advanced citizenship and freedom seriously.  Sorkin through Shepherd was right at the end of the rest the quoted speech, this is a time for serious people and serious debates.  We should demand our elected officials remember this and actually govern.  All of our futures depend upon it.