Bill Nye & Other Netflix Adventures

Netflix just announced that they will be adding the entire series of Bill Nye the Science Guy to their online collection of movies. This is Netflix’s latest revamp of 90’s TV. Earlier this year, Netflix made all 10 seasons of Friends available to stream instantly. They have also announced that they are making a new Pee-Wee Herman movie and attempting a reboot of Full House. Following the Bill Nye announcement from Netflix, there are three main points I really want to make here. One: Netflix is taking over and will likely overthrow Television someday. Two: Bill Nye is as relevant as ever. And Three: The 1990’s are back and they’re in style.

Netflix is no longer just an easier way to find and watch movies. Thanks to Netflix (and other online streaming services) we now “binge watch” television shows. Not just shows that have stopped airing but Netflix originals. From House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to the newest series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace & Frankie Netflix has proved that it can make hit TV shows that are just as captivating as network television shows (and that don’t even need TV). Netflix has proved to be successful in the world of documentaries and now they have moved on to making movies. This concept was virtually unimaginable at the turn of the century and just 15 years later it’s hard to imagine a world without being able to catch an episode of a show you missed somewhere on the internet.

Since his show ended in the late 90’s, Bill Nye has continued to speak, teach and explore in the world of science. Nye had a way of explaining science to kids exceptionally well 20 years ago, but now and all those years in between Nye is also an excellent speaker for adults. His debate on Climate Change alone is evidence enough to prove that he knows what he’s talking about and he has no problem having a fact-driven conversation with someone who disagrees with him. He continues to fundraise for research to advance science and space exploration. Bill Nye’s TV show has uses beyond the classroom, and Netflix is trying to prove that. I encourage everyone with Netflix to give Bill Nye the Science Guy another watch and I hope Nye has more televised speaking events in which he can discuss and explain the facts behind things like climate change, the environment, the drought, solar power and other renewable energy sources.

New generations discovering Friends and Seinfeld. Throwback music from artists like Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande and Musiq Soulchild. Fashion trends from 20 years ago. The Clinton and Bush families are angling for the White House. Other than the extreme development of cell phones and the internet, trends of the 1990s surround us. Having only lived in that decade for 5 years, I can base my knowledge of the 90s on articles and books I’ve read. Why this sudden yearning to return to trends of the very end of the 20th century? Because the 1990s were a rather good time for the United States. For the most part there was peace (we weren’t at war/on the brink of war), the economy was booming and social change was at an all time high. It’s never good to move backward, but it’s okay to bring back elements that worked. It’s okay to improve those good elements of the past. By studying history, we can learn both what mistakes not to repeat AND what strategies and events that really worked.


The Jetsons Set the Bar for the 21st Century (at least technologically, they did)

Long before there was even an idea of Skype, robotic cleaning supplies and the Apple Watch, America had the gadgets and gizmos of the Jetson family to admire and fantasize over. While recreational trips to Mars are in the rather near future and we’re getting closer and closer to flying cars and cars that can drive themselves, not everything about the Jetsons is a reality. Their various household appliances and advanced technology are both ways in which the show transformed America’s view of what the future might look like (reading the news on a screen rather than on a piece of paper is certainly something we have all come to know very well with the significant decline in subscriptions to the nation’s largest newspapers).

However, the year of the cartoon is allegedly 2064 and Jane (the mother/wife of the Jetson crew) doesn’t have a career. The mother/wife not having a job might have worked on The Flintstones but a stark change should have been made when dealing with the social future. This of course reflects the fact that The Jetsons aired in the 1960’s and not in actual 2064, they pushed the limit at the time. We can use a simple cartoon like The Jetsons as a model for the future. Not so much for reasons pertaining to what we should have by the year 2064, but how much more we should have (technologically, socially, environmentally, etc.) by then.

As a kid, I watched reruns of The Jetsons on Boomerang and imagined the future. Flying cars and living in houses in the sky all seemed so cool. I thought about how cool it would be to fly to school, to have a mechanical closet to pick out your clothes for you and how cool it would be to have a phone conversation via TV screen. We live in the future and only some of these things are a reality. We live in the future, but we can make so much more of the future we face. Not only in technology (though it is an extremely rapidly growing industry) but in environmental changes so that 2064 has an Earth worth living on. I’ve talked about social change several times before, but 2064 will (hopefully) be extremely socially different from 2015.

Specifically technologically, we have so far to go. We have come a long way in technological advancements since 1964, but imagine where we’ll be in 2064. We only have TV shows and movies to look to for guides as to where we might be. Sure, at the actual air time or release date of movies like The Minority Report, it may have seemed like pure science fiction but now it’s clearly something to think about. Screens and computers are going to run our lives one day and we have to be open to that. We have to be able to adapt to that, not only in journalism and media but in all industries and parts of life.

Let’s use The Jetsons to as a model of the future that we can surpass, but I do want my Rosie the Robot Maid WELL before the year 2064.


