Friday, January 15, 2016

Remember the Good Old Days?

Maybe it was when you were fresh out of college, starting your first professional job. You hung out with friends in your free time and fell in love with the person you eventually married.

Maybe it was your college days, when you were carefree and life was one big party.

Or maybe it goes further back, to your childhood and a time when your biggest worry was how late you'd get to stay outside in the summertime.

For some people, the "good old days" are a combination of all of the above. Their nostalgia can be confusing, since it varies from one day to the next. Whatever the era, the problem is that people are spending their time looking back instead of enjoying what they have today.

Recently as I rewatched the finale of The Office, Andy said something that resonated with me. I even remember hearing it the first time the episode aired and thinking it was one of the most beautiful things I've heard. While working at Dunder Mifflin, Andy looked back nostalgically on his days at Cornell. He left Dunder Mifflin to work at Cornell and spent all his time remembering "the good old days" at Dunder Mifflin. His profound statement was this:

No matter how old you are, you'll never be this young again. Your kids will never be this age again and (if you have them) your grandkids will never be this age again. If you achieve all your dreams, you may even look back at today and wish you'd enjoyed "the climb" a little more.

Maybe in 2016 we should spend less time looking back and more time looking at what we have today.

Enjoy today as if it were one of the good old days you'll look back on someday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Aging Isn't Just Physical

Every now and then, someone comes along who calls society on its B.S. These people aren't afraid to stand up for themselves in a very public way. It helps if those people are highly-respected this woman:

As Carrie Fisher said, she did something no famous actress is allowed to do. She got older. Over the years, she has dealt with a constant stream of comments to the effect of, "What happened to her? She was so beautiful in the Star Wars movies." Basically, she was supposed to look like this until she turned 100 and died.

Recently Carrie was forced to lose weight to appear in the most recent Star Wars movie. She was thin, but it still wasn't enough. Fans were shocked that the 59-year-old actress looked like this:

Of course, nobody really cared that Harrison Ford now looks like this:

And Mark Hamill looks like this:

It was all about Princess Leia. The big difference between Carrie Fisher and most other actresses who were popular in the 70s is that she's remained in the spotlight. She's done so because she's one smart, talented woman. She writes and produces and measures a person's worth by far more than the way they look.

Unfortunately, many others aren't that way. After dealing with weeks of commentary on Twitter, Carrie Fisher finally spoke up in late December. She tweeted:

In later days she added that her body is her brain bag. It carries her around to where she needs to go. She's a talented, accomplished person who happens to allow herself to be photographed and filmed occasionally. But mostly, she's just amazing. Which makes this meme, posted by one of her fans in response to one of her tweets, all that much more powerful:

Do you think society is too judgmental about our aging celebrities?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crowdsourcing Crime Fighting

I'm sure by now you've heard there's a new show everyone's talking about. I can't explain exactly why things like this take off, but the national obsession is very, very real. This month that obsession is this show:

In case you missed it, the story goes like this:

  • Man serves 18 years in jail for crime he didn't commit
  • Man is released
  • Man sues the county and its sheriff
  • Woman disappears while on that same man's property
  • Man allegedly is framed for the murder by the very sheriff's department he's suing

Basically, as always happens, the government is saying, "Whatever" to the fact that the public is outraged about this. Which only makes the public more outraged. Usually the public goes away eventually and the government gets away with it...not sure if that will happen this time.

Unfortunately, there are people sitting in jail all over this country who aren't guilty. The fact that so many convicts have been released based on advances in DNA evidence tells us that. False confessions happen. Detectives take shortcuts to get cases closed. Juries are swayed to convict by prejudices and ignorance. It happens.

I'm a true crime fanatic. I'm on Book 11 of Ann Rule's Crime Files series. I just finished marathoning every episode ever of Cold Justice. I've seen so many Dateline NBCs, I can't even remember if I've seen one before when I start watching. And I love, love, love the Maura Murray podcast I'm always telling you guys about.

Like the Serial podcast that was 2014's obsession, both Making a Murderer and Missing Maura Murray have brought a community of amateur detectives. That's a good thing...but it also can be a bad thing. Because, as police are always quick to point out, the public rarely gets the full story on any of these podcasts or documentaries. Not only can the producers/writers not capture every single fact in the limited time they have on air, but they also are only handed information that police have released publicly.

As one police officer put it when the uber-creepy Elisa Lam story went viral:

“The problem with amateur sleuths is they make their assessment(s) based on the limited amount of information law enforcement provides…The media outlets then manipulate the materials to accommodate their needs, leaving the sleuths with only partial truths. When viewed by someone that WANTS to support their agenda or conspiracy theory, they will overlook the reasonable/probable and jump to the possible."

As the public (including celebrities) continues to demand justice for the Making a Murderer "victims," I can't help but think of that quote. Yes, it's good that we now live in a society where people can call public officials on their BS, especially if it actually helps get an innocent person out of jail. But I also can't help but wonder, what if the guys featured in Making a Murderer are actually guilty of brutally murdering this woman?

And what if the public screams so much that they finally let them out of jail? In that instance, is crowdsourced crime fighting really a good thing?