The Reasons I Love Starbucks (It’s Not Just the Coffee and the Paycheck)

Aside from the wonderful array of tasty coffees, teas and pastries, Starbucks believes in empowering the middle class. Starbucks constantly defies the norms of Corporate America by proving that a company can do far more for the country than just sell coffee. Ultimately, selling coffee is what brings in the money and power over competitors, but it’s what Starbucks chooses to do with the money and power that makes a difference in the world.

Before I continue, let me just mention that although I might be biased because I am a proud Starbucks Barista, I agreed with the beliefs of the Starbucks before I started working for them and I will agree with them long after I leave the company (whenever that should be).

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit- one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” That is the mission statement Starbucks partners are encouraged to work by. Beyond just what the baristas, supervisors and managers do, Starbucks is a company that ensures that everything it does stems from the mission statement as well. There is a large focus on the human spirit and the human connection. This goes much farther than just making sure every single customer is treated respectfully, but it pushes for the idea that every person, customer or not, is treated with respect.

Starbucks remains an innovator in the world of caffeine, but also in the world of business and handling of employees. There are very few companies today that would offer to pay for it’s employees to go to college. Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University ensures that every Starbucks partner (employee) has the opportunity to go (or go back) to college without having to worry about the rising cost of getting a degree.

Starbucks’ initiative to hire 20,000 veterans/veteran’s spouses in the next 5 years is truly admirable, and more companies should make such goals to ensure that the men and women serving our country need not worry about the struggle to find work in civilian life. And although the company’s Race Together campaign did not find the praise it was looking for, the idea that a corporation as large as Starbucks wants to do something to remedy racial inequality in America today it noteworthy. Starbucks’ partnership with Oprah Winfrey to create Oprah Chai Tea has so far raised $5 million for Winfrey affiliated charities like The Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls and Girls Inc. among others.

Starbucks locations can be found all around the world, not just in the United States and the company makes sure that their humanitarian efforts are felt in every nation they work with. Small villages and towns in South America, Africa and Asia that supply the coffee beans benefit because Starbucks follows the guidelines of fair trading as opposed to exploiting small farming regions and their people.

I have gripes just like every other person with a job in the world, but at the end of the day I am proud to work for a company that makes such huge strides towards social change. I know this post must have sounded like a giant commercial for Starbucks but I genuinely believe if more companies were like Starbucks, we would have a stronger economy and greater tolerance for everybody. Next time you set foot in a Starbucks café or go to a Starbucks drive-thru I hope you think about all the people benefitting from your simple purchase. To support Starbucks is to support the troops, the underprivileged in our own country and in countries abroad, the educations of thousands of students, and coffee bean farmers around the world. Think about that the next time you stop in for a beverage, it is quite a powerful thing to think about.


Don’t Forget to Fact Check!

This is just a friendly reminder that just about every news source nowadays is quite biased and might not be bringing you all the facts. We are so fortunate to live in the age of the internet, to live in a time when we can have all the TRUE facts at our fingertips. One of the times that fact-checking is most important is in political news. It is important to know that opposing candidates and biased news sources will report false facts about a candidate who just might be the best person for the job.

I’ll provide a personal example. There is a rather large newspaper in the Inland Empire, The Press Enterprise and quite frankly it does not report the FACTS on any issue. Instead of news, it prints the opinions of the writers and the owners of the paper. I find it hard to read this particular newspaper because I know that much of what I am reading is false and/or opinion. This is unacceptable and it brings into question the integrity of professional journalism today. Forget about the Brian Williams scandal, it happens every day in newspapers and on TV news programs across the nation.

TV is a breeding ground for biases and misinformation and we see it all the time on Fox News and MSNBC. Somewhere in the middle of Fox and MSNBC is the truth, THAT is what we must follow and believe. It’s sad that shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, shows of the comedy and parody genres, actually present the news more realistically than actual news programming. They’re great shows and the way they use parody and satire to get their audiences to see the TRUTH is amazing, but audiences should be able to access factual news on every news show and news network in the country.

So next time you’re watching or reading the news and find a story suspicious, just GOOGLE IT!


Pope Francis, a Saint in the Making

Pope Francis has got to be the most forward-thinking person to ever hold the papal authority. Everything he has done for the Catholic church has only made it stronger and he serves as a shining  example of how to always consider love before anything else when interacting with other humans. Pope Francis has proven that he is the best person to lead the church away from hundreds of years of corruption, over-spending and close-mindedness. His efforts to rebrand the Catholic church as one that focuses on love and peace are truly remarkable. Before I continue, and in case you have forgotten just what is so historic about him so far, let’s review some of the Pope’s highlights over the past two years:

  • He is the first Latin American Pope in over 1,000 years and the first from the Americas.
  • He refused to live in the Papal Apartment and opted to live in a Vatican hotel suite instead. He then began auctioning off items from the apartment among other papal possessions to benefit the homeless.
  • He is known to sneak out of Vatican City from time to time to feed the homeless.
  • He is open to gays in the church and supports civil unions.
  • He has been a strong fighter against child abuse in the catholic church.
  • He has reformed the church’s spending habits, being a very anti-frivolous spender. He even cut Vatican employee bonuses and has redirected those funds towards benefiting the homeless.

And his latest announcement came just this week. He has spoken out against sexism and has demanded that women around the world be paid equal wages to men for equal work. It appears Pope Francis is “leaning in” and joining the fight for global women’s rights. This is revolutionary, I’m sure he’s making all of his predecessors turn in their graves with his progressive reforms to church policies.

Pope Francis is a champion for change on a global scale. He has called out everyone who refuses to love humanity and the environment. Pope Francis has even met with atheists, and has declared that they should be respected by all Christians as long as they are good people (but that pretty much goes for every person and every group according to the Pope).

This Fall, he will be making a trip to the United States. Although I’m not Catholic, I would love to attend his Mass and witness this trailblazer in person.


“Clear” is a Pretty Dark Place

Imagine being sucked into a group of people who welcome you like you’ve never been welcomed before. They convince you that if you give them all your money they will make your wildest dreams come true. They convince you to tell them all your secrets, you even allow them to implant false memories in your mind and pass them off as the truth, your inner most sacred thoughts on your past life. This process allows you to feel “clear.” As you move up the ranks of the organization you get your hands on “top secret” information about past “intergalactic civilizations” and you gain access to knowing the “truth.” But the “truth” is nothing more than a bad, drawn out science fiction story and you’ve committed your life to it. Sound confusing? I think so too.

This is the dream of L. Ron Hubbard and all of his followers are living it in the church of Scientology. Hubbard was a master manipulator and somehow he got away with it. All this and more is told in the HBO Documentary Going Clear. I had the opportunity to watch this documentary last night, and although it was a bit too long, the information brought forth in it is absolutely undeniable.

From what Going Clear presents, Hubbard was only looking for a get rich quick scheme. He ran with it, and ended up going crazy in the process. From tax evasion to slavery in prison camps, the documentary reveals the dirty ways in which the Church of Scientology keeps its power through brainwash and blackmail. The celebrity of the organization is what traps so many people. Celebrities like John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise keep Scientology’s secrets. They go around and claim that the institution is the greatest belief system, the greatest thing to ever happen to them. And although it is believed that they are coaxed into making these types of statements, we will never really know until one of them tells the world. It would take a celebrity like one (or a few) of them to start the fall of Scientology.

What is so scary about Scientology, if what it stated in Going Clear is correct, is that everything that is shown (“auditing,” belief in “intergalactic civilizations,” worshiping of L. Ron Hubbard, violent beatings by Scientology leader David Misgavige, etc.) is known and perfectly accepted by Scientologists. It either doesn’t phase them or Scientology has so much “dirt” on your life and secrets that everyone is afraid to stand up and revolt.

As I stated before, Going Clear is a bit long but I would rank it as one of the most eye-opening documentaries along with Food Inc., Miss Representation, and PBS’ docu-series Latino Americans.


THE Interview: One That Will Go Down in History

It’s been all the talk on TV and Social Media since it aired on ABC’s 20/20 last Friday night, and the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer has proved to be an interview that will go down in history as one that will teach lessons, one that will break down barriers, and one that will save lives. Bruce Jenner’s last interview as Bruce and he prepares to become “her.”

At age 65, Bruce Jenner, “the World’s Greatest Athlete,” has decided it’s time to come out as transgender and complete the process to become a woman. At age 65, Jenner states that he does not want to die as someone other than who he really is. When the interview begins, the audience can see how nervous and emotional Jenner is. Even though his emotions are evident, Jenner is able to stay strong and explain life as a transgender perfectly.

Going into the interview, the media speculated on what it would do to Jenner’s image. After the interview, the message was clear: Jenner is HUMAN. Not a freak, not gay or straight. Bruce Jenner is human. Bruce Jenner did not wake up one day and decide he wanted to be a woman, he woke up one day and realized that he has been living a lie his entire life. As Jenner explains, he has felt that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body since he was a young child. As I’ve said before, we’re all human and this topic can be hard to wrap your head around. Sawyer asks all the right questions and Jenner answers with all the right answers to explain the topic in a very understandable way.

Jenner is viewed as a hero of humanity in this interview, and if you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend it. I finally found the interview online and watched it today, it is truly groundbreaking. It’s the story of a person trying to figure out how to be herself. Jenner has gone from being the world’s greatest athlete running away from the fear of society to a person who is running the race to become accepted as a woman.

This interview teaches us all what it is to be transgendered. This interview is going to save and empower so many transgendered lives. As I already mentioned, this special edition of 20/20 is a MUST WATCH. The whole world needs to watch the interview in which Bruce Jenner becomes a champion for change for America and the rest of the globe